Tuesday 16 November 2010

Hanging Out

Hanging Out by Catherine Bateson, illustrated by Adam Carruthers (Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $11.99
ISBN 978-1-86291-829-0
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Hanging Out is another title in the excellent Mates series for younger readers. Written by one of my favourite authors, the wonderful Catherine Bateson, Hanging Out explores the rivalry between cousins Ben and Weston, and between Melbourne and Sydney.

Bateson states in her author profile that she was born in Sydney and now lives in Melbourne. I have the reverse experience of being born in Melbourne and living near Sydney and can fully testify to the ferocity of the competition between the two cities.

Melbourne boy, Ben, had been in awe of Sydney when he visited cousin Weston but true to the inter-city rivalry Ben had boasted of bigger and better things at home. Ben is aghast when Weston is to visit him and thinks he will be shown up as a fraud after boasting about such things as snorkelling in Port Phillip Bay with sharks and taking a steam train everywhere.

While Weston doesn't swim with sharks, he does see the Penguin Parade as the fairy penguins come ashore in the evening; and goes for a ride on Puffing Billy among other adventures. Weston thinks that everything in Melbourne is awesome.

Hanging Out is really just about that though - hanging out. While there maybe wonderful things to do and see everywhere you go, it is so much more enjoyable when there is someone to do and see all these things with. This is what the two boys come to realise in the end.

As with the other titles in the Mates series, the book is brilliantly presented and attractive to younger and reluctant readers. Adam Carruthers' coloured cartoon-like illustrations are full of life and fun. They are dotted throughout the book, breaking up the text. However, there is still plenty of white space so as not to overwhelm the reader. Variable fonts add to the quirkiness. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it.

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