Review of ‘Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend’
Written by Steven Herrick
Age Range: Middle Primary – Upper Primary
Themes: community, friendship, kindness, school, grief, lonliness
Awards: Shortlisted: 2013 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Patricia Wrightson Prize, Shortlisted: 2013 CBCA Younger Reader, Shortlisted: 2013 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, Shortlisted: 2013 Qld Literary Awards.
If you have a child who is particularly adverse to poetry, as they can be when forced to write a shape poem, acrostic, rhyming, non-ryhming free verse (the list goes onnnnnnn)…read them or give them ‘Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend’ and change their view of poetry forever.
I remember reading my first Steven Herrick verse novel a looong time ago and being wowed by his ability to construct a cohesive narrative out of a bunch of free verse poems. I greatly enjoy poetry, but before being introduced to the world of verse novels by my teacher librarian mother, I had never considered that one could write an entire novel out of free verse poems.
Since that first Steven Herrick I have become somewhat a verse novel obsessive. In my humble opinion, Herrick is the king of the Australian verse novel for younger readers and Sally Murphy the queen. If you or your child has never tried a verse novel, these two authors are a must.
The latest verse novel by Herrick, ‘Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend’ has deservedly been nominated in several awards around Australia and is sure to be a favourite in school and home libraries for many years to come.
Set in a small rural community, much of the story is told through the eyes of a class finishing their final year of primary school. ‘Pookie Aleera is Not my Boyfriend’ contains themes of friendship, loneliness, community, grief and kindness and is heart-warming, tear jerking and laugh out loud funny.
The reader is left wanting to stay a little longer in this community and share an ANZAC biscuit with some of the delightful characters. In fact I cooked ANZAC biscuits the morning after I stayed up late reading this novel from cover to cover; I had forgotten how great they are!
The first person narrative is told from different perspectives – male and female, young and old, ensuring this is a book that will be enjoyed by both sexes and many age ranges.
With a range of poetic devices employed and strong figurative language, Herrick’s verse novel is an obvious choice for a class novel study and excellent teachers notes are provided here on the UQP website. UQP always does an exceptional job with their teachers notes. They are often written by teachers or teacher librarians and now they are usually in context with the Australian Curriculum – I highly recommend them.
To add this book to your home or school library click here.
Two other verse novels by Steven Herrick for primary school aged children which I adore are below.
Funny and quirky…’Tom Jones Saves the World’ is a story of family, friendship and saving the world. If you click on the cover you can Google Preview some of the text in Booktopia.
The title and cover of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here.
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Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.