‘Hey!’ Georgie waved to me from across the quadrangle after school. I was heading out to the oval for our first cricket practice for the season. ‘Have you heard yet?’ she yelled.
I knew what she was talking about. The MCG cricket camp. The letters were being sent out this week. Every day I’d raced home to check the letter box but there’d been nothing. Jimbo hadn’t got anything either, which made me feel slightly better. I wondered about Scott Craven, but I wasn’t going to ask him. Besides, as long as I didn’t know the letters had arrived, there was a chance that mine was still coming.
Howzat! is two books in one: Book 4: Toby Jones and the Timeless Cricket Match and Book 5: Toby Jones and the Clash with Father Time. Each is an instalment in the Toby Jones series. Toby Jones is a mad keen cricketer. He’s also a soak for cricketing facts. But more than that, he’s discovered that he’s a time traveller and can travel to any cricket game recorded in Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanack. Time travel is awesome, allowing Toby to travel to some of the most famous cricket games in history. But there are others who also want to travel, and not all of them are respectful of the rules of time travel. In ‘Toby Jones and the Timeless Cricket Match’ Toby travels backwards and forwards, including to a cricket game that he could never have imagined. In ‘Toby Jones and The Clash with Father Time’, Toby’s troubles only get worse. Everything he does seems to have consequences for those close to him. His mentor Jim tries to help him, but sometimes Jim’s help is not enough. Toby is on his own.
Howzat! (Toby Jones) is a wild ride. On one level there’s the adventure that every aspiring cricketer experiences as they improve in skills. New opportunities present themselves. Cricket is a cruel game, where a momentary lapse in concentration or a single ill-timed shot can see a batter fail. Bowlers have similar challenges, they are only as good as their last ball. Howzat! (Toby Jones) is full of cricketing facts and figures, terms and stories. Even as the story of Toby’s cricket progresses, a wilder adventure is evolving. The threads run parallel, both requiring Toby to grow and develop as both a player and a person. In any team there are times when there are rules to be followed and times when instinct and self-knowledge take over. Recommended for cricket-lovers and for those enjoying a wild adventure through time.
Howzat! , Brett Lee and Michael Panckridge
Angus & Robertson 2009
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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