My name is Christy but nobody calls me that. I’m in the same class with another girl named Christie, so I’ve become just the other Christy, the spare Christy. Not the popular, loud one everyone likes.
Christy Ung has been on the outer ever since she arrived in Australia. Every year she is put in the same class as Christie Owen, and that makes Christy the other Christy. Christie Owen is loud and popular – but she’s also mean, especially to Christy. Christy, meanwhile, has no friends, and her classmates don’t even seem to notice her. The only people who seem to care are Auntie Mayly and Grandpa, who is really strange, and whose main passion in life is cleaning. With such a strange home life, Christy wonders if she will ever be able to make a friend.
The Other Christy is a humorous but touching story of searching for friendship an fitting in, dealing as well with issues of immigration and bereavement. Christy is being raised by her Grandfather after the death of her mother in Cambodia, and is keenly aware of the differences between her own homelife and those of her classmates. Christy is a likeable protagonist, and the resolution is satisfying.
The Other Christy, by Oliver Phommavanh
Puffin Books, 2016
Connor is in Year 6 and an only child. His dad is dead, and his mother works hard as a nurse to provide the money for Connor’s extra tuition. She wants him to get into a selective high school and to eventually be a doctor. That way, this Chinese son will bring honour to his family.
Mama tells everyone that I’m gifted and talented.
But I know the truth.
I’m just a nerd.
Kids call me Con-nerd – half Connor and all nerd.
It’s true. I wear these mega-thick glasses, just like Clark Kent.
When he takes his off, he becomes Superman.
I’m just super-blind without my glasses. Mama reckons the thicker they are, the smarter I’ll be.
Connor is in Year 6 and an only child. His dad is dead, and his mother works hard as a nurse to provide the money for Connor’s extra tuition. She wants him to get into a selective high school and to eventually be a doctor. That way, this Chinese son will bring honour to his family. There’s only one fly in this ointment – Connor wants to be a famous artist and cartoonist, not a doctor. But he’s too aware of the sacrifices his mother has made to tell her what he really wants to do. Meanwhile he’s learning how to make friends, has a crush on a girl and no idea what to do about it, and is discovering that he’s perhaps not the only one who has dreams and hopes that may not line up with expectations. Look out for Evi O’s flip pics.
Connor’s dilemma occupies his days and nights. He is torn between wanting to meet his mother’s expectations, and knowing that he’s doomed to failure because his heart is in his drawing. This could be a very serious novel, but while it deals with serious issues, Oliver Phommavanh uses his stand-up comedian skills to ensure there’s a laugh on every page. As Connor discovers that there are ways his heart-skills can help him succeed and bring honour to his family, he also learns about those around him and that first impressions can often be misleading. Girls are well represented here, showing that they can be friends as well as crushes. ‘Con-nerd’ will appeal to a wide range of upper- primary readers.
Con-nerd, Oliver Phommavanh,
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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