Tag Archives: Paul Collins

Harry Kruize, Born to Lose – Paul Collins

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Ford St Publishing

March 2017

ISBN 9781925272628

RRP $17.95

No doubt about it, Paul’s on a winner with this one!

Harry Kruize is an average sort of boy but has an over-abundance of woes and worries. In fact, his self-esteem could hardly be any lower nor his anxiety any less.

It’s not that he minds helping his mum out with the boarding house. After all, since his Dad went away it’s just been the two of them but so many other things are just wrong. Having to see Fitzy the school psychologist (to eliminate any residue issues over his dad’s defection), being constantly ridiculed by the gaggle of nasty girls known collectively as the Bees, having no friends at all, living in mortal dread of the biggest bully in the school, the BRICK, his mum acting all weirdo and secretive are all major problems in Harry’s teenage life. Worst of all, he so desperately wants a dog. More than anything, a dog would make him so much happier.

When Harry’s favourite teacher Mr Granger sets a whole term assignment to illustrate the power of words, Harry is unconvinced. Still he does write down his wishes and he keeps his HH (Harry Hobbit) diary to verbalise his thoughts.

Along comes a character Harry would never have dreamed existed. An old guy named Jack who looks like he stepped straight out of a painting of a bush swagman turns up and needs a place to stay – just for a bit – because he’s really the type who roams about. Suddenly Harry finds himself with a friend and more importantly a friend who knows and understands dogs. Harry’s engagement with Jack and his yarns about fantastic dogs he’s known become the highlight in his existence.

I have to tell you Paul I recognised that it was Henry from the get-go – I am my father’s daughter after all.  I just love this juxtaposition of a 21st century teenage boy’s angst and Henry Lawson’s bush philosophy.

As Harry hears more and more of Jack’s stories things begin to shift in his life. The snarled up threads of his normal days seem to untangle and begin to run more smoothly. By the time, Jack disappears ‘on the wallaby track’ again, Harry has solved the mystery of his Mum’s strangeness – and is about to have a new stepfather, gained the trust and growing friendship of the Brick, finished his sessions with Fitzy, faced down the Bees and most importantly of all has a champion dog of his own.

Henry Lawson was a man who saw the best in our collective Australian personality – the courage, the resilience, the laconic humour, the loyalty and more. He imbued his bush yarns with these qualities and I believe they still exist, exemplified in instances such as hundreds of ordinary people turning up with mops and buckets to help with floods  or those battling bushfires or putting our hands up to give a hand up to anyone who needs it and much more.  His spirit and his faith in his fellow Australians lingers, as it does for Harry, inspiring those same qualities so that we can all recognise in ourselves our best.

I would highly recommend this for your readers from around Year 6 and up – I foresee it being a novel that teachers would love to see as a class reading. Enjoyable and humorous it’s appeal will be for both boys and girls.

 

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Before my aunt and cousin moved a few years ago from their place outside Mudgee – one of my great joys in visiting was knowing I was in the heart of Lawson country. Driving past the Budgee Budgee Inn where Henry wrote The Loaded Dog, visiting the site of his childhood home and Gulgong and generally soaking up his lingering presence were all fodder for my imagination.

Henry Lawson (17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922) was an Australian writer and poet. Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson, Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period, and is often called Australia’s “greatest writer”.

Although Henry was born at the Grenfell goldfields, he was raised, from the age of six months to 15 years, in a cottage 8 km north of Mudgee at Eurunderee (then known as ‘Pipeclay’), which was established after a gold find in 1863. He briefly attended the local Catholic school.

http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/arts/display/22377-henry-lawson

 

Rich & Rare – edited by Paul Collins

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ISBN: 978-1-925272-11-6
Publication date: October 2015
Extent: 512 pages
Format: B Format paperback
Price: AUD$24.95
Category: Genre fiction and poetry
Age guide: 11+

 

This is a sumptuous and luscious smorgasbord feast for any reader, gathering delicacies supplied from Australia’s best storytellers. Our ‘young and free’ creators include: Michael Gerard Bauer, Gary Crew, Justin D’Ath, Scot Gardner, Kerry Greenwood, Libby Hathorn, Leigh Hobbs, Sofie Laguna, Kirsty Murray, James Roy, Shaun Tan and Gabrielle Wang.

Ford St seems to have a monopoly on providing us with wonderful anthologies that are both fresh and contemporary. This is another that will provide fabulous reading for individuals and also for reading aloud. I have been advocating and supporting reading aloud to older students and this is a perfect volume for such a purpose. The diversity of the collection allows for students to be introduced to this impressive cast of writers, to sample a wide-ranging variety of genres and to explore the structure of successful short story writing and poetry.  Here they will find humour, horror, reality, fantasy and much more. There is something for everyone on this menu!

This was one of my outstanding ‘holiday’ reads as I spent time in the beautiful Blue Mountains with family as I could easily pick it up at any time and read one or two stories in moments of complete laziness. Perhaps my only ‘complaint’ is that some of the stories are so engaging that I was almost disappointed to reach the end so quickly. I think my favourite was the marvellous violin which springs to life after long disuse – you will see what I mean when you read it!

This collection sits easily on shelves for your upper primary to secondary students – only one story had a few ‘iffy’ moments but nothing graphic or disturbing.  Illustrated throughout the text is even more accessible for those reluctant readers.

Certainly if your English program includes exploring the short story genre this would be ideal for demonstrating to students how this can be achieved.

Oh and that cover is JUST divine!! 🙂

Highly recommended for both personal and classroom/library reading.

Teaching notes are available at the Ford St website – so you can easily plan to incorporate the book in your planning.