Review Blog

Sep 13 2018

Natural born loser by Oliver Phommavanh

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Penguin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143505730
(Age: 10+ ) Highly recommended. Natural born loser is an inspiring, funny story and promotes being yourself rather than following the crowd. Raymond is a typical year 6 boy who loves soccer and being with his best friend but he doesn't see himself as a leader. He sees himself as a follower and does follow his best friend around. He isn't all that good at soccer (in his eyes) even though he practises all of the time. Raymond's school has a bad reputation for bullies and principals who always leave. But, a new principal has arrived and he is ready to shake things up. First, the new principal introduces the idea of prefects to give the students a voice at school. Raymond and his best friend - Zain - are chosen as well as two others - Ally and Randa. The new principal wants them to work as a team and gives them the chance to show leadership and organisation skills as well as back anything they want to do for their fundraising efforts. From a dare-a-thon to a car wash to a sports day, the school and the community really get behind the new prefects. Can the bullymon (the bully) of the school finally get on board or will his antics continue to cause chaos?
Natural born loser is a fun and an easy to read novel, told from the perspective of a year 6 boy. It is extremely relatable to children around this age - from the issues at school to the feelings Raymond has. Raymond doesn't come from a rich family. His parents work hard and he goes to the local school. The themes of multicultural Australia, teamwork and community are prominent. The multicultural content gives children from different cultural backgrounds a character in a story that could be just like them. The idea that the prefects need to work together and lead together rather than have a captain in charge is relevant today. Natural born loser has all of the emotions and moments of a great story. More importantly, the reader sees Raymond change, as the story progresses, into a leader.
It is highly recommended for readers aged 10+. The underlying themes would also make it a great novel to study in the class for year 5 to year 6.
Kylie Kempster

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