Using A Novel In The Literacy Classroom; Surfing Mr Petrovic

3505 words - 14 pages

It begins with the dramatic line "Everybody hates me." The author then proceeds to take us on a journey written in the first person from the point-of-view of Tao Symonds, the eleven year old narrator and central character, as he reflects on the previous few months of his life. Tao thinks the whole world is against him. He is suffering pressure from school, his parents and their new partners, as well as from his peers to join in theirescapades and to top it all off, his dog has died. Tao feels confused and angry because his parents, middle aged surfer father, Greg, and his mother, a teacher called Christine, are in the process of a break-up. Tao then lists his troubles and tells the reader of his present dread as he is taken by his mother to meet Mr. Petrovic, a Croatian immigrant, to apologize for something he says is not his fault, at least not entirely his fault. Through the use of past and present tense, Colin Bowles complicates the plot telling us in Tao's view how it all started.Tao and his friends, Matt and Bluey, are kicking a football in the street when it goes into the front yard of Mr. Petrovic. Matt sends Bluey to get it. Mr. Petrovic sees him and shouts at him so the boys all flee. Over the course of several weeks, Matt leads Tao and Bluey in harassing Mr. Petrovic due to Matt's insistence that he has to "…be Got Back"( Bowles, 1997, p.8). They turn off the water when he is in the shower, arrange for a load of firewood to be dumped in his driveway and ride their skateboards through his rose garden before Matt and Bluey use scissors to vandalise Mr Petrovic's rose garden. Against his better judgment, Tao goes along with most of these schemes because he is afraid of being left out of their gang. Tao looks up to his friend Matt who he sees as "Really cool" (Bowles, 1997, p.2) however, Matt does several things that show him as a coward. Tao bends to the peer pressure from Matt regularly even when he knows what they are doing is wrong. Tao begins to realize that Matt is not as deserving of his respect as he previously thought when Matt 'rats' on them for the firewood episode, a prank that was in fact completely Matt's doing. When Matt lets Tao take full responsibility for cutting the roses, a prank to which Tao voiced strong opposition, and is suspended from school, Tao sees him in a new light. As a repercussion of his suspension, Matt's mother takes him to visit Mr Petrovic in person.Colin Bowles displays great skill when he finally brings the reader into Mr Petrovic's world. Initially Mr Petrovic appears to ignore Tao's apology, seemingly in a world of his own while he narrates his past life and his reasons for coming to Australia. Eventually he accepts Tao's apology and then continues to describe what happened to him and his family in Croatia. This conversation then leads to Tao understanding the significance of the rose garden vandalised by Matt and Bluey. Mr Petrovic brought the roses with him from Croatia to remind him of his...

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