Friday, October 4, 2013

Iris's Ukulele by Kathy Taylor

This book was a winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon Award so I should have expected it to be good. I loved 2007 winner Why I hate School by Kris Stanhope.  Iris's Ukulele is the 2011 winner - this is an award for a previously unpublished writer.

This book is really good and it raises a lot of issues about bullies, gender and the ups and downs of friendships.  The biggest stumbling block for me is the cover.  This book has been on my reading pile for 10 months.  I know that because I bought it home in January.  The cover made me think this title might be better suited to an older audience.  That was wrong - this book is perfect for a middle primary reader.

Iris and Sidney are best friends.  They both love to perform and so when the local shopping mall announces they will host a talent competition is seems obvious that the friends will team up and even win but this possibility is derailed when Iris tells Sidney she wants to perform her Vampire Rap.  Sidney has wild ideas for a glam rock opera about an intergalactic space traveler called Yendis and a fashion designer called Siri. Take a close look the these names - Iris is Siri backwards.  The two best friends have the most horrible fight and leave to prepare their own acts.

The other conflict in the book involves a bully called Che.  Sidney is a boy who bounces to his own beat. He is eccentric but his classmates have known him since Kindy and so have no problems with his love of sewing and dressing up.  "Sidney is wearing his three-quarter length red tartan pants, his black lace up boots, and a white T-shirt with a drawing of the Eiffel tower." Che is new and aggressive and seems determined to ridicule and hurt Sidney and there is nothing Iris can do to stop him.  Meanwhile Morgan seems so perfect and Iris just want Elijah to notice her.

You can read about the author here.  Here is a good review - I agree I would like to read another book about Sidney and also about Elijah and his brother - "I think how gracefully he (Zac) moves; how he sways his hips from side to side just like a dancer.  And as he get closer I see he looks just like a bigger, older version of Elijah ... But then I notice he's also very different.  Zac is wearing eyeliner, and his nails are painted with black fingernail polish.  ... Zac is dressed like a male model ready to stroll down a fashion runway."

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