'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: On Track

Toby and Shaun are siblings. They have more in common than they know. They both think that the other gets too much attention and each no recognition for their efforts.

Toby is the youngest; a struggling learner who tries hard, but never seems to improve. He loves to run but his legs won’t obey his mind’s instructions. He sees himself as a klutz who stumbles and bumbles through life. His mother finally notices that perhaps there is some other reason for his lack of improvement. An Occupational Therapist suggests training and exercise to combat Toby’s problems and Shaun’s sport’s teacher is enlisted to help.

Shaun is a hard worker and high achiever in class and at sports. He is told nothing about his brother’s problem. When his teacher starts training with Toby, Shaun’s resentment and animosity towards his brother grows. Toby gets the attention, then the laptop, and coach is devoting more time to Toby instead of focusing on Shaun’s improvement. Sports Day is looming. Will Shaun be able to achieve a Personal Best without adequate training? And why is it so imperative for Toby to learn how to run?

This is an excellent and well-written verse novel that concentrates on sibling rivalry, problems created through lack of communication between family members, issues on children with learning difficulties, love, having pride in one’s achievements, and finding what you are really good at and going for it.

I always welcome verse novels. They are a creative form separate to other writing that demand preciseness. Here the minimal words are powerful and expressive. Their message is strong and immediate. This novel is ideal as a discussion and learning tool on the personal and social themes contained within.

Title: On Track
Author: Kathryn Apel
Publisher: UQP, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: June 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780702253737
For ages: 8 - 12
Type: Verse Novel, Junior Fiction

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