Classics and new releases; books for teens, tweens and tots. Twenty-five of the reviews linked to the AWW challenge in the July-December 2013 period were classified by reviewers as for younger readers.*
One book that may be of particular interest to AWW readers is Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos, published by Scribe (2013). Subtitled “A Picture Book for Kids and Adults”, it aims to introduce young readers to outstanding women. As This Charming Mum writes:
Forget your dusty tomes with titles like “21 notable women from history”; this book makes it OK to say that Miles Franklin or Edith Cowan were totally rocking babes for what they achieved. Youngsters like Malala Yousafzai and Tavi Gevinson are still rocking; rocking boats, rocking our expectations and rocking the powers that be into submission.
A personal favourite, The Silver Brumby was Highly Commended in the 1959 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards. Depicting the lives of horses in the Australian alpine country, it is the first of a series of 13 books, written over a period of six decades.
Like Leonie, the reviewer of Mates at Billabong, I was first introduced to Mary Grant Bruce’s classic series as a child. My aunt, who helped her husband run and wheat-sheep farm, had the whole series on her bookshelves. I discovered later that, after my week-long stay there, she asked my mother whether I was okay. Instead of going out rounding up sheep, I spent almost the entire holiday holed up in their “library”, devouring the series. For Leonie, rereading “Mates” as an adult, the book has stood the test of time.
Included among the AWW reviews in the last half of last year were several new releases. Of these, a couple were self-published. Alison Rushby’s Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend has a 14 year-old protagonist and is described as a kind of “Chick-lit for tweens”. Another self-published title is a crime fiction novel by H Y Hanna, Curse of the Scarab, “a rollicking adventure with friendship, danger, laughter, bravery and dog treats”.
The 2013 releases also included traditionally published titles: Penny Tangey’s Stay Well Soon (UQP), about a Grade 5 girl coming to terms with mortality; and popular author Isobel Carmody’s The Cloud Road, a follow up to her earlier The Red Wind, and the second in The Kingdom of the Lost series: “an incredible tale… to be enjoyed by all ages”.
Another 2013 release was P J Tierney’s speculative fiction title, Jamie Reign: The Last Spirit Warrior (HarperCollins), which was reviewed by both Tsana and Nalini. The latter categorised it under “diversity” due to its twelve-year-old Chinese-Australian protagonist.
Two other books reviewed were also categorised under “diversity”. These were both by the same author, Wei Chim: Chook Chook: Mei’s Secret Pets (2012) and Chook Chook: Little and Lo in the City (for readers 5-8 years).
Sydney-based Wai Chim grew up in New York in a family who only spoke Chinese at home. She draws on her parents’ stories of life in the semi-rural parts of China and Hong Kong for her unique children’s books about young Mei and her pet chooks, Little and Lo. (This Charming Mum)
Several picture books were reviewed for the challenge, two of which were published in 2013: Kate Knapp’s Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris (HarperCollins) – which sounds like a great introduction to that city – and Christina Booth’s Welcome Home (2013), a story about the Southern right whale. Giraffe Days writes:
Welcome Home is about a boy living in Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, who hears the whale’s call “echoing off the mountain like a whisper while the moon danced on the waves.” No one else hears it, but he does – and in her call he learns sad truths, the history of whale hunting and her yearning for a safe harbour.
Other picture books reviewed were published in 2012, including Snug as a Hug: An Australian Lullaby by Marcia Vaughan and Lyrebird! A True Story (published by the Museum of Victoria); while quite a few were from earlier years, including The Bunyip of Haig Park by Kathleen McConnell (Ginninderra Press, 1997) and Mem Fox’s Hattie and the Fox (Ashton Scholastic, 1986).
Space prohibits mentioning more reviews and authors, but they can be found on our AWW Review Listings page for Children’s books. Thank you to all the reviewers and also to those who took the time to read and comment on their reviews.
* Hot links are to reviews by AWW participants.
NB: A special note of thanks from the AWW team to Judith Ridge who contributed to the roundups of Children’s Books in 2013, but who can no longer fulfil that role in 2014. If you’re a specialist in this area and would like to volunteer to take Judith’s place, or would like to find out more information about what is involved, please let us know in the comments or via direct message on Twitter @auswomenwriters.