Monday, October 7, 2013

NIPS XI

NIPS XI, Ruth Starke

Monday’s posts are now becoming reviews of good children’s books, not just ones to read aloud.

My son read this as part of his school class reading and loved it so much he wanted me to read it, which resulted in a very enjoyable few hours. It is no surprise this book has made it into libraries and schools – it’s about an Adelaide Primary School, North Inala, which like many schools we all know, has a multicultural day. However, Lan and many of the ‘ethnic’ kids are sick of it – for who wants to dress up in national dress, bring in the food they eat every day at home and look different in the process?

Lan decides they should play cricket instead, for what better way, he decides, is there to be an Australian? He gathers a team of kids from Asia, the sub-continent, the Middle-East and South America, and terms his team the ‘NIPS’.

With almost no cricketing knowledge or experience, they decide to challenge the nearby private boys’ school to a match. As the plans unfold, the helpful local librarian Grace lines them up with a local cricket coach Spinner (who just happens to have been a test-cricketer) and they prepare for the match.

It is a lovely book. Its observations of Australian culture, how immigrants work to fit in and how local primary schools operate are laugh-out loud funny. There are lessons on friendship & good sportsmanship throughout. A kid who likes cricket will love it, but even those who do not follow the game will be drawn in. 

I suspect kids with English as a second language would struggle, it is full of idioms and ‘Australianisms’, but these can be overcome with explanations.

For those who loved it (as my son, husband and I did), there is also a follow up novel – NIPS Go National, where the team are invited to Melbourne to play other teams with diverse backgrounds from around the country.

Highly recommended reading for upper primary age kids, especially cricket fans.

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