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The purpose is to analyse and critically evaluate a book or object or text and to inform and persuade
other readers that the reviewer’s opinion is correct.

Subject matter
The contents of the book that are being reviewed, eg story, illustrations.


Newspapers, magazines

Textual features
Generic structure
 Introduction - can be a quote and/or a brief description of the type of book or a significant event
  in the story.
 Thesis - reviewer’s opinion/point of view.
 Arguments - supporting evidence.
 Conclusion - restatement or summary of the thesis and a recommendation to other readers.

Related to the content of the book.
The language used is usually personal because the writer gives personal opinions and advice, eg
disturbing, enjoyable, extremely well written.
The writer may also address the reader, eg We have to let go of animals and even people we might

Verb type:    Mental, eg realise, relate to
              Action, eg when retelling events as part of the plot.
Verb form (Tense): Present tense - watch, is, forms
              Past tense is sometimes used when retelling the plot.

Likely functions and associated grammar and vocabulary
Language functions
Describing characteristics

adjectives eg compelling, disastrous, moody, mature.

Other significant features
Is often accompanied by a photograph of the author or the dust jacket of the book, or a photo of the
object being reviewed.

Book Review - English Year 8

                                                                                 Generic structure
Papio by Victor Kelleher
Deep in the Zambezi valley in Africa, two teenagers watch helplessly as          Introduction
more than a hundred of their newfound friends are slaughtered mercilessly        description of a
around them. Terrifying as it is, this event forms part of their initiation      significant event in the
into the real world in Victor Kelleher'’ novel, Papio. Kelleher'’ well-          story.
written story provides compelling yet disturbing reading.                        Thesis - the story is
                                                                                 well written, compelling
                                                                                 yet disturbing.
Rescuing two baboons from an experimental research station seems easy            Argument - supporting
enough for Jem and David but things go hopelessly wrong. The two                 evidence for the thesis
children are forced to stay with them until the animals can manage on their      ie, the story is
own. However, the baboons’ continued dependence prolongs their stay              compelling and
until they can no longer make the decision when to leave. This indecision        disturbing - because of
                                                                                 the baboons and
has disastrous results for a whole troop of baboons that they befriend.          because of the
Hunted like the animals they are trying to protect, Jem and David realize        disastrous results of the
too late that they also have contributed to the brutality they see around        rescue.
Although Papio is a teenage adventure story, it deals with many                  Argument - further
controversial issues in the modern world. These include keeping animals          evidence that the story
in captivity, experimentation on animals in the name of science and the          is disturbing because it
killing of animals for their own survival. Jem and David find it difficult to    deals with issues such
accept these things as necessary ‘evils’. Through their ordeals they learn to    as: animals in captivity,
                                                                                 experimentation on
face up to real life with its mixture of cruelty and kindness. Even in the
                                                                                 animals, culling of
animal world predators lurk around every corner. The most difficult lesson       animals. It is
the friends learn, however, is that freedom comes at a price. We have to let     compelling because the
go of animals and even people we might need or depend on, in order to let        children must learn to
them be truly free.                                                              face up to real life.
Kelleher has drawn his characters well. Even though there is not much            Argument - further
physical description, we gain a clear insight into their personalities and can   evidence that the story
relate to them. At the age of fourteen, David Anderson is the older of the       is well written -
two. He is an Australian boy who is moody and rebellious. It is David’s          Kelleher has drawn his
broken home life which causes him to feel so insecure and confused that he       characters well, ie, their
                                                                                 personalities, physical
looks for a second family among the baboons whom he loves. Jemima is             appearance,
the more mature of the two friends, always being called upon for help. She       background, changes in
is a tall, lean, dark-skinned American with a mop of frizzy, black hair and,     their characters.
unlike David, comes from a large, happy family. She is therefore more
cautious and secure. Her decision to help, though, begins a drastic change
in both their lives that turns their word upside down. They both mature
through the story and are able to return to the site of the slaughter in the
end and to acknowledge their mistakes.
Jem and David are not the only main characters, however. Kelleher                Further evidence for the
reveals a very good knowledge of animal behaviour in his portrayal of the        thesis - Kelleher reveals
baboons, especially Upi and Papio. These baboons are likeable                    a very good knowledge
personalities, very human like, and easily arouse our sympathies when they       of animal behaviour.

The story is modern and takes place in two remote settings in Africa. The       Description of the
children’s families live on an experimental research station near               settings.
Livingstone in Zambia. However, most of the action occurs in the dense
jungle along the Zambezi River where the wild animals live. Jem and
David find themselves caught up in the clash between these different
human and animal environments.
Papio is an extremely well-written and believable story. The action is fast-    Conclusion -
moving as crises happen in quick succession. As well, there is great            Restatement of the
suspense in the hunt and in the anticipated outcome of the plot. The novel      thesis (using different
is written from a teenager’s perspective but it relates a learning experience   words)
that would appeal to teenagers and adults alike. Such an enjoyable story        +
would, in fact, make an excellent movie.                                        Recommendation -
                                                                                would appeal to
                                                                                teenagers and adults
                                                                                alike - would make an
                                                                                excellent movie.


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