The 10pm Question

Author: Kate De Goldi

Published: Longacre Press, 2008

Year level: 9-10

Kate De Goldi’s novel The 10pm Question follows a twelve year old boy who feels as if he is carrying the burdens of his family upon his own shoulders. Frankie Parsons is constantly anxious as every possible worrying question flows through his mind Who is going to do the groceries for Ma? Will bird flu wipe out the world? Do I have Hepatitis? 

Every night at 10pm, Frankie tells Ma every worry and asks every question as she patiently listens and provides reassurance. But, when a new girl arrives at school and begins to ask Frankie questions that he has avoided for years he is bombarded with a new set of anxieties and the biggest question: How come Ma never leaves the house? 

This is a story of difference, of acceptance, and of understanding. Frankie is forced to, as many of us are, confront his fears and worries, and accept his family for who they are, even though the journey to completely understanding them will never end.

How would I teach this book: The characters in this novel are complex and individual, so I would do in depth character studies on Frankie, Gigs, Sydney, and the Aunties. The themes present – anxiety, family, questions+answers, and the self – are themes that are relevant to adolescents today as they may be experiencing the same things as Frankie. The symbolism of birds is also very present in this text, Frankie often tries to guess what kind of bird each person would be. Gordana would be a barn owl, Uncle George a puffin, Alma a pelican. An activity that would work well for year nine students would be for them to read these excerpts and then decide what bird they would be and why.

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