Love, lust and pesto! This is an extremely witty account of the transition from living at home to living in a shared household. Dan learns, through a comedy of errors that pretending to be who you’re not in the hope of impressing someone rarely works. Dialogue and interior monologue, combined with clever imagery, make this a thought-provoking but hilarious novel. 48 Shades of Brown won the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award: Older Readers in 2000. (See also the adaptation of this novel in the drama section.)
Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1864489316
Callisto wryly classifies herself as a moon, destined to palely reflect the light of others. The poignant sense of dread and alienation in the novel is subtly offset by Cal’s self-deprecating humour and the warm, loving relationship she has with her young brother. This is an outstanding work that examines the complex nature of responsibility, including to oneself, in a very positive manner. Feinberg’s lyrical language and sustained celestial analogies, reminiscent of the work of Margaret Mahy, contribute to the inspiring nature of the book. Borrowed Light was an Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council Awards in 2000.
The Eyre Affair
Hodder and Stoughton – ISBN: 034073356X
Imagine a Great Britain where time travel is routine, where the Crimean War still rages and where literature is taken so very seriously that thieves target great works of fiction instead of cash or jewels. Acheron Hades, the third most wanted man in the world, steals the original manuscript of Jane Eyre and takes Jane from its pages, aiming by her death to make her disappear from every volume of the novel ever printed! But Thursday Next, renowned literary detective, is on his trail! Jasper Fforde’s alternative universe is full of jokes and humour, allusions and wordplay and is fast and furiously paced. It is a marvellous mockery of genre fiction, a literary feast for the reader and an engaging text with which to explore intertexuality.
Making the Most of It
Hodder Headline – ISBN: 0733607942
Lisa Forrest is a former Olympic swimmer and her first novel has autobiographical overtones. Fourteen-year-old Nina Hallet is an unknown schoolgirl who becomes a national sporting hero. But there is little to prepare her for her role as an international celebrity. Her success becomes a nightmare of difficulties and despair. This realistic and ultimately optimistic novel provides opportunities for students to consider advantages and costs of fame and fortune. (See also Dj Max.)
Puffin – ISBN: 014131334X
This engrossing story of an Italian migrant family explores the frustrations and anxieties of living with an elderly relative. Paul, fourteen and missing his father, finds his ageing Nonno increasingly embarrassing and exasperating. How can he concentrate on his homework, girls and fast cars when he constantly has to deal with this forgetful, annoying old man? The relationship between Paul and Nonno gradually grows stronger as Paul listens to his grandfather’s stories of his past and begins to appreciate both him and his Italian heritage. Moving scenes of family life combine with a wry, adolescent humour to make this a memorable story of one teenager’s steps along the path to maturity.
Puffin – ISBN: 0141300493
A powerful, thought-provoking novel about Blacky, a white teenage boy growing up in a small country town who befriends Dumby Red, an Aboriginal boy on his football team. Told in the very realistic, humorous and laconic voice of Blacky, this is a story about growing up and coming of age as well as an insightful and non-sentimental look at race relations. This book explores the issue of personal moral courage against a backdrop of family conflicts, warm friendships and a firmly established setting. Winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia 1999 Book of the Year: Older Readers.
The Blue Dress
Libby Hathorn (editor)
Hodder Headline – ISBN: 0733611516
This collection of short stories is unified by the blue dress on the cover. Authors were asked to compose a story around the painting placed on the postage stamp. Stories range from the chilling horror of First Dance to the joys and disappointments of first love.
Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf
Penguin Books (Viking) – ISBN: 067088507X
This novel ultimately is one of purpose, hope and overcoming adversity. The story is centred on a young man dealing with his life as a member of a troubled family. The language is evocative and, at times, poetic. Readers’ emotions are stirred by Hartnett’s compassionate depiction of people living on the edge. By using the image of the supposedly extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) Hartnett cleverly draws parallels with a dying community and characters in need of sanctuary.
Penguin (Puffin) – ISBN: 0140326316
This is a post-nuclear war adventure story set in Sydney. Ben is a teenage survivor with a special power: a voice in his mind speaks in such a way that it can be heard by animals and this is referred to as the Calling. At Taronga Zoo Ben meets an Aboriginal girl, Ellie, a member of a gang run by the powerful leader, Molly. The rule of the jungle that preceded and produced the nuclear catastrophe has once again determined human behaviour. It is the mission of Ben and Ellie to quell this violence, both inside and outside the group, and to build Taronga into an oasis that could herald a new beginning. The book poses many questions about the struggle between coercion and cooperation in the human psyche. (See also The Red Heart, The Ivory Trail.)
Came Back to Show You I Could Fly
Penguin (Puffin) – ISBN: 0140342540
Robin Klein has written a warm and compassionate book about the power of friendship to comfort and heal, and to widen personal experience. Seymour and Angie are an unlikely pair of friends, but their accidental meeting leads to escape from loneliness and despair. Seymour faces a summer holiday confined in the house of his mother’s friend in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, while Angie has exhausted the patience of her family with her drug addiction. A narrative feature of the novel is the inclusion of Angie’s notes and diary entries. Outside their respective families, Seymour and Angie develop their inner resources and eventually find confidence in themselves.
Ursula Le Guin
Penguin (Puffin) – ISBN: 0140348026
Tehanu is Ursula Le Guin’s sequel to her popular ‘Wizard of Earthsea’ trilogy, often studied in Stage 4. Le Guin overturns many assumptions about good, evil and power in the fantasy genre. In this novel a female is sought to secure the future of Earthsea. Tenar and Ged are guardians of the girl Therru, a victim of extraordinary violence. Her vulnerability allows Le Guin to explore the question of how to confront evil – threats to security must be met at a personal and domestic level. Yet, at the end of the novel, Therru is identified as the new protector of Earthsea, the new link with the old powers.
Puffin – ISBN: 0140372954
This is a fantasy working at several levels. The story directly concerns the rescue of Laura Chant’s younger brother, Jacko, from a possessive spell cast on him by a knick-knack shop owner called Carmody Braque. Laura has to call on the help of Sorenson Carlisle, who is just a few years older than she is. In the process she discovers the mysterious world of love. This is a thrilling story that will appeal to the mid-teens. The Changeover is a Carnegie Medal winner.
Looking for Alibrandi
Penguin – ISBN: 0140236139
Looking for Alibrandi has become a modern classic. It is the story of Josephine’s last year at school in which she discovers a great deal about her family, herself and life. This honest and insightful novel will provide many opportunities for classroom discussion and composing. Looking for Alibrandi won the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award: Older Readers in 1993. The film of Looking for Alibrandi has gained critical acclaim.