Jack Lasenby’s ‘Uncle Trev’ shows us a thing or two

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Jayden from Room 13, Green Bay Intermediate, has the following to offer:

This book is about a boy, ill in bed, unable to go to school. The only thing he can look forward to is his uncle’s visits. Uncle Trev is an inventive farmer who tells stories to this young, ill child. He is a real character. He says, for example: “I used to call it Old Fury, but it tasted horrible, so I called it Old Furry and it tasted much nicer.” Old Furry is a soup he makes.
The boy’s mother is an obnoxious nosey parker who is always trying to correct or stop Uncle Trev’s stories and who has extremely acute senses, which means she can smell when Uncle has been around and even hear the echo of his stories.
This book is called ‘Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull’ because Trev says that Hubert, his new bull, whistles. He once caught him whistling Mary the Rose of Tralee. Hubert even gives a demonstration of his talent in the mother’s kitchen, scratching the lino in the process.
My least favourite character is the mother, because she is mean, cruel and even scary, in a way. She thinks Trev is the clown of the whole family.
My favourite character is Mr Henry, Uncle Trev’s cocky neighbour, who is always asking for stuff. “Got an axe, Trev?” He’s always the pit of Uncle Trev’s jokes or stories,
An interesting relationship in the text is the one between Uncle Trev and Mr Henry. They are best friends, but they bicker constantly. “Got my axe, Henry?” Nope.” “What’s this then?” Both are adults, but they seem more and more childish as Trev tells more stories,
Jack Lasenby has a very interesting writing style. He never describes details, unless it is a funny part. He also includes a lot of toilet humour: “Then he landed on a humungous cowpat”.
His writing is easy to understand and I recommend this book for year 7 up.

Zoe from Room 2 (Year 6) thinks:

I like that book, because it’s about an Uncle telling his nephew stories who was sick.
I did enjoy reading this book, because it’s almost like a real story, and because Uncle Trev was trying to amuse his nephew with some New Zealand stories.
I like the look of the book because it looks old, and has dull colours but it still looks pretty.
It made me laugh when Uncle Trev and Mr Gotta dressed in armour.
It made me think because some of the stories related to the other stories in the book.
I found it very interesting when Uncle Trev pretended that there was a group of barbarians coming south and stealing everything, so he went outside and made a really loud noise because apparently they were coming to their town next.
I did learn things from this book. All the words that I didn’t understand were at the very back of the book with the meanings beside it, so that I could see what they meant.
I think maybe people that like reading and listening to stories would like this book. People that like writing stories could get hints how to write a good story and would enjoy this book.
I think the Author could have changed the title name to ‘Uncle Trev and his Whistling Bull, and other stories’.
This book was very cool!

Now it’s time for you, Dear Readers, to bake some Louise cake and ginger nuts (you’ll see why when you start reading) and settle into a cosy reading corner. Here are some handy recipes:

Louise Cake

75 g butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut

Cream butter and two tablespoons of sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in egg yolks.
Sift flour and baking powder together and stir into creamed mixture
Press dough into a greased 20 x 30 cm baking dish.
Spread raspberry jam over the base.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, mix in the 1/2 cup of sugar and the coconut.
Spread this meringue mixture over jam.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until meringue is dry and golden.
Cut into squares while still warm.

Makes about 24

Ginger nuts

100g butter
225g sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp golden syrup
250g flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground ginger

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC or 160 if you have fan-bake.
Chuck the softened butter and sugar into the food processor with the egg and give it a whiz until it’s good and creamy. Then add the golden syrup and give it another burst for a minute.
Add the flour, baking soda and ginger and whiz away until you have a nice even mixture.
Roll into balls about the diameter of a 50c piece and arrange on sheets of baking paper on top of 2 baking trays.
DON’T be tempted to flatten the balls with a fork, let nature and the oven do their work.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they look golden and just like Mrs Griffin’s fine product.
Cool on a wire rack.
You’ll get around three dozen.
(The ginger nuts recipe appears on http://www.blokeswhobake.co.nz/)

We were going to give you a recipe for Old Furry as well, but Uncle Trev is keeping that a secret.

Jack Lasenby, author
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Jack Lasenby (born 1931) is one of New Zealand’s most important children’s book authors. He has written dozens of books and stories for children and young adults, and has earned numerous honours including key awards and fellowships. In 2003 he received the Margaret Mahy Medal for his contribution to the world of children’s literature. Jack lives in Wellington, where he is patron of the Wellington Children’s Book Association.

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