Saturday 18 August 2012

231. Pookie Aleera is Not My Boyfriend by Steven Herrick

Pookie Aleera is Not My Boyfriend by Steven Herrick
Published July 2012 UQP

From the publisher:
Award-winning author Steven Herrick’s latest book is a heart-warming tale about friendship, grief and the importance of baked goods.

In a country town, in a school just like yours, the kids in Class 6A tell their stories.

There’s Mick, school captain and sometime trouble-maker, who wants to make the school a better place, while his younger brother Jacob just wants to fly. There’s shy and lonely Laura who hopes to finally fit in with a circle of friends, while Pete struggles to deal with his grandpa’s sudden death. Popular Selina obsesses over class comedian Cameron, while Cameron obsesses over Anzac biscuits and Pookie Aleera – whoever that is!

For new teacher Ms Arthur, it’s another world, but for Mr Korsky, the school groundskeeper, he’s seen it all before.

Sitting down with a new Steve Herrick is like being a fly on the wall in an Australian classroom and school yard.  Herrick has a real knack of capturing the unique voices of each individual character.   This is a novel told in verse, and each chapter (poem) is told by a different student or staff member.  I know that there are still people out there that just don't like verse novels, but I really think you're missing out, as Steve Herrick tells such a great Australian story with humour, honesty and heart.

It's a difficult book to summarise because it isn't told in the way an 'ordinary story' is, there's a linear time line, but sometimes we see the same events through different eyes, sometimes characters tell about the day at school, and sometimes characters recollect on past events. The school has a new teacher, and it's her first time at a country school, Ms Arthur doesn't get her own chapters, but we get a good idea of her as a characters from what the children say.  

I am sure life in a country school has it's differences to that of a city or suburban school, the one thing that makes this school so special, is the small numbers.  You get the idea that all of the children know each other, as do the families in the town.  The lovely thing that starts to happen in this book comes about when Laura gives Mr Korsky (the groundskeeper) a folder of research she has made for him about things you can do with lavender, because Mr Korsky loves lavender.  This act of kindness starts the students thinking, and the next thing you know, Cameron is sharing the ANZAC biscuits he made with his Mum to the whole school, and then Laura makes Chocolate Crackles...

Steve Herrick has the ability to make you laugh out loud, and in the same book have a real thoughtfulness.  His books have been known to make me laugh and cry, although there were no tears in this one.  The chapters that will most definitely give you a giggle are those told by Constable Dawe who comes to talk to the children about Road Safety, Water Safety and Bush Fire Safety, they are funny because you can just see the scenes being played out with the kind of comments that only children would come up with!

You will also be pleased to know that there are recipes for ANZAC biscuits and Chocolate Crackles in the back.

Who will like this book: Girls and boys age 9+ 
Read it if you like: Red Dirt Diary 2: Blue About Love by Katrina Nannestad

1 comment:

  1. I had some trouble finding the book & now realize it's Australian. It sounds terrific, Alan. Thanks for the interviews & ensuring that those who deserve it it enjoy being given a book.