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Saturday, January 09, 2016

Happy Birthday Morris Gleitzman!

Image found on Wikipedia

Today is the date of birth of wonderful Australian children's writer Morris Gleitzman. He's done a lot of amazing books which are funny and sad at the same time. Two Weeks With The Queen, for example,  was one of the  class texts at my school at one stage. We still have a class set. In case you haven't read it, it's about a young boy whose little brother is dying. He is sent to stay with relatives in England, where he gets to bright idea of trying to contact whoever is the Queen's doctor, who surely must be the world's best. He has a whole bunch of adventures, trying to get hold of the world's best doctor and, while he is about it, manages to help a gay couple spend time together while one is dying of AIDS.

Boy Overboard is about a boy refugee whose family are trying to get to Australia by boat, and how they end up in a detention camp. In the sequel, Girl Underground, the heroine helps him escape. 

There are so many other books, all wonderful. But at my school, the most popular are the series that begins with Once, about a Jewish boy called Felix who is on the run from the Nazis. Kids have turned up at our school in Year 7 and found, to their delight, that we have all the books in the series. "Ooh, I wanted to read this in primary school and just missed out!"

It's interesting how in a school whose kids come from all over the world,  the students, none of whom has ever met anyone Jewish(except me, of course!)could be so enthusiastic about child Holocaust era fiction. They love that series. Although they enjoy the others, those are the ones I'm always asked for. 

Personally, I think they're much better than other children's Holocaust novels I have read, even the one that was turned into a movie - I can guarantee you that a lot of young fans would turn up to see the adventures of Felix and his friend Zelda on the big screen. In the third book, Now, Felix is a grandfather, a doctor living in Australia, and the main character is his granddaughter Zelda. There is such a delightful relationship between the old man and the little girl, who call each other "David and Margaret" after the TV film reviewers, and it's set during the dreadful bushfires in Victoria in 2009.

But the next book goes back to Felix as a teenager and member of the Resistance. There has been another one since then, bu I haven't read it yet - it's rarely on the shelves! Time to find the ebook...

Anyway, happy birthday, Morris. Thank you for giving us all so much pleasure over the years and stay fit so you can give us a lot more!

Any fans reading this? What are your favourites?

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