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Reviewed by Lucy Black, Librarian, Mt Cook School Wellington
Opening sentence
Dear Mrs Minister for Education, I know you’re shutting down our school, but you’ve never actually seen Ashton Hill Primary.
'Take Me To Your Leader' is a mad cap romp set in a small rural town somewhere back and beyond Aotearoa. The protagonist Luca is a likeable tween living with his mum and sister and struggling to face up to his grief for his recently passed father.

The focus of this middle grade novel is Luca’s project to save his local school. Faced with dwindling numbers, the government wants to shut the rural school, but Luca and his friends concoct outrageous and sometimes unbelievable plans to thwart the closure. The kids fake an alien invasion, liberate chickens and march on parliament and at times the pace of the story is as fast and muddy as the local river. The plot rollicks along to a crescendo and toward the end readers are given a gentle reprieve.

Luca’s friends Harriet and Alex, display true kindness and support by showing up for Luca and this highlights how much Luca has been struggling alone. The sincere display of friendship and community elevate this novel from silly fun to something more. Agnew writes about true inclusion, real grass roots activism and tackling big issues with humour and tenderness.
Author & Illustrator: Leonie Agnew, Paul Beavis
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN: 9781776958160
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2024
Ages: 8-13
Themes: Adventure, community, grief, rural life