Tania Lacy (text), Danielle McDonald (illus.), Tracy Lacy For Classy Captain! (Tracy Lacy#2), Scholastic Australia, Nov 2017, 287pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760275969
This is a comic story about Tracy Lacy, a classic underdog figure who confronts the challenges of Year 7 and survival in the high school environment. The writer relies on cartoon humour and word play for effect. At 287 pages, this black and white graphic book is chunkier than the average novel for this age group, but the reading level isn’t challenging. It isn’t broken into chapters, instead using bold headings, subheadings, side-thought boxes, diagrams and line drawings, as well as “statistics reports” to break up the pages.
After a disastrous first day, involving an embarrassing snot accident, Tracy Lacy doesn’t want to go back to high school. With the help of her best friends, Ag and Ponky, Tracy works hard at turning things around. When the opportunity arises for class captain voting, she decides to “go for it” and being “Classy Captain” becomes her new goal.
Plenty of snot jokes, a dream horse that farts rainbows and a never-say-die attitude carry the narrative along. What to do when your sports shorts are stolen before the big race? Is toilet paper a viable alternative? Tracy Lacy turns an embarrassment into a triumph.
Tracy’s mother has her own battles trying to become part of the parents’ organisation. Tracy’s father has a German accent that relies on a stereotype, as does the unattractive persona of the shouting librarian. Overall, the cast of characters are two-dimensional. Throughout the story, older brother Leif is an elusive annoyance but during the story, sibling rivalry is resolved into something like mutual understanding. Issues of bullying, clique groups, and first love are lightly touched on.
In the tradition of Diary of a Wimpy Kid this humorous book, aimed at tween-age girls, projects the message that mistakes aren’t fatal. A bad beginning can be turned around. Life is a challenge, but worth the risks.
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke