‘Misfit’ is set in Shalom , a fictional Australian Jewish primary school. Crystal is the new kid, again.
What’s an ordinary girl doing in a time -warped place where the boys wear black lids to keep their brains in?
Crystal doesn’t know how she’s going to handle it, but it isn’t the first time her parents have sent her to an unusual school. She’s been to a Catholic School, Michael’s Experimental, ordinary Fernhill State, and to a hippie school. But in this school, all the kids are Jewish. She has to learn to decipher writing that looks like fly –dots and to find a way to speak to a whole new set of kids. Even Sharon the bully.
When you look through a Crystal, you can see from different perspectives. Even when playing hockey.
Themes such as coping with cultural or religious differences and strategies for coping with bullying.
READING TIME reviewer Vol 34 No 1
…The book does succeed in creating a feeling of tolerance and understanding of different customs…E.S.
About the Author:
Best known for ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’, Australian author Hazel Edwards has published over 200 books. These include 'Fake ID', 'Stalker', 'Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen' and ‘ Outback Ferals’ for ‘tween’ and adolescent readers. Hazel has researched in Antarctica, Nepal and the outback. Although she's not Jewish, Hazel's children did attend a Jewish school for some time. And they played hockey.Currently she's writing 'Hijabi Girl'.
www.hazeledwards.com has discussion notes, reviews and links.
Australian Jewish News reviewed by Sally Berkovic Jan 19th , 1990
Although I remember feeling like an outsider during my primary and secondary years at Non Jewish schools, it never occurred to me to consider how a non –Jewish child might feel as the outsider in a Jewish school.
Hazel Edwards has written a delightful children’s book , which introduces Crystal , a 12 year old girl to ‘Shalom’ a Jewish school , where ’boys wear black lids to keep their brains in’ and Hebrew script looks like backwards fly dots. A range of incidents occur which are amusing and poignant for children and adults alike. In her school uniform, she is called ‘kosher kid’ by the bike gang , but at Shalom she is called a ‘yok’ by an intolerant Sharon who typifies many kinds of prejudice. Crystal is befriended by one of the ‘orthos’ Rachel , and when she is invited for Shabbat dinner, finds herself mesmerised by the rituals of kashrut and close family relationships. The novel also has a dramatic plot as Crystal, Jacob , the brainy one , and Rachel uncover the mystery of the anonymous letter writer who reported one of the non Jewish teachers for letting the children eat non Kosher doughnuts at the hockey match.
Edwards says the name ‘Crystal’ was a deliberate choice because ‘if you look through a crystal it is possible to see an array of colours. Edwards’ own children attended a Jewish school (although the family is not Jewish) and she comments that: '‘Crystal’s'’ story is not autobiographical , but some of the background details are based on observations, things which happened to us, or stories shared.’
In trying to ‘fit in’ Edwards makes the point that labels don’t matter and that ignorance of others underpins prejudice.