Author: James O’Loghlin
Illustrator: Matthew Martin
Publication Date: 29th May 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the publisher
The New Kid: Unpopular Me is a book that appealed to me because elements of the premise resonated, and I thought my 9 year old might enjoy the story; and it’s a nice change from Lego and Star Wars.
I have children about to be The New Kid starting at a new school next term and I grew up in Canberra, now living in Adelaide. It was a book that I had to give a go. This is another that arrived quite late in the month so I had Mr 9 (almost 10) read it first and then I flew through it late last night, just sneaking it in at the end of the month.
According to Mr 9 it was good…. and that’s all he wants to give me this morning because he’s watching Batman. He thought there were some funny moments and Sam got up to some silly stuff, the illustrations were funny. He read it in a couple of hours over two sittings. It actually arrived with perfect timing because we had some driving to do and he read in the car.
My thoughts on The New Kid, which I read in an hour late last night, are a little more considered. I enjoyed the story and I enjoyed the settings in that the cities were Adelaide and Canberra, my two hometowns.
Sam is your average 11 year old and he doesn’t like being the new kid, he misses his friends and he is determined to make some new ones. Unfortunately the one friend he does make is the unpopular kid at school and that makes Sam unpopular by extension. In quite a sad, but realistic, turn of events Sam has the opportunity to stand up for his friend but he allows the desire to be popular keep him out of it.
Sam decides that he needs to be proactive to make new friends and when he looks at his list of realistic options it comes down to being cheeky or doing something to make you a hero. Both choices with huge scope for trouble, some of what Sam gets up to certainly doesn’t set a great example but by the end of the story he has gone a long way to redeeming himself and we are left with the possibility of a sequel, which I would be interested to read.
I think this was a well written story that was realistic and though there were situations where Sam did not set a great example the themes of friendship and the uncertainty of being the new kid were well explored.
The layout is easy on the eye and engaging. The chapters are short, there are regular illustrations and quite a bit of humour. Unfortunately Sam hasn’t had much luck with cousins and I think that’s very sad because in my experience cousins most certainly do not suck. I have a wonderful bunch of cousins that I no longer spend enough time with, and my children have been blessed with amazing cousins as well.
A fun read for children and I think one that will be enjoyed by parents reading with their children as well, it also opens the door for some great conversations on popularity and friendship.