Like peas and carrots, Gabrielle Baird
From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle
Kate De Goldi
From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, by Kate De Goldi, is a sweet and funny story about brother and sister Barney and Ren Kettle, set in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the first decade of this century.
Their tale is told in the third person by the amusing and entertaining D, who sends, along with his writing, a series of letters to the mysterious Moo. D re-tells Barney’s and Ren’s story in only a few long chapters, stopping each one on a cliff-hanger. Each chapter also contains a short letter addressed to Moo containing D’s insights. Barney’s and Ren’s story is told in great detail, with much humour and wit, and what a story it is! Whilst the two characters are complete opposites, they go together like peas and carrots. When they take on the massive task of creating a film documentary about their neighbours, they have to work together to create the masterpiece they dream about. Ren is the organised, realistic, trusty assistant and Barney is the creative, dedicated (a little too much, some might say) and wild director. Through their eyes, we watch as they interview the quirky and incredibly fun residents of the High Street, and all their fabulous untold stories. Along the way, they discover a series of mysterious white envelopes, and work to discover the reason for them and the sender’s identity.
As these two events merge together, they create an incredible few months that won’t be soon forgotten. This is a heart-warming story about sibling love and how you should hold family dear. Based in New Zealand, De Goldi has pulled on her own experiences and knowledge of the location to make this a realistic and entertaining tale.
I found that the start of the book took a little time to get going and was slightly confusing because, while Moo understands the information in D’s letters, we readers are still in the dark. This puzzled me initially. However, I found it very exciting when the story and the letters finally started to fit together. I love how the author shows both Barney’s and Ren’s feelings about particular situations; it really fleshes out both characters. The protagonists’ intelligent and funny input makes the whole story very realistic and relatable. The ending is very satisfying.
The author keeps the story alive with witty humour and clever, original similes: “like a dismantled vertebrae”, “her eyeballs were globular and menacing like the Upside Down Catfish’s in the tank at Coralie’s Cafe”. She makes ordinary objects sound extraordinary and captures emotions perfectly: “Barney felt an unaccustomed flicker of brotherly protectiveness.”
I definitely think that this story is worth reading and, despite a slow start, is well worth persevering with. The reader is rewarded with a beautifully written tale of modern Christchurch.
Gabrielle Baird is year 10 at Burnside High School, Christchurch.
The review pays nice attention to how the story is told and then to what effect those narrative techniques have on the way the reader experiences the book as information is slowly revealed.
Editor’s note: Close