book cover The Doolalley Kid
by Wendy Milton

Novel | 208 pp | Years 5-8

Getting Started


[ Overview | Author profile | Useful websites | Focus questions ]


Billy is not happy with his life at home and at school. His mum is always travelling with a theatre group and sends him expensive gifts in the hope that he will develop a worthy, artistic talent. Living with his eccentric Aunt Addie provides further problems. Her work as a psychic medium and her flamboyant behaviour at school is a major embarrassment. And then there is school itself. Tall, gangly, untalented, victimised and virtually friendless, Billy does not have much to look forward to. However, his Aunt forecasts change when she 'reads' Billy's tea leaves and predicts that an upcoming thunderstorm will change his life. The storm sends an electric charge to Billy's computer and he forms a series of connections with past lives. Each of them uses Billy as a medium to express their artistic brilliance and, from that moment on, Billy's life changes.

The Doolalley Kid is an unusual and action-packed novel that is full of plot twists, humour and excitement. With Billy's transformation into a gifted and talented artist, musician, writer and dancer, he goes from being unpopular to being a school hero. However, Aunt Addie's connections to past lives and a new friendship with musician Earl leads them all into the sinister underworld of urban crime and results in them becoming suspects in a major art theft.

Wendy Milton provides the reader with a clever and witty story that presents an insight into family relationships and friendships, as well as questioning what it means to be respected and valued as a person. The Doolalley Kid will be a popular read with upper primary and lower secondary students who will enjoy this fast-paced and original story that presents a series of characters that challenge preconceptions and demonstrate surprising characteristics.

Author profile

Wendy Milton's childhood dream of becoming a writer came true in 2001. The Doolalley Kid is her first published children's book and she hopes to write many more. Wendy lives in Rozelle, New South Wales and shares her life with Michael, a musician, and Mousie, her cat.

Useful websites

Focus questions

Before reading the book

  • What do you think this story will be about? Justify your thoughts based on the cover illustration and the blurb.
  • What do you think 'doolalley' may mean? Make a list of words that describe what type of person this may refer to. Add to your list after reading the blurb on the back cover.
  • How does the style of writing in the first paragraph of the blurb on the back cover reinforce the information provided further on?
  • Why does Billy want to be good at something? Why would he expect success to bring him happiness?
  • What might have happened to help Billy acquire his new talents?

During and after reading the book

  • What is the meaning of the title? Explain your interpretation from the clues provided in the story (p 43).
  • What is some of the good advice shared in the story? For example, on page 63 Aunt Addie advises Billy not to let his popularity go to his head. Note further examples as you read.
  • How does the story explore the advantages and disadvantages of being popular?
  • What explanations can you give for the number and quality of gifts that Billy's mother sends him?
  • What is the significance of the information shared about Sergeant Dickerson (p 28)?

© Curriculum Corporation 2006