Omnibus Books – ISBN: 1862912750
Medieval hero, Pagan Kidrouk, of Pagan,Pagan’s Crusade and Pagan In Exile, returns once again to triumph in Pagan’s Vows. Set in France in 1188, Pagan and his knight, Lord Roland Roucy de Bram, enter the Abbey of Saint Martin to devote their lives to God. The Abbey with its many corridors and dark rooms presents the perfect setting for intrigue and deceit. Roland’s character becomes more subdued and the monks become the target for Pagan’s laconic narration. Although set in medieval times, this is a mystery-thriller aimed to entertain teenage readers. (See also The Future Trap.)
Collins/Angus & Robertson – ISBN: 0207170282
This is the story of young Nam-Huong who escaped from Vietnam but lost her grandfather on the long terrible voyage to Australia. She has many reasons to cry but finds it hard to release her pent-up grief as she struggles to understand a different culture. This simple tale of refugees and the trauma they face is a valuable text for classroom discussion.
HarperCollins – ISBN: 0006748287
Imagine a world without conflict, poverty or inequality where conformity and happiness are a way of life. Jonas lives in this world but for him things are different. Twelve-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories and he gradually discovers the disturbing truth about his perfect world. He tries to expose those who have ordered it and escape as he learns about the cost of a perfect society. 1994 Newbery Medal winner. (See also Number the Stars.)
Sofia and her sister stray from the village path in war-torn Mozambique and a landmine kills her sister and shatters Sofia’s legs. Secrets in the Fire is based on the true story of a young girl in Mozambique and how she struggles to recover from the devastation the war has left. This is a moving and sobering story that allows students to share the experiences of adolescents in desperate circumstances.
The Keeper of the Isis Light
Aladdin Publishing Company – ISBN: 0689833903
This is a science fiction story that explores issues of prejudice and growing up. Olwen Pendennis is the Keeper of the Isis Light and with her robot, Guardian, she has lived alone on the highlands of planet Isis since the death of her parents. Isis is a harsh planet with only the valleys providing an atmosphere that is breathable. When a group of colonists arrives on Isis from Earth, Olwen is hopeful that she can make new friends but the modifications necessary for her survival repel those she would like to befriend.
The Binna Binna Man
Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor
Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1865080713
This novel introduces young people coming to terms with their identity and heritage. The story covers a trip to a relative’s funeral and the response of different generations to the grief of untimely death. The Binna Binna man of the title is a presence who encourages appropriate behaviour and respect for traditional ways. While true to the oral tradition of storytelling, the language is accessible.
Cairo Jim and the Lagoon of Tidal Magnificence
Hodder Children’s – ISBN: 0733602959
The kidnapping of the entire Turkish Women’s Olympic Championship Tent Erection Team by villainous Neptune F Bone kicks off this latest Cairo Jim adventure, with the usual smirks, masterful wordplay (and frequent use of parentheses). This time, Jim, Jocelyn, Doris and Brenda investigate old archaeological secrets of Dr Schnitger. Naturally, they are plunged into numerous cliffhanger chapter endings (perfect for serialisation with a class). For example, Jim is literally up to his neck in trouble when trapped by a giant jungle plant. This is an often hilarious and challenging novel, rich with Indonesian vocabulary that should have its readers reaching for dictionaries, atlases and history books.
Bronwyn Mellor, Judith Hemming and Jane Leggett
Chalkface Press – ISBN: 1875136010
This collection of folk stories and fairytales encourages students to reflect on stories and how they read them. For example students can consider several versions of Little Red Riding Hood, and discuss the conventions of fairytales and the ways stories can change over time. The collection allows students to reflect on how gender can influence perspective. (See also Making Stories.)
The Colour of Sunshine
Puffin – ISBN: 0141310510
This is a depiction of grief and confusion in a family’s life seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Davey. His sixteen-year-old sister has been killed in a road accident, and the loss has sunk his parents into a depression. Colour comes back into Davey’s life in the form of an irrepressible family that runs a pet shop in the neighbourhood. The difference between the families is almost too polarised yet the complexity of emotions, especially in the older characters, is intelligently drawn. The ways friends and family deal with grief are explored with depth and feeling.
Macmillian Children’s Books – ISBN: 0330310453
This is a survival story a reader will never forget. Brian Robeson is a thirteen-year-old city boy who is left alone in the Canadian wilderness after his plane crashes. He faces the problems of finding food, shelter and clothing. With imagination and courage, he experiences despair and perseverance and it is the character development as well as the survival skills that grip the reader. (See also The Return, Hatchet in Winter, The Voyage of the Frog, and Hatchet: The Truth in the nonfiction section.)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
J K Rowling
Bloomsbury – ISBN: 0747532745
Harry Potter is no ordinary boy but comes of wizard stock and when he finds himself at Hogwart’s School for Wizards he begins to recover from the cruelty and ignorance of his upbringing by his uncle and aunt. This best-selling fantasy of wizards and wonder makes for enchanting reading as Harry battles evil with good friends and humour. The novel calls on a wide variety of traditional children’s literary genres that students can explore. Winner of Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year Award for 1999.