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The Old man by Sarah V & Claude K. Dubois

March 6, 2018 Comments off

old manThe Old man by Sarah V & Claude K. Dubois. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

Do not pass by this book like adults who pass by the old man living on the street who has forgotten his own name. We pretend we do not notice, but we do, it’s just too uncomfortable.

Children notice as does the little girl in this story. She gets out of a warm bed, has breakfast, gets ready for school and there he is sleeping on the footpath after a cold night.

We now follow him around as he hunts for food and any form of companionship and warmth and it is not a pleasant experience. But they are there and there are more of them everyday.

The little girl notices him on the way back, gives him her sandwich. It is the highlight of his day. She says he looks like a teddy. The next time the old man is down at the shelter he says his name is Teddy.

The sadness and reality of homelessness is powerfully brought home in this classy picture book. The illustrations in watercolour and pencil drawings are superb. They create the hopefulness of children and the hopelessness of the old man, in winter, in the city.

When will we take notice?

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

July 25, 2017 Comments off

sparrowSparrow by Scot Gardner. Pub Allen & Unwin, 2017.

Every day I see people scrambling for life and survival on the streets. Every city in the World has them and we walk on by trying hard not to notice. We never ask where do they sleep? how come they are there? what do they do all day? are they in good health? even when they are children.

This is the story of Sparrow a ten year old boy living on the streets of Darwin and making a good fist of it in spite of a horrible background. Sparrow has lost the power of speech because of the treatment meted out to him by family and others. He has a shock of hair a dashing smile and helps wherever he can for food and company.

Sparrow is looked after by an old man called Sharky who teaches him how to swim, a skill that will save his life. Every day Sparrow avoids the “ghost boys” who haunt the streets, taking drugs and booze and whatever else they can get hold of. One of them is Sparrow’s brother.

Leap forward five years and Sparrow is in Juvie and on a survival trip in shark and croc infested waters. An accident and Sparrow is out in the bush trying to survive in hostile country but at least he is free and he knows it.

The novel is superbly structured as the two strands of Sparrow’s life are told in consecutive chapters,coming together near the end of the book. Scot Gardner’s descriptions of the wilderness with it’s snakes, lizards, insects, crocs, sharks and physical beauty, are stunning. His understanding of the underdog, the sick, the mentally ill, the human condition and how to survive, are praiseworthy indeed.

Simple to read it is accessible to the most reluctant of readers of reading ages 14-18 years. The hopeful ending will bring joy to your heart.

Don’t miss this one. A potential award winner. Superb cover because you are always waiting for the croc to show up.