Children's and Young Adult Books
‘When I think about picture books,’ writes Mark Rafidi in the first line of his foreword, ‘the words of the young girl in David Legge’s Bamboozled strikes [sic] me immediately.’ What strikes me immediately is that Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is a book that hasn’t been properly edited. By the time I reached the final page I wondered ... More
Following the success of her first novel, Claire Zorn displays her remarkable talent again in The Protected. Although the books are vastly different (The Sky So Heavy  is a futuristic survival thriller, while The Protected is a coming-of-age story coloured by grief), thematically they have many similarities. Zorn is adept at explori ... More
A relatively unusual occurrence until recently, the publication of a plethora of new Australian Aboriginal-authored and/or Aboriginal-themed children’s books has begun transforming the Australian publishing landscape. A number of these books, like Rhoda Lalara and Alfred Lalara’s charmingly evocative Yirruwa Yirrilikenuma-langwa (When We Go Walkabout ... More
In times of high moral outrage at the barbarism of others, it is salutary to be reminded of the state-sanctioned viciousness of Australia’s past. Simon Barnard’s A–Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land does this brilliantly. Australian convict history is a crowded field, but Barnar ... More
Eli Glasman’s début novel is aimed at a Young Adult audience, but should also enjoy a long life on adult fiction shelves. Seemingly based on Glasman’s own upbringing as an Orthodox Jew in Caulfield, a Melbourne suburb, the book is fascinating in its candid observations of the rituals, strictures, and arcane customs of Orthodox Judaism, particularly those of the ... More
Ryan Lanyon sees something special in Ariel the moment he meets her. He can tell that she is out of place here, in the middle of suburbia, where the too-bright mall lights offer no real security from the dangers outside.
Ryan is an unlikely hero. Surprisingly insightful, he is the first of many characters in Tigerfish that encourage us to look beneath ... More
At its greatest, literature offers us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else; at its most inviting, through a character whose experience could be our own; at its most powerful, through a view of existence that differs vastly, even frighteningly, from ours. The latter is explored in these two new works of Young Adult fiction that show us in ... More
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, 9780670077427) who are unaware of this statistic might be in for a shock.
At the outbreak ... More
In order to appeal to a child audience, picture books often deal with similar subjects or themes. To compete in the marketplace, they therefore need a point of difference – something in the artist’s style, the author’s approach, the design of the book to set them apart.
The relationship between children and their pets is a popular picture book subject ... More
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.... More