Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-- After the sudden diagnosis of his younger brother's cancer, Colin is sent from his home in Australia to relatives in England. Once there, he tries to contact a number of venerable institutions--including the Queen--in order to obtain the best possible medical assistance for his brother. He fails in these efforts, but eventually receives some help and understanding from a homosexual couple--one of whom has AIDS. The novel ends with Colin fleeing his dreary relatives in England and flying back to Australia to be at his dying brother's bedside. Despite the gloomy subject matter, this book does have some funny moments, and Colin is incredibly feisty and brave--although not all of his actions are plausible. The British and Australian words are few and shouldn't deter readers. However, the plot's breakneck pace results in a lack of sufficient detail in many scenes. The effect is sketchy and undermines the more serious aspects of the story--it's like looking at the countryside from a fast-moving car. Readers won't be able to wholly sympathize with Colin's plight, or the life-and-death issues he faces, because they just haven't had a chance to know him very well. --Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 4-6. When his younger brother, Luke, collapses on Christmas day, Colin assumes it's because Luke's eaten too many holiday treats. He is rushed to a small hospital in New South Wales, and later to a larger facility in Sydney, where his illness is diagnosed as cancer. Thinking to spare Colin the impending tragedy of Luke's death, his parents send him off to England to stay with his aunt and uncle, but the boy has no intention of just sitting around waiting for the inevitable. He has all sorts of plans to save his brother, including seeing the queen and asking her to send her best doctor off to Australia to fix up Luke. Despite his efforts, all of Colin's plans come to nothing. His only solace comes from a young man he meets at the hospital, Ted, whose gay lover is dying from AIDS. From Ted, Colin learns the importance of being with someone you love who is ill, and he succeeds at his final plan--to get home to Luke. The book's Briticisms will deter some readers, and the injection of the AIDS subplot, rather late in the story, is a bit startling. Though Gleitzman's writing is at times manipulative, there is also humor and heart to his story. As Colin makes his way through the maze of things he wants to do to help his brother, readers will follow and be moved when he sees the light. ~--Ilene Cooper
Horn Book Review
Colin is sent from Australia to stay with relatives in England when his younger brother is diagnosed with cancer. A friendship with a young gay man whose companion is dying of AIDS helps Colin accept his brother's inevitable death. The author successfully balances a serious subject with humor. From HORN BOOK 1991, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A jealous Australian 12-year-old, unable to accept his younger brother's inoperable cancer, feels excluded by his parents' decision to send him to English relatives ""until it's all [over]."" Inspired by the Queen's Christmas Message of concern for a world of suffering and pain, Colin decides to become a hero by asking for her help. His determination to save his brother--despite the efforts of his anti-royalist uncle, overprotective aunt, and wimpy cousin--leads to some very funny scenes as he attempts to invade Buckingham Palace and approaches a doctor at the ""Best Cancer Hospital."" Meanwhile, Colin's relationship with a young man dealing with his lover's AIDS exemplifies the book's earnest honesty while also introducing some humorous moments. More seriously, Gleitzman depicts the denial and anger that accompany grief, portraying Colin's egocentricity, spunk, and pain compassionately and without condescension. Neatly tied together by the incidents involving the queen, this mixture of genuine emotion and humor makes for an engaging story that should have broad appeal. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.