This delightful picture book illustrates the chaos that occurs when nursery rhymes go awry. As the reader/viewer moves through the book, the rat, a cat, the cow over the moon are all there but they are getting caught up in a different narrative. The Book that Jack Wrote provides a good introduction to narrative structure and allusion.
The Lost Thing
Lothian Books – ISBN: 0734403887
This innovative book presents a deceptively simple tale. The naïve, conversational yet reflective text with its familiar ‘lost pet’ plot elements is juxtaposed with a surreal, melancholic, industrial setting. It makes a haunting statement about what is significant and to be valued in crowded lives. While the plot will appeal to younger readers, older students and adults will enjoy the varied intertextual references and the richly layered allegorical illustrations. This totally integrated visual and literary experience repays repeated close viewing and supports multiple interpretations.
This journey through families is a powerful and evocative account of the way our country and our landscape have changed. Wheatley and Rawlins take us back in time with a big Moreton Bay fig tree as our lighthouse. The book begins and ends with Aboriginal people and celebrates the diversity and difference that make up Australia.
Fiction Stage 5 Finding Grace
Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1865084530
Eighteen-year-old Rachel tells this poignant, reflective story of her life caring for Grace, a victim of acquired brain injury. Rachel is feisty with an irrepressible, astringent humour that takes no prisoners and yet is compassionately sensitive to Grace’s position. The meaning of the title is gradually revealed as Rachel explores Grace’s life before her accident and more importantly discovers the individual that is still there in Grace’s apparently unresponsive body. In so doing it is a journey of personal growth and self-knowledge for Rachel. Other characters are vividly drawn and there is a realistic approach to the outcome for people with acquired brain injury. This is an impressive first novel. Children’s Book Council of Australia, short-listed for Book of the Year: Older Readers, 2002.
The Blue Faraway
Addison Wesley Longman – ISBN: 0582810116
Two Year 9 students, Casey Buchanan and Zep de Marco, are thrown together to do an English assignment on Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. Both have problems at home and Zep has been devastated by the death of a close friend. On an excursion to Hanging Rock something happens to them which ties them to the rock and each other. With its exploration of friendship and gender and a well-wrought sense of mystery, the novel lends itself to a comparative study with the Peter Weir film, Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Green Monkey Dreams
Penguin Books (Viking) – ISBN: 0140380337
A powerful and haunting collection of short stories – not all of them new – which shows glimpses of life on the borderland of myth, this book is full of mystery. The characters are so vividly portrayed that they will keep returning to your thoughts. The cover has a stunning, subtle, soft fantasy feel about it. The writing is even and beautifully crafted. A thoughtful, provocative reading is required. (See also The Farseekers, The Gathering.)
Journey through Horror
Edited by Richard Baines
Oxford University Press – ISBN: 0195514874
This selection of horror and ghost stories provides a valuable introduction to genre and presents an opportunity to undertake aspects of the Stage 5 section of the syllabus and to prepare students for genre study in the Stage 6 English syllabus. The selection is suitably chilling, owing much to the influence of Edgar Allen Poe. Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote and Andrew Horowitz are among the authors represented. Students can consider a range of different perspectives and contexts for horror as the anthology contains some real life horror stories. The Journey through… series includes other genres such as crime and fantasy. In this particular anthology, the human desire to be frightened is fulfilled. As the introduction warns us, ‘be afraid’.
Merryll of the Stones
University of Queensland Press – ISBN: 070222250X
Brian Caswell’s first novel, Merryll of the Stones, is evocative of time and place. The shift in location from suburban Sydney to rural Wales, as well as movement backwards and forwards through time allow Caswell to convey his powerful sense of atmosphere and history. Megan Ellison, the central character, learns that she has the power to initiate time shifts and it is through her experiences that the novel explores the importance of finding the balance. A novel that combines adventure, romance, science fiction and history, that is rich in linguistic complexity and builds to a dramatic climax. (See also A Cage of Butterflies.)
Wolf on the Fold
Silverfish (Allen & Unwin) – ISBN: 186508557X
In literature the wolf is used as a powerful symbol, and in this title the wolf represents real or imagined danger and how the characters, who are linked by family, deal with it. There are six stories that travel through time from Kenny in 1935 to James in 2002. They describe the dangers faced by the family members ranging from violence, privilege, war trauma, racism and exile to the powerlessness of a fear of everything. This beautifully crafted book, celebrating ordinary life, is deceptively simple and gentle but it provides powerful, thought-provoking and rewarding reading. Wolf on the Fold won the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award for Older Readers in 2001.
Rough with the Smooth: Stories of Australian Men
Edited by B R Coffey
Fremantle Arts Centre Press – ISBN: 1863683062
Well-known Australian writers and personalities, including A B Facey, Bruce Beresford, Glyn Parry and Elizabeth Jolley, explore the complexities of masculinity in Australian culture in this collection of short stories and extracts. The men in these tales include larrikin farming fathers, real estate salesmen and migrant workers. The strength of these stories of friendship, compassion, leadership, love and weaknesses, rely equally on the women and children in the men’s lives, making this collection a true snapshot of Australian social relationships. Teachers may find the book a useful stimulus for exploring issues of social and cultural awareness with students, and all interested teachers will gain personal insights into the complexities of Australian masculinity.
The Divine Wind
Hodder Headline – ISBN: 0733605265
Hart, son of a pearling master, falls in love with Mitsy, daughter of a Japanese diver. Their story is set in Broome and the outbreak of war is about to affect everyone in the town. There is much tension and, as racial intolerance builds, old friendships cannot always survive the strains. Disher’s economic literary style convincingly portrays the effects of the war on this remote multiracial town, and in particular on Hart and his world as a near-fatal accident abruptly changes his expectations.
Macmillan Children’s Books – ISBN: 0330483846
A thirteen-year-old girl called Eva is involved in a horrifying car accident. When Eva wakes up in hospital after an eight-month coma she discovers that she has been given a totally new kind of life. Her brain has been transferred unchanged into the body of a chimpanzee. This novel delves into the ethics of such experiments, the wider issue of what it is to be human and the future of the human race. The conclusion to the powerful novel is a challenging one for students to explore. (See also AK.)