Paul O’Leary: Trouble on the Farm by Michael Mardel

Paul O’Leary: Trouble on the Farm by Michael Mardel
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (89 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Meet up with Paul as he has two moves, from the city to a farm. Join him in his one room school and his extra chores on the farm, mowing lots of grass and training his dog, Lassie, not to chase the sheep. He has a few dream adventures, including being a fireman as a real bushfire approaches. Will he be able to cope with the blaze?

It’s a great big place where Paul ends up with his dog and his parents. Lassie has to be corralled or there’s double trouble and the rest if she gets out and chases the sheep. His Grandad is one of the trouble shooters and is not averse to protecting his sheep. Maybe he’ll take Lassie on as a real sheep dog. He found out that the sheep go into a huddle when they’re threatened and not because the dog rounds them up.

Paul rode his bike to his one room school and he read from his Kindle when he had finished his work. He once went to a school mate’s place but all he wanted to do was play games.

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The last bit of trouble in paradise was a bushfire which are very extreme and some people leave their homes as they can’t defend them. Paul and his family decide to defend their two homes as Grandad had all the firefighting equipment.

There’s never a shortage of work to do when you live on a farm.

Paul was such a hard worker. He’d learned a lot about what it takes to keep a farm running from his dad, and he wasn’t afraid to pitch in to help make sure all of the chores were done every day. I liked this part of his personality quite a bit. His willingness to do whatever it took to help keep everything running smoothly made him seem like such a mature kid in a good way! What a great role model he was for his audience.

There were some pacing issues with the plot. Sometimes it moved so slowly that I had trouble staying interested, while in other scenes it had so much going on that it was hard to keep up. It would have been helpful for me as a reader if the pacing had been spread out more evenly so I always had something to keep my attention.

What a kind and loving family Paul had! While his parents and grandparents could be very protective of him sometimes, they were always acting in his best interests. It was nice to read about a character who was having such a happy childhood. This isn’t something I’ve seen being done very often in this genre these days, so it always stands out to me as something special when it does happen.

This is the second book in a series, but it can be read as a standalone work.

I’d recommend Paul O’Leary: Trouble on the Farm to anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to live on a farm.

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