November 15, 2012

Lightning boy

Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules For Survival
by Arthur Slade

Nearly every member of Newton Starker's family has been killed by lightning strikes, including his grandfather, his uncle, and his mother. Except for his ornery great-grandmother Enid, Newton is the last of the Starker line. Understandably, his most important rule of survival is to check the weather constantly. To further improve his chances, he enrolls at the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival. The Jerry Potts students all carry knives and wear kilts because there's nothing tougher than a Scot in a kilt.

The Academy is strict, though not overly so, and Newton is quite happy there. He'd get on better if he wasn't so self-centred and antisocial. Part of it was his late mother's "no friends" rule, which protects bystanders from second-hand lightning strikes. The other is Newton's high opinion of himself and his determination to out-perform the other students. It puts him into conflict with Violet Quon, whom he believes (falsely, as it turns out) of making his kilt fall down. Only when Violet is injured during the Outdoor Expedition does Newton realize that some of his rules need tweaking. He also gets help from a pig named Josephine.

Flashes of humour and eccentricity abound in this interesting book. Newton is not very likeable at first, but he gradually grows on you. The ending is very satisfying.

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