Review Blog

Sep 16 2013

Sailmaker by Rosanne Hawke

cover image

UQP, 2013. ISBN 9780702249723.
(Age: 11-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Step-parents and stepchildren, ADHD, Belonging, Ghosts, Family, Friendship, Mystery Fiction.
Rosanne Hawke's Sailmaker is the second fast-paced adventure story in this trilogy that started with The Keeper and concludes with the publication of the Killer Ute in 2013.
With this first person narrative, the reader sees the world through Joel's eyes as continues to struggle with his medication and ADHD, his family relationships and friendships. He is a believable teenage character who is struggling with his own self confidence and self-control.
The mystery Joel and his friend Mei set out to solve involves a lighthouse ghost, an abandoned tinny and an escaped prisoner. Rosanne Hawke uses the setting of the coastal town, the elemental sea and the nearby island with its bird sanctuary and iron lighthouse to effectively underpin Joel's adventures. There are many appropriate metaphors used to develop the reader's understanding of Joel, he calls his problems with his biological father a shark of his own to deal with.
Joel's relationship with his foster father Dev Eagle is still undergoing some difficult patches causing some anxiety as well. Vern Solomon, the sailmaker and bird sanctuary caretaker who lives on the island provides sage advice and sanctuary during the storm. Rosanne Hawke's adds Dev's sister, problems with his biological mother Zoe and his druggie ex-con father Scott into the mix. School life with its dramas, bullying and illness management is realistically portrayed.
Sailmaker was a CBCA Notable book in 2003 and this reprinting introduces Joel to a new generation of readers. I would highly recommend this series for readers from 11 to 14. They are excellent for a class read-aloud and for reluctant teenage boy readers.
Rhyllis Bignell

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