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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A moving and triumphant illustrated verse novel about childhood illness and support for friends.

Toppling is a fantastic new verse novel from Sally Murphy and a fitting partner title with her first title with Walker Books, Pearl Verses the World. John is obsessed with dominoes. But not with playing the traditional game, he is obsessed with toppling. He spends hours setting...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Walker Books
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(showing 1-30 of 232)
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This is a heart-warming story in blank verse about a boy whose best friend has cancer. There are the usual stock characters of contemporary school stories: the irritating sister, the bully, the caring teacher, the friends from all corners of a multicultural society, but it's fresh and original because the boy's hobby is unusual (toppling dominoes) and the dialogue is authentic.
I'd recommend this for 8+ if read by a teacher to a class, and 10+ for kids reading it independently.
Shortlisted for t...more
Alec Porter
Toppling by Sally Murphy is about a fifth grade boy who loves to topple dominoes by making elaborate models and knocking them down. One day, one of his friends throws up in school and they expect him to be out for just a couple of days at the most, but as it turns out, the student has a cancerous tumor that needs to be removed and treated. The students are shocked at this news and begin to brainstorm ideas as to how they would show their friend that they love and support him. It also shows how t...more
Was going to read it, and i checked it out to save from the weed shelf at my library. My 6 year old found it on the table, picked it up, so i read it at the same time as him. Not my 1st choice for a six year old, but i tell folks at my library, let kids read what they want. We have talked a lot about this book, which makes a nice change from Cam Jansen. This has an ambiguous ending, but he didn't get that, which I don't mind.
Ms. Yingling
In this novel in blank verse, fifth grader John loves to create elaborate constructions of dominoes and push them over. He would much rather do that than go to school, but he does have a good group of friends, and he likes his teacher, Miss Timms. After his friend Dominic throws up at school one day, John expects him to be out for a couple of days, but no one expects that he has a tumor that has to be removed because of cancer. This causes the entire class to be concerned, especially John's grou...more
Natalia Ceitidh
Read more of my reviews at Dazzling Reads

Toppling is a extraordinary touching and valuable story that brought tears to my eyes. Murphy's beautiful verse pulled me into the story, and into the main characters head, and also into his heart.

This is the story of a boy, John. He loves dominoes, and he loves to create complex and long shapes with them and make them topple. The only thing that makes him look forward to school are his friends, specially his best friend Dominic. On the first day back to...more
Steven R. McEvoy
Having only read one Sally Murphy book before this one, I was not sure what to expect but knew I expected a lot. This book blew away even those high expectations. Two things grabbed my attention, the title and the cover. But the story was so much more than that. A few years ago I did a course in university on grief literature for children. It was a great course with a number of very good books. To be honest this one is better than most from that course. I read it to my son and though he is 4 and...more
Steven R. McEvoy
Having only read one Sally Murphy book before this one, I was not sure what to expect but knew I expected a lot. This book blew away even those high expectations. Two things grabbed my attention, the title and the cover. But the story was so much more than that. A few years ago I did a course in university on grief literature for children. It was a great course with a number of very good books. To be honest this one is better than most from that course. I read it to my son and though he is 4 and...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camilla Hampton thompson
I am writing this review based on my son's response to the book. He's in 2nd grade and loves to read. He saw Toppling at the library and checked it out. The next morning, he came to see me in bed and said he had been up for hours reading the book. When I asked him what it was about, his details were fantastic. So I give the book 5 stars because he rarely talks about a book like he did Toppling.
Kim Burean
John loves setting up domino runs in his bedroom. It's his favorite thing to do. He also likes hanging out with his friends. One day at school, his best friend, Dom, throws up in the middle of class. Unfortunately, it's not just a stomach bug. Dom has cancer. This throws John into a tailspin. He misses his friend and he's worried. What do you do when your best friend has a life-threatening disease?

