Review Blog

Jul 18 2013

Pookie Aleera is not my boyfriend by Steven Herrick

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UQP, 2013. ISBN 978 0 7022 4928 0.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Verse novel. Country life. School. With a range of people within the school having a voice through the blank verse poems on every page, life in this small rural community is revealed. Cameron tells of his abilities in the classroom, his witty retorts to their new teacher, Ms Arthur, his ongoing feud with the local newsagent, banning him when she finds him reading the comics from the shelf, the class love of the two word filler, where Spookie Aleera comes to life, the almost romances between some of the class, the evenings at home. A variety of voices is heard often with a wry tone, but certainly with wit and humour, pathos and some tears. We hear of Jacob's run in with Charlie, the bank manager's son, the building of a platform in the tree for the apple cores for the birds, the joy at home on the farm when the rain comes. But watching over all is Mick, the school captain who seems to attract trouble, but wishes everyone to be happy and so devises a plan whereby everyone will be kind for a whole week.
Steven Herrick's prowess with subtly building character and setting through verse is well known, and this ability is more than evident in this latest book, as he weaves a community until we know it well, caring for the members as it they were known to us, wanting to know how they fare.
Herrick's time in schools has been well spent. His eye for budding relationships, the odd child, the lonely, the outsiders, the watchers, the young teacher and her following, the principal and the groundsman is spot on. And the spot appearances of the local constable, ready to teach the children something important, are embarrassingly real.
Fran Knight

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