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Stephen Matthews

Stephen Marc Matthews is an Australian children’s author and adult novelist.

Stephen Matthews reviews 'The View from Ararat' by Brian Caswell and 'Go and Come Back' by Joan Abelove

July 1999, no. 212 01 July 1999
For a reviewer, there’s always a temptation to seek a link when writing about more than one book at a time. In this instance, the link, if there is one, is that both these novels for young adults attempt to recreate other worlds, albeit in one case an imagined one, in the other a ‘real’ one. In other respects, however, they could hardly be more different. One credits its readers with intelli ... (read more)

Stephen Matthews reviews 'Small Sacrifices' by Beverley Macdonald, 'Smash' by David Caddy, and 'Cairo Jim Amidst the Petticoats of Artemis' by Geoffrey McSkimming

April 2000, no. 219 19 September 2022
Small Sacrifices by Beverley Macdonald Penguin, $12.95 pb, 179 pp In the current overwhelmingly dour landscape of Australian children’s fiction, it’s a welcome relief to pick up three books which at least claim to rely on humour for their effect. Of course, humour comes in different forms, with different purposes. In Small Sacrifices (Penguin, $12.95 pb, 179 pp), for instance, Beverley ... (read more)

Stephen Matthews reviews 'Sparring with Shadows' by Archimede Fusillo and 'Black Ice' by Lucy Sussex

November 1997, no. 196 12 September 2022
Awareness of the tension between fantasy and realism in fiction has been heightened in recent years by the trend in young adult novels towards gritty urban realism. The tension itself is not new, however: in America half a century ago it was known as the ‘milk bottle versus Grimm’ controversy. Although there is a clear distinction between extreme examples of fantasy and realism, the intervenin ... (read more)

Stephen Matthews reviews 'Strange Journeys: The works of Gary Crew' by Bernard McKenna and Sharyn Pearce

May 1999, no. 210 01 May 1999
All too few books about Australian children’s writers and writing manage to find a publisher. They’re unlikely to sell enough copies, is the standard explanation. All the more reason, therefore, to welcome an even greater rarity – a book which focuses on the work of a single writer. Even if Gary Crew might not necessarily be everyone’s first choice as the subject of such a volume, all thos ... (read more)

Stephen Matthews reviews 'The Listmaker' by Robin Klein and 'The Apostle Bird' by Garry Disher

September 1997, no. 194 01 September 1997
It takes a book like Robin Klein’s The Listmaker to remind adults that a children’s book which succeeds in conveying a child’s point of view may well not immediately engage more mature readers. In this instance, Klein so precisely articulates the self-absorbed voice of twelve-­year-old Sarah, the eponymous listmaker, that it takes an effort of will for an adult reader to persist past the ... (read more)

Rolling Column | Stephen Matthews

May 1995, no. 170 01 May 1995
Western society’s thirst for ease and comfort is insatiable. Every innovation which minimises effort is leapt upon, not always with respect for social and environmental costs. Cars are automatically-geared, air-conditioned, full of devices to save even the effort of winding windows. Unaware of the strain such comforts may cause on natural resources (unless we exert ourselves to find out), we exp ... (read more)

Stephen Matthews reviews 'The Girl with No Name' by Pat Lowe, 'This Summer Last' by Lee-Anne Levy, 'Jake' by Lee-Anne Levy, 'Spider Mansion' by Caroline Macdonald, and 'The Night Tolkien Died' by Nadia Wheatley

October 1994, no. 165 01 October 1994
‘Years ago we threw the old didacticism (dowdy morality) out of the window; it has come back in at the door wearing modern dress (smart values) and we do not even recognise it.’ John Rowe Townsend’s words, from more than a quarter of a century ago, retain a fresh ring of truthfulness. I recalled them after reading The Girl with No Name (Puffin, $8.95 pb), Pat Lowe’s first novel for childre ... (read more)