Tag Archives: Adolescence

The Fall – Tristan Bancks

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thefall

9780143783053

May 29, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $16.99

 

Well, after much impatient anticipation I could just say ‘WOW’! But that’s hardly the review this new action-packed novel deserves so I shall continue.

Tristan has a superlative ability to write everyday all-too-human imperfect characters and transform them into inspirational heroes.

Sam has never known his father. He knows he has one, he knows his name and his occupation and sometimes a vague idea of where he is. He lives with his mum in the beautiful Blue Mountains and as an almost teenager who has faced some physical difficulties, he’s becoming a little hard to handle at times.  Following some serious surgery to correct a scoliosis issue, Sam is finally going to stay with his dad in Sydney for some recuperation for himself and some respite for his mum.

In his mind, he has created his crime reporter father into a kind of super-hero, even writing his own comics about Harry Garner: Crime Reporter where his James Bond-like father is a legend.

The reality falls far short when Sam finds himself sleeping on an uncomfortable couch in a dingy apartment and a father who insists on being called Harry not Dad. Harry is not the tall handsome action hero of Sam’s dreams but an old tired-looking man with the same twisted body that Sam himself would have been destined for without the painful surgery. Instead of bonding time with his father, Sam is left alone day and night with Magic, a rather drooly but affectionate dog and leftover take-away pizza for rations.

From the outset the reader is plunged into Sam’s nightmare experience in the big city. Alone as usual and fitfully awake during the night, Sam overhears an altercation on the balcony above his father’s apartment. Cautiously watching through the window, Sam is shocked to see a man fall down to the ground where it crumples into an unquestionably very dead body. He knows instantly that the man has been pushed – and that falling six floors is a very effective way to silence an enemy.

Racing to tell Harry he realises that his dad is gone – again – and in a quandary goes downstairs to check on the man and realises all too late that he has been seen.  He knows enough about major crime to conclude that this is not a healthy situation for him to be in.

With unremitting drama, pace and suspense the next twenty four hours becomes a cat-and-mouse game of desperation as Sam tries to piece together the crime, aided in part by a new friend Scarlet from the floor above.

Perhaps the worst part for Sam is wondering if and how his father could be involved with this dreadful circumstance.

The climax of this adventure story will have readers on the edge of their seats, with palms sweating as Sam and his father literally dodge bullets and escape their own deaths.

With themes of trust, family/male relationships, resilience and courage this is another fine coming-of-age novel from a master storyteller.

Watch Tristan’s book trailer and find out some more of the back story here.

My highest recommendation for this especially for readers from around ten years upwards.  Your readers who seek the adventure/mystery genre will be completely gripped by this.

 

 

 

Engaging Adolescents- Michael Hawton

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engaging

Exisle Publishing

May 2017

ISBN  9781925335408

RRP $29.99

You know those shows on TV about history’s worst jobs? I reckon parenting teenagers should be heavily featured!

Yes, I’ve raised three girls – only with moderate success, doing the best I could, with what I had and lots of tantrums/screaming matches/exhausting emotions – and now, raising a granddaughter about to become a teen. (Luckily a much more placid child than her mum was!).

Michael Hawton has used his many years of experience as a psychologist, clinical expert for NSW Children’s Court and teacher of behaviour management to provide parents with a handbook for negotiating tempestuous times with teens.

This is no heavy textbook filled with psych-babble and jargon but rather a practical easy-to-read, simple guideline for navigating the storms – or indeed averting them.

Each chapter is summed up with some essential points (say what you’re going to say, say it and then say it again) so that the reader (who may be slumped in exhaustion) can set these ideas into their long term memory.  There are opportunities throughout to practise new skills and techniques and the whole is well developed with a family case study exploring three all too common issues.

My teacher head could easily relate to ideas presented but non-teachers will find it just as relatable I have no doubt.

I think that most of us would agree that our teens (and parents) are facing such a shift in societal thinking and attitudes that providing our kids with strong values and respectful relationships is arguably the most difficult it has ever been.

This is a highly recommended read and addition to your shelves – be they library for parents, your own personal or professional reading. I will certainly be sharing it with staff and parents at my own school as well as friends who are about to embark on the rollercoaster of teen-dom with their kids.

Stay posted for a Q&A with Michael on this blog – I look forward to picking his brain! In the meantime you can watch him here on Today Show Extra.