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Robert Newton

Stella Lees

Philip Reeves’s Infernal Devices (Scholastic) is the third part of a quartet about cities on wheels trundling about a future Earth. It has action, irony, intertextuality and flawed characters – some with dark agendas – and displays an original and startling imagination. Number four will complete the best fantasy since Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. On a smaller scale, and closer to home, Runner (Penguin), by Robert Newton, brings Depression-era Richmond alive. Young Charlie is employed by Squizzy Taylor, until the boy realises he’s doing the devil’s work. Newton’s wit lightens a tough tale with the inventive and laconic speech of Australian battlers, so that, when you’re not blinking back a tear, you’re laughing aloud.

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My Name is Will Thompson by Robert Newton & Camel Face by Moya Simons

April 2001, no. 229

Funny things happen in children's books, and there are some odd things happening to them, too. Robert Newton and Moya Simons clearly seek to tickle the funny-bone of twelve-year-olds; Marguerite Hann Syme, on the other hand, raises questions that are more likely to preoccupy adults, and there are no wisecracks in her offering. The funny thing is that all three are published as books for young adults, and the cataloguing-­in-publication suggests that all three are ‘juvenile literature’.

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