Monday 7 May 2012

Jake’s Concert Horror

Jake’s Concert Horror by Ken Spillman, illustrated by Chris Nixon (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $10.95
ISBN 9-781-921-888-755
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

Jake’s Concert Horror is a fast moving, fun and simple read for junior primary readers. At first, Jake thinks a school concert sounds like fun. They’re going to do the ‘The Little Mermaid’ and he waits quietly listening to who has what role when he hears his own name called out for the lead role, Prince Eric!

Jake imagined scampering across the stage in a monkey suit or clashing swords with his mate Jonah. But the lead role? Jake goes through a multitude of emotions before committing to do his best. A prince might be okay – as long as princesses are kept well clear. But Mrs Paul has other ideas. Jake is going to have to kiss a girl – in front of the whole school! Is his teacher really trying to ruin his life?

Jake embraces his role and with the help of his Nanna learns all his lines, facing his fears head on. During the play the crowd clap and cheer him and he finally realises – he’s good. He’s funny and they love him. Caught up in the moment, Jake hams it up and bravely and loudly kissing the Princess, bringing the house down with his performance.

Jake is an endearing and likeable character and his fearful experience is real and heartfelt. There’s a strong message about self-belief and having a go, all wonderful qualities that are fully embraced in this story. Ken Spillman’s writing is simple, eloquent and in touch with his choice of ‘junior primary’ language.

The talented Chris Nixon has drawn the illustrations in a unique black and white format that is delightful. They are realistic snapshots of each moment in this chapter book and you can see and feel all of Jake’s emotions: nervous, scared, uncertain, committed, brave and happy!

The illustrations will definitely resonate with junior primary readers and they compliment this story perfectly. This chapter book format will suit reluctant readers. The humorous illustrations throughout the book break up the text and add fun and quirkiness.

Jake’s Concert Horror is the fourth in a series and they have terrific, comprehensive teaching notes that are readily available on-line.

Neridah McMullin is the author of three books for children. Her latest book is an Indigenous folklore story called 'Kick it to Me'. It’s an ‘aussie rules’ story that’s being endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy, and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also just happens to love footy). 

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