Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The toilet kid by Pat Flynn and Don't Breathe a word by Marianne Musgrove

I have just read two books with very different styles and subject matter but both fall into the category of didactic fiction – books that are trying to teach us something. Perhaps this is not a bad thing but as an adult reading a children’s book sometimes the lessons can get in the way of a good story.

The first book is The Toilet Kid by Pat Flynn. At its heart this is a book about about anorexia although this word is never used and young readers could possibly read this short and funny novel all the way through and not know this is Kayla’s secret. I really did the enjoy The tuckshop kid which was the first book in this series but I am not sure The toilet kid is quite so successful. This second book has the same characters and setting but does not quite reach the humour of the first. Pat Flynn has a great web site you might want to check it out.

Just as we are never really told about Kayla’s problem, in Don’t Breathe a word Marianne Musgrove does not use the word dementia until the very last chapter of this story. Sisters Tahlia and Mackenzie Carew try to cope with their elderly Grandfather. They know something is seriously wrong with him but they are afraid if his condition is revealed the sisters will be separated and put into foster care. This is an easy novel to read and the girls, especially Mackenzie, are very caring of Pirate, the grandfather but I really wanted to know a little more of the back story. Mackenzie is terrified of water, for example, and this is linked to the death of her parents but this important story element is only briefly touched on towards the end of the book. These criticisms to one side this is a very readable book with a realistic setting and strong characters who touch your heart.

I would recommend these two books to sensitive readers in Years 4, 5 and 6.

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