Children's and Young Adult Books
In Negotiating with the Dead (2002), Margaret Atwood proposes that all writing ‘is motivated, deep down, by a fear of, and fascination with, mortality – by a desire to make the risky trip to the Underworld, and to bring something or someone back from the dead’. Certainly writers often use their craft both to preserve the memory of times, places, and peo ... More
A good picture book melds a well-crafted text with illustrations that interpret and extend the narrative. The illustrator’s choice of artistic style is central to how effectively this combined narrative is communicated to readers.
Australian Children’s Laureate Jackie French and illustrator Bruce Whatley have had a long and successful collaborative relat ... More
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 ... More
David Levithan’s latest book has proved extremely popular with adolescent and adult readers alike, particularly gay men who lived through the first wave of HIV/Aids. The main storyline, which takes place over a couple of days, centres on two gay teenagers, former boyfriends Harry and Craig, who set out to break the Guinness Record for a continuous kiss (more ... More
‘Never ruin a perfect plan’ is one of the masterful Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer (Lothian, $24.99 hb, 52 pp, 9780734410672). 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 ... More
Fiona Wood’s second novel addresses a theme that is common in Young Adult fiction: the loss of innocence. Wildlife, a cleverly composed coming-of-age novel, introduces the reader to the world of Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education campus at Mount Fairweather. Although it revisits the character of Lou from Wood’s début novel, Six Impossible ... More
With a stepmother she hates and a father who’s barely there, sixteen-year-old Danby Armstrong knew Christmas Day would be bad, but she wasn’t expecting the apocalypse. While families tear the wrapping off the latest iGadgets and share excited status updates, something strange happens. Suddenly, people are not just reading each other’s thoughts in their n ... More
Authentically owning a character’s experience is one of the great challenges faced by fiction writers, especially when it is something as intensely felt as living with terminal illness. It is testimony to A.J. Betts’s talent that she does so in Zac & Mia without lapsing into melodrama, rather, maintaining a voice that is youthful, contemporary, ... More
Kim Kane and Marion Roberts co-write this eerie Melbourne-based thriller seamlessly. In this story that is every parent’s worst nightmare, we see schoolgirls snatched from the middle of their routine, presumed safe, suburban life.
Celia and Alice don’t know the first girl taken or each other, but they connect on Facebook through their ... More
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 hu ... More