I thoroughly enjoyed Arthur Slade‘s Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival. Slade is a terrific writer of children’s and young adult fiction (check out his Governor General Award-winning Dust) and he doesn’t disappoint with this tale of a boy who comes from a long line of people who die from lightning strikes.
There aren’t any answers forthcoming as to why that should be the case, nor does Newton Starker somehow miraculously find the cure (and I use that word advisedly: you could read this as a kind of metaphor for any child with a handicap or illness, though I don’t know if that’s what Art had in mind). But he does learn a few things about himself and his friends, who are interesting characters in their own right (I particularly liked his young friend Jacob, who writes long fantasy novels, the first of which, The Brilliad, is one long sentence that lasts a thousand pages), and along the way there are even recipes (Newton wants to be a chef) for things like mystery meat with truffles.
Oh, and there’s a pig.
The book is funny (as you’ve probably guessed by now), it’s set in Moose Jaw (at the Jerry Potts Academy of HIgher Learning and Survival, which doesn’t exist but ought to) and…well, you should give it to your kids and/or read it yourself.
It’s also been shortlisted in three Saskatchewan Book Awards
categories–Young Adult Fiction, Fiction and Saskatoon Book Award; it would be a deserving winner of any or all of them.