Review Blog

Sep 21 2015

Kid Glovz by Julie Hunt

cover image

Ill. by Dale Newman. Allen and Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781742378527
Themes: fable, magic, music, friendship, resilience. The lavishly produced cover of this Australian graphic fable with its embossed musical notes invites the reader to pick it up. Inside Hunt's epic tale with Newman's pencil rendered drawings, reminiscent of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, tell a dark story about a boy with a musical gift. His mother sewed her song with a magical thread into his gloves before she died and they are the source of his musical genius. Brought up by a mean guardian Kid Glovz is exploited as a child prodigy: 'at two years of age he played the minute waltz in thirteen seconds' p5. At concert halls and competitions, for a fee, he plays the piano. 'Tonight this brilliant child prodigy will play Rackhoven's Symphony No.3 in E minor with his left hand while playing Fekonhoff's Sonata No. 563 with his right' p6. There is no joy in the music and Kid Glovz is not allowed to play his own compositions. To keep him small he is underfed and made to rehearse all day. One night a thief, called Shoestring, tightrope walks into his room and offers friendship and a way to escape. The ensuing action is complex and involves a gang of thieves, giant goatherds, a hermit oracle and Splitworld Sam, a central character, condemned to live between worlds for robbing the dead, who lures the boys into the underworld. At times the story is a little confusing with a prelude and dream sequences that are not immediately obvious but generally the graphics add another dimension to the story and the characters are particularly expressive and beautifully rendered. Additional readings will reward as subtleties are revealed. The friendship between the boys develops, though each starts out pursuing self-interest in the end looking after each other becomes more important.
Upper primary to middle school students, especially boys, will enjoy the developing friendship but all ages can enjoy the graphics and in spite of the scary bits, like most fables, it would be a good book to read aloud to younger children.
Sue Speck

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