Stuff Happens: Jack

Stuff Happens: Jack

Stuff Happens: Jack

Stuff Happens: Jack

Tony Wilson

Puffin, 2014

pbk., 96pp., RRP $A9.99



It’s recess time and Mr Atherton tells the boys they can stay on the oval to play as long as they play sensibly and behave. He will be back in ten minutes and head back to the school across the road. 

But a lot can happen in ten minutes – especially if you’re a group of Year 5 boys unsupervised on an oval.  As Mr Atherton walks away they realise he has taken all the soccer balls with him and being very aware of the school rule of NO TACKLING the boys wonder what they will play.  Then Jack suggests You Play, You Pay where the boys see who can kick their shoes the longest distance.  The loser then had to run until he’s tagged but boys being boys this soon degenerates into a roughhouse and stacks on game which comes to a sudden end when Jack gets flattened by Fadi and hears his arm crack as he goes down.

Mindful of the consequences if it’s discovered they were playing roughly Jack urges his friends to tell the principal that they were playing a chasing game not a tackling one.  But when he returns to school he finds that this has had dire consequences for Fadi and he has to wrestle with the choice of telling the truth and risking all the boys being excluded from a clinic by their favourite A-league soccer team or let Fadi bear the brunt of the punishment that is really having a massive impact on his mental well-being.

This is an intriguing read that throws up a range of issues that young boys will relate to and empathise with.  We know that “boys being boys” can have accidental consequences but, in this story, it is the unforseen ones that cause the dilemma and set up all sorts of discussions about what Jack should do and whether Principal Davies was fair, and so on.

There are now eight books in the Stuff Happens series, each written by a leading Australian author who has a sound track record of writing stories that boys enjoy.  What appeals most is that each takes a very ordinary situation that everyone can relate to and builds a story from it that is both engaging and entertaining as well as thought-provoking.  Each is also a great demonstration in writing about what you know – taking an ordinary everyday event and building it into a story.

This is a series that really appeals to boys – there is a list of reserves for each one at the local school I know – and getting them enjoying reading with such quality stories is a match made in heaven.

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