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THE CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS OF MISS PAYNE by Barry Jonsberg

THE CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS OF MISS PAYNE

By Barry Jonsberg

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: June 14th, 2005
ISBN: 0-375-83240-8
Publisher: Knopf

A first novel from Australia pits two unlikely friends against a battle-ax disciplinarian of a teacher. Calma Harrison is a bright student with a less than stellar attitude and Jaryd “Kiffo” Kiffing is a dismal student from the wrong side of the tracks with an infinitely worse attitude. When Kiffo meets his match in Miss Payne, a feud ensues. Calma and Kiffo go way back, so Calma insists on helping Kiffo stake out Miss Payne’s house in the hopes of discovering evidence to confirm the theory that she is a drug dealer. The drug theme plays out on two levels; one told in short flashbacks that also reveal the origins of Calma’s tight relationship with Kiffo. Calma’s narrative voice is wittily sarcastic, clever and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. This does not prepare the reader for the stunning dénouement that abruptly changes the voice as well as the point of the story. Still, this is a great read and definitely an author to watch. (Fiction. 12+)