Good Reading : August 2001
wordof A Wee Walk Margaret Clark Age guide 6-8 This is a touching tale of friendship and loyalty narrated by Jock the Scottish terrier. Jock lives with his friend, carer and confidante Old Mac. They spend their days meandering through familiar neighbourhood streets, taking time to smell the flowers, appreciate the sunshine and ponder life. All is well even though Jock observes a slowing down in Old Mac’s daily routine. Rest stops are becoming more frequent, their walks are mouth children’sfiction Reviewed by Angela Groutsis becoming shorter and Old Mac seems tired and distracted. All the same Jock and Old Mac are managing ‘a wee walk’ daily, so Jock is content. It seems life can’t get much better, or so Jock thinks. However, when he receives news via the doggy mail drop that Mitzi, his adored white Maltese terrier is pregnant, life suddenly seems ever so much brighter for Jock, the expectant father. He wants to shout it from the rooftops, he wants to signpost every wooden seat, every tree, every park bench. His sources also tell him that Bruno the Butcher is up to his old tricks again organising the annual barbeque. Locals think of this as their Harriet Huxtable and the Purpose of Rats Louise Pike Age guide 7-10 Ten-year-old gardener and nature lover Harriet Huxtable is determined, spirited and knows what she wants. And what she wants is a first grade compost bin which her dad has promised her, should she achieve an A in her school science project. Fabulously simple, thinks Harriet: Boris her pet tortoise will provide all that is needed for a fascinating and interesting science project. Mr Rowe will be sure to grant her the A she needs. Harriet is about to find out that life is not quite so straightforward. Raincheck on Timbuktu Kirsten Murphy Age guide 16+ 46 I cannot remember the last time I finished reading a young adult novel on such a high. Raincheck on Timbuktu takes the reader on a journey full of insight into the daily highs and lows as experienced by the protagonist, sixteen-year-old Lucy Morgan. Lucy is a thinker, she is questioning, intelligent, curious, opinionated and rather likeable. At the same time she is cynical beyond her years. ‘Being a teenager sucks,’ she declares. She can’t imagine things being worse in Timbuktu. Thus her plan is to relocate there because ‘Timbuktu equals self-preservation’. Lucy On arrival home, she finds Boris very dead in the bottom of his aquarium. Shock! Horror! Alternative suggestions of goldfish, puppies and her brother’s cat just do not measure up as ‘interesting’ candidates. ‘A rat,’ thinks Harriet, a ‘very special, extra precious, A-grade-and- compost-bin-obtaining rat’ will do the trick. Wenzel the rat, courtesy of the Grinter’s backyard shed, is about to make Harriet’s dreams come true, but not before he, or is it a she, wreaks havoc in the Huxtable household. And what a colourful lot the Huxtables are: a fake grandma; a very pregnant sister married to a rather eccentric Englishman who has a penchant for bow ties; a ‘huggy’ dad with a glass eye and thinks she has it all worked out; she has a seventy-five-year plan for her life after all. Any digression from this plan will be dealt with the severity that it deserves. Change seems to trouble Lucy. But change inevitably features in her life and reconciling these changes with her ‘life plan’ is agonising. Why the boys? Why the romance? Why no more video and pizza nights? And why the personal tragedy? Buried truths will be exposed romantic feelings will be realised, friendships will be strengthened and family relationships will shift. Lucy’s reluctance to change will be thrown out the window along with her seventy-five- year plan. Lucy evolves throughout the novel and resigns from worrying. She demonstrates a freshness, an idealism, a passion and intensity. The reader is left day, but Jock and his canine friends think of it as the ‘Every Dog Has Its Day Party’. A perfect day for Jock and Mitzi to make their announcement! A tragic moment will dampen spirits and raise tensions leading up to the party, but Jock’s loyalty and quick, strategic thinking will save the day. Yet another gem from the much-loved Penguin $11.95 Margaret Clark. unsavoury body odour; a corporate mum who cleans obsessively, eats only junk food, and changes her hair colour to suit her daily outfits; and a very snotty nosed brother. Harriet’s antics will make readers laugh with sheer delight and discover that there is a purpose to rats after all. Scholastic $11.95 feeling that anything is possible. ‘I could say that I came across this wisdom on my very own, but I would be lying. There was a mum, a dad, a brother, a grandma, a boy next door, four friends, an Penguin $17.95 enemy and an enigmatic co ordinator.’ Lucy decides to take a ‘raincheck on Timbuktu’ because she doesn’t want to miss out on all the good stuff...or bad. An engaging and highly recommended read.