The Downunder Kid by Peter M. Clutterbuck
The Downunder Kid is an extremely funny book for children approaching and undergoing the transition into secondary school life. Despite its light-hearted nature, there is an underlying serious message, about bullying and the effect this can have on children – including the bullies themselves.
Full of colourful characters, The Downunder Kid tells the tale of Sam Bond – a small, intelligent and kind-natured boy who happens upon a tunnel through the earth, from London to the Australian outback. Desperate to escape the school bullies, Sam takes the plunge and finds himself on the other side of the world. There, he realises that bullying is not confined to his school in England.
Through good fortune rather than bravery, Sam survives a serious altercation with a gigantic crocodile known to the terrified locals as Whacko Jacko; the result of a rather nasty practical joke by the jealous Tiger Kelly. Sam is very forgiving and emerges triumphant. Through his caring, thoughtful attitude, he and Tiger form a strong friendship.
After forging an everlasting friendship with his Australian friends, Sam finally but reluctantly returns to his home in London where his fellow students find him a very different boy to the one they previously knew.
The Downunder Kid is a book for adults to enjoy with children. Some of the jokes may go over smaller heads but there are plenty of laughs for everyone, and a heart-warming ending which will leave any reader with a smile on their face.