Thursday, March 29, 2012

Super Finn by Leonie Agnew

It seemed like a simple assignment, telling the teacher about your dream career, but Finn was the only kid in his class who said he wanted to be a superhero.  To be fair the assignment was on your dream career, not what you really expected to be when you grew up, so with reluctance Finn's teacher lets him keep with the topic - as long as he takes it seriously.  Finn isn't looking forward to the writing and working part of the assignment, but the planning and dreaming part is not so bad - especially with the help of his best friend Brain.

The only thing now is what does a superhero actually do and how do you go about becoming one?  Saving a life seems to make a superhero, but how can a school student with no apparent superpowers save a life?  When his mother tells Finn and his brother Seymour that they have to stop sponsoring Umbaba (the child in Sudan the family supports through World Vision), Finn realises that he may have a life to save after all!  But how can Finn raise the $40 each month for Umbaba?  With a friend like Brain and practically no fear (and no real sense of self-preservation) Finn tries everything he can think of including doing dares for cash and starting a black market lolly trade - but will it be enough to raise the funds for Umbaba - and more importantly can Finn make it through the assignment without getting into too much trouble at home or school?

Super Finn is a quirky little read with some charming characters and tricky social situations handled in a fun way.  Finn comes from a single parent home struggling to make ends meet because his deadbeat dad has left them and doesn't pay his child support.  Finn and his brother Seymour are left to their own devices a lot because their mother is working long hours, but they are not neglected - just a little lacking in attention.  It is a difficult situation for a lot of single mothers, and there will be children all over the world who know what it's like to have a parent stretched to the limit just trying to make things work out for the family - keeping a roof over their heads, keeping everyone feed, and trying not to be too negative about the parent that is not there.

Super Finn was the winning manuscript for the Tom Fitzgibbon award in 2010, an award for a first time unpublished author for children administered by Storylines the Children's Literature Foundation of New Zealand.  While it is not a stunning example of literature for children, it is accessible for a wide audience and tackles a serious topic with charm and tack - Finn is not a child from a "broken home" - he is a child who is struggling to cope with school because he just isn't interested, and he struggles with being himself while also trying not to stress out or otherwise upset his mum.  It was a great read and shows the future potential of the author to write more books for children in the future.

If you like this book then try:
  • Henry and the flea by Brian Falkner
  • The real thing by Brian Falkner
  • My life of crime by Fleur Beale
  • Hollie chips by Anna Gowan
  • Limelight by Tania Kelly Roxborogh
  • Duster by Margaret Beames

Reviewed by Brilla

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