The Tuckshop Kid, by Pat Flynn

Except for a few minutes at the start of lunch, I don’t have many friends. I used to be best mates with Craig Withers until a new kid started calling him water buffalo. I told Craig to either ignore it or beat the hell out of the new kid, but for some reason it got to Withers – who’s the second fattest kid in the school, behind yours truly. After that, Withers didn’t want to be my mate anymore. In fact, he started teasing me more than anyone. And his new best friend? The new kid. When you’re like me you learn something pretty quick. Life doesn’t sense too much make.

Mrs O’Neill, the school principal, says that every child has a special talent. She’s right. Some kids are good at sport, others at doing back flips and others at poetry. But Matt’s special talent is tuckshop. He can tell you exactly what you can get with your lunch money, and even offer tips to getting the best value for your money, including which line to queue in.

Matt is pretty popular at the start of lunchtime – but that’s the only time. The rest of the time he’s the fat kid, and he’s getting picked on. But that’s not his only worry – his poor diet is starting to affect his health. The doctor says he has to change his ways. But eating differently and getting exercise are pretty challenging things when you’re the tuckshop kid.

The Tuckshop Kid is a humorous tale with a very serious message about nutrition, bullying and self-image. Matt is a feisty, likeable character with insecurities which are believable, though sad. Child readers will relate to the school scenario and the range of characters there, including students who will seem very familiar – every school has the wise-mouthed bully , the grumpy tuckshop lady or the sporty kid who just adores phys ed lessons. Author Pat Flynn uses this familiarity to tell a story which could be that of many children in Australia.

Suitable for children aged 8 to 12, and ideal for school libraries and classrooms.

The Tuckshop kid, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2006