Children's and Young Adult Books

With a stepmother she hates and a father who’s barely there, sixteen-year-old Danby Armstrong knew Christmas Day would be bad, but she wasn’t expecting the apocalypse. While families tear the wrapping off the latest iGadgets and share excited status updates, something strange happens. Suddenly, people are not just reading each other’s thoughts in their news feeds; they’re actually in each other’s heads. Everything from a neighbour’s affair to a planned terrorist attack is suddenly known; ‘the elephants in every room had been set loose to stampede’. Sydney erupts in violence as people seek revenge or just a place to shut out all those voices. But while Danby can hear them, they can’t hear her, and that makes her almost invisible.

... (read more)

Authentically owning a character’s experience is one of the great challenges faced by fiction writers, especially when it is something as intensely felt as living with terminal illness. It is testimony to A.J. Betts’s talent that she does so in Zac & Mia without lapsing into melodrama, rather, maintaining a voice that is youthful, contemporary, ...

Cry Blue Murder by Kim Kane and Marion Roberts

by
October 2013, no. 355

Kim Kane and Marion Roberts co-write this eerie Melbourne-based thriller seamlessly. In this story that is every parent’s worst nightmare, we see schoolgirls snatched from the middle of their routine, presumed safe, suburban life.

Celia and Alice don’t know the first girl taken or each other, but they connect on Facebook through their ...

You think you know what Jackie French’s Refuge (Angus & Robertson, $15.99 pb, 261 pp, 9780732296179) is going to be about, with its front cover photograph of a young boy, his dark eyes full of apprehension and sorrow. You still think you know when the refugee boat carrying the boy, Faris, and his grandmother, Jedda, to Australia is swamped by a hu ...

It’s the early 1980s in Melbourne. Shelley, aged fourteen, is obsessed with football. Discussions of the game are the one point of mutual interest that allows communication between Shelley and her father in the aftermath of the death of her mother.

...

 The relationships between daughters and their mothers provide fascinating, fertile ground for exploration. Mothers in books are sitting ducks, really, and these three new Young Adult books take aim. One mother is a cavalier, emotionally blackmailing bank robber; another is adored, but nosy and old-fashioned; while the third, obsessed with or ...

After several picture books and novels for early readers, Tasmanian author Julie Hunt moves into fiction for older readers with this lyrical fantasy adventure. Set in an imaginary world, but drawing on Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon folk-tale motifs, Song for a Scarlet Runner is a charming introduction to fantasy for young readers.

...

With this decadent Young Adult novel, described as a ‘bubble-gum-gothic fairytale’, Allyse Near pulls off a surprising magic trick, combining the darker moments of the Brothers Grimm with the modern daydream-realism of Francesca Lia Block.

...

Depicting war in a picture book requires a deft hand. Historical imperatives need to be considered, while also avoiding glorifying war for a young and impressionable audience. Ideally, such books should promote informed discussion rather than mindless militarism.

...

A Very Unusual Pursuit: City of Orphans, Book One by Catherine Jinks & Julius and the Watchmaker by Tim Hehir

by
June 2013, no. 352

The Victorian era has gripped the collective imagination of speculative fiction writers in much the same way the medieval period influenced our forebears. The nineteenth century gave us the Penny Dreadful, Dracula, and Frankenstein, and the melding in fiction of fantasy and reality, superstition and science. A spike in child labour was followed by its ...