Review Blog

Sep 04 2015

Rafe's Aussie Adventure by James Patterson and Martin Chatterton

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Random House, 2015. ISBN 9780857986016
(Age: Yr 4+) Rafe Katchadorian is back in another hilarious adventure as he negotiates his way through middle school, those tricky years when boys are more than children but not yet men. As well as dealing with emerging independence, puberty, and the weird world of girls there is still the trials and tribulations of school to get through. And if you have been tagged a troublemaker, shipped off to the Rocky Mountains for a total attitude realignment and threatened with a host of dire consequences if you don't conform when you're accepted back into your school, then you're Rafe Katchadorian or his twin!
This latest adventure has Rafe recounting his Australian saga, a journey that begins when local Mayor Coogan returns from a trip to Shark Bay, north of Sydney, to announce that Hills Valley Middle School has twinned with Shark Bay and there is to be a three-week, all-expenses-paid trip to Shark Bay for the winner of his art contest. Having a talent for drawing and dreaming, Rafe wins the contest and is on his way. But it's not a dream-driven holiday soaking up sun, sand and surf Rafe encounters many obstacles that he has to overcome, not the least of which is his own fear. Bullied by the Coogan twins with whom he and his mum stay because they are the mayor's nephews, Rafe seeks solace with Ellie and The Outsiders who are a group of misfits with whom he feels he has more in common. But being Rafe there are soon plans afoot that will either make him a hero or forever living the label the adults have tagged him with. As much as Rafe learns about Australia, he learns much more about himself with a heart-warming finale that just might set him on his life path.
Once again Patterson has nailed the characters, bringing out their inner core that is hidden behind the tough facade and speaking directly to his intended audience. They relate to Rafe, see themselves in him, gain confidence that their insecurities are not unique and keep coming back for more. Lavishly illustrated with a mixture of quirky, funny and serious graphics there is not an overwhelming amount of text so that 272 pages seems daunting. If your Year 4+ boys haven't been introduced to Rafe yet, then it's time they were.
Barbara Braxton

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