Seven-year-old Julian is looking forward to a long summer of fun with his new friend Gloria, but she shatters his dreams by appearing with a shiny new bicycle. She wants to teach Julian to ride it! Rather than admit his fears of falling off, Julian pretends he will be too busy doing chores for his dad. When Gloria confronts Julian’s dad about this, Julian makes up another story – that he really wants to make money by working all summer. One day of polishing, sweeping and weeding has Julian exhausted. His mother is sworn to secrecy when he admits his fear of bikes. Three weeks later Dad runs out of jobs for Julian, and rewards him with …. a new bike! When Gloria convinces him to let her teach him how to ride it, Julian’s ‘glorious summer’ begins in earnest.
What could have been a preachy tale about the dangers of telling lies is thankfully avoided, because Julian himself is telling the story and leaves the reader in no doubt about his pragmatic approach to life. In the first chapter entitled ‘Why I Tell Stories’ Julian makes it clear that he does just that ‘when absolutely necessary’ – he does however feel relieved when his mother manages to draw the truth from him. Cameron skilfully portrays how Julian appreciates the value of Gloria’s friendship, his father’s approval, his mother’s sympathy, his little brother’s pride in him, and above all the importance of having fun during the school holidays!
Cameron’s accessible and humorous style and Smith’s entertaining illustrations will keep readers turning the pages. Small children who might have enjoyed The Julian Stories will certainly want to have this book read aloud to them, or even try reading it, but it would be particularly suitable for the over sevens.