Review Blog

Jan 15 2020

The new kid : Very popular me by James O'Loughlin

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Pan Macmillan Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760554835. 224pp.
(Ages: 6+) Highly recommended. In the second book in the New kid series Sam is adjusting to life in Canberra, his new school, friendships and is preparing to become a big brother to a new baby sister. The story starts with Sam still trying to make friends and learn the intricacies of the school classroom and student dynamics. As the story progresses, Sam is faced with many dilemmas as he deals with his sudden popularity and later with the devastation of becoming the teacher's pet. All this occurs due to Sam finding an interesting and sort after marble in the garage of his house and this leads to his popularity as every student tries to win the marble during playtime when marble games are strongly contested. Sam struggles to hold onto both the marble and his popularity as he at first refuses to partake in matches and then realises that the marble has taken over his life and he eventually loses it. He also deals with his first girlfriend who has lots of rules about their relationship and finally the loss of everything when a new teacher arrives and makes him the teacher's pet.
The story focuses on Sam's attempts to un-pet himself and regain his popularity or at least his average kid status. Sam struggles with life and friendship and the story is written in such a way that the reader at times feels sorry for him and at other times wishes that he would just see what is right in front of him. Like many primary aged children, Sam is struggling to find his place amongst the unfamiliar environment of a new school and a new home, and as life changes for the main character the reader will sympathise with these changes and reflect on their own school experiences.
The book will appeal to a wide range of readers as it is full of laughs, real situations that the reader will recognise from their own school experiences. Because of this the book will captivate the classroom audience as a read-aloud and will engage the reader.
I would recommend this book to primary school aged readers as they are the ones who are most likely to identify with the storyline, however, younger readers would enjoy these books too. Themes: School, friendship, family, peer pressure, humour.
Mhairi Alcorn

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