Review of ‘Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend’
Written by Steven Herrick
Age Range: Middle Primary – Upper Primary
Themes: community, friendship, kindness, school, grief, loneliness
Awards: Winner: 2013 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards – Children’s Literature, Shortlisted: 2013 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards – Patricia Wrightson Prize, Shortlisted: 2013 CBCA Younger Reader, Shortlisted: 2013 QLD Literary Awards.
In a country town, in a school just like yours, the kids in Class 6A tell their stories. There’s Mick, school captain and sometimes trouble-maker, who wants to make the school a better place, while his younger brother Jacob just wants to fly. There’s shy and lonely Laura who hopes to finally fit in with a circle of friends, while Pete struggles to deal with his grandpa’s sudden death. Popular Selina obsesses over class comedian Cameron, while Cameron obsesses over Anzac biscuits and Pookie Aleera – whoever that is! For new teacher Ms Arthur, it’s another world, but for Mr Korsky, the school groundskeeper, he’s seen it all before.
I remember reading my first Steven Herrick verse novel many years ago now and being wowed by his ability to construct a cohesive narrative out of a bunch of free verse poems. Since that first Steven Herrick I have become somewhat a verse novel obsessive and Herrick is the king of the Australian verse novel for younger and YA readers.
His middle – upper primary novel, ‘Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend’ has deservedly been nominated in several awards around Australia and is a favourite in school and home libraries.
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.
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.
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 also adore are below.