October saw the Australians in lockdown emerge for the most part. We had eight young adult reviews and ten for younger readers – perhaps a reflection of slower reading, easing of restrictions and a desire to get out into the weather as it warms up and heads towards summer. As this will be one of my final posts, I’m going to highlight a few that stood out – and I’m thinking of how to craft my final post – which will be a little different to my usual posts as we’re wrapping up this yea
In the younger readers category, we had a few new names, which was nice. It’s always good to see new reviewers other than our regulars, and how they respond to certain genres that they may not often appear in as reviewers. It was hard to decide what to include, as I generally like to include positive reviews, or ones that have a bit to work with, which might explain why I often feature the same reviewers – what they do seems to work out well.
One of the books I’d like to include was reviewed by Tracey at Carpe Librum. She reviewed Noni the Pony Counts to a Million by Alison Lester. She says it is bound to become another Australian classic, and is a delightful celebration of Australian flora and fauna, as Noni travels the district she lives in, counting everything she can see.
Denise Newton and I seem to have similar reading tastes, as this is the second month I have found that we’ve both read and reviewed the same book. This month, it was the new Katrina Nannestad book, Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief. Denise says that despite the confronting themes of the book – a child’s war experience – it is a story of hope and love, and what we need to survive. It is a book based on a true story, and Denise also wrote about the back-and-forth storyline as we learn about what Sasha went through, and why he has ended up in the hospital. Her final statement is that books like this can help children understand the world from a different perspective, whilst still acknowledging the futility and cruelty of war on both sides – something this book doesn’t shy away from showing yet does it in a way that children can read about without traumatising them. My review picked up on several of the same themes and points, and one thing that I have found in the stories I have read by Katrina is that they are heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time – we cannot have peace without grief, it seems, and her stories are a safe and empathetic space to explore these issues in.
Lee at Read, Write, Wish reviewed Social Queue by Kay Kerr, which Lee found unique and surprising at times, and says it is a worthy read to help us understand neurodivergent people, and I think it is one I will be trying to seek out for myself sometime soon.
I read and reviewed The Monster of Her Age by Danielle Binks – I’m a big fan of Danielle’s work, and follow her on socials, so I was super keen for this one. What drew me to this one was the celebration of a diverse community and friendship group, and the celebration and elevation of the arts – the importance of the arts and the role they play in shaping so much of our lives. It speaks to the need to invest in creative pursuits if we want to continue reading, going to the cinema or theatre, and enjoying music. Ellie and Riya were fantastic – and their relationship was written beautifully – it worked well from start to finish, and I think this is one of the best books I’ve read this year – big call, I know, especially from someone who can’t always choose a favourite book (I was once asked in an interview what my favourite kids’ book was and I couldn’t choose just one!). This year I have read at least two books celebrating the arts and showing their importance for everyone, and I’m enjoying reading these diverse books, as they show how one can write these characters with careful research and consideration. The role of family in this book was just as important as everything else, and highlighted what it must be like to be so well-known for one thing that you struggle to separate that from who you really are.
My final post will include as much as I can from November and December as we farewell the challenge, and head into a more informal challenge. It’s been such fun doing this for the past two years, and I hope to see some great reviews in the coming weeks.