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Toppling

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4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  141 Ratings  ·  48 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
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Walker Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 290)
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Lisa
Jul 10, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
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
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Australian author Sally Murphy writes a winner here with a novel in verse about friends who discover that one of their group has cancer. John's best friend Dom goes home sick from school one day, and doesn't come back. The adults only tell him and his classmates that Dom is very sick, but this doesn't satisfy them. Kids know when you're not telling them the truth or the whole truth. Even if it's scary or upsetting, they need to know the truth. This story underscores that. When they're finally to ...more
Alec Porter
Apr 20, 2014 Alec Porter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Christina
Nov 04, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kid-books
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.
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!
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
Ceitidh
Dec 12, 2012 Ceitidh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Aug 06, 2012 Steven R. McEvoy rated it it was amazing
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
Sarah
Aug 01, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As we finished reading, both my kids exclaimed, 'That was a great book!' It somehow strikes the perfect balance, tackling a serious subject with nuance and depth without being relentlessly depressing. The free verse format (not blank verse, as some reviewers have stated - anyone looking for iambic pentameter will be disappointed) seems redundant, as it reads like prose, but it is well written and consistently engaging.
Cheryl
Jul 30, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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Tanja
Dec 30, 2014 Tanja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Touching as a young boy deals with his best friend's serious illness. The book gives us adults quite a bit to think about too, our insecurities in dealing with grave illness and death, always unsure what to say and how to act and in this making it worse for the person affected by the illness or loss.
Ana Allen
Jan 26, 2016 Ana Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-novels
This book was absolutely amazing. It showed true friendship and sacrifice. The wording and layout was clever because it was puzzle-like just how the main character arranges his dominoes for toppling. This book is a must read to teach young readers about cancer.
Jest
May 11, 2014 Jest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
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.
Marika
Jun 21, 2012 Marika rated it liked it
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
Feb 07, 2013 Lisa Fabiano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nova
Jul 04, 2014 Nova rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good. A little cold, though.
Heather Gallagher
Dec 02, 2015 Heather Gallagher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: verse-novels
Just re-read this junior verse novel about a boy whose best friend gets cancer. Sally Murphy treads the line between being overly morose on this topic by having a parallel story in which the main character John is obsessed with toppling dominos. Not only was this a great device but it was a quirky, interesting hobby that lightened the story. The third story strand about the school bully was also sensitively handled. I thought this was a good example of a verse novel that didn't feel like poetry. ...more
Christiane
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
Niko
Feb 26, 2013 Niko rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2011 Jess - The Tales Compendium rated it really liked it
Shelves: aussie, contemporary
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.
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.
Jill Pickle
Nov 20, 2015 Jill Pickle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
I wrote this book jacket description when I was an intern. Ha, forgot about that!
Steph
Mar 28, 2015 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa
Apr 19, 2013 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
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.
Jenn
Sep 13, 2014 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mo-reader-award
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).
Lorna
Nov 16, 2012 Lorna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
William
Jun 23, 2013 William rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-to-kids
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
Mar 28, 2012 Selina Ryan rated it really liked it
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.
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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
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