Review Blog

May 14 2010

Toppling by Sally Murphy

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Walker Books, 2010. ISBN 9781921529 429.
John's world revolves round his school friends, particularly Dom, and his hobby, dominoes and toppling. The boys are in year six and their teacher has given them an assignment to do which involves research, collating information and finally presenting it in class at the end of the term. Teams are set up, projects defined and they are off, but Dom and John are wary of the school bully, Ky. In class one day, Dom is very ill and taken home by his parents. The next few days John does not see his best friend, and when someone does talk about him, it appears that something is wrong. Eventually John is told that Dom is very ill and in hospital with cancer.
John is extremely worried for his friend, and forbidden to visit him, takes himself off to his room where he builds domino runs for toppling. Eventually he is allowed to visit and initially reticent, their conversation flows as the two friends exchange news about what they are doing and what is happening to them.
A warm hearted story which gives information about children in hospital and how to comfort the ill and their friends, this tale will have appeal to middle primary students. Told in blank verse, the short sentences resonate with layers of meaning as the two boys find their way around each other, the hospital, the disease and their classmates, including the bully.
Fran Knight

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