Thursday, 5 May 2011

Swashbuckler

Swashbuckler by James Moloney (A re-release from UQP)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9780702228254
Review by Jo Burnell

Re-releases can be dated and irrelevant to today’s world. Filled with misgivings, I opened Swashbuckler, ready to be irritated . To my delight, I couldn’t put it down.

Being the newcomer, Peter is the latest target for school bullies, but his saviour arrives in an unexpected form. Swinging on a tree rope, the mini Scarlet Pimpernel drops his sword ad loses his mask, but manages to distract the tough guys. Why won’t Anton admit he is the hero in disguise and what is his obsession with historical heroes?

Both Peter and Anton are struggling with their dads. Peter’s is a compulsive gambler whose habit loses the family home and forces them to move. Peter’s dad has hardly been seen since the move, but he reappears when  Peter’s mum comes into a bit of money.

Anton’s anguish with his dad runs deep, but he’s not telling what it is. Can he finally trust Peter with his pain? Can Peter help Anton fight the fierce dragon before it’s too late?

Coping with terminal cancer is heartbreaking, especially the physical changes that occur as the body fades away. Coming to terms with problem gambling is challenging in different ways. It is trust that corrodes, rather than the body.

James Moloney is still opening the doors to coping for kids in this timeless tale and he does it with an essential ingredient: Humour.

Jo Burnell is passionate about hooking reluctant and struggling readers into the world of books. Her current project for Middle Primary students is about an Aussie hero. Her uncle Roy was a fighter pilot in World War 2.

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