Keepinitreal by Don Henderson

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Read by Craig Annis. First Published by Scholastic Australia 2009. Louis Braille Audio 2009. Unabridged. ISBN: 978 1 74212 292 2. Playing time approximately 4 and three quarter hours.
Stevie doesn't feel too good about himself, he was abandoned in a dumpster before being taken in by Aunt Peg and Uncle Boff and school didn't suit him so he helps his Uncle Boff collect cans and bottles around the streets of Victory Gardens, learning the value of recycling and business truths like 'keep the overheads down'. He wears a beanie all the time to conceal his egg shaped head and finds it hard to respond when Helen, the girl at the recycling centre speaks to him. Fearless Kid Kabula on the other hand flies through life with confidence and optimism, executing amazing stunts on his bike, always 'keepinitreal'. The unlikely pair become involved with the campaign to save the local greyhound track from demolition and investigate the local bikie gang who are possibly involved in greyhound doping.  Stevie is the Dale Kerrigan of Victory Gardens and his first person narrative suits the audio format well. The story has many parallels with The Castle; family values, social action, greyhounds and the small world of the poorer side of town. The victory of the little man here depends on a lottery win but the story is as universal as that of Stevie's Heroes of Greek mythology, who overcome all odds to set things right and return to their families. Craig Annis' reading is well paced and excerpts of this would enhance any classroom study of the book for middle school students and make a good discussion starter.
Sue Speck