White Ravens: Australia
Australia (English) - 1993 - 49
A Cage of Butterflies
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1992. 164 p.
science Fiction - gifted children - science (misuse) - corporation
Caswell's story is triggered by the death of a young research scientist in a road accident. When his sister tries to tidy up loose ends in his research, her quest leads her to a 'farm' where a research team is at work to develop marketable products from the bizarre brilliance of two groups of children. The story dramatizes the way in which corporate goals devised for the benefit of institutions continually threaten our welfare. The episodic first-person narration by several people in alternation may require the reader's close attention. This is, though, a gripping story in which science fiction is used as a device to probe the realities of the present. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 50
My First Batteries & Magnets Book
Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992. 48 p.
magnetism - electricity - science experiments
This is one book of the series "Science by pictures" in which young children are skillfully introduced to experiments and projects. First, they are shown the basics - the special powers of magnets or how to connect a battery in a circuit to light a bulb. Then, they learn how to use that knowledge to make magnets for the refrigerator door or a stock car with headlights, or even a radio. The step-by-step instructions in this oversized, brightly illustrated book are clear and easy to follow. At the end of each project there are also short explanations of what is happening and why. (8+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 51
Brothers in Arms
Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992. 142 p.
World War II (Japan/Australia) Vietnam War (Australia) - war memories - family (Japan) - bereavement
This is an enthralling adventure story triggered by the arrival of Yukio, a very determined young Japanese boy seeking the remains of his grandfather who had been reported missing after a failed submarine mission during World War II, in a small Australian coastal village. There he is befriended by an Australian boy and an Aborigine boy who had been enemies. Yukio's father's intention to purchase land for tourism in the town brings out the contemporary national rivalries and racism commonly found where two cultures impinge on one another. In addition to numerous well-drawn side characters, the complicated emotional circumstances of three families are revealed as the boys follow the clues leading to the sunken submarine. The after-effects of two wars on the parent's lives become clear to the boys, giving them a chance to make their own commitment to peaceful tolerance without any tinge of didacticism. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 52
Tyrrell, Clodagh (ed.)
Tyrrell, Margot (ed.)
Goodbye and Hello
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1992. 229 p.
This is a collection of short stories by well-known Irish and Australian authors of youth literature Commissioned to be written around the theme of “leaving and arriving.” Because there are sixteen stories in all, the book explores many forms of transition in life. There is the harsh reality of sacrifices required of those who seek a “fresh start” by migrating; there are the losses as well as the gains of turning thirteen; there is the shock of finding your special place changed and wondering how that also changes you. The collection avoids repetition, maintains a high standard storytelling and gains from its blend of peatbog and eucalyptus aromas. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1993 - 53
Pender, Lydia (text)
Niland, Kilmeny (illus.)
The Land and the Spirit. An Australian Alphabet
Sydney: Margaret Hamilton, 1993.  p.
This approach to the alphabet goes beyond the naming of objects. Rhythmical, playful poems of four to sixteen lines in length describe and illuminate the peculiarities of each Australian phenomenon, for example Ibis, Magpie, or Wombat. Glowing watercolor illustrations of varying formats provide wide diversity to the presentation for Australia. The language level is appropriate for early readers and reading aloud. (4-8)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1994 - 58
Si. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1993. 151 p.
Aborigines - Racial Conflict - Sport
The narrator, Dougy, the youngest, seemingly simple-minded child of an Aborigine family living in a small village, relates the events of one summer in which his sister, Gracey, with whom he is very close, plays a leading role. After she wins the 100m race in the state championships and subsequently a scholarship to boarding school, the white residents of the village become openly resentful. Racial tensions surface when a white girl who had been expelled from the same school is found unconscious near the river. An armed "civil war" breaks out and one person is even killed. It is ended only by a flash flood, in which Dougy helps save his brother and sister from a mysterious shadow, perhaps the Moodagudda, the river spirit in which he (but not everyone) still believes. The intricate plot has several levels which are well-developed: the Aborigine family structure, the loss of and frequent indifference to their own Aborigine cultural heritage, sibling relationships, the status structure in the racially and socially mixed village community (microcosmos), and the chances and choices which different individuals use or misuse. The role of intolerance and prejudice as motivating factors in a community is also explicitly explored. Finally, the position of Dougy in all these events is perhaps symbolic of the average, passive observer and eventual participant in a socially changing situation. (14+)
Australia (English) - 1994 - 59
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin, 1993. 188 p.
Extrasensory Perception - Deception - Death/Parent - Family Problems - Self-identity
After the death of her parents in a car accident, Miranda and her young brother Jimmy go to live with their grandmother. But Miranda is wrapped up in a world of her own making, and has trouble getting along at her new school or making friends with fellow classmates. One evening she begins to describe to her uncle strange background details and images which make him believe she has extrasensory perception. This leads her to be the center of attention for a local group of esoterically interested adults as well as for her older sister's unsavory, smooth- talking boyfriend, who has great need of her special visionary talents. This is a suspenseful tale with a surprising ending. Very subtly Klein also shows the strain, often unnoticed or ignored, which a young person experiences after the death of loved ones. The characterizations of a range of minor characters is well-drawn, just as we expect from this masterful writer. (10+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 36
Gilbert, Kevin (text)
Williams, Eleanor (photos)
Me and Mary Kangaroo
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1994. 54 p.
Kangaroo - Child/Pet - Aborigine/- Australia/Memoir
Kevin Gilbert (1933-1993) was a noted New Zealand author, publicist and activist for the rights of the Aboriginal peoples. In this childhood memoir he relates many humorous, playful episodes in his relationship with the orphaned kangaroo he kept as a pet until she returned one day to the bush. Written in the style of oral storytelling, it is laced with details of everyday family life in this remote rural area. Mary was not only his best friend and playmate, but forever the incarnation of a deep affinity Gilbert felt for his homeland. The appealing sepia-toned photographs of a young Aboriginal boy and another kangaroo suggest the nostalgia of a family photo album. (7+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 37
Wilson, Barbara Ker (compiled)
Hands Up! Who enjoyed their schooldays
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1994. 141 p.
School - Australia/Short stories/Anthology
Short stories and excerpts from the works of leading writers of Australian youth literature have been selected by a well- known editor to present stories about a wide array of memorable topics reflects different eras, types of schools, and socioeconomic backgrounds. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 38
The serpentine belt
Norwood: Omnibus Books/Aston Scholastic, 1994. 119 p.
Father/Death - Self-discovery - Friendship/Change
Sixteen-year old Emily is a quiet, reclusive type of person who watches and reflects on everything going on around her. Her best friend Kat, an Aborigine from an extended family of siblings and cousins, is a completely different type of person. Though they once had much in common, they are beginning to drift apart. Emily's discovery of her dead father's cryptic diary occupies her mind constantly, until she finally learns the true circumstances of his death. In this appropriately slow-paced, reflective novel the first-person narration of Emily’s inner world and her perception of the people and activity around her is a sensitive character study of a girl passing through an important stage of emotional growth. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 39
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books, 1994. 255 p.
Fantasy - Man/Animal - Genetic experimentation - Difference/Tolerance - Extraterrestial beings/intelligence - Freedom - Friendship - Change - Survival
For nearly two centuries artificially bred humans and man-ape hybrids have lived together in harmony and docility in a high- walled enclosure, guarded by keepers who supply all their needs but also mete out sadistic punishments when necessary. The strong-willed, curious Cassie and her two intelligent, hybrid friends manage to break out of the enclosure. After their disastrous flight to freedom they return reluctantly to Parkland, where they finally break the mastery of the keepers and learn why those extraterrestrial beings had become "cosmic gardeners" with a mission to maintain diversity and harmony in the galaxy. This masterly written novel with strong characterizations challenges the imagination of the reader on every page and poses basic questions about human life, attitudes toward fellow creatures, and the ability to create and control life and society. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 40
Pugh, Dailan (illus.)
