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Margaret Robson Kett

Margaret Robson Kett
Margaret Robson Kett is a Melbourne writer and editor. She blogs at

Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'The Bone Sparrow' by Zana Fraillon

December 2016, no. 387 30 November 2016
Subhi lives with Maa and his older sister Queeny in ‘Family Three’, hoping that the ‘Night Sea’ will bring his Ba back to them. Born in detention to his Rohingya mother after she arrived illegally in Australia, his friend Eli and a kindly ‘Jacket’ make his life one of fitful pleasures amid the uncertainties of camp life. On the other side of the fence, in the nearby community, Jimmie f ... (read more)

'Making the Australian Quilt 1800–1950' (NGV Australia)

ABR Arts 25 July 2016
With a needle on cloth, Mary Jane Hannaford preserved her sharp observations of people as stout appliquéd figures set amidst interpretative renditions of Australian animals. Late in life she embroidered favourite verses and slyly captioned her pictures in quilts for her family. Close to one hundred years later, she has a room dedicated to her art in National Gallery of Victoria's exhibition Makin ... (read more)

Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'The Singing Bones' by Shaun Tan

January-February 2016, no. 378 21 December 2015
In 2012, Shaun Tan was commissioned to make pictures for a German publisher's edition of fifty of the Brothers Grimms' fairy tales, retold by Philip (His Dark Materials) Pullman. Pullman's challenge is that the tales do not necessarily benefit from illustration – he dismisses most as 'art school exquisiteness'. Tan's response was to return to his boyhood medium: sculpture. Inspired by the tales, ... (read more)

Bunyips and Dragons (NGV)

ABR Arts 17 August 2015
The pleasures of looking at pictures from a young age inspired Albert Ullin. At the opening of this exhibition to mark his donation of eighty works by Australian children’s book illustrators to National Gallery of Victoria, he expressed the hope that they would be recognised as mainstream art. In 1960, Ullin established the Little Bookroom in Melbourne: it was the first dedicated children’s ... (read more)

Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'Pandora Jones: Admission' by Barry Jonsberg and 'Crooked leg road' by Jennifer Walsh

June–July 2014, no. 362 01 June 2014
Where is the pleasure in reading a book as part of a series? A long acquaintance with known and trusted characters rewards the reader with the chance to share their growth and development through multiple challenges and adversities. For teenage readers, following protagonists their own age on this journey has particular rewards. All this, and cliffhangers, too. Barry Jonsberg’s latest novel, Pa ... (read more)

Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'Rules of Summer' by Shaun Tan, 'Esther's Rainbow' by Sara Acton, 'To Get to Me' by Eleanor Kerr, 'Baby Bed Time' by Mem Fox and Emma Quay, 'Kissed by the Moon' by Alison Lester, 'My First Animalia' by Graeme Base

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357 01 December 2013
‘Never ruin a perfect plan’ is one of the masterful Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer (Lothian, $24.99 hb, 52 pp). On a bone-strewn landscape, four thimbles with legs, tails, and horned heads are caught mid-procession. Two of them carry a knife and fork twice their height. The smallest one has turned its Ned Kelly visor head to salute. In doing so, he has trodden unaware on the tail of the one in ... (read more)

Margaret Robson Kett reviews eight new picture books

April 2013, no. 350 26 March 2013
A pile of picture books to savour – what better start to the year? Experienced authors and artists are met again, and new favourites are found, in these eight books. Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood, wonderful book makers in their own right, make a special team in The Treasure Box (Viking, $24.99 hb, 32 pp, 9780670073658). A boy and his father are forced to flee their home as the enemy advance ... (read more)
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