Hunky Dory by Jean Ure

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Hunky Dory by Jean Ure

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Under siege from the girls in his life, Dorian finds solace with his friends and his family, but will there be some surprises along the way?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: June 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007224609

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Dorian is having a terrible time in his first year of secondary school, and it's all thanks to those pesky girls. They come and sit next to him in class, "accidentally" brush hands with him, giggle every time he walks past and leave him dubious love notes on pretty pink paper. It's just not right.

And it's not even only the girls in his class, either - his younger sister's friends seem to be getting the hots for him, or at least that's what she's telling him, much to his horror. He even gets a "funny" new nickname from his family when they discover what a heart throb he's become: Hunky Dory. Eugh.

Luckily, Dorian has a means to escape the madness. There's his mates Aaron, Joe and Calum, and Rosemary (aka The Herb) who is an honorary boy and lovely and normal, not at all icky and pink like the other girls he knows. He has his family who are, on the whole, good and supportive, and some of the colourful characters - his larger than life mum, the hell's angels Granny - have their own stories to tell which add a welcome diversion in Dorian's life, and some interesting extensions to the story.

Reading this as an adult I could tell from a few pages in how this was going to end, and indeed what I suspected would happen did so. This is not meant as a criticism - in fact, something that I think would appeal to readers of this book was that it was a nice, normal, believable, every day story, rather than a huge stretch of the imagination. I also liked the way it could appeal to both boys and girls: whereas books told through the narrative of a girl of this age would often put off male readers, I don't think this is the case when roles are reversed. I grew up reading Jean Ure and had a mild obsession with her dancing books, from Nicola Mimosa to Star Turn and the other books in these respective series. These had a distinct girlie feel to them, so it's nice to see a boy-friendly book for a change.

Dorian starts off by describing this story as his autobiography to date, and I know writing up your life-thus-far is something many readers in the 8 - 12 age bracket will have done, either for fun or through the force of an English homework exercise. The way he talks passionately about his hobby - all things dinosaurs - also rang true for me and I'm sure many readers will have all-consuming obsessions of their own which dictate and impact upon everything they do in their day to day lives, allowing them to relate to Dorian's story.

Our narrator is a pleasant boy. I don't mean that in a patronizing way, just that he is polite when required, doesn't swear like a trooper, and often considers other people's feelings. The latter especially is done in a clear, explicit way on several pages, but I don't think readers in the target age range would see this as condescending the way older readers might if it came up in one of their books. This is a nice, safe book parents can let their children read without any fears of dubious phrasing or storylines, and one you shouldn't feel obliged to 'pre-read' beforehand to make sure it's ok. It's Jean Ure... it's going to be ok.

Thanks you to Harper Collins, the publishers, for sending this book.

For another great Jean Ure read, check out Gone Missing though this one has the usual female voice. Recommended for boys who are perhaps a bit beyond Hunky Dory in their reading level or choice of themes is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

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