Allen & Unwin, $16.95 pb, 171 pp
For several years, I have bemoaned the dearth of substantial, challenging Australian novels for ‘middle years’ readers. During a recent stint working in a specialist children’s bookshop, I was frequently asked by parents of these readers – upper primary, lower secondary – for ‘books that will last longer than an afternoon’. I was hard-pressed to find many recent Australian titles that would fit the bill. Two new novels by first-time writers aiming both to entertain and challenge their audience with complex yet accessible stories, concepts and language go a small way towards filling this gap.