Dunkle, Margaret (text)
Secrets of the rainforest
South Melbourne: Hyland House, 1994.  p.
Rainforest - Conservation - Australia/Flora and fauna
Unlike Europe or North America, children in some parts of Australia have the opportunity to walk directly from their homes into a rainforest with stunning, century-old vegetation still inhabited by rare and endangered species of animals. In this picture book for primary school children Kevin, son of a logger, takes a walk for the first time in the local rainforest with environmentally concerned classmates whom he had once dubbed "the greenie mob." Overwhelmed by its beauty, which is realistically presented in full-paged gouache paintings, Kevin realizes the need to prevent further destruction of this unique natural habitat. The at times lengthy text serves to describe the habits and needs of the various animal species, making Kevin's growing social awareness plausible. While the intention of the book is undoubtedly moralistic, it is tastefully presented in a very attractive and informative format. (5+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 41
Rodda, Emily (text)
Kelly, Geoff (illus.)
Power and glory
St. Leonards: A Little Ark Book/Alien & Unwin, 1994.  p.
Video game - Family life - Challenge
By dealing with an activity close to their hearts and high on their minds, children who are reluctant to read might be drawn to this story about a video game player. In fact an book with an unconventional layout, it employs repetitive, situational vocabulary and hilarious caricatures of family life situations. The narrative tension between the all-absorbing challenge of a video game of skill and adventure and the continual interruptions by parents, siblings and pet, each with their own demands is as hilarious as it is realistic. Geoff Kelly has chosen an avant-garde style of illustration which resembles but in no way imitates video graphics. (6-8) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 32
Fred Hollows. Leaving the World a Better Place
Carlton: CIS/Cardigan Street Publishers, 1995. 44 p.
(Makers and Shakers)
Hollows, Fred/Biography - Eye disease - Medical Care
New Zealand-born Hollows (1929-1993) is revered by thousands of people as a »larrikin saint.« He dedicated his life to bringing the highest quality medical care to the eyes of the poorest of the poor. The author describes Hollows beginnings and early »Wanderjahre« in New Zealand and Australia, before focusing on his professional life as an ophthalmologist. Explanations of medical treatment and the socio-political issues which effect medical care around the world are also featured here. The text is given an attractive layout with black-and-white photos and and documentary information. (10+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 33
Clark, Margaret (text)
Guthridge, Bettina (illus.)
Wally the Whiz Kid
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin Books Australia, 1995. 99 p.
(Mango Street Story)
School - Politicians - Adventure story
Wally knows a lot more than most kids his age, but he only gets in trouble when his best friend, Sean, dauntlessly sally into the state parliament house to get out of the rain. A case of mistaken identity, they are asked to give their opinions on major political matters - before running cameras! Sean, the narrator, tells of their misadventures with a jaunty commentary of the adult world that will surely entertain. (9+)
Australia (English) - 1996 - 34
The Drover's Dog
Norwood: Omnibus Books/Ashton Scholastic, 1995.  p.
Man/Dog - Tricks - World travel - Affection
Joe is a simple man in the outback. His dog Sue has a gift for acrobatic tricks which she gladly does to please her master, earning his praise and attention. But once he becomes obsessed with travelling the world and earning money with her tricks, their old way of life changes for the worse. It takes the intervention of a kindly queen for Joe to realize how selfish he has been in denying Sue the very thing that made their relationship so special - true affection. Water-colored pen-and-ink sketches exuberantly convey a simple story about the needs of the heart that children - and hopefully adults - will appreciate. (5+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 35
The First Book of Samuel
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin, 1995. 158 p.
Family - Father/Daughter - Grandfather/ Grandson - Conflict of Interest
The past history of a family can have an effect on the next generation, as in the case of 12-year-old Samuel where the relationships between his father, her mother, his father's first wife and children, and his dearly beloved grandfather form a core constellation that produces a turning point in his life and helps to establish his own identity. The author skillfully develops the events which lead up to a climactic »kidnapping« and reconciliation. The theme of family relationships is narrated here in a fascinating style with the voice of a concerned observer, giving the story a feeling of immediacy. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1996 - 36
A bit of a hitch and other stories
Melbourne: Hyland House, 1995. 160 p.
Short stories - Australia - Old Age - Pets - Imagination
These funny and fast-paced short stories revolve around episodes of everyday life in modern Australia, but could perhaps happen to anyone anywhere. There is, for example, a case of an accidental long distance call from Scotland, or an imaginary aunt invented and fully-blown to reality by the whole family, all for the sake of a school essay. In an appendix Steele describes where the inspiration for each story came from. This is entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking reading based on well-formed plots and characterizations. (10+)
Australia (English) - 1997 - 33
Berolah, Lorraine (text)
Collins, Lilyjane (text)
Cristaudo, Noel (text/illus.)
Betty and Bala and the proper big pumpkin
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996.  p.
Brother/Sister - Grandmother - Shopping - Everyday life - Adventure
A brother and sister set off with their grandmother to buy the missing ingredient for a special dish and nearly lose it several times in the course of their leisurely shopping jaunt. This simple but expressive story about children experiencing an everyday adventure is greatly enhanced by the excellently drafted drawings colored in warm, bright shades which convey the relaxed atmosphere of a fishing village on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits of northern Australia. (5+)
Australia (English) - 1997 - 34
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996. 233 p.
Music - Rock-band - Grandfather - Friendship - Loyalty - Death
Caswell is a master of the art of telling a story from a sequence of different perspectives. Here he lets each member of a young successful teenage rock group tell their side of the story. From the intriguing prelude to the end, the story is overshadowed by the magical influence of one of the band-member's long-dead Spanish uncle, a guitarplayer obsessed with music. The plot revolves at the immediate level around the personal costs of fame and fortune, while the motifs of power, personal integrity, guilt, caring and friendship mark the conflicts and resolution of the dramatic course of events. The complex and interwoven storyline resembles one found today in televised serials, but its literary versatility make up for the novel's occasional clichéd elements. (13+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 35
Crew, Gary (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Flinders Park: Era, 1996.  p.
Man/Insect - Transformation - Mystery
One is immediately struck by the way the story and illustration fully complement one another. On each page the spaciously laid-out text is printed over full-page ochre-coloured chalk and pencil drawings of insects of shapes and sizes. The plot is gradually unfolded by the first person narrator as he recalls his relationship with Caleb, a highly unusual fellow student of botany who bears an uncanny resemblence to the insects they study. The various events in the course of their year together, which allow the narrator to sense just how different Caleb is, are captured in subtly revealing black ink drawings. Crew's ending comes not unexpectedly, but succeeds in leaving the reader with a spine-tingling sense of uneasiness. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 36
Walk twenty, run twenty
Sydney: Angus&Robertson, 1996. 81 p.
Death - Grief - Family - Crime - Detective
After his parents' death, Rick must go to live with his cousins' family in the sheep-herding Razorback. His three cousins have little understanding for his grief and he can't fit into their family life. One day, Rick and his cousins try to thwart the theft of the sheep herd by three violent thieves. In order to conserve his energy and stay calm in moments of danger, Rick recalls several pieces of advice his father had given him. He is instrumental in outwitting the thieves and the bond that is formed with his cousins helps Rick to start moving on with his life. The first person narrative succeeds in capturing Rick's inner turmoil while also conveying the rural atmosphere. The suspenseful turn of plot makes great reading. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 37
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996. 195 p.
