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Two Weeks with the Queen


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About the Author

Morris Gleitzman, born in Lincolnshire, moved to Australia when a teenager. He worked as a paperboy, a shelf-stacker, a frozen chicken de-froster, an assistant to a fashion designer and more, before taking a degree in Professional Writing at Canberra College and becoming a writer. He has written for TV, stage, newspapers and magazines but is best-known for his hugely successful children's books. He lives in Melbourne.


This isn't at all the carefree story implied by the title and cover artwork--terminal cancer, AIDS, gay-bashing and death are treated tenderly here, in appropriate middle-reader fashion. Colin Mudford, an Australian boy, suspects that his parents favor his younger brother, Luke. When Luke collapses suddenly and is hospitalized, Colin wistfully imagines he has a malady of his own. Yet upon hearing that Luke will die of cancer, Colin sets out to find a doctor to cure him. Sent to live with relatives in England, Colin first tries soliciting the Queen's help, then approaches hospital physicians. He eventually meets Ted, a homosexual whose lover is dying of AIDS. Colin and Ted support one another through a difficult time (including Ted's assault by homophobic thugs), which enables Colin to shed his self-centered ways and allow a brave, resourceful and loving person to emerge. Gleitzman's liberal sprinkling of humor prevents the novel from becoming too dark. While the progression is slow at first, and several Australian expressions (``sooky,'' ``sticky-beaking'') may perplex readers, the material's topicality makes this a special book. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

Gr 4-6-Colin's younger brother has cancer, but he refuses to acknowledge that Luke is dying in this novel (Trophy Press, pap. 1993) by Morris Gleitzman. Collin's parents send him to stay with relatives in England until his brother dies. The boy decides that he must find the best oncologist in the UK and bring him back to Australia to help his brother. He contacts doctors and even solicits help from the Queen. Outside the hospital, Colin meets Ted, who's lover is dying of AIDS. Colin is non-judgmental about Ted's relationship and helps the couple by telling jokes, bringing fruit, and more. After realizing how much it meant to Ted and his boyfriend to spend those last moments together, Colin returns home to Australia to be there for Luke. Colin's observations and innocence lead to some very funny scenes. Gleitzman superbly narrates this story that deals with many important issues: cancer, AIDS, gay-bashing, death. His wonderful sense of pacing portrays Colin's maturation. Listeners will understand the Australian and British words in context.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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