Thursday, June 26, 2008

Children’s Books: Screw Loose by Chris Wheat

Screw Loose (Allen & Unwin) is a welcome sequel to Chris Wheat’s hilarious Looselips, which was published several years ago. The new book stands alone, though it helps to have read Looselips. Looselips was set in Melbourne, in a school beside the Yarra River, loosely based on Richmond Secondary College, which was a bone of contention when the new State Government shut it down in 1992 and it refused to close. Vistaview was a Richmond Secondary College that hadn’t been closed, with a multicultural student population, from Vietnamese boy Khiem, who lived in a poor neighborhood and was into crime, to Italian Angelo Tarano, who dreamed of becoming a football hero.

That crazy bunch of students from Vistaview Secondary College is back, loonier than ever. A year has gone by since the events of Looselips. The kids are in their second-last year of school. Other things have changed. Khiem is trying to go straight. Angelo is the newest recruit for the Hobart Cockatoos football team, but has had to pose nude for a football calendar and has been told to get rid of his beloved girlfriend, obsessive-compulsive Zeynep (she boils and irons shoelaces), and replace her with someone the club thinks more suitable. In this case, it’s Matilda Grey, who was brought up by dingoes and is now famous -- a cult figure in Japanese manga, the face of Dingoes’ Dinner dog food, whose pin-up boy is Inspector Rex. But Matilda is going out with Craig Ryan, whose father has moved in with the mother of bossy rich girl Chelsea Dean, who talks to her collection of Barbie dolls and wants to start a boys’ rowing team.

Georgia Delahunty has moved to Mary Magdalene Ladies’ College in hopes of finding a gay girlfriend, but also because she slapped the overly-PC principal at Vistaview when he “outed” her at a school assembly. Not that it does much good, because she slaps the principal of her new school too. Zeynep has been charged with terrorism after trying on a life preserver vest on a plane.

What a mess! But somehow it all sorts itself out at the inter-school social event organized by Chelsea and everyone, both straight and gay, gets a boyfriend or girlfriend. Even Chelsea!

Chris Wheat hasn’t lost his sense of the ridiculous, or his touch for humor. The book is deliciously silly and laugh-out-loud funny. It can only be hoped that there will be plenty more of the same from this author. Perhaps a new set of characters at Vistaview, once this bunch has graduated?

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home