The school bus screeched to a shuddering halt in a cloud of exhaust fumes. Jackal jumped off as I mooched past, and punched me on the arm.
‘Mate.’ We have the best conversations, Jackal and me. We were swept through the school gates in a swarm of loud stinky bodies, and shuffled reluctantly into the classroom just as the bell rang.
It’s not quite clear what subject Mr Farnham teaches, but it is clear that he has the measure of his class. They report boredom with homework and declare their maturity. He devises an experiment to test them. For a week, they will be caretaker/parent/protector of a raw egg. The egg will go everywhere with them. Failure to protect the egg means a fail for the experiment. Paddy, ably (well, sometimes) assisted by his friend Jackal, navigates his way through the week. Others are not so lucky, with mishaps and carelessness leading to the early ‘demise’ of some eggs. Paddy cooks up some money-making schemes, repeatedly encounters the school bully, protects his egg from his baby brother and unexpectedly bonds with his charge.
Egghead is a new title in Walker Books ‘Lightning Strikes’ series, short texts for reluctant 11-13 yo readers. Chapters are short, plots move (excuse the pun) lightning fast. Subject matter is relevant and interesting to the age group and beyond. ‘Egghead’ is told in first person, and includes about as many egg-related puns as possible (eggstermination, eggcitement), although no doubt readers will be inspired to create more. Paddy is a larrikin main character with a likeable, somewhat goofy sidekick in Jackal. But there’s more to Egghead than just fun. The adults, although shown from a teenager’s point of view, are portrayed sympathetically. Paddy learns about responsibility and in the end this helps him find a way to face down a bully. Recommended for upper-primary to lower-secondary readers, particularly those finding longer texts too daunting.
Egghead, Clare Scott
Walker Books 2008