Fiction, Film and other Texts a support document for the English Years 7–10 Syllabus

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The Baboon King

Anton Quintana (translated by John Nieuwenhuizen)

Allen & Unwin – ISBN: 1864483849

Morengaru, a young African hunter, is alone in the wilderness. He has been exiled by his father’s people, the Masai and by his mother’s people, the Kikuyu. Faced with surviving without the support of a community he finds himself living among the baboons. His attempts to cling to his humanity are honestly and realistically portrayed by Quintana. This confronting novel compels readers to consider what it means to be human.
Willow Tree And Olive

Irini Savvides

Hodder Headline – ISBN: 0733613063
This is a moving story of Olive’s journey of self-discovery as she struggles with her Greek heritage and the shadow over her childhood. As the narrator’s voice shifts from first to third person, another picture of Olive emerges and we see her change from outgoing, fun-loving extrovert to a more introspective, serious persona. A wonderfully evoked visit to Greece eventually leads to Olive’s personal and cultural renewal as she sheds the trauma of the past and looks forward to the future.
Poison under their lips

Mark Svendsen

Lothian Books – ISBN: 0734401833
In this harrowing, uncomfortable journey into some of the more shameful and shocking realities of colonial history, readers meet the eighteen-year-old Native Police cadet, Arthur Wilbraham. His story, revealed through a disjointed chronology of journal entries, transcripts, reports and quotes, is grim and unrelenting, a powerful mix of fact and fiction. Attention to detail in creation of setting and both language and voice add to the veracity of this powerful, disconcerting read.
Stone Cold

Robert Swindells

Puffin – ISBN: 0140362517
In this novel homeless adolescents are vanishing and no-one notices or cares about their disappearance. Luke has become a derelict in London and only survives because of the friendship of Ginger, another street kid. When Ginger disappears Gail provides Luke with hope but Shelter, a soldier out of work, who is killing the homeless kids, is targeting more victims. The role of the media and the plight of the homeless are both explored in this chilling novel. Stone Cold won the 1993 Carnegie Medal.
Montana 1948

Larry Watson

Pan Macmillian – ISBN: 0330336797
In 1948 in Bentrock, Montana, a twelve-year-old boy must confront complex moral and family issues. David Hayden narrates this story forty years after the events that shook his town and his family. As a boy David sees his sheriff father arrest his own war hero brother for the rape of the Hayden’s housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier. This beautifully written tale explores family relationships with honesty and integrity.
The House that was Eureka

Nadia Wheatley

Penguin – ISBN: 0141004126
Newtown is the setting for this story of the Depression and unemployment. It is a story of love, separation and reconciliation. The experiences of the 1931 depression are relevant to the concerns of contemporary adolescents. The lives of Nobby Weston, Lizzie Cruise, Evie and Noel intersect across generations of resistance. Wheatley reveals the seam of violence often running beneath the surface of ordinary lives that becomes apparent when insecurity threatens. This novel makes history accessible and contemporary; it is also a mystery and the plot keeps the reader engaged until the last page. The historical detail and use of the vernacular will provide good teaching opportunities.
Water Colours

Sarah Walker

Hodder Headline – ISBN: 0733612792
This is a book about friendship and families, fitting in and finding out. Bea, orphaned since a baby, begins a journey of discovery concerning her mother’s death and the meaning of friendship. Narrated in the first person her emergence from ignorance to understanding is both sympathetic and humorous. The use of metaphors to describe the colour of water, diverse characters, and the wonderful evocation of a beachside in summer makes this a commendable book.
My Cousin Clarette and Other Stories

Budge Wilson

University of Queensland Press – ISBN: 0702225037
This collection of short stories offers insight into those moments when children move into the adult world. The opening story, The Metaphor provides an excellent introduction to creative writing. It concerns an English teacher’s lessons on imagery that expose a sterile mother-and-daughter relationship. The title story revolves around adolescent masks and rivalry. Budge Wilson’s stories reveal love and loss and often have a twist in the tale.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe

Markus Zusak

Omnibus Books – ISBN: 1862914311

Faced with their father’s unemployment, the two brothers Cam and Ruben take up illicit boxing. This powerful thought-provoking exploration of family life is enlivened by black humour and examines important contemporary themes. The characters are attractive and their dilemmas make this compelling reading. Zusak’s use of language ranges from authentic teenage vernacular through stream-of-consciousness passages to lyrical and poetic phrasing. Although this is a sequel to The Underdog, it can stand alone and is an accessible read for a range of teenagers.

Picture Books Stage 5

Isobelle Carmody, illustrated by Steven Woolman
Lothian Books ISBN: 0734403909

Text and illustration complement each other well, aptly and consistently reflecting the haunting dreamscape of the story-line in this picture book for older readers. The fine, dense text, while attractive and well suited to the genre and overall tone of the book, could be difficult for some students to read, and could challenge those who need additional literacy support. The plot and its telling are typical of Carmody’s best multi-layered fantasies, strengthened by Woolman’s intricate, varied illustrations. Themes skilfully explored through strong characterisation include individuality, conformity, being a loner, difference, and bravery in the face of challenging odds.

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