I am a great fan of Susanne Gervay's books I am Jack and Super Jack. I love them because they tackle the topic of bullying and show it from a kid's point of view. But most of all I love them because they're wonderful stories that grab the reader from the first page.
This new children's chapter book about Jack, Always Jack, is just as wonderful. It was written by Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Cathy Wilcox, and published by Angus and Robertson (Harper Collins), 2010. Jack himself is the same lovable character, even though a little older. Young readers will enjoy looking at the world through Jack's eyes. They'll cringe over Nana flashing her purple underpants, grin about Jack's corny jokes and share Jack's worries and concerns. In Always Jack, Gervay tackles the effect of cancer on a family, and does so with her trademark warmth, insight and sensitivity.
Jack′s life is pretty good - he has brilliant friends, everyone loves his funny jokes and he′s a great inventor. But things are getting complicated. Nanna′s older and wobblier, and why does his face now go red when he sees his best friend Anna? And to top it off Mum and Rob′s wedding seems to be taking over the world.
Something really scary has also happened to his mum and it′s going to take all of Jack′s courage to deal with it.
I love that Susanne Gervay has donated a percentage of her royalties to the Cancer Council NSW, and National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre. Those organizations have pledged support for Always Jack, I suspect because they can see how useful it is to have a story kids will love, but that will also encourage adults and children to discuss cancer openly.
As in I Am Jack and Super Jack, Wilcox's occasional quirky line drawings contribute a visual aspect to Gervay's word pictures.
Because Jack's an inventor, Always Jack would be a great springboard to children's own experiments and inventions. Whether they follow Jack's own idea with the famous Ponto (half potato/half onion), investigate growing a different hybrid, or launch their own rocket in the back yard, they'll be hypothesizing, observing, recording and enquiring, just like Jack. I'm tipping they'll be inspired to read the rest of the books about Jack, one of my favourite characters in literature.