The little wave by Pip Harry

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UQP Books, ISBN: 9780702260476.
(Age: 8-13) Highly recommended. Verse novel. Themes: Friendship, Pen pals, Surfing, Courage, Bullying, Families, Grief. What a wonderful heart-warming story this is! Pip Harry has written a verse story for younger children which will become a favourite. When a Manly school decides to host a country class for a visit to the seaside, the children involved all face challenges. Noah loves to surf, but doesn't know how to stop his friend from bullying him. Lottie lives with her grief stricken father who hoards enormous amounts of junk and Jack is a great cricketer, but often doesn't turn up to school and has family problems.
The free verse structure of the novel works really well and would make for a great read aloud or class novel. The story, told in the voices of the three main characters, flows along beautifully and the reader gets to know each of them really well and can easily identify with the problems that they are facing and the emotions that their challenging lives bring. The letters that each send expand on their lives and likes. I particularly liked the letters between Lottie and the teacher, Miss Waites who shows her that it is OK to be totally engrossed in something, (bugs in Lottie's case). Both Miss Waites and the teacher Mr M are warm, friendly, caring people who make a difference in their students' lives and other parents and carers are portrayed compassionately and in depth.
The contrast of the setting of the beach and surfing in Manly to Mullin, the tiny country town where Jack lives, is vividly described. Noah's love of surfing, the beach and the sand and city life is quite different to the swimming hole where Jack goes, and small town life. Themes of bullying, dysfunctional family life and friendship problems are deftly handled and will be easily recognised by children.
There is much to like in this memorable book, which would be wonderful as a Literature Circle or class novel. Teacher's notes are available.
Pat Pledger