Children's and Young Adult Books

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

Margaret Robson Kett

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, i ... More

Laura Elvery reviews 'You're The Kind of Girl I Write Songs About' by Daniel Herborn

Laura Elvery

Surely Mandy and Tim have met before. Floundering during her gap year, Mandy mostly watches daytime television and works at a sandwich shop. Tim, who is repeating Year Twelve under the guardianship of his uncle, tries to deal with teachers and assignments, and to move on from a nightmare year. Both characters are effusive about their love of music.

Mandy and ... More

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Freedom Ride' by Sue Lawson

Bec Kavanagh

In 1965 a busload of students drove through a number of small Australian towns to protest the treatment of Aboriginal people. These events are the backdrop for Sue Lawson's Freedom Ride, a novel set in the fictional town of Walgaree, where racial tensions are high. Robbie, the novel's young protagonist, is generally obliging, but he is at an age where he mu ... More

Mike Shuttleworth reviews 'Becoming Kirrali Lewis' by Jane Harrison

Mike Shuttleworth

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 ... More

Ruth Starke reviews 'Pieces of Sky' by Trinity Doyle, 'The Pause' by John Larkin, 'Frankie and Joely' by Nova Weetman, and 'Talk Under Water' by Kathryn Lomer

Ruth Starke

In Trinity Doyle's Pieces of Sky (Allen & Unwin, $16.99 pb, 290 pp, 9781760112486), it has been eight weeks since Lucy's older brother Cam drowned while surfing. Images of his death fill her head and prevent Lucy, a backstroke champion, from returning to the pool. She suffers a panic attack and flees from a training session, unable or unwilling to expla ... More

Bunyips and Dragons (NGV)

Margaret Robson Kett

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 More

Reading Australia: ‘The Gathering’ by Isobelle Carmody

Ruth Starke

My postgraduate student frowned. ‘The Gathering? Isn’t that the one where someone sets a dog on fire?’ Spoiler alert: indeed it is. It is the book’s most memorable scene; it is certainly the most horrific. My postgrad had read Isobelle Carmody’s 1993 novel in high school and that was the first memory of it which surfaced. The scene shocked readers a ... More

Mike Shuttleworth reviews 'The Flywheel' by Erin Gough, 'A Small Madness' by Dianne Touchell, and 'For the Forest of a Bird' by Sue Saliba

Mike Shuttleworth

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 ... More

Grace Nye reviews 'Clariel' by Garth Nix

Grace Nye

Garth Nix’s Sabriel (1995) remains a high water mark for Young Adult fantasy. With its strong-willed heroine and distinctive setting, which mingled wizardry and necromancy with industrial-era technology, the novel found a devoted following and influenced a generation of fantasy authors.

... More

Laura Elvery reviews 'Laurinda' by Alice Pung

Laura Elvery

Lucy Lam is a studious pupil at a multicultural Melbourne Catholic school. Her mother minds the baby at home and sews high-end chain store clothing in the garage, while her father toils at a hazardous carpet factory. With dreams of following a different path, Lucy sits an exam for Laurinda, an exclusive ladies’ college, and is awarded the inaugural Equal Access sc ... More

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