OZ LIT REVIEW – Nit Boy series
Nit Boy – Lift Off and Nit Boy – Bug Out by Tristan Bancks Illustrated by Heath McKenzie Laguna Bay Publishing Australia rrp $14.95 Paperback Junior fiction $14.95
Eleven-year-old Lewis has a wild blonde afro and a head full of nits. He hates hair cuts but he’s grown to love his nits. ‘Lewis had had nits for so long he thought of them as cute little head mice rather than head lice.’ He’s even found a nit money-making scheme. He passes them on to other children, who if they get nits, are given time off school.
Then Ned is born on Lewis’ head. The first ever jumping louse. The nits are on the move and suddenly, the whole town is scratching. Lewis’ nits are in great danger as the townspeople band together to exterminate the lice.
Heath McKenzie’s illustrations are wickedly funny. Especially ‘evil’ deputy principal, Mrs Herrick, whether she’s peering through Lewis’ hair, yanking great hunks of it or waving an electric razor.
There is much more to this book than simply a good story. First there is a wealth of information and even a quiz about nits. The concept of species adapting and evolving is introduced. Lewis explores his sense of identity when faced with the loss of his hair.
But what I liked best is the positive message this series brings to its readers. You don’t need to be embarrassed about having nits. While nits are prevalent in our primary schools (23% of kids I’m told), many children are still uncomfortable about admitting they have or have had them. A recent visitor to my house was appalled when her mother, with good intentions and consideration for the other parents present, announced she was treating her daughter’s hair for nits. Tears welled up in my little visitor’s eyes.
Enter Nit Boy, to rescue the damsel in distress, in true super hero fashion. I showed the cover. I told the story. Later I refereed the tug-of-war between her and my son when she wanted to take the Nit Boy books home.
Lift Off and Bug Out are excellent books for children of all ages – to read or have read to them. Nit products might help with infested hair but this book will help give kids a reason to laugh about nits.