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Anna Ryan-Punch

Anna Ryan-Punch

Anna Ryan-Punch is a Melbourne reviewer and poet. Her published poetry includes work in Westerly, Overland, The Age, Quadrant, and Wet Ink, and can also be found on her blog. She has been a Program Advisor for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival Schools’ Program since 2006, and was Convenor of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award YA Prize in 2008 and 2010. She specialises in reviewing children’s and YA literature. (Photograph by Andrew Wurster.)

Anna Ryan-Punch reviews 6 children’s books

June 2008, no. 302 01 June 2008
Childhood is full of revelatory moments; sometimes shocking instants of understanding that people, events and relationships are not as they seem. They can happen in adulthood too, but those in childhood can have an intensity that makes them deeply formative. They might be subtle eye-openers or life-changing epiphanies, but they all cause a shift in perspective that changes one’s perception of th ... (read more)

Anna Ryan-Punch reviews ‘The Winds of Heaven’ by Judith Clarke

September 2009, no. 314 10 October 2023
Judith Clarke’s new novel for young adults, The Winds of Heaven, is a moving story about the strength and difficulty of friendship, and how accidents of birth, family and situation can combine to overwhelm the brightest spirit. On her first trip to Lake Conapaira in 1952, ten-year-old Clementine meets her cousin Fan for the first time. Fan is a whirlwind: beautiful, impulsive and imaginative. C ... (read more)

Anna Ryan-Punch reviews four children's books

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
Adolescence can be a battlefield. From family, school and neighbourhood clashes to finding support during actual warfare, these four new books for young readers involve characters caught up in very different turf wars. In Jessica Green’s Theodork (Scholastic, $14.95 pb, 177 pp), the battleground is school. Theodore’s first day of Year Seven does not go well. He falls over and lands on a teach ... (read more)

Anna Ryan-Punch reviews 'Does My Head Look Big In This?' by Randa Abdel-Fattah and 'Still Waving' by Laurene Kelly

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
The Young Adult ‘issue novel’ is a difficult thing to do well. To write one that rises above the mediocre requires a careful avoidance of both sentimentality and sensationalism, and the better books succeed by either tackling an unusual or topical issue, or by looking at a situation from a novel angle. These two books – though covering very different terrain – are good examples. ... (read more)

Anna Ryan-Punch surveys children's and young adult fiction

October 2007, no. 295 17 October 2022
Girls like books about friends and relationships. Boys like books about explosions and sport. Right? Like any generalisation based solely on gender, the answers are, invariably, ‘yes’; ‘sometimes’; ‘up to a point’ and ‘of course not’. This latest grab bag of junior fiction contains its fair share of ‘girlie’ books about friendship and ‘boyish’ books about sport. Thankfully, ... (read more)

Anna Ryan-Punch reviews 'Six' by Karen Tayleur

March 2011, no. 329 19 April 2011
Six people. Five seatbelts. Six teenagers involved in a horrific car crash. But who has died? After this reader-catching prologue, Karen Tayleur’s Six jumps backwards to follow the teenagers through half of their final year at high school. Sarah, though organised and dutiful, has doubts about her future career path. Her best friend, the possibly psychic Poppy, has recently added stressed-out ath ... (read more)