Review Blog

Jun 18 2015

On track by Kathryn Apel

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University of Queensland Press, 2015. ISBN 9780702253737
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Family Life. Brothers. Sports. Disability. Achievement. Resilience. Another exciting verse novel from Kathryn Apel, this time she focuses on sibling rivalry, sports and overcoming a physical condition with determination and discipline.
Toby has a body that stumbles, he's uncoordinated and finds sports challenging. His older brother Shaun is better at everything, sports and his school work. Mum's decision to seek a diagnosis for Toby's condition makes a huge difference. With Lisa the occupational therapist's guidance, he begins a new way of coping with school and home life. Coach Lawrie, Shaun's athletics trainer teaches him techniques to fire up his sensory system and program his muscle memory. Mum, Dad and Toby keep Shaun out of the loop and he is left feeling jealous of Toby's new laptop - a tool for school not a toy and the time Coach Lawrie takes to train his brother. When Toby is chosen to attend Athletics Camp as well as Shaun, tensions rise, each brother has a different journey. The School Sports Day events test both brothers and is an exciting and insightful time in their family's life.
The author's use of alliteration, line placement, metaphors, figurative language and imagery, and the alternate voices, are powerful tools that add insight into the dynamics of family life, sibling rivalry, determination and empowerment. This is an emotionally powerful narrative, great for a class novel.
Dad often says I'm a stone bull in a glass shop, but Mum tells him I'm a gazelle on track now.
Kathryn Apel's blog and the UQP website provide additional information and teachers' notes.
Highly recommended for 9-12 year olds.
Rhyllis Bignell

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