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Mike Shuttleworth

Publishing non-fiction books for young adults and children demands creativity, invention and a dash of bloody-mindedness. Our relatively small population means that non-fiction books must make their way in an ever-tightening market. Big-budget ‘wow factor’ titles like the design-heavy Pick Me Up (Dorling Kindersley) and the best-selling The Dangerous Book for Boys (Conn and Hal Iggulden) are largely beyond the scope of the domestic market. Both have been international hits. Without the audience base to launch such books, Australian writers and publishers must work to a tight brief, navigating between the relatively small market and the diminishing school library budget. To succeed, these books need to work outside the school context as well as within.

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While Becoming Kirrali Lewis is being marketed as a Young Adult novel, this big-hearted Australian story could fruit-fully be read in many other ways. Playwright Jane Harrison's début novel about a young indigenous woman's political and personal awakening could be labelled as historical fiction, indigenous writing, or even political fiction. Maureen McCart ...

Publishers Hardie Grant Egmont established The Ampersand Project in 2011 as a platform for new writing. Erin Gough’s suburban drama/comedy The Flywheel ($19.95 pb, 306 pp, 9781742978178) is the second book to appear under the Ampersand banner. It is a contemporary slice-of-life tale painted with broad comedic strokes. Set in Sydney’s inner-west, the novel ...

In the Young Adult novel Slice: Juicy Moments from My Impossible Life, you will meet Darcy Pele Franz Walker, a boy named after famous international footballers, but one who has no interest in the game... ... (read more)

Stella Lees

Philip Reeves’s Infernal Devices (Scholastic) is the third part of a quartet about cities on wheels trundling about a future Earth. It has action, irony, intertextuality and flawed characters – some with dark agendas – and displays an original and startling imagination. Number four will complete the best fantasy since Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. On a smaller scale, and closer to home, Runner (Penguin), by Robert Newton, brings Depression-era Richmond alive. Young Charlie is employed by Squizzy Taylor, until the boy realises he’s doing the devil’s work. Newton’s wit lightens a tough tale with the inventive and laconic speech of Australian battlers, so that, when you’re not blinking back a tear, you’re laughing aloud.

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