Monday 16 July 2018

Leave Taking

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood (UQP) PB   RRP $14.95 ISBN: 978 0 7022 6011 7

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is a new verse novel for younger readers from the celebrated author of Star Jumps, the 2010 winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction. The theme of Leave Taking had its genesis in the author’s own (successful) battle with cancer and her move away from the farm where she raised her children. Basically, this book is a journey through grief and a celebration of hope, with Toby, his mum and dad, leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister, Leah. Together, they sort through all their belongings and put things aside to sell or throw out. It’s a big task, and naturally Toby doesn’t want to leave the only place he’s called home.

As his last day on the farm approaches, Toby has a plan -- to say goodbye to all the things and places that mean something special to him and Leah, from the machinery shed and Pa’s old truck to the chook house. With the help of his best friend, Trigger the dog, he learns what it means to take your leave.

As Toby says good-bye in this final week, he experiences camping, a clearing sale and a bonfire night, meanwhile undertaking chores such as milking cows, tidying up and packing.

This is a gentle story with no dramatic moments; the story action rolling smoothly through the course of the last week on the farm.

Written in easy-to-read free verse, the book will appeal to readers aged 7 to 10 years who prefer short sentences and stanzas with plenty of white space and pared-back descriptions. Simple black and white line illustrations scattered through the book with drawings on the fly pages add to the book’s appeal.

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