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Friday 3 November 2017

Review: Chook Doolan Books 5 - 8

Chook Doolan is a lovable character (visually so as well, thanks to Lucinda Gifford’s fantastic character images) that children with anxiety and fears will relate to immediately. His name is Simon, but is called Chook. Although Chook is gentle, adaptable, accepting and clever, his fears cover his good points.

This series is for early readers, said to be directed mainly at boys. Side-stepping the gender category, I know girls too, will love these delightful stories. 

In Unhappy Camper, Chook’s mum gets a school newsletter about camp for his class. Chook is immediately uneasy. Camp equals snakes, creepy-crawlies, bad food, and homesickness; all things that make him fearful.

Joe is Chook’s best friend, and never scared of anything. Can he convince Chook to go on camp; perhaps try new things? Will he or won’t he? A challenging choice awaits Chook.

Up and Away sees Chook’s class discussing the different jobs their parents have. Chook’s dad is a pilot. For weekend homework the children must describe what they hope to be when they’re older, and why they feel they’d be good at their chosen role. The fearful Chook feels he’s only good at playing chess.

When little Mandy expresses her fear at an impending flight, Chook reassures her by describing the many safety measures pilots enforce. This unexpected action shines a bright light on Chook’s capabilities.

Chook’s family are headed on a three hour drive to visit Aunty Liz in On the Road. Twin girl cousins! What can he possibly have in common with them? A surprise awaits him when Evie shows a genuine interest in chess, and Chook realizes that surprisingly, children are always able to find common ground, regardless of gender.

Let’s Do Diwali explores other cultures, customs, food and festivals. Chook is partnered with Praj, a shy, Indian classmate, on a research and talk task about festivals in other countries. Their dilemma is who will present before the class?

After visiting the Hindu festival, Diwali, Chook is surprised at how interesting and enjoyable he finds sharing and learning about Praj’s world.

The talented James Roy has created an endearing character in Chook to voice in a subtle way, and always with a balance of positive reinforcement and encouragement, fears and insecurities many young children experience.

Title: Chook Doolan Books 5 - 8
Author: James Roy
Illustrator: Lucinda Gifford
Publisher: Walker Books, $9.99
Publication Date: June 2017
Format: Paperback
Age: 5+
Type: Early Readers