Hanging Out, by Catherine Bateson

When Mum told me my cousin Weston was coming to stay with us for a week of the school holidays, I was totally alarmed.
‘Why here?’
‘Aunty Sharon and Uncle Jason have won seven nights on a cruise ship. Just imagine – seven nights of no cooking, no washing up, no worrying.’
‘He can’t come here!’
‘Of course he can,’ Mum said sharply. ‘We’ve stayed with them.’

Ben is worried about his Sydney cousin coming to stay. When they stayed Weston and his family they had visited everywhere from the zoo to the harbour bridge and more. Ben is worried that Weston will discover that he was exaggerating the wonderful things about Melbourne. But despite his misgivings, Weston arrives. He’s keen to do and see all the things Ben bragged about. After a slow start, Ben discovers that they can have just as much fun at his house, and that Weston is just as impressed with Ben’s Melbourne as Ben was with Weston’s Sydney. Colour illustrations on every opening extend as well as illuminate the text. Potentially challenging words are presented in different fonts.

Hanging Out is part of the Mate series from Omnibus Books. They are beginner chapter books for newly independent readers. But they also celebrate what it is to be Australian. The rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne is explored and gently rocked. Catherine Bateson points out that home is where family and friends are, that the rest is just bonus. Ben and his cousin rediscover just how much fun they can have together. Many of the offerings in this series are tall tales. Hanging Out is less tall tale, but no less iconically Australian for that. Recommended for newly independent readers.

Hanging Out (Mates)

Hanging Out , Catherine Bateson, ill Adam Carruthers
Omnibus Books 2010

ISBN: 9781862918290

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.

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