Review Blog

May 17 2017

Harry Kruize, born to lose by Paul Collins

cover image

Hybrid Publishers, 2017. ISBN 9781925272628
(Age: 11+) This book draws heavily on one of the best-known poets and fiction writers of Australia's colonial period - Henry Lawson (1867-1922). One of Lawson's recurring themes in his yarns is dogs. Many a boy wants to have the mateship and loyalty of a dog. The stories Paul uses are pub yarns written for adults so many of the underlying morals to the stories will leave kids shaking their heads wandering what the connection is to the protagonist, 11 year old Harry Kruze; this is where teachers will revel in helping readers to dive into the finer details and discuss issues such as family relationships, mental health and student bullying and examine Harry's perception that life is 'all jumbled up and fragmented . . . All messed up. And back to front'.
Harry Kruize describes himself as the Hobbit, feeling like 'a walking disaster' and 'the class weirdo'. Not surprisingly he goes through each school day keeping his head down to avoid his nemesis Gavin Brickson, THE BRICK, while trying to make sense of his mother's fluctuating moods. Although having a low opinion of himself he dreams of becoming a writer and likes to think of himself as represented by font that is 'bold face', 'clear' and 'straight to the point'.
Paul Collins has cleverly interwoven Harry's voice into a class assignment where students come up with a list of wishes and diarise about them coming true or not. Without giving away any spoilers one of Harry's seven wishes is for a dog, hoping that having a dog and winning the Dog Day Race Cup might solve his lack of social skills all the while helped along by some dubious advice from a 'friend'.
Personally I like the cover but I would have preferred to see it representative of the main character's age. The pages are bordered by Microsoft Word desktop which students will feel connected to. The mix of font makes the appearance of the book attractive but a reluctant reader would benefit from increasing the spaces between lines. A warning also needs to be made regarding the graphic goriness depicted in Collins' The dog that wasn't.
Overall, this is an interesting book for readers aged 11+ years. It provides many opportunities for guided discussion about family relationships, mental health, student bullying and empathy.
Paul Collins was born in England, raised in New Zealand and immigrated to Australia in 1972. Paul is the founder of Ford Street Publishing and runs the speaker's agency Creative Net. He strongly believes in nurturing Australian talent and has selflessly dedicated his time to ensuring children continue to be challenged and entertained by their reading choices. Harry Kruize, born to lose is one of Paul's 140+ books. For more information about Paul Collins, stop by his website. There you will find information about all Paul's books, helpful tips for young writers and classroom tools for teachers.
Sharon Smith (Children's and Youth Services Librarian Riverina Regional Library)

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