Blacky Blasts Back! by Barry Jonsberg
Allen and Unwin, 2010. ISBN: 9781742372235.
(Ages: Middle primary to the early secondary) When Marcus is visited by Blacky the smelly dog, his learns of his new challenge - to head to Tasmania and find the last Tasmanian tiger in existence. He again enlists the help of his friend, Dylan, and together with Blacky, they endeavour to save the last Thylacine from extinction. In order to achieve their aims, they go on a camp with a group of students from 'the special boys unit'. Once in Tasmania, they learn the art of bush survival skills and meet up with some weird and wonderful characters such as the Thylacine hunters.
This rollicking read contains a great deal of toilet humour and many laugh aloud descriptions. There are, however, a great number of worthwhile messages in the story which would make it a great class read aloud or a useful title for literature circles. Jonsberg describes the stereotypical group of boys in the special unit, yet balances this with a summary of certain important traits the boys also have such as 'kindness, compassion and mateship'. Differences in learner styles and acceptance of these, and the concept that parents often do know best are themes interspersed amongst the more obvious conservation theme. I found this to be a hugely entertaining read, probably best suited to disinclined male readers from middle primary to the early secondary years.
Jo Schenkel, Pilgrim School