Romance - First Love
While waiting to receive notice of acceptance at university in a few weeks, Alex idles away the days at their seaside cottage, punctuated by sparse communication with his single-parent mother. This mother-son companionship, which has been central to his life, shifts as Alex unexpectedly meets a girl his own age. As Fortuna and Alex begin to discover one another, with all their differences in background and aspirations, everything else in Alex's life fades into the background. This witty, first-person narrative is marked by inner monologs and detached observations which map Alex's path toward manhood and self-realization. This novel captures a period of late adolescence in an ordinary life which, notably, is not fraught with family conflicts or adverse social circumstances. (15+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 38
Kuchling, Gerald (text)
Kuchling, Gundi (illus.)
Yakkin the swamp tortoise. The most dangerous year
Flinders Park: Era Publications, 1996.  p.
(Orig. publ. Chelonia Enterprises, 1995)
Tortoise - Wildlife conservation
This well-written narrative-style information book presents the life cycle of an endangered species in Western Australia, called Yakkin by the local aboriginals. While the text focusses on the environment and Yakkin's natural enemies, the boldly colored, full-sized illustrations on each facing page reinforce the text with lively, eye-catching detail. An appendix by the biology researcher, Gerald Kuchling, gives further factual information and explains the on-going efforts to protect the swamp turtle's habitat with much international support. The book has been widely prised by ecologists and wildlife conservations. German and French editions are available. (8+)
(Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Honor Book 1996)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1997 - 39
Macleod, Mark (comp.)
Ready or not
Milsons Point: Mark Macleod/Random House Australia, 1996. 308 p.
Australia/Short story - Sexual orientation
This anthology of 20 short stories gathers excellent short pieces on the theme of gender and sexuality by the best contemporary Australian-born or resident writers for young people, nearly all original publications. The narrative styles are as polished as they are varied: first person, stream of consciousness, shifting perspectives, or in diary or letter form. Most of the protagonists are adolescents becoming aware of their sexual orientation for the first time, or young adults seeking love and understanding. Interspersed with black-and-white cartoons which humorously portray the trials and tribulations of being gay or lesbian, the book also includes a short biography and statement by each (not necessarily homosexual) author. (14+)
Australia (English) - 1998 - 27
Brian, Janeen (text)
Cox, David (illus.)
Leaves for Mr Walter
Hunters Hill: Margaret Hamilton, 1998.  p.
Old/Young - Neighbor - Tree - Friendship
Old Mr Walter keeps a very tidy yard inside his thick wooden fence, and the dropping leaves of the gum tree in the yard of the vacant house next door make him very grumpy. This all changes when young Emilia and her parents move in. With her winsome, innocent ways, she soothes him by happily carting away the leaves, then gets him to oil her bike, and ultimately build her a tree house with the wood he had bought to reinforce his fence. The skilful slap-dash pen-and-wash pictures capture the emotions and enthusiastic mood of this charming, universally appealing story of intergenerational friendship. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 28
Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia, 1997. 174 p.
Mother - Death - Grief - Brother/Sister - Love - Dreamworld - Symbolism - Aliciade
Greylands is the place where someone goes when they are sad or scared. That is the interpretation which Jack, the youthful author-protagonist of the story within a story, finds for himself and his sister at the end of his symbol-filled tale. After their emotionally ill mother suddenly dies, he works through his grief by writing a fictional story, sharing it at times with his sister. Emotionally deserted by their father, who has retreated into his own world of grief, the two teenagers struggle to come to terms with their mother's death in this very moving and illuminating story. Carmody skilfully employs literary devices to propel the narrative and captivate the reader. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 29
Caswell, Brian (text)
Chiem, David Phu An (text)
Only the heart
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1997. 212 p.
Vietnam/Emigration - Australia/Immigration - Postwar trauma - Family - Escape - Diary
Though Caswell uses his characteristic style of alternating perspectives to expand the horizon of the narrative, the content of this fictional story with real-life background comes from Chiem, a Vietnam-born Australian filmmaker of Chinese descent. The four-generation family tree at the outset is useful in following the diary-like entries - in both first and third person voices - of two main protagonists, cousins, and several other characters in this saga which spans from 1977 to 1996. This is a very immediate, gripping story of survival and coping in the face of the abominations of war and its traumatic consequences. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 30
Crew, Gary (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Flinders Park: Era, 1997.  p.
Vietnam - War - Veteran - Friendship - Death - Memory
This artistically innovative graphic novel deals with the tragic effect of war. Ironically, it begins with a young boy phantasizing about the heroic aerial attack of a war pilot while he explores the ruins of a deserted factory. He comes upon an old man, a war veteran who has lost all hold on life, wallowing in the memories of his fallen buddy. Jimmy hears his tale and learns about the terrible price paid by combat soldiers. Visually the book resembles a graphic comic, though with more variety and creativity; the text is also more richly descriptive. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 31
Lester, Alison (text/photos)
The quicksand pony
St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1997. 162 p.
Death - Disappearance - Single parent - Island - Pony - Robinsonade - Adventure
This is the first full-length children's book by a well-known picture story book author. An adventure story set in the bush, it weaves together the fascinating, but quite different tales of two child protagonists. Joe was taken to an uninhabited island as a baby by his grief-stricken, widowed mother and they live a secret Robinsonesque life until she dies, leaving him alone. When Biddy's horse is trapped in quicksand she is forced to abandon it, but later finds it had been rescued. Her search leads her to Joe and to his reintegration into the community. This is an unusual story that will appeal to many young readers. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 32
Prayer for the twenty-first century
Port Melbourne: Lothian, 1997.  p.
Peace - Future
John Marsden is an internationally renown author of controversial, challenging novels for mature teenagers as well as humorous works for children. This beautifully designed picture book shows another dimension of his obvious interest in the growth and well-being of the next generation. In lyrical, partially rhymed verses he gives expression to heart-felt concerns about human civilization and nature. A fascinating diverse selection of artwork from photographs to modern paintings from museums in Australia, set off against a stylized background, illuminate the individual thoughts. (8+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 33
Morris, Jill (text)
Muir, Lindsay (illus.)
Maleny: Great Glider, 1996.  p.
ISBN 0-947304-30-4 (pb)
Australia - Wildlife - Frog - Instinct
Australia's gastric-brooding frog was discovered in a sub-tropical area of Queensland in 1974. By 1981, as the afterword of this informative picture story book reports, it had disappeared. Without any live frogs to photograph, this book makes use of a stunningly life-like alternative. Muir has created three-dimensional pictures of the frogs and their environment from glazed and kiln-fired clay. In a very attractive page design accompanied by a slightly oversized typeface text, the life and adventures of a frog named Silus is entertainingly told in such a way that could be read aloud to children of any age group, from four to twelve. (4+) ☼
(Shortlist, Crichton Award, 1996)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 34
Winton, Tim (text)
Louise, Karen (illus.)
Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia, 1997. 151 p.
ISBN 0-330-36038-8 (pb)
Mother/Son - Snorkel diving - Fish - Nature - Oceanography - Growing up
Abel grows up on a remote coast of Australia alone with his widowed mother. He loves their almost daily snorkel diving, whose abalone harvest gives them just enough to survive, and treasures his lifelong relationship with a large pet-like blue groper. But Abel must leave this idyll for further schooling and his decision to become an oceanographer takes him far away for years, until he returns to his roots to establish a natural oceanwater preserve. This is a poetic story of growing up which spans decades of one individual's life, a captivating and unusal biographical narrative. (10+)
Australia (English) - 1999 - 25
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin, . 182 p.
