‘Come on, Louis, didn’t you hear me?’ yelled Dad from the living room.
I sighed. Dad was singing The Undertaker’s entrance theme.
‘Remember to tighten your abs, and spring up with your knees!’
‘But I’m nearly up to the last page. The best part.’
Dad was standing on the wrestling mat, cushions carefully strewn around to break our falls. ‘Get ready for The Tombstone!’ he called. He was working on his shoulder deltoids. His eyes were wide and enthusiastic, instead of dead, which was how you’re supposed to look for The Tombstone.
Louis and his dad get along fine. Fine that is, except with Dad’s obsession with wrestling. And even that would be fine, if he didn’t insist that Louis master all the moves. And really, Louis would rather read. His friends think Dad is fabulous, but Louis can’t imagine ever needing the skills that Dad insists he develop. Words are Louis’s thing and he peppers his conversation with them. This summer, however, Louis is challenged by broken mirrors, runaways of all ages, his father’s new romance, and oversized burglars. Surviving intact will need all the skills Louis can muster.
Louis is not your stereotypical hero. He would be the first to admit it. But heroes come in all sizes, and appear at the right time. Louis Beside Himself includes all Anna Fienberg’s trademark humour and championing of the apparent underdog. She suggests that there is a hero in all of us and that being true to yourself is the first step in being able to be true to others. The relationship between Louis and his father is a lovely one and this adventure allows it to strengthen. Friendships and family relationships are all drawn realistically, allowing for individual differences and strengths. But before all that, Louis Beside Himself is a humourous adventure through a familiar landscape. Recommended for confident readers from mid-primary on.
Louis Beside Himself, Anna Fienberg
Allen & Unwin 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available in good bookstores or online.