Children's and Young Adult Books
It’s the early 1980s in Melbourne. Shelley, aged fourteen, is obsessed with football. Discussions of the game are the one point of mutual interest that allows communication between Shelley and her father in the aftermath of the death of her mother.... More
The relationships between daughters and their mothers provide fascinating, fertile ground for exploration. Mothers in books are sitting ducks, really, and these three new Young Adult books take aim. One mother is a cavalier, emotionally blackmailing bank robber; another is adored, but nosy and old-fashioned; while the third, obsessed with or ... More
After several picture books and novels for early readers, Tasmanian author Julie Hunt moves into fiction for older readers with this lyrical fantasy adventure. Set in an imaginary world, but drawing on Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon folk-tale motifs, Song for a Scarlet Runner is a charming introduction to fantasy for young readers.... More
With this decadent Young Adult novel, described as a ‘bubble-gum-gothic fairytale’, Allyse Near pulls off a surprising magic trick, combining the darker moments of the Brothers Grimm with the modern daydream-realism of Francesca Lia Block.... More
Depicting war in a picture book requires a deft hand. Historical imperatives need to be considered, while also avoiding glorifying war for a young and impressionable audience. Ideally, such books should promote informed discussion rather than mindless militarism.... More
The Victorian era has gripped the collective imagination of speculative fiction writers in much the same way the medieval period influenced our forebears. The nineteenth century gave us the Penny Dreadful, Dracula, and Frankenstein, and the melding in fiction of fantasy and reality, superstition and science. A spike in child labour was followed by its ... More
Animals and friends are a perennial subject in children’s literature, and the junior novels and series books reviewed here highlight those interests. Most of these titles, however, are also notable because they are told with humour, even whilst exposing the anxieties of children.
Fog a Dox (Magabala Books, $19.95 pb, 111 pp, 97819 ... More
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 fathe ... More
Alyssa Brugman’s Alex as Well makes us question why we read. Is it something we do to escape reality, or are we drawn to other realms that may contain deeply unsettling experiences very different from our own?... More
The second in the Ship Kings series has a cinematic feel and shares the first-rate quality of the first book. Set in a fantasy world where island folk live in unsettled peace under the ruling mariner class, it continues the tale of Dow Amber as he sets off on a sailing adventure aboard the battleship Chloe. He and the unusual scapegoat girl Ignella are the onl ... More