Single mother - Brother/Sister - Responsibility - Neglect
Angus has problems with sex but what he really wants most is to be a kid and play Bumface the pirate. His childhood has been turned topsy-turvey by a vain TV star mother, currently between partners and rarely at home, who counts on twelveyear old Angus to manage the daily routines for himself and his two younger siblings. In depicting the many entanglements, crises and disasters that ensue over several weeks, Gleitzman has a gift of creating comic, exaggerated situations with serious undertones to entertain and touch the reader. For this witty social satire in no way overshadows his compassion for a child's dilemmas in a modern adult world. (10+)
Australia (English) - 1999 - 26
Howes, Jim (text)
Harvey, Roland (illus.)
Islands in my garden
Port Melborne: Roland Harvey Books, 1998.  p.
Play - Garden - Adventure - Hide-and-seek - Nature
Even before the story starts Roland Harvey begins to entertain the reader with a zany menagerie of miniature portraits (a cicada, a lady bird, a centipede, a bread roll [deceased], and even Harvey and Howes themselves) on the frontispiece. In beautifully composed watercolor spreads that invite intensive inspection - to find the natural processes but also quirky jokes - Harvey provides the appropriate nature settings for Howes' five-line verses about all the things that can be discovered in the space of one backyard. (5+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1999 - 27
McDonald, Meme (text/photos)
Pryor, Boori (text)
St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1998. 74 p.
(Little Ark Book)
Growing up - Frog - Friendship - Security - Boy/Girl - Haunting spirit
Drawing upon childhood memories of family life with ten brothers and sisters, school bullies, learning to fish with father, flirting with girls and, most of all, overcoming fears of a bad spirit lurking in their house at night, Boori Pryor writes a fictionalized first-person narrative about a boy and his green tree frog. The book's considerable charm is enhanced by a most unusual style of design: different typefaces, often reflecting the emotional content, and various uses of atmospheric black-andwhite photographs throughout the book. (10+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1999 - 28
Marsden, John (text)
Gouldthorpe, Peter (illus.)
Melbourne: Lothian, 1998.  p.
Mountain-climbing - Snowstorm - Supernatural - Ghost
This beautiful pictorial ghost story for older readers unites a free verse narrative with perfectly suited realistic pictures of the Australian bush. Narrated in the first-person plural, the text and illustrations begin with a panoramic view of six teenagers hiking high in the mountains on a sunny day. After being caught in a surprise blizzard and taking refuge - for three snowbound days - in an old cabin already being used by a mysterious young man, the group continues its journey. With the discovery that the hut had burned down in a blizzard forty years ago, the suddenly spooky narrative comes to an end with a chilling breeze. A masterpiece of the supernatural! (10+)
Australia (English) - 1999 - 29
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1998. 221 p.
Aborigines - Race relations - Friendship - Cultural identity - Family guilt - Stolen children - Growing up
This is the author's third book about members of a contemporary Aboriginal family. Gracey and her white friend, Angela, finish school and begin university together but soon follow different paths. Angela falls in love while Gracey's life becomes increasingly politicized and alienated from fellow white students. Angela's discovery of her family's involvement in a case of a stolen child weighs upon her relationship with Gracey. Moloney draws his characters with great perception and insight into their conflicts and inner turmoil. While the historical background is fascinating, the emotional involvement created by the narrative make this book as absorbing as its predecessors. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 30
Toft, Kim Michelle (text/illus.)
Sheather, Allan (text)
One less fish
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1997.  p.
ISBN 0-7022-2947-4 (paperback)
Counting - Fish - Great Barrier Reef - Environmental protection
Using the melodic chant of a counting rhyme which descends from twelve to zero, the authors present a multi-faceted introduction to the dangers facing the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef, which is the habitat of twelve stunningly beautiful species of fish. The young reader can actively follow the countdown by noting the disappearance of one fish at each number and comparing the nearly identical illustrations on the recto and verso sides of a page. The countdown chant on the recto shows the playful fish confronted with an intruder. In a brief text on the verso, facts about the effects of human behavior on marine life are discreetly presented below the illustration. Along with the informative text, an attractive layout and a glossary of scientific terms on the last page, the book's most stunning feature is the brightly coloured silk-screen paintings of marine life. Taken together, all these features synthesize into a captivating reading experience and will encourage reflection and re-reading. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 31
Broome: Magabala Books, 1997. 168 p.
Australia/History 1900 - Stolen children - Cultural identity - Racial tension
Set in a period of Australian history when children of mixed racial parentage were given up or taken forcibly by white authorities for preferential treatment such as better schooling, this story tells about one family caught between the fronts. Attempting to keep her children but unable to flee with them, a mother sends her son and half-white daughter to hide in the bush. After dangerous adventures, they are finally brought to the ancestral village. A tribal rebellion is barely avoided when authorities try to enforce their policies. The Australian setting and cultural background of the Aboriginal way of life are especially well-drawn. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 32
Wild, Margaret (text)
Argent, Kerry (illus.)
Miss Lily's fabulous pink feather boa
Ringwood: Viking, 1998.  p.
Loneliness - Friendship - Confidence - Quest
In this parable-like tale about individuality and the quest for fellowship, a small Australian creature, that thinks itself to be The Last Potoroo, spends a month at a guest house run by a huge, warm-hearted, merry-making crocodile. Miss Lily's gentle sympathy and tacit understanding of the shy, lonely Potoroo finally inspire it to go off in search of other Potoroos. The exquisite watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the house's ambient and the emotions of the main characters in this strikingly well-designed, oversized picture book. (6+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 26
Base, Graeme (text/illus.)
The worst band in the universe
Melbourne: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1999.  p. + 1 CD
Music - Innovation - Power struggle - Banishment
The internationally known author-illustrator of numerous memorable and elaborately detailed picture books has taken yet another direction of storytelling and reader entertainment. With a CD of fascinating and lively rock music thats fit perfectly with the plot and theme of the text, Base offers his readers a contemporary, illustrated form of rock opera. The plot of this allegorical space fantasy is told in epic verse. It involves a young upstart musician who dares to improvise, is banned to another planet, forms a band with other renegades and finally confronts the (quite unmusical) Musical Inquisitor in a show-down. Fans of films like »Star Wars« will love the weird space creatures and space worlds depicted here in neon pastel double-page spreads, and all readers will enjoy the engaging story of a young hero. (8+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 27
Sink or swim
South Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1999. 200 p.
Homeless child - Crayfish - Adventure - Trust - Friendship - Growing up
A tough, street-wise teenager Brazza, on the run after the latest battering at home and living by stealing, encounters an old craggy fisherman on a remote seacoast who needs a deckhand and decides to take a gamble on the boy. In this fastpaced adventure story - full of vivid details about the dangers of sea, weather and equipment, of illnesses and accidents - the two of them gradually learn to trust each other, admit their need of each other, and become a team that can deal with the many challenges of small-boat pot fishing. Brazza begins to get help in reading and sets his aim on the exams for a fishing-boat skipper. The novel is a well-told gripping story of friendship and growth despite adversity. (11+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 28
Angels passing by
Ringwood: Puffin/Penguin, 1999. 83 p.
Parents/Son - Bully - Self-assertion - Dog - Growing up
The only son of a fairly old, rather eccentric father and definitely non-assertive mother - and »brother« to a very spoiled dog -, twelve-year old Tom tells his own story of learning to deal teasing at his new school from bullies who call him a »loser«. He gradually learns to put his parent's own »loser« behavior into a perspective he can understand and accept. This involves taking a long trip to his mother's childhood home, only to find it very much changed and unromantic; his telling off the bullies; and his anonymous growing of a marijuana seed which his mother eventually discovers and innocently protects. This is a quiet, funny novel about growing up under rather normal circumstances and its thoughtful, brave hero will appeal to many readers. (10+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 29
Ingpen, Robert (text/illus.)
