Review Blog

Apr 06 2011

Don't call me Ishmael! (sound recording) by Michael Gerard Bauer

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Read by Brendan Higgins. Louis Braille Audio, 2010. (5 hr., 30 min.). ISBN 978 1742125282. 5 CDs. $62.00
Ishmael cringes every time his parents tell of the tale of his birth. His mother was as large as a whale and when Ishmael slipped out so easily, water gushing everywhere, the natural thing was to give him such a name. But Ishmael does not want to know. So starts the wonderful story of one boy's quest for surviving his time at school, trying hard not to be seen, avoiding the notice of the school bullies, those who have followed him through primary school, and are now in the same high school.
A very funny story of life at school is told beautifully by Brendan Higgins, his voice capturing the comic tone of the novel, and enunciating the whole so clearly that it is a pleasure to listen.
Interspersed with small snippets of music, each chapter builds up a picture of the school and the bullying which is tormenting some of the cohort. Ishmael cannot help himself when seeing his class mate, Barry Bagsley, bullying a younger boy, he steps in. This instantly creates another victim for Barry and his mates, and when the new kid, James Scobie joins the class, everyone can see that this boy is ripe for their touches. Again, Ishmael cannot help but protect him and a friendship is born. James encourages Ishmael to join the school debating group, but assures him that he will never have to debate, just be a helper. Of course the night comes when Ishmael must front up and debate with hilarious consequences. As a debater he learns new words and the power of words to defend himself against the bullies, and so wins the eye of the girl from the opposing school.
A wonderful story well told.
Fran Knight

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