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Ruth Starke

Ruth Starke

Dr Ruth Starke (1946-2022) was a writer, critic and creative writing teacher. She held Academic Status at Flinders University where she was the Editor, Creative Writing, for Transnational Literature. She was a regular and longtime book reviewer for Australian Book Review, Viewpoint, and Radio Adelaide, and a past Chair of the SA Writers Centre. She published more than twenty-five books for young readers.

Ruth Starke reviews 'Lost! A True Tale From The Bush' by Stephanie Owen Reeder and '60 Classic Australian Poems' edited by Christopher Cheng (illus. Gregory Rogers)

December 2009–January 2010, no. 317 01 December 2009
On the morning of 12 August 1864, Hannah Duff sent her three children – Isaac, aged nine, Jane, seven, and Frank, almost four – to gather broom from bushes growing a short distance from their one-room slab hut in the West Wimmera district in Victoria. They walked into the mallee scrub, and that was the last their mother saw of them for over a week. By some miracle, the children survived and we ... (read more)

CYA Survey by Ruth Starke

November 2007, no. 296 01 November 2007
Does any male under thirty not employed in the English department of a university really like Jane Austen? At least Shakespeare wakes you up now and then with a spot of violence and bloody murders. This literary gender divide is at the heart of Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight (Penguin, $19.95 pb, 244 pp), Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow’s funny story about a male and female student writing a ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Wolf’s Sunday Dinner' by Tania Cox, 'Too Many Pears!' by Jackie French, 'Fiona the Pig' by Leigh Hobbs, 'Trumpet’s Kittens' by Carolyn Polizzotto and Sarah Spinks, and 'Baby Boomsticks' by Margaret Wild

March 2004, no. 259 08 November 2022
Where would the picture book industry be without animals? Talking or non-speaking, cute or obnoxious, mischievously alive or poignantly dying, animal characters can be utilised to teach life lessons, and to make complex issues accessible and less confronting for young children. Add humour, passion and strong original writing, and you have a winner. Leigh Hobbs combines all three in Fiona the Pig, ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell' by Virginia Lowe

October 2007, no. 295 01 October 2007
Virginia Lowe has carved an academic career in the area of ‘childist criticism’ based on the responses of very young children (particularly her own) to books. Shortly after their daughter, Rebecca, was born in 1971, the Lowes began to read to her. Virginia recorded the process in a daily journal. Three years later, when their son, Ralph, was born, she recorded his reactions as well, and contin ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Stillwater Creek' by Alison Booth

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
The sticker on the cover assured me that if I had enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I would ‘love’ Stillwater Creek. Had I been browsing the bookshop shelves, this would have been fair warning not to part with my money. Myriad readers obviously did love Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s international bestseller. Alexander McCall Smith certainly did: he chaired the ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Family Business' by Sophie Masson and 'The Rented House' by Phil Cummings

April 2000, no. 219 01 April 2000
When she sat down in that Edinburgh café almost three years ago to write Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling apparently determined that it would take a further six books to tell the complete story of her pubescent wizard. Millions of entranced and thoroughly hooked readers around the world are now breathlessly awaiting volume four. The books are immensely readable with a stro ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Rain May and Captain Daniel' by Catherine Bateson and 'Too Flash' by Melissa Lucashenko

April 2003, no. 250 01 April 2003
In the list of life’s most stressful events, family breakups and moving home are way up there in the top ten, and one often follows the other, compounding the trauma. This is the situation for eleven-year-old Rain in Catherine Bateson’s Rain May and Captain Daniel, when her mother, Maggie, sells their inner-city house in the aftermath of divorce. They head for the country to turn Grandma’s d ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'The Midnight Zoo' by Sonya Hartnett and 'The Red Wind' by Isobelle Carmody

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
I had fun imagining Sonya Hartnett and Isobelle Carmody indulging in a little pre-publication chit-chat: IC: What are you working on now, Sonya?SH: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers battling for survival in a world turned upside down; talking animals; themes of freedom and loss. What about you?IC: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers struggling for survival in a world s ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews four recent Young Adult novels

June–July 2016, no. 382 25 May 2016
Summer Skin (Allen & Unwin, $19.99 pb, 347 pp, 978192526-6924) by Kirsty Eagar, a raunchy romance for older readers, is set in the halls of residence of a Queensland university during O-Week. Jess Gordon – nickname Flash – has devised a little game for the freshers, a payback for what her friend Farren endured the previous year when she was secretly filmed and Skyped having sex with a boy ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Pieces of Sky' by Trinity Doyle, 'The Pause' by John Larkin, 'Frankie and Joely' by Nova Weetman, and 'Talk Under Water' by Kathryn Lomer

November 2015, no. 376 29 October 2015
In Trinity Doyle's Pieces of Sky (Allen & Unwin, $16.99 pb, 290 pp, 9781760112486), it has been eight weeks since Lucy's older brother Cam drowned while surfing. Images of his death fill her head and prevent Lucy, a backstroke champion, from returning to the pool. She suffers a panic attack and flees from a training session, unable or unwilling to explain why: 'I know I'm not going to drown ... (read more)
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