STRESSHEAD – REVIEW

Dennie is a Stresshead, and she has a lot to stress about. Things are not going well with her long time boyfriend Jack and her Year 11 results are due out, and being part of a high achieving family, she feels a lot of pressure to get good marks.

On top of that, her pilates loving, veggie eating, health freak Mum is suffering from the same illness that killed her grandmother, but Mum’s keeping it to herself and seems to be in denial about the whole thing.

And her best friend Kat has always been there for her, but now Kat appears to be having problems of her own.

When Dennie is suspected of cheating on one of her Year 11 exams she’s not sure what to do. Who can she go to for advice when everyone is deeply immersed in their own issues?

I’m TOAST. I’m burnt toast. I’m the charcoal you scrape off the toast with your knife. OMG. Year Eleven results are out TODAY, my boyfriend is MIA and my mum is acting TOTALLY WEIRD. I’d turn to my BF, Kat, but her life has gone from hero to ZERO. I don’t know who to talk to and everyone’s got their own problems. Would life be better if I wasn’t such a STRESSHEAD?

STRESSHEAD is written by Allayne Webster and published by Scholastic. It’s a very realistic account of the turmoil of a teen who finds her life unravelling as things just don’t seem to be working out as planned. Dennie is forced to work through the turmoil and find a way to accept the things she can’t change and be proactive about the things she can.

She’s an empathetic character who clearly has a lot going on in her life, but faces up to her realities with honesty and maturity.  Things are changing for Dennie and she has to learn to adapt. She’s a strong character with her own ideas, but she cares a lot about people and that’s what makes her life so difficult. She also finds that she’s made her own assumptions about people like Mum’s best friend Clara, that are quite far from the truth.

STRESSHEAD is a compelling coming of age story about a teen facing up to some difficult decisions in just about every aspect of her life.

Allayne Webster is a South Australian writer and more about her work is available from her website.

 

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE – “MATES” GREAT AUSTRALIAN YARNS FOR KIDS

Every book I have read in the The Mates series (published by Omnibus) has been full of great characters and humour and the two books I’m talking about today are no exception.

These uniquely Australian stories celebrate what it is to be Australian – our history, our inventiveness and unique perspectives on life. And these books are humorously illustrated in full colour.

YOU TURKEYS

Written by Michael Gerard Bauer

Illustrated by Nahum Ziersch

You Turkeys was always going to be a favourite with me. Not only is it written by Michael Gerard Bauer whose writing I greatly admire, but I am probably the only person in Australia who has a fascination for Scrub Turkeys.

Jake’s Dad’s garden is his pride and joy so when the scrub turkeys move in and turn it into a mess, pecking at the tulips and spreading the chip bark with their sharp claws.

Dad has a five point plan to get rid of them and Jake is his enthusiastic assistant. But when scarecrows, pepper and chicken wire fail to work, he has to rethink the whole situation.

Apart from the great characters and humour in You Turkeys, I loved the resolution to this story and I’m sure that young readers will too.

BARNESY

Written by Allayne Webster

Illustrated by Tom Jellett

Hannaford’s family loves naming things, even the lawnmower! The new baby lamb needs a name, and it’s Hannaford’s turn to choose…

There’s something appealing about a book that starts by introducing Victor the Evil lawnmower. And growing up in a household with cars called Snortsy and Soames, I could really relate to a family that names everything.

But so far, Hannaford (named after Alfred Hannaford) hasn’t had a chance to name anything. So when a new baby lamb arrives at the farm, this could be his chance. But first he must find a way to help the lamb’s injured mother to walk again.

Barnesy is full of great characters like Sir Robert Helpmann the thieving wombat who danced out of the way of an oncoming car and Stumpy, the cockatoo.

It’s another hilarious read in the Omnibus “Mates” series.

The “Mates” books are for newly independent readers making the transition from picture books to novels, but the humour and colour of will be enjoyed by kids of all ages and reading levels.