Saturday, 23 May 2015

Stand Up and Cheer

Stand Up and Cheer by Loretta Re
(The Wild Colonial Company)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9780992306922

Reviewed by Francine Sculli

In Stand Up and Cheer, a part of Australia’s lesser-known history has been turned into an incredible novel by writer, Loretta Re, magically weaving the elements of a gripping read with the historical threads that put Albury and Australia on the map.

Told through the eyes of ten-year-old Jack, an eager aviator enthusiast, we are taken on a wildly rich journey where we grow close to Jack’s family and learn the many lessons this book offers. But let’s start from the beginning. Set in Albury in 1934 during the Great Depression, a time when aviation and the radio were the people’s greatest entertainment, we meet Jack, his brother Arnie and their parents. Jack’s mother inherits some money from a deceased family member. His father, the town’s radio presenter and voice of the ABC – convinces Jack’s mother that purchasing a car would be the best way to spend the money. The family travels to Melbourne to make the purchase right at the time that Mac Robertson – the Chocolate King – announces the ‘Great Centenary Air Race’ that will see aviators from all over the world fly from England to Melbourne to celebrate the centenary, and that he’ll be giving away a trip to Melbourne to see them land at Flemington Racecourse for anyone who collects all the letters on his Cherry Ripe wrappers.

This sparks Jack’s obsession with the race and his desperate desire to see the planes. But he is far away and has little chance of making it back to Melbourne for the race, especially after the town bully, and son of his father’s obnoxious boss, Pat O’Reilly, tears up the wrappers he has collected. Little does Jack know, this great race will change his life forever when the giant Dutch plane, Uiver, loses its way in the storm en route to Melbourne. Jack and his family are faced with a tough decision: do they break all the rules and attempt to save the plane?

Stand Up and Cheer is not just a story about Albury’s place in aviation history. With so many subplots running through its veins, this is equally a story about family, bravery and what it means to stand by your values. Loretta has created an intriguing world beaming with strong characters and a strong voice that carves a clear picture of this era in history. With its captivating writing style and incredible detail, adults and children alike can pick up this book and get lost in its pages.

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