Once upon a place. Paintings, drawings and notes on imaginary places
Port Melbourne: Lothian, 1999. 48 p.
Fantasy - Imagination - Journey
This is a companion work to »Fabulous places of myth« which Lothian Books published in 1998 with a text by Michael Cave to elucidate Robert Ingpen's imaginary visual journeys to Camelot, Atlantis, Valhalla and the Tower of Babel. The readers who share the artist's fascination with the places of the imagination will once again find much to savour in the exquisite pencil character sketches and elaborate watercolor paintings of Chaucer's pilgrims, Hamelin's Pied Piper or the hero's banquet at Tara. Ingpen's personalized text cites excerpts from the stories that fascinate him, and celebrates the powerful effect that stories can have on readers. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 30
Stony heart country
Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia, 1999. 208 p.
Economic rationality - Unemployment - Friendship - Compassion - Growing up
A widely-travelled upper-class teenager comes to live in a small town in western Victoria for three months where his father has taken the task of conducting an economic feasibility study of a local clothing factory having economic problems. As it is the sole major employer, the local residents cannot help feeling threatened. Aaron finds enemies, but also experiences important supportive friendships that help him ultimately to understand more about tolerance and about himself. Metzenthen uses a social background of economic turmoil and corporate ruthlessness quite purposefully. He skillfully develops strong character portraits and allows the reader to get quite close to Aaron's inner feelings and reflections. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 31
Overend, Jenni (text)
Vivas, Julie (illus.)
Sydney: ABC Books, 1999.  p.
Home birth - Siblings
The child narrator of this lovely picture book relates the events of a very special day in his family - the home birth of their newest member. In the double-page spreads done in Julie Vivas's characteristic style of warm pastel pencil drawings, each stage of preparation and actual birthing is described in realistic, through artistically simplified detail. The judicious use of white spaces and shifts in dominant color tones helps to convey the suspense, climax and happy, restful conclusion of a momentous event for all six family members. Some readers may shy away from the book's explicit detail, but this is a welcome alternative to information books that explain scientifically »where babies come from.« (6+)
Australia (English) - 2000 - 32
Wharton, Herb (text)
Hurley, Ron (illus.)
St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999. 136 p.
Aborigines - Childhood memories - Growing up
This is the first young adult book by a notable writer of Aborigine and European descent whose main theme is his boyhood on the Warrego River in Queensland, 600 km west of Brisbane and many years as a drover (cattle or sheep driver). In this storyteller style of memoir Wharton looks back fondly at his strict upbringing by poor, illiterate but decent and caring parents and extended family members. Though he enjoyed school and loved the power of language, his education into life began already in his early teens as a drover; his lifelong curiosity and interest in learning supplied him with the wide range of stories that today fascinate his readers and listeners. This is a very readable, brilliantly-told tale of an rich, adventurous life. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 25
Applegate, Cathy (text)
Huxley, Dee (illus.)
Hunters Hill, NSW : Scholastic Australia, 2000.  p.
Rain - Draught - Joy of life
One can sense the burning heat, taste the dry air, and even hear the quiet of the first double-spread which extends in heavy, glowing tones of red. »It hasn't rained for two whole years«, we learn from the young girl. The farm is for sale, and they wait. Then, her skin prickles with goosebumps, and it starts raining, pouring and gushing down in torrents as she laughs and runs and swirls around. Told (and felt and smelled) from the perspective of the girl, the sensuous text draws in the reader who will share in the shifting emotions, while the pastel and coloured pencil illustrations build up the growing tension, capture the exaltation of the highly dynamic climax and release the reader soothed. (5+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 26
Ringwood, Victoria : Puffin Books, 2000. 216 p.
Orangutan - Conservation - Borneo
After Ian Foster and Abbie, an orphaned orangutan, are nearly killed in a cyclone, Abbie is repatriated to a national park in Indonesian Borneo by Ian and his parents. Once Abbie has adjusted to the wild, the Fosters return to Australia. For the next five years both mature physically and mentally – Ian, at home and school, Abbie, in the jungle. Each, however, still thinks of the other and Ian returns to Borneo at the time of the great loggers' fires. Abbie is able to save herself and her baby from poachers just in time for her reunion with him. The authentic background assists the demonstration of the intelligence and appeal of orangutans, and highlights the threat of their extinction because of human greed. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 27
Hathorn, Libby (text)
Rogers, Gregory (illus.)
Milsons Point, NSW : Random House Australia, 2000.  p.
Hamelin - Music- Gift - Moral dilemma - Fairy tale
Inspired by a poem by Robert Browning, this deeply stirring picture book revisions the tale of the Pied Piper and tells it from the perspective of »the one who was left behind«. This boy receives a gift from an old man: a flute with which he can free all the children. The narrative derives its strong impact from its break with the conventions of the »Erlösungsmärchen«: the reader's expectations are shattered and the hope of salvation, expressed in the text, is dispelled by the uncanny illustrations. The text's enigmatic riddles, the stark, prop-like illustrations and the effective use of perspective leave enough room for reflection. (10+)
Australia (English) - 2001 - 28
St Lucia, Queensland : Univ. of Queensland Press, 2000. 243 p.
(UQP young adult fiction)
Sport - Friendship - Trust - Stereotypes - Sex
Xavier's life revolves around rugby football until he meets Nuala Magee who fascinates him with her confrontational personality. While he competes on the football field, she leads a fight against both male and female stereotypes, wearing men's clothes. They start a challenging relationship constantly threatened by gossip, Xavier's obsession for rugby and Nuala's past experiences. Both have to reassess their identity with the help of their mutual friend Alex, who dies of leukemia. The problems of adolescent relationships, especially when affected by rumours and peer pressure, are emphasised in this strong novel in which sport is a metaphor for romance. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2001 - 29
Tan, Shaun (text/illus.)
The Lost Thing
Port Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2000.  p.
Essence - Belonging - Naming - Identity - Aesthetic pleasure
The story begins when Shaun, a passionate bottle top collector, encounters something defying classification: without a name and without an apparent purpose, the »Lost Thing« is completely out of place in the mechanical world of busy Suburbia. Shaun tries to find somewhere it belongs. Finally, they come upon a realm of free aesthetic pleasure which literally turns the book upside down: weird, incongruous shapes reminiscent of works by Dalí, Miró or Bosch populate the large double-spread. At last, the »Lost Thing« feels at home. This highly original, ingeniously designed picture book pays a homage to Art – to our capacity for noticing the special. The striking visual narrative combines a painterly style with a clever use of comic conventions. Breathtaking perspectives, humorous lines and a continually varying layout result in a complex layering of visual and verbal narratives. (8+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2001 - 30
Wild, Margaret (text)
Brooks, Ron (illus.)
St Leonards : Allen & Unwin, 2000.  p.
ISBN 1-86448-465-9. - 1-86448-933-2
Dog - Bird - Friendship - Betrayal
Magpie's wing was burned in a bushfire, but oneeyed dog rescues her and a partnership forms: »I will be your missing eye, and you will be my wings«, Magpie exclaims, as Dog carries her on his back. But one day, lonely, envious Fox appears. He tempts Magpie to leave Dog. They »fly« across the grasslands, into the desert, where Fox abandons her, so that she and Dog »will know what it is like to be truly alone«. Thinking of her friend, Magpie starts the long, slow journey home. Wild's lyrical text complements Brook's superb mixed media and collage illustrations; imaginatively placed hand-lettering adds interest. This is a marvellous, multi-layered, thought-provoking tale of friendship, loneliness, betrayal and guilt for all ages. (6+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 22
Base, Graeme (text/illus.)
