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SPUD by John Van de Ruit

SPUD

By John Van de Ruit

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-59514-170-5
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

If anyone’s capable of portraying hell, it’s John Milton. In this case, hell is an elite, all-boys boarding school in Durban, South Africa, in 1990, and Milton is 13-year-old John “Spud” Milton, his nickname referring to the diminutive private parts of this preadolescent boy, an indicator of the level of humor and behavior (and privacy) at the school. Spud is a good guy, a companionable narrator whose journal captures his first year—classmates Mad Dog, Rambo, Gecko and Fatty, and teachers Sparerib, Viking and The Guv. Spud is a good observer and, unfortunately, his portrayal of boarding-school life rings true. A parallel story line—Nelson Mandela’s release from prison—lends depth to Spud’s tale as he begins to develop a social conscience. Some readers may tire of 300-plus pages of random acts of meanness and the parade of quirky characters, but those humored by it will be eager for the forthcoming sequel. A bestseller in South Africa, it’s likely to be a hit with American readers as well. (Fiction. 12+)