You know that Jackie French would have to stuff up a book pretty badly not to get shortlisted but one author who consistently earns his guernsey in the list is Scot Gardner. His experiences as a counselor and tech teacher give him great insight into kids who have fallen afoul of education and just need someone to recognise that they have value. I dared a kid the other day to read the prologue to his fantastic Legend of Kevin the plumber and put it down thereafter if he didn’t enjoy it. He didn’t put it down. I would have given him this book instead but I was reading it.
The dead I know was an absolute pleasure of a book to read. The story follows this great, maleable, damaged mass of a young man called Aaron Rowe. Aaron is taken under the wing of a funeral director who ably teaches us just how much people enjoy and benefit from helping others. As fans of Gardner could guess though, this book is no trip to Krispy Kreme. Aaron (in a narrative device close to my heart) is afflicted with sleepwalking. He doesn’t know where he goes or what he does and the results are both amusing and horrifying.
The setting, the characters, the dark humour and the constant presence of dead bodies create a menacing undertone like they are all grains in a keg of dry power that a spark like Aaron is about to set off to catastrophic affect. This is a truely wonderful book and it is a pity that it won’t win the award because The golden day will but I personally would rather that Scot stays in the underground anyway. So there.