Ruth Starke

Ruth Starke

Dr Ruth Starke holds Academic Status at Flinders University where she is the Editor, Creative Writing, for Transnational Literature. She has published over twenty-five books for young readers; her latest title is My Gallipoli (with Robert Hannaford), Working Title 2015.

Ruth Starke reviews 'Loyal Creatures' by Morris Gleitzman, 'Alexander Altmann A10567' by Suzy Zail, 'No Stars to Wish On' by Zana Fraillon, 'The Crossing' by Catherine Norton, 'Figgy in the World' by Tamsin Janu

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
Anybody who knows a little about the role played by Australian horses in World War I will know that the story did not end well for the horses: 136,000 left these shores, and one returned. Readers of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures (Viking, $19.99 pb, 160 pp) who are unaware of this statistic might be in for a shock. At the outbreak of war, Frank Ballantyne, not quite sixteen, is working with ... (read more)


March 2014, no. 359 28 February 2014
On the back of John Marsden’s new novel there is this warning: ‘This book is not a fantasy. It contains no superheroes, wizards, dragons, time-travel, aliens or magic.’ If it had also said, ‘and it is not part of a series’, I would have cheered even louder. At least I hope The Year My Life Broke (Pan Macmillan, $12.99 pb, 171 pp, 9781742613352) is a stand-alone and won’t rapidly be fol ... (read more)


October 2013, no. 355 30 September 2013
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 huge wave and sinks. So you are almost as puzzl ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Cat & Fiddle' by Lesley Jørgensen

April 2013, no. 350 26 March 2013
Ruth Starke reviews 'Cat & Fiddle' by Lesley Jørgensen
Oh please, not another novel that draws from Pride and Prejudice! That was my first thought when I read the media release that came with Cat & Fiddle. Last year I had been underwhelmed by both P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley and Jennifer Paynter’s Mary Bennet, a novel about ‘the forgotten sister’, and I was now fervently wishing that all the sisters could be forgotten, at least b ... (read more)

ABR Patrons' Fellowship: 'Media Don' by Ruth Starke

March 2013, no. 349 07 March 2013
It is a hot gusty day in the summer of 1958, the sort of day that melts the tar on the road and brings the red dust down from the north. In the inner-city Adelaide suburb of Norwood, Mario Feleppa, twenty-eight and not long arrived in Australia, is fed up. Not with the heat – he is used to heat back in Italy – but with horses. Specifically, the horses that are stabled – surely illegally – ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'The Children of the King' by Sonya Hartnett, 'The Tunnels of Tarcoola' by Jennifer Walsh, 'Red' by Libby Gleeson: 'Mystery at Riddle Gully' and Jen Banyard

June 2012, no. 342 22 May 2012
Cecily Lockwood’s heart ‘bounced like a trout’. An arresting simile on the first page of a novel is always a good sign, but will this piscatorial comparison mean anything to young readers? No matter, back to those footsteps climbing the dark stairs to twelve-year-old Cecily’s room, where she is quailing under the bed. She pictures her older brother Jeremy in the next room, his heart ‘fli ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'Inside Creative Writing: Interviews with contemporary writers' edited by Graeme Harper

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
Ruth Starke reviews 'Inside Creative Writing: Interviews with contemporary writers' edited by Graeme Harper
Graeme Harper is a big name in the academic field of creative writing. He was the first in Australia to be awarded a doctorate in creative writing (UTS, 1993) and followed that with a PhD from the University of East Anglia; he has held professorships in creative writing in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. He edits journals and writes textbooks on creative writing; his curricul ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'A Common Loss' by Kirsten Tranter

February 2012, no. 338 20 January 2012
Ruth Starke reviews 'A Common Loss' by Kirsten Tranter
It begins with a car accident. Five friends are returning to college after a night of drinking. The driver, Cameron, hits a deer and overturns the vehicle. When the police and ambulance arrive, Dylan, who has drunk the least, claims to have been at the wheel. The others – Elliot, who narrates the story, Tallis, Brian, and especially Cameron – let him assume responsibility. It is, more or less, ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2011' edited by Cate Kennedy

December 2011–January 2012, no. 337 24 November 2011
Ruth Starke reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2011' edited by Cate Kennedy
The ABC Shop is currently selling online The Best Australian Stories 2010 for $14.99. ‘Ideal for summer reading’ its advertising says, and it surely doesn’t matter which summer. At that price you might get yourself a copy and sling it in your beach bag, unless you suspect it might dampen your holiday mood. More than a few reviewers found the overall tone of the collection bleak and negative: ... (read more)

Ruth Starke reviews eight recent children's books

July–August 2011, no. 333 29 June 2011
Linda and Paul McCartney, so the story goes, became vegetarians the moment they looked up from a delicious meal of roast lamb and saw a flock of lambs gambolling in the field beyond their cottage. Young readers of Pamela Freeman’s Lollylegs (Walker Books, $11.95 pb, 64 pp, 9781921529078) might well have a similar reaction, since the connection in Lollylegs between the meal on the table and the c ... (read more)
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