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Young Adult Fiction

Jackie French, a prolific author, is best known for her children’s books, with variations on historical themes clearly something of a specialty. A Waltz for Matilda, which seems to be aimed at a broader market, builds on the premise that the Jolly Swagman of Banjo Paterson’s song is not alone. His twelve-year-old daughter, Matilda, is with him and witne ...

There is much to like in this début Young Adult novel: its straightforward storytelling, distinctive central characters, well-tuned adolescent dialogue, and humorous depiction of first love...

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Noah's Law by Randa Abdel-Fattah

February 2011, no. 328
The teen detective novel is a rare breed in this post-Famous Five era, now that the catch-cry of popular Young Adult fiction is the familiar and the relatable ... ... (read more)

Six by Karen Tayleur

March 2011, no. 329

Six people. Five seatbelts. Six teenagers involved in a horrific car crash. But who has died?

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S.D. Gentill’s Chasing Odysseus provides a fresh perspective on Homer’s The Odyssey for young readers. It focuses on the adventures of Hero and her three brothers – Machaon, Lycon, and Cadmus – during the fall of Troy and on their subsequent pursuit of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, throughout his legendary voyages. The siblings are raised among the Herdsmen of Ida, who are ...

Darkwater by Georgia Blain & This is Shyness by Leanne Hall

April 2011, no. 330

Darkness, both literal and symbolic, pervadesthese two recent books. Darkwater, the first Young Adult title by established writer Georgia Blain...

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Grimsdon by Deborah Abela & Quillblade: Voyages of the Flying Dragon, Book One by Ben Chandler

October 2010, no. 325

Twelve-year-old Isabella and her best friend, Griffin, have been keeping themselves and three younger children alive in Grimsdon since a massive wave flooded the city three years ago

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The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett & The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody

September 2010, no. 324

I had fun imagining Sonya Hartnett and Isobelle Carmody indulging in a little pre-publication chit-chat:

IC: What are you working on now, Sonya?
SH: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers battling for survival in a world turned upside down; talking animals; themes of freedom and loss. What about you?
IC: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers struggling for survival in a world suddenly turned alien; talking animals; themes of resilience and loss …

The result is two different novels, but the marketing meetings at Penguin must have been interesting.

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Set in the early 1970s, prolific children’s and Young Adult author Carole Wilkinson’s latest novel, Sugar Sugar, follows the adventures of Jackie, an Australian girl who dreams of being a fashion designer. After leaving her home in Semaphore to travel to London with her friend Colleen, Jackie finds herself working at the snooty fashion boutique Konundrum; waiting to be noticed by the fashion world. She soon realises that the ‘swinging London’ she’d been searching for ‘had pretty much swung’. After accidentally spilling hot tea over Julie Christie, and Konundrum’s most expensive evening dress, Jackie catches the hovercraft to Paris for the weekend hoping to impress French fashion designer André Courrèges with her design folio.

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Our response to tragedy strangely mingles pain and pleasure,’ notes Terry Eagleton in Sweet Violence (2003). ‘The feelings being released are painful in themselves but the act of easing them is pleasurable.’ While reading Rebecca James’s Beautiful Malice, I was reminded of this passage, and of Eagleton’s suggestion that the ambivalent combination of fear, pity and relief in our reaction to works of tragedy is what makes them so enthralling.

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