Friday, 12 December 2014

Gambledad, by Josephine Feeney, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart

In the mass of children’s books out there, do you know of any novel for primary age children which deals honestly with the issue of gambling?  Well, here is one, brand new, and it’s a goody. 

Don’t let the ‘issue’ at the heart of the story make you assume that this is a dull story-as-medicine kind of a book, because this isn’t at all.  It’s an instantly engaging and lively story of one family’s struggle through a particular crisis brought-on by Dad’s gambling.  It is mostly told from the point of view of eleven year old Antonio, although we do get Dad’s explanation for his son as well, giving the gambler’s own view. 

Antonio is the rude and difficult boy in the class, but because we know what is happening at home we understand why that is.  Tonio is hurt and scared, and doesn’t know what is to happen to himself, his mother and his little sister when his Dad loses their home in a bet. They set off to Hanstanton for a holiday which isn’t really a holiday, with the future very uncertain …

This is a fast-paced lively read through short chapters which will be easily accessible to children of 7-11.  Some children may recognise the problems addressed by this story.  Others may gain insights into possible problems that explain the behaviour of other children they know.  All will enjoy a very engaging story that ends positively, but open enough to show that the problems aren’t all neatly solved and finished with.

This is a book which should be in very primary school library.



Rosalind Adam said...

This book certainly fills a gap in the market and I have to agree with you, Pippa. It's an excellent read too. Thanks for sharing.

Alex Gutteridge said...

Gambling is such a huge problem and to see it from a child's point of view really makes you think. Josephine Feeney is an accomplished writer and in Gambledad she tackles a serious issue whilst making the story itself a real page turner. I particularly liked Antonio. He's a great main character and I agree Pippa - this is a book which should be in every primary school library.

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