Recently I was trying to tidy/cull my bookshelves – a waste of time really as all I seem to end up doing is finding something I urgently need to sit down and reread – but with my scheduled blog contribution in mind I noted two titles I had really enjoyed which had another aspect in common as well – they are about boys confronting difficulties in their lives.
Dennis, the twelve-year-old boy who wore a dress, still grieves for his mother, though she left the family some time ago; he misses her warmth and loving support. His father and brother cannot acknowledge and accept his grief or their own.
Teenager Ben is fortunate to have a close and loving family, but he is under probation for causing ‘about £13,000 worth of damage to a Porsche and a Skoda’. As part of his ‘Fresh Paths Social Contract Probation Journey’ he must undertake involvement in an extra-curricular activity. Of course he makes a mistake in his choice of activity…..
Ten-year-old Auggie has the massive and permanent problem of a severely mis-shapen face, despite many attempts to ameliorate it by surgery. This has the potential to cause him great difficulty socially, so his parents have been very protective and have home schooled him. His parents assist him to make the difficult decision to attend the local school and this story tells of his experiences in his first year as a student there. Interestingly, it is only partly told by Auggie – we hear the voices and differing perspectives of his sister, her friends, his friends, and others.
All three boys are able to work through their problems in various ways and develop a measure of hope for the future. Children in upper primary and lower secondary school will find the books readable and thought-provoking, and useful discussions could be initiated in the classroom and family about the issues raised.