The McGillicuddy Book of Personal RecordsBook - 2010
Nominated - Silver Birch Fiction Award, 2012
This is an extraordinary story about a 13-year-old boy named Lee who loves setting personal and odd records. He's obsessed by them in fact - from tracing the annual public marathon with his dog Santiago to bouncing a basketball in the school playground for 12 hours straight with no one around - but he's not interested in going public with them.
Along the way Lee collects famous quotes from all manner of famous people whose lives and words have encouraged him - and provided inspiration during trying times. In addition he sees himself as the director of the definitive movie about his life, focusing on the light and dark moments he experiences as he seeks a raison d'etre for his life.
Above all, he seeks to escape being ordinary, and when he's confronted with the greatest challenge of his young life - saving his pesky friend from certain death - his strength of character and purpose demonstrate that he is anything but ordinary.
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SPL_Childrens thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 14
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Thirteen-year-old Lee McGillicuddy is all too aware of his many weaknesses and shortcomings. He isn’t good at basketball despite his height; he’s not a runner or a soccer player due to his asthma; he has no musical or artistic ability, and his marks at school are nothing to brag about. Lately, he’s becoming aware that he doesn’t know how to talk to girls either – instead, he gets completely tongue-tied.
However, Lee suspects that there’s something that sets everyone apart in some way – he just needs to discover what his special quality is! This is why Lee drives himself to set challenging records – his own personal records. Sometimes these challenges are a little goofy. Can he dribble a basketball for twelve straight hours? How many jumping jacks can he do at one time? How many famous sayings can he remember? Achieving these challenges is important to Lee.
On a bicycle ride with his best friend one afternoon, Lee’s friend has a sudden accident, and until help can arrive many hours later, Lee must meet a new personal challenge in endurance, determination and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, there’s nothing “goofy” about this challenge – it’s a life and death situation. It’s the most difficult effort that he has ever had to make. When it’s finally over, many hours later, and his friend is safe, Lee McGillicuddy knows that he has excelled at something in a most unlikely way.
Colleen Sydor’s sensitively-written novel is inspiring and at times, humorous, featuring a very likeable young man who is anything but ordinary. Set in Winnipeg, where the author lives, the story is told as a film, interspersed with set directions such as “Roll camera”, “Fade out” and “Zoom in”. It’s an effective technique, appealing to teens and allowing various points of view and scenes to occur simultaneously.
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