Ringwood, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2001.  p.
Animals – Seasons – Wildlife – Counting
Famous Australian illustrator Graeme Base has created yet another ingenious picture book. His delightful mixture of counting book, puzzle book, story, and information book, »The Waterhole«, offers children of all ages something to enjoy. The colourful doublespreads invite readers to examine different landscapes, each one typical of a particular continent or region and its wildlife. Yet, while various animals gather on the pages for a drink, the waterhole in the middle slowly dries up. So, in the end, the animals are forced to leave; they return, however, as soon as the rains start pouring down announcing the end of the dry season. The simple storyline is interspersed with humourous sidecomments from the animal »protagonists«. And with its additional animals depicted in the tiny page borders, which can also be spotted melting into the landscapes of the main picture, this stunning book provides readers with new delights every time they return to it. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 23
Carmody, Isobelle (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Port Melbourne, Victoria: Lothian Books, 2001. 46 p.
Imaginary travel – Dream – Other World – Outsider – Love
Ken, an avid comic collector, also likes to draw his own comics. His new story, however, suddenly gets out of control: He is summoned to his fantasy world by dream magic and asked to help his heroine fight against an evil sorceress. The only person who can save him is Alyssa, a girl from his class. Together they manage to bring both stories – the imagined one and their own – to a happy ending. In this unusual mixture of fantasy novel and comic, where reality and dream are hard to tell apart, text and illustrations are closely intertwined; even the colour of the paper changes from cream symbolizing the »real« world, where Ken is in control, to black with white print when he is plunged into dangerous adventures in his fantasy world. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 24
A new kind of dreaming
St Lucia, Queensland : Univ. of Queensland Press, 2001. 229 p.
(UQP young adult fiction)
Juvenile delinquency – Social integration – Outsider – Friendship – Murder
After having been arrested for car theft, 17-yearold Jamie is sent to Port Barren, a small desert town, to live in isolated care. At first, his plans are to quietly serve his two-year sentence with as little fuss as possible. Yet, from the moment of his arrival, he feels ill at ease. The children at his new school carefully keep their distance, the social worker seems to be afraid of something, the local police officer, Butcher, tries to arrest him without proper reason, and Jamie keeps hearing a girl's voice in his head. Made suspicious by the strange events, the boy starts to ask questions about the town's past; all of a sudden, the easy-going narrative of the beginning picks up speed and does not release its grip on the reader until the very last page. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 25
The crowded beach
North Melbourne, Vic. : Spinifex Press, 2001. 218 p.
(Young adult fiction)
Domestic violence – Father – Alcoholism – Murder – Coping with fear – Everyday life
This sequel to Laurene Kelly's highly praised first novel »I started Crying Monday«, sensitively and convincingly describes the turmoil of feelings the two protagonists are struggling with. After their mother and younger siblings are killed in a family tragedy, Julie and her brother Toby are forced to move to their aunt's place in Sydney and start anew. Whereas Julie tries to adjust to the hectic city life as quickly as possible and forget about the past, Toby desperately misses his friends and the relaxed country-living. Both of them have to cope with their fear of the violent father, fight their loneliness, and deal with the normal burdens of teenage life. Yet, at the end of this novel with its quiet and very subtle descriptions of the protagonists' insecurity and sudden mood changes, Julie looks at her life with new optimism. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 26
Feeling sorry for Celia
Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2000. 262 p.
(Pan : Fiction)
Friendship – Divorce – Sexual relationship – Disappearance – Suicide attempt
Elizabeth's life is a chaos. Her mother is hardly ever at home but leaves messages for her everywhere, her father refuses to introduce her to his new wife and son, her best friend Celia disappears yet again and leaves Elizabeth worrying about her, and, to make matters worse, the boy she is in love with falls for her best friend. If it wasn't for her new penfriend Christina, Elizabeth might even take the advice of the Association of Teenagers and hide away in the fridge forever. This hilarious novel in »real« and imaginary letters and notes, written in a witty and ironic style, makes the readers laugh out loud on every page. But beneath the funny surface some serious issues, such as divorce and suicide, are also tackled. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 27
Russell, Elaine (text/illus.)
A is for aunty
Sydney, NSW : ABC Books, 2001.  p.
(1. publ. 2000)
ISBN 0-7333-0729-9; 0-7333-0872-4
Australia – Aborigines – Everyday life
The letters in this unusual ABC book cleverly serve as an impulse triggering off Russell's memories of her life as a child in an Aboriginal mission. She recalls happy moments, such as a billycart race with her brothers and friends, and tells about daily routines at the mission. A closer look at her powerful pictures, painted with bright acrylic and gouache in naïve style, also reveals her being one of the few fair-skinned Aborigines; as she mentions in the short biographical sketch included in the back of the book, these children were often taken away from their families by the white government at that time. An additional treat for the readers is the book's dustjacket, which can be unfolded to a large format and put up on the wall as a poster. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 28
Willow tree and Olive
Sydney, NSW : Hodder Headline Australia, 2001. 260 p.
(A sceptre book)
Immigration – Outsider – Sexual abuse – Friendship
Born in Australia as the child of Greek parents, Olive sometimes feels torn between two worlds. One day, triggered by a lecture Olive attends at school, suppressed memories of some past event suddenly surface and cause a mental breakdown. Step by step, through Olive's letters to her psychologist and her poems and thoughts, the reader discovers that she was raped at the age of five. In order to recover and face the past, she travels to Greece for a few months. This time, her bond with nature and Greek culture and tradition enable her to leave the past behind and look towards a new future. The powerful and moving story is told in fragments of poetry and prose that the reader has to piece together as Olive slowly starts healing. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2003 - 25
Barlow, Maisie (Yarrcali) (text)
Anning, Michael (Boiyool) (illus.)
Jirrbal : rainforest dreamtime stories
Broome, Western Australia : Magabala Books Aborig. Corp., 2002. 59 p.
Australia/North Queensland – Aborigines – Everyday life – Fable
The Jirrbal people of Ravenshoe in North Queensland belong to an Aboriginal tribe whose lifestyle was influenced by the rainforest region in which they lived. Sadly, their rich storytelling tradition almost died out with the arrival of white settlers. For this book, published by a small publisher who promotes the works of indigenous people, Jirrbal elder Maisie Barlow selected four typical moral fables. The ancient dreamtime stories tell of Jirrbal life, introducing important traditional values to modern- day children. The simple tales are accompanied by Michael Anning’s delightful colour-pencil illustrations. A two-page English/Jirrbal dictionary and the author’s childhood memories provide an interesting insight into Jirrbal culture. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 26
Cree, Laura Murray
Awesome! : Australian art for contemporary kids
St Leonards, Sydney, NSW : Craftsman House, 2002. 128 p
Australia – Modern Art
Modern art is sometimes difficult to access. Pejorative remarks from adults like »My Kids could do better than that!« are fairly common. Children, however, with their boundless imagination, are usually more inclined to discover the interesting ideas lying behind seemingly simple artefacts. In short, informative texts, Laura Murray Cree presents 55 outstanding Australian artists by introducing child readers to one of their typical works. Paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations are carefully selected and show the immense variety of ideas and projects that contemporary artists realise. The attractive full-page reproductions of the works, as well as the appealing mixture of basic information, short quotations, and interesting texts, make this book an entertaining read for everybody. To all those who are anxious to find out more, an appendix gives some additional facts about the artists and offers suggestions for further reading. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 27
Crew, Gary (text)
McBride, Marc (illus.)
Sydney, NSW : Hodder Children’s Books Australia, 2002.  p.
