The Trophy Kid, by Pat Flynn

This is your chance. Take it.
I straighten my strings, blow out a lungful of air, and try to forget the score.
But it’s impossible. The score is all that matters in tennis, the signpost that leads to only one of two destinations.
Winning or losing. Glory or failure.

Marcus is a junior tennis star. He is state champion and dreams of winning Wimbledon. But something is holding him back. It isn’t his backhand, his forehand or even his serve. It’s his mind. At inconvenient times he starts to second guess himself, often with disastrous results. And now he’s in real trouble. He’s convinced that if he doesn’t win the next state title he’ll lose his grandfather. Could it be that his mate Matt, a tuckshop expert, and the girl he has a crush on, Kayla, are the ones who’ll give him the right advice to solve his dilemma – even though neither knows anything about tennis?

The Trophy Kid is a companion novel to The Tuckshop Kid and The Toilet Kid, and readers of the earlier two will enjoy this one too, though it equally stands on its own. Dealing with issues of OCD, competitiveness and friendship it is an entertaining, often funny read for upper primary aged children.

The Trophy Kid

The Trophy Kid, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2010
ISBN 9780702238406

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Toilet Kid, by Pat Flynn

Perhaps she’s looking for me, wanting to kiss my fat lips.
Just as I’m about to walk out and meet her she bends over.
Aww, that’s disgusting! She’s just chucked up her breakfast.

Matt’s life is looking up. He’s fitter, he’s lost weight – and he has a girlfriend – the beautiful Kayla. But Kayla is acting strangely, and it soon becomes apparent that Matt isn’t the only kid with issues about food. Skinny, healthy Kayla has issues of her own – and if Matt is to help her, she might not like him any more.

The Toilet Kid is a sequel to the award-winning The Tuckshop Kid and, like its prequel, combines humour with an exploration of serious issues. Whilst Tuckshop Kid focussed on Matt’s unhealthy over eating and bad eating habits, the chief focus of The Toilet Kid is the issue of bulimia and body image.

Aimed at upper primary aged readers, the story is light-hearted and short enough to be accessible to even reluctant readers, with illustrative support and the use of notebook entries adding interest.

The Toilet Kid

The Toilet Kid, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2009

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Tuckshop Kid, by Pat Flynn

Except for a few minutes at the start of lunch, I don’t have many friends. I used to be best mates with Craig Withers until a new kid started calling him water buffalo. I told Craig to either ignore it or beat the hell out of the new kid, but for some reason it got to Withers – who’s the second fattest kid in the school, behind yours truly. After that, Withers didn’t want to be my mate anymore. In fact, he started teasing me more than anyone. And his new best friend? The new kid. When you’re like me you learn something pretty quick. Life doesn’t sense too much make.

Mrs O’Neill, the school principal, says that every child has a special talent. She’s right. Some kids are good at sport, others at doing back flips and others at poetry. But Matt’s special talent is tuckshop. He can tell you exactly what you can get with your lunch money, and even offer tips to getting the best value for your money, including which line to queue in.

Matt is pretty popular at the start of lunchtime – but that’s the only time. The rest of the time he’s the fat kid, and he’s getting picked on. But that’s not his only worry – his poor diet is starting to affect his health. The doctor says he has to change his ways. But eating differently and getting exercise are pretty challenging things when you’re the tuckshop kid.

The Tuckshop Kid is a humorous tale with a very serious message about nutrition, bullying and self-image. Matt is a feisty, likeable character with insecurities which are believable, though sad. Child readers will relate to the school scenario and the range of characters there, including students who will seem very familiar – every school has the wise-mouthed bully , the grumpy tuckshop lady or the sporty kid who just adores phys ed lessons. Author Pat Flynn uses this familiarity to tell a story which could be that of many children in Australia.

Suitable for children aged 8 to 12, and ideal for school libraries and classrooms.

The Tuckshop kid, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2006

The Line Formation, by Pat Flynn

The coach looked up at the stand. ‘Let me say this, girls. I know y’all are as pretty as pictures, I can see that with my own eyes. But what I want to know is this: can you tackle? Because I tell you right now, I need some people who can tackle on my team and I don’t know if these boys can.’
Some of the girls gave a nervous giggle.
Then the coach spotted Ozzie. ‘How about you, boy. I know you can talk to all the purdy girls, but can you tackle? If you can, come down here right now, ‘cause I need some players who can tackle on my team.’

The Rugby League season is over and, before he decides what to do next with his life, Ozzie Eaton is off to Texas, for a year as an exchange student. He doesn’t know what he will find there – Hope, Texas is about as far away from Yuranigh, Queensland, as he could get. But the last thing he expects is to find himself playing football, American style.

Still, that’s exactly what happens. Ozzie proves that he can tackle and despite knowing nothing else about the sport, is given a spot on the team. Soon, he discovers he has skills he can teach his team – but equally, he can learn from his time as a team member, even if the hardest lessons have little to do with what goes on out on the field.

The Line Formation is a high-sport read aimed at teenage boys, who will enjoy the twist of an Australian showing the Americans how to play their own game. At the same time it also a novel about loyalty, trust, friendship and growing up. From the creator of the popular Alex Jackson skateboarding series, The Line Formation is a coming of age novel suitable for high school age readers.

The Line Formation, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2006

To the Light, by Pat Flynn

School. It’s not that I hate it. It’s just that I don’t exactly fit in…And I have a sister who has all the kids and teachers fooled into thinking she’s the best thing since sliced cheesebread. Okay, I do hate it.

Jamie loves surfing. Jamie doesn’t like school. At the beach there’s best mates Mitchell and Scott, but at school there’s bullies like Rory, who insists on calling Jamie ‘James’ and Jamie’s sister, Sky, who is ranked most popular girl in the school. How can Jamie compete?

With the final surfing event of the year approaching, Jamie is determined to do well, and a chance meeting with a stranger who rides a Malibu may just be the catalyst.

To the Light is a fun book about surfing, school, siblings and what it means to be ‘in’. The interest of the surfing lessons is supplemented by some gentle life lessons, wrapped in an entertaining package. There is a surprise twist at the end that will have readers leafing back through to see how they could have missed it.

Great reading.

To the Light, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2005

Alex Jackson Dropping In, by Pat Flynn

Alex decided to milk the occasion for everything it was worth. How many times in life do you get to play the hero? He could have kicked it straight into the back of the net, but he thought he’d do a bit of dribbling practice – with one hand in the air, waving to the crowd. Alex ran casually toward the goal and was just about to toe poke it in when he heard an urgent call from Jimmy: “Man on!”

Alex Jackson has problems. First, he misses the goal that would have won the soccer final. Then he loses his first boxing fight. If that’s not enough, he’s being pursued by Sarah Sceney, the class nerd, who has had a crush on him since grade 3. But Alex’s biggest problem is his worry that he’s being put in a box. He’s been labelled as a nice bloke who plays soccer and boxes. No one expects much more of him than that, and it bugs him.

As he bumbles his way through these highs and lows, Alex starts to find some of the things that might help him to make sense of his life.

Alex Jackson: Dropping In is a combination of humour, soul-searching and action. The fourth book about this likeable hero by author Pat Flynn, what is different is that this one is set before the other three – when Alex is still in primary. It acts both as a prequel, introducing Alex and his mates, and as a stand-alone read for perhaps a slightly younger audience.

A great read for ages 10 and up.

Alex Jackson: Dropping In, by Pat Flynn
UQP, 2004