Pleng’s Song by Patrick Maher
Reviewed by Sophie Robinson, age 10 (with a bit of a hand from her dad Jim)
Pleng’s Song is set in Thailand. Pleng is the 11-year-old daughter of an alcoholic mum and a father who is often away. Her adventures start when she finds out that floods threaten where she lives and her parents leave her at home alone.
(Dad adds: In 2011, schoolteacher Patrick Maher was trapped in Thai floods. Afterwards, back to teaching, he realized his students had their own flood adventures to tell. They began writing a story, which led to this easy-to-read children’s novel. The book was initially printed with Maher’s students in mind, but it was picked up in media and is now being enjoyed far beyond Thailand.)
The book was hard to put down, not only because it was exciting but because it was so interesting. The story moved fast and kept changing. It kept me guessing about what would happen next. There wasn’t too much detail or description to make it boring.
(Dad adds: often the description is very sparse, with Pleng leaping from challenge to challenge. But to a younger reader, it seems that’s a positive rather than a negative.)
I think this is a book both girls and boys would enjoy. In chapter one I liked her diary, where she cheats. Not in a bad way. She just writes several days at once, because she doesn’t want to write a page every day. She doesn’t like writing that much!
Some parts are sad, like when Pleng finds out her dad has been lying to her. Her dad is divorced from Pleng’s mum and the lady he is with doesn’t want him to be with Pleng. So he lies to Pleng about where he is going.
At the end of the story I wish it carried on for a few more days so there was a happier ending. People yell mean things about her when she goes out. Pleng doesn’t have a very nice life and this book makes me think how different some people’s lives are to my own.
I wish there were more books about Pleng. I wonder what would happen to her next?
[Jim Robinson: www.penandink.co.nz ]
Patrick Maher has said that Pleng’s Song is designed to help children who are struggling emotionally and has offered to email free eNovels to interested parties.
The things he saw and experienced were inspirations for the events in the novel rather than things he wrote at the time of the floods when his main concern was, naturally, looking after the children. He writes that there have been some exaggerated stories about his time about his killing snakes and eating them to survive. Explaining that elements such as the Snake Island chapter were based on experiences but were fictionalised, he writes that he killed a snake that had entered his back patio to escape the waters, and did cook and eat it, but not out of necessity.
To request a free eNovel e-mail Patrick Maher at: firstname.lastname@example.org