My Brother Ben


Luke’s brother, Ben, urges Luke to trust him, watches that he does not get distracted on the cycle route to school, and leaps from the Jumping Tree. What’s more, he defends Luke against those who call him Bird Nerd. Then again, over the summer before high school starts for him, Ben dreams of taking the white boat, abandoned on the bank of Cabbage Tree Creek and travelling along the waterway, fishing.

The brothers are keen to enter the competition to win a boat. Yet how to define Cabbage Tree Creek? Luke’s taken to sketching the birds that occupy his waking moments, from the recovered Maggie, to the bird song he identifies. He joins his Aunt Gem on Sunday birding outings, at the time that Dad chooses to call.

Yet how will Ben moving to high school change his relationship with Luke? Then again, what of his new friend, Frankie? Will My Brother Ben be the stalwart, the safety rope, upon which Luke depends?

Bookwagon is absorbed and delighted by this magnificent nuanced, tender and insightful novel. We urge every reader to experience My Brother Ben. 

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My Brother Ben

Peter Carnavas

(Pushkin Children’s Books)

My Brother Ben urges Luke to trust him. It means that he defends Luke against those who call him Bird Nerd, and promises him good times ahead, fishing on Cabbage Tree Creek. Although Ben’s move to high school might change things, he promises Luke they won’t. However Frankie arrives, and then Maggie leaves and Ben’s uncertain.
It’s not only the fact that Dad’s no longer about, though he phones every week. It’s also the search for the vagrant bird, that Luke cannot identify. Gem’s book, Field Guide to Australian Birds, offers Luke an opportunity to identify every bird by sight. Then again, Luke’s able to match the bird to its call, except the vagrant bird.
It seems there’s a chance to win the boat the brothers need to travel Cabbage Tree Creek, through a competition. Might Luke’s sketch book earn the prize, or is it, as he imagines, more likely to be won by someone like Willow? Then again, there’s the white boat lying idle along the creek, the one the brothers imagine stealing. However, it’s all uncertain, rather like the world around Luke.
Peter Carnavas gifted us The Elephant. That book demonstrates the writers insightfulness, economy, empathy and scope. It seems that with My Brother Ben, he captures us so that we mourn and hope for Luke. What’s more, we cheer each step, every understanding, alongside recognising the fierce bond and unit of the brothers and family. This is an exceptional novel that I urge every reader to experience. Bookwagon is all the better for reading this magnificent title.


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