The Short but Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed by Chrissie Walker, Scholastic NZ
This is the 2017 winner of Storylines’ Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a children’s story manuscript by a previously unpublished author. It was launched with much acclaim at the recent Margaret Mahy Award event, which joyously included many more Storylines awards. I was pleased to see the Fitzgibbon Award going to a humorous story, and also to see it aimed at boys of intermediate age –though I might get shot down in flames for saying this. Many of those lads between about nine and thirteen are at most risk of abandoning reading for pleasure, probably for a large part of their lives.
Thank goodness for stories like this one (and some previous winners) which are written to keep this at-risk readership engaged and amused.
Lucas Weed (Year 6), a new boy, gets talked into playing some pranks at school. His first prank is fairly harmless, involving several teachers and an unfortunate frog. His next one involves the school swimming pool and bubbles. But Lucas is still desperate to get in with the cool crowd, and his pranks escalate and even get posted on YouTube. The final prank is beyond outrageous. Lucas tells his story in a casual, confidential tone that plays up the hair-raising stunts.
Recommended as a fun read for children in upper primary and intermediate years, especially boys.
ISBN 978 1 77543 508 2 $17.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman