The Downunder KidHot
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.
A Funny, Original Story with A Happy Ending
The Downunder Kid is a great book for a bit of light-hearted reading, although it does also deal to some extent with the issue of bullying.
Overall, the story is funny and the bullying aspect does not drag the reader down. On the contrary, it throws a positive light on dealing with being bullied and even a little insight into the bully's psyche.
The book is ideal for children aged 8 and upwards, who enjoy a bit of adventure and humour in their reading.
The characters in the book are believable and appealing (OK they are not all appealing but they are all believable if a little eccentric in some cases!). The main character, Sam, is an extremely likeable boy who is approaching the transition to secondary school. He is intelligent, well-read, a little naive, and not very physical, which is why he is seen as an easy target by the bullies.
Sam enjoys a fantastic adventure, learns a lot and makes loads of new friends in a new country. Through all of this he gains confidence and develops greatly as a person.
When I first read the book I really enjoyed the contrast between Sam's home in London and the land he ends up in, Downunder in the Australian outback. I would say the novel plays up to the stereotypes of the British and Australian nationalities, in a positive and amusing way.
The Downunder Kid is well-structured and a good chapter-based novel. It is a good length for children who are getting used to reading longer books, without being too much of a challenge. The language is easy to read, with some longer words to help develop vocabulary, but I would say that the main aim of the author is to provide young readers with a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The author, Peter M Clutterbuck, shows a great understanding of young people, perhaps attributable to his years as a teacher, and a very good sense of humour which children and adults will appreciate.