This isn't at all the carefree story implied by the title and cover artwork--terminal cancer, AIDS, gay-bashing and death are treated tenderly here, in appropriate middle-reader fashion. Colin Mudford, an Australian boy, suspects that his parents favor his younger brother, Luke. When Luke collapses suddenly and is hospitalized, Colin wistfully imagines he has a malady of his own. Yet upon hearing that Luke will die of cancer, Colin sets out to find a doctor to cure him. Sent to live with relatives in England, Colin first tries soliciting the Queen's help, then approaches hospital physicians. He eventually meets Ted, a homosexual whose lover is dying of AIDS. Colin and Ted support one another through a difficult time (including Ted's assault by homophobic thugs), which enables Colin to shed his self-centered ways and allow a brave, resourceful and loving person to emerge. Gleitzman's liberal sprinkling of humor prevents the novel from becoming too dark. While the progression is slow at first, and several Australian expressions (``sooky,'' ``sticky-beaking'') may perplex readers, the material's topicality makes this a special book. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991 Release date: 03/01/1991 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.