Australian Book Review

This month’s survey features three bewitching novels from authors intent on transporting younger readers to other worlds. In Alison Croggon’s latest fantasy novel, The Threads of Magic (Walker Books, $19.95 pb, 380 pp), Pip and his sister El are living in a poor but snug apartment in the city of Clarel, bequeathed to them by Missus Pledge. Pip, always on the lookout for opportunities, scoops up a silver box from the sidelines during a street brawl. The opening of this box burdens Pip with an ancient and grisly relic: the shrivelled black heart of a child.

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Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature

Margaret Robson Kett
Tuesday, 03 December 2019

Like a party where you hope to see famous faces, this exhibition offers the familiar – the Green Sheep, the wombats, the Magic Pudding – but also the chance to meet half-remembered friends and to make new ones. Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature, the result of three years’ work by curator Grace Blakeley-Carroll, features works from NLA’s collection and beyond. In the exhibition’s companion book, Story Time Stars, Blakeley-Carroll writes that, ‘regardless of whether we have children in our lives, we were all once young and many of us hold dear the stories of our childhood’.

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Published in ABR Arts

Maryanne Wolf’s excellent book about the reading brain, Proust and the Squid: The story and the science of the reading brain (2007), quotes Marcel himself ...

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Published in November 2019, no. 416

Margaret Robson Kett reviews four recent Young Adults novels

Margaret Robson Kett
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
Friendship can be a powerful force for change in a young adult’s life. These four new books explore the full gamut of the unlikely, advantageous, and destructive consequences of relationships. ... (read more)
Published in October 2018, no. 405

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

Margaret Robson Kett
Wednesday, 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, i ...

Published in December 2016, no. 387

'Making the Australian Quilt: 1800-1950' (NGV Australia)

Margaret Robson Kett
Monday, 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 ...

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Published in ABR Arts

From a rosy-cheeked preschooler to a glaring nationalist, this survey of recent children's pictures books features characters for readers of all ages. Emerging and established Australian picture-book makers demonstrate the range of talented storytelling available in this genre.

Published in May 2016, no. 381

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

Margaret Robson Kett
Monday, 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 ...

Margaret Robson Kett reviews six new picture books

Margaret Robson Kett
Thursday, 28 November 2013

‘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 ...

Margaret Robson Kett reviews eight new picture books

Margaret Robson Kett
Tuesday, 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 fathe ...

Published in April 2013, no. 350