Curiosity – Inventor – Immortality – Eos and Tithonus
After Old Ridley has died, Joachim finally gets the chance to inspect his wondrous, castle-like home which he had secretly been spying on for years. The strange neighbour, who was rumoured to be a mad inventor, had always lived a reclusive life. Full of admiration, the boy wanders through the empty house, up to the attic – and there, a dubious surprise awaits him. Inspired by the ancient Greek myth of the Goddess Eos who fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal youth, this mysterious tale ponders on a man’s desperate search for immortality. The eerie atmosphere of Gary Crew’s magical text is ingeniously captured in Marc McBride’s amazing fantastical illustrations teeming with bizarre details. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 28
When you wake and find me gone
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Penguin Books, 2002. 424 p.
Australia – Mother – Daughter – Secret – Ireland – Irish Republican Army – Father
When her older sister Leonie is seriously injured in a car accident, Kit has no idea that her whole life is about to be turned upside down: Yet, suddenly she learns that her sister is in fact her mother and that her father was some Irishman involved in political underground activites in Belfast. Leaving her secure Australian country home, the fairly naïve twenty-year-old girl travels to Ireland on a quest for her parents’ secret and steps into a world of violence and political extremism. The readers of this thought-provoking young adult novel follow Kit on her painful journey of (self-)discovery and learn a lot about Ireland’s recent past and the conflicts still troubling the country. A truly fascinating and insightful read. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 29
The slightly true story of Cedar B. Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life)
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2002. 226 p.
Girl – Everyday life – Friendship – Brother – Running away – Acrobatics
In this light-hearted novel, author Martine Murray has her twelve-year-old heroine, named after a tree by her then-hippie mother, talking about daily life in a small Australian town. While chatting on about her friends and »enemies«, her quirky neighbours, her run-away brother Barnaby who keeps sending peculiar postcards, and her friend Kite, an acrobatic »bird-person«, Cedar B. Hartley reveals some truths about love, life, and herself. Her witty straightforward first-person narration, intertwined with poetic images, immediately wins over the readers’ hearts and makes this an impressive debut novel. The tiny black-and-white line drawings accentuate the cheerful atmosphere of the text. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 30
Tan, Shaun (text/illus.)
The red tree
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2001.  p.
Sadness – Depression
Everybody knows that feeling when a »day begins with nothing to look forward to and things go from bad to worse«. In Shaun Tan’s moving picture book, a little red-haired girl is almost overwhelmed by her feeling of loneliness and isolation, and she simply cannot see a meaning to her life. At the end of the day, however, quite unexpectedly, a ray of hope is finding its way into her heart. The multiaward- winning illustrator’s detailed, surrealistic mixed-media collages in mainly dark colours capture the girl’s despair in a unique way. The sparse text blends in perfectly with the breathtaking pictures, leaving ample space for the readers to find their own interpretation of this quiet story. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 31
Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2002. 386 p.
(Pan : Fiction)
Friendship – Quest – Happiness – Fate
In his new novel, highly acclaimed Australian author Markus Zusak, weaves a fascinating mixture of humour, irony, suspension, violence, and sex (or rather the fervent wish for it), into a gripping narrative which is sure to hold every reader under its spell. After having »accidentally« foiled a bank robbery, 19-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Mysterious messages scribbled on playing cards arrive at his house: three addresses, three names, etc. Although Ed does not have a clue what he is supposed to make of this, he starts off on a quest delivering »messages« to these people which deeply influence their lives as well as his own. This unusual crossover novel will appeal to teenagers and adults alike. (16+)
Australia (English) - 2004 - 26
Grant, Joan (text)
Curtis, Neil (illus.)
Cat and Fish
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2003.  p.
Differentness – Friendship – Tolerance
Normally, cats and fish belong to different worlds. Yet, when this book’s two protagonists meet, they immediately become close friends and venture out together. After a while, Fish starts feeling homesick for the sea. Since Cat does not seem too enthusiastic about living under water, they simply decide to settle at the shore where both worlds meet and to await their next adventure. This poetic story of two unlikely friends is beautifully expressed in Escheresque black-and-white illustrations. The dream-like pictures with their varied patterns, rendered in pen-and-ink technique, offer readers a humorous and imaginative interpretation of the enchanting text. (3+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2004 - 27
King, Stephen Michael (text/illus.)
Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2003.  p.
Girl – Talent – Imagination – Self-confidence – Differentness
Milli, an exceptionally creative and skilled girl, lives in a village where people are only interested in practical, useful things and therefore do not appreciate her special talent. To please them, shy Milli works as an ordinary shoemaker until one day, Jack and the Dancing Cat arrive. The two unusual wandering minstrels entice her imagination and give her the courage to pursue her dreams. Vivid watercolours with fine black outlines, reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s pictures, accompany the humorous text and perfectly capture the beauty of the whimsical shapes Milli creates out of discarded everyday objects. This lighthearted tale easily persuades readers to believe in their imagination – and in themselves. (4+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2004 - 28
Lawson, Sue (text)
Magerl, Caroline (illus.)
My Gran’s different
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2003.  p.
Grandmother – Grandson – Alzheimer’s Disease
Charlie is aware that his grandmother is different from those of his friends and classmates. She doesn’t bake cakes or sell flowers, she doesn’t knit scratchy jumpers or travel all around Australia, nor does she visit football matches or work in the garden. All she ever does is sit in her rocking chair and stare out of the window – because »she can’t remember who she is.« Nevertheless, the young boy completely accepts her as she is and clearly doesn’t love her any less for it. The delicate washy watercolours in subdued tones and the sparse text written in a quiet, repetitive style create a moving story of a child’s love for his grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. This courageous picture book is a true gem for young and old readers alike – which may also spark off discussions about and provide understanding for a serious problem. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 29
Malbunka, Mary (text/illus.)
When I was little, like you
Crows Nest, Australia : Allen & Unwin, 2003.  p.
Australia/1960s – Aboriginals – Mission settlement – Childhood
In 2000, students and members of staff at Papunya School got together to create the award-winning Papunya School Book of Country and History. Now, one of them, Aboriginal artist Mary Malbunka, returns to tell readers about her own childhood at Papunya. In a simple and engaging style, interspersed with Luritja expressions – Mary’s mother tongue – she recalls arriving at the government settlement as a five-year-old. She shares memories of everyday life at the settlement such as going to school, searching for sugarbag (i.e. wild honey), climbing trees, and listening to the stories of the elders. Her short tale is accompanied by colourful acrylic and watercolour pictures, carried out both in traditional and in European styles of art, that conjure up a lively picture of an Aboriginal childhood in the 1960s. The short appendix includes a note on the various Aboriginal languages, a short explanation of the language of symbols used in many traditional pictures, and a Luritja-English glossary. _ (6+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 30
The spirit of Barrumbi
Norwood, SA : Omnibus Books, 2003. 213 p.
Aboriginals – Whites – Intercultural education
In this sequel to her highly praised first novel The Barrumbi Kids, Leonie Norrington describes everyday life in a small Aboriginal community and discusses the conflicts children have to come to terms with if they live in two different cultures at once. The inhabitants of Long Hole still cherish their traditional culture and are taught to respect the ways of the elders. Even though Dale and his parents and siblings have lived there for many years and are regarded as kin by Tomias’ family, tensions between the Aboriginals and the white family suddenly rise when Dale’s headstrong older brother Sean stupidly breaks one of the elders’ important rules and thus almost causes a catastrophe. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 31
The Marowack Two
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Penguin Books, 2003. 250 p.
