… And in through the gates I go and now here I am in school. Lots of others are coming in through the gates with me and some are walking-talking …
angie got invited? /yeah epic party / angie? Y’serious?’
Saw Cutsy riding his bike around near the pool / Bullcrap / Nah bull-true bro
None of them is Sarah. Why isn’t Sarah here now? This is the gate she always goes through, this is the time she normally goes through the gate.
she asked why I dyed my hair blonde / I would take that as an insult
Always 8.43. Every now and then it might be earlier if she walks quick or gets dropped off by her dad, but I am the international expert on Sarah-school-arrival-times, …
S.C.U.M. is short for Students Combined Underground Movement, a loose collective of students who don’t fit into any recognised social grouping at school. Tom Zurbo-Goldblatt narrates this journey of the educational and social life of a public school teenager. Every student has a history, and if they don’t Tom and his friends will happily invent one. Every teacher has a nickname and if they are female, a position on the ‘hot’ scale. Tom has a crush on Sarah and knows as much about her as it is possible to learn without actually speaking to her. He has a best friend and they communicate via insults. This is the inside story, Tom-style.
Tom Zurbo-Goldblatt is 14 years old. Schoolwork seldom keeps his focus for more than a few seconds before other important matters flood in. He has to maintain an awareness of the school bully and what he might do next, chase the girl he likes, avoid the girls he doesn’t like, maintain friendships and communicate non-verbally. It would hardly be reasonable to expect him to keep track of what the teacher is saying. But he does somehow navigate through the day. Readers will recognise the various hazards of school life and empathise and chuckle at his lurch from crisis to crisis. From the scruffy cover to the sketch illustrations and variety of text size/type, this is teenage boy up close and personal. Thank goodness there’s no scratch and sniff! Recommended for upper-primary and early secondary readers.
S.C.U.M., Danny Katz
Allen & Unwin 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.