This is a great book that explores how it feels to have a friend in crisis. It's not a super depres...more
The toppling book is a very happy and sad book. It is about two boys that are
best friends but one of them gets sick and vomits on his desk and his friend
is so sad.
John loves arranging long, intricate domino runs, and then toppling them. When his best friend Dominic gets sick in class and doesn't return to school, John makes domino runs instead of worrying. But then it turns out that Dom isn't just sick, he has cancer. John tells his story in chapters of poetry, the lines lining up like a domino run. But while he'll topple dominoes, John and his friends will support Dom in every way they can, so that that cancer doesn't topple him. Sally Murphy has a gift...more
Lisa Fabiano
I love Sally Murphy's ability to convey strong emotions and tell amazing stories in verse form. "Toppling" is a wonderful story. John and his group of friends, "the gigglers", are in 5th Grade and this trimester they get to do a project on "anything". When one of "the gigglers" gets sick and ends up in the hospital,they are left wondering what is wrong, what can they do and what will happen. The day the class presents their projects an unlikely classmate shares a story that will help them get so...more
Pretty good. A little cold, though.
John loves dominoes and creating more and more elaborate "topples". He also likes to hang out with his friends, but when his best friend Dominic gets very sick and ends up in the hospital, everything changes. This is a short book in verse with numerous black and white illustrations, making it perfect for younger readers who may be facing the serious illness of a friend. It’s a lovely, moving book that still has a lot of kid appeal. This would be a great addition to our “Sensitive Issues: Death”...more
Toppling, is a sweet book, well written. Sally Murphy captures perspectives of a young boy quite well, and some of the deep emotions that come with the circumstance he finds himself in. Overall it was not as touching to me as her previous book, Pearl Verses The World, and makes less sense as a novel-in-verse. Nevertheless, as a very quick read it is worth the time.
Jess - The Tales Compendium
This is a very well written non-rhyming verse novel told from the perspective of 11-year old John who has found out his best friend has cancer.

The importance of friendship is the main message behind this book but the subplot of a bully and why he behaves how he does is thoughtfully interwoven in the story.

This would make a great resource for teachers or parents.

As a side note without spoiling the story, page 124 is heart-warming.
Candice Lemon-scott
A well written children's book that portrays the story of a boy and his best mate, who has cancer. It's no easy feat to deal with heavy issues in a way that kids will identify and engage with, but I think this book managed to do just that. The metaphor of the dominoes 'toppling,' as the title suggests, was also poignantly used in this heart-warming story. Not too many books bring a tear to my eye, but this one certainly did!
A good one for reluctant readers - in blank verse, story moves very quickly but is about fifth grade kids and addresses bullying and cancer. Overall it has a positive tone despite the serious stuff. For some reason it had no appeal to my guys so I read it in a sitting.
Book deals w/ wide range of issues (bullying, illness, research) appropriate for emergent readers. Was surprised to see the school was set-up on trimesters (didn't realize that MO KC3 award guidelines allowed international authors--Ms. Murphy is Australian).
Warning, this book is not really about dominoes. I thought it would be a good game related book for my kid. She read it quickly and told me it wasn't about what I thought it was about. Then I read it and wondered how I missed that on the book jacket!
The story is short and written in easy to read prose. The story is not indepth, but is very readable for elementary school kids. The book centers around John, whose best friend and classmate Domenic is diagnosed with cancer.
Selina Ryan
This book is a quick read. Simply written from the perspective of the best friend of a boy diagnosed with cancer.
Very sad
Everyone should read this book, similar to (younger level) Life on a Refrigerator Door.
i am so disappointed that this book did not win this year. it shows what true friendship really is. a bully to a caring person. sick to feeling well. friends staying around forever.
Shallowreader VaVeros
This book is poignant, sad and beautiful. It is about a 6th grader dealing with his best friend getting cancer along with the rest of the children in his class. A novel in prose, I loved it.
Novel in blank verse. John enjoys toppling dominoes and hanging out with his friends, but his comfortable life changes when his best friend is diagnosed with cancer.
Mrs Child
Couldn't stop reading. Well written with humour, plenty of relationship issues and sad life experiences. Left with hope at the end!
Shortlisted book for 2011 CBCA Book Week. Great read about the importance of friendship. So sad in places.
Quick book to read, deals with child cancer in a very sensitive manner, lovely story.
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Sally Murphy is an Australian author of over 30 children's books. She;s also the slightly crazy mother of six beautiful kids. You'll find bits of her buried somewhere in every one of her books. She loves reading, writing, and speaking about reading and writing.

PEARL VERSES THE WORLD won the 2010 Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature as well as the 2010 Australian Speech Pa...more
More about Sally Murphy...
Pearl Verses the World Roses Are Blue Do Not Forget Australia Pemberthy Bear Pearl

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