Search for identity – Fear – Friendship – Environmental destruction – Resistance
Every time Kira is struck by lightning – 14 times so far – she wakes up in a different hospital bed with no memory of her previous life. To escape this mysterious and terrifying curse, mother and daughter move to Marowack, a small goldmining town in the middle of nowhere, supposedly free of thunderstorms. When the small village forest is in danger of falling prey to greedy politicians, Kira joins forces with 17-year-old Hector and the two troubled outsiders get entangled in a web of political intrigues. Told from alternating points of view, this fast-paced powerful novel traces the story of two scared and angry teenagers who desperately try to come to grips with life’s challenges while they are struggling with their fragile love-hate relationship. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2004 - 32
Fitzroy, Vic. : Black Dog Books, 2003. 346 p.
China – Dragon – Slavery – Escape – Journey – Danger – Search for identity
When a brutal dragon hunter suddenly appears at the secluded imperial palace and threatens to kill the last imperial dragon, young slave girl Ping spontaneously helps the threatened creature escape. This marks the beginning of a long, perilous journey across the country to mysterious Ocean during which Ping slowly learns to accept her new duty as true dragonkeeper and to trust in her inner strength. Set in ancient China at the time of the Han dynasty, this engaging fantasy novel about friendship and betrayal portrays the metamorphosis of the shy insecure protagonist into a courageous trustworthy young woman. The powerful narrative with its traditional fantasy elements immediately captures the readers’ imagination and does not release them until the very end. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2005 - 23
Fourmile, Trevor (text)
Fourmile, Lillian (illus.)
How the cassowary got its helmet
Thuringowa, Queensland : Black Ink Press, 2004. 31 p.
Animals – Differentness – Outsider – Self-confidence – Courage – Acceptance
The style of both the text and the illustrations of this modern fable about the poor cassowary who is teased by all the other animals for not being able to fly is clearly reminiscent of traditional aboriginal stories. Set in a small region in Northern Queensland, the tale recalls how the shy little bird slowly gains self-confidence and eventually even comes to his distressed neighbours’ rescue, so that they award him the title of »protector of the rainforest«. The short text is accompanied by strong square pictures and some additional smaller drawings in darkish colours (predominantly black and brown) with bold white outlines depicting an array of energetic bush animals. The illustrations easily evoke the vibrant atmosphere of the story. (4+)
(Black Ink Writing and Illustrating Award)
Australia (English) - 2005 - 24
(Moonlight <proper name>)
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Puffin Books, 2004. 198 p.
Mother – Death – Daughter – Silence – Mouse – Ballet – Friendship
This fairy tale-like children’s novel plunges its readers right into a wondrous and sad story set in a distant time and place. Its Cinderella-meets-Despereaux-like plot with a touch of mystery novel reveals the tale of pale Claire-de-Lune who hasn’t uttered a single word since her mother, a famous ballet dancer, died onstage when the daughter was still a baby. Striving to please her heart-broken grandmother, the obedient little girl attends ballet classes and goes on errands, leading a dull, joyless life until she meets tiny Bonaventure. The talking mouse, who is an ambitious dancer, introduces her to a secret world with a mysterious monastery where Claire-de-Lune finally finds a friend and true happiness. (8+)
Australia (English) - 2005 - 25
Jaunn, Adele (text/illus.)
Caruso’s song to the moon
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2004.  p.
Cat – Song – Neighbour – Anger – Escape – Family – Rescue
Caruso the cat simply loves music. One night, he decides to sing an aria to the moon, but unfortunately his brilliant performance is constantly interrupted by furious neighbours who are anything but pleased to be disturbed in their sleep. Unhampered by his narrow escape and convinced of his great talent, the unrecognised star prepares himself for a grand finale – and ›accidentally‹ becomes a hero. The short text of this amusing tale with its dynamic layout in varying sizes is carefully arranged on the pictures. Both the text and the vibrant acrylic pictures showing slightly distorted shapes in strong shades of mainly brown, blue, and green contain witty allusions to music and to the notes the cat is singing. (3+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2005 - 26
The whole business with Kiffo and the Pitbull
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2004. 257 p.
School – Outsider – Friendship – Death – Family conflict – Drug addiction – Divorce
Calma Harrison, an »exceptionally talented student of English« with a sharp tongue and huge boobs, and Jaryd Kiffing, part-time criminal »of limited academic ability and concentration span, with behavioural problems and freckles«, are an unlikely pair of friends. Yet, friends they are. However, when a new English teacher, the Pitbull, appears on the scene and starts terrorising the class, life suddenly becomes difficult. Kiffo, obsessed with revenge, goes on the war-path, and his friendship with Calma is being severely tested. This hilarious debut novel, written in a highly entertaining ironic first-person narrative, is a stunning mixture of witty teenage school story, exciting detective novel, and moving problem tale. The author cleverly inserts different types of text (such as letters, school reports, fictional horoscopes, etc.) to create a perfect balance of funny and serious elements. With its strong cast of protagonists, this book is bound to have readers hooked from the very first page. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2005 - 27
Laguna, Sofie (text)
McLean, Andrew (illus.)
On our way to the beach
Norwood, SA : Omnibus Books, 2004.  p.
Family – Holidays – Journey – Beach – Imagination
It’s the summer holidays and a family are on their way to the beach in a cosy green travelling van. Although the journey takes several days, there is simply so much to see and do that time flies. Every night in bed, the little girl conjures up colourful images of what the beach might look like, e.g. a blue-pink-purple forest of huge strawberry plants divided by a dark blue river with sparkling stars swimming in it. Soft watercolour pictures in various sizes depict the joyful family trip leading closer and closer to their final destination. The ›real journey‹ is interspersed with slightly surreal double-page spreads full of imaginative details that present different versions of the ›beach‹ as the girl imagines it to be. A magical holiday indeed! (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2005 - 28
The spare room
St. Lucia, Queensland : University of Queensland Press, 2004. 165 p.
Australia – Japan – Host family – Secret – Grief –
Cultural difference – Intercultural relationship Even though Akira is anything but thrilled when his strict father decides to send him to Australia for a few months to learn English, he soon comes to realise that this might be his chance to find out what he really wants in life. In the beginning, problems seem almost overwhelming but the young man embraces his new situation with admirable openness and courage. Designed as a long letter written almost a year later, when Akira has long returned to Japan, this warm, sensitive teenage novel tackles problems such as cultural difference, friendship, understanding, and shared grief, while it makes readers share the buzz of emotions the nineteen-year-old Japanese feels during his development from strange outsider to beloved friend. (14+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2006 - 25
Does my head look big in this?
Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2005. 340 p.
Teenage girl Muslim – Search for identity – Multicultural society – Peer pressure – Self-confidence – Religion
16-year-old Amal faces a huge problem. Not only does she have to deal with all the typical teenager issues like friendship, first love, bullying, or standing out versus fitting in, but she has made up her mind to start wearing the hijab, the Muslim veil, full-time. Naturally, her decision is met with all kinds of prejudice and opposition at her high-brow private school, amongst her friends and enemies, and even her parents are not exactly doing a »cheerleader routine around the family room«. In her moving and witty first novel, interspersed with a lot of autobiographical experiences, the author sketches the convincing picture of a modern Australian-Palestinian-Muslim girl torn between two different cultures and confronts some of the typical clichés about Islam. (14+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2006 - 26
Baillie, Allan (text)
Magerl, Caroline (illus.)
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Penguin/Viking, 2005.  p.
Girl Boy – Beach – Imaginary adventure – Princess – Pirate – Friendship
A little girl spends a day at the beach imagining she is a princess in a wonderful castle. When a naughty pirate arrives on his ship loaded with cannons and tries to destroy her beautiful home, Her Royal Angryness enlists the help of the terrible Belchim and the fearsome Flaphantnim to fight the intruder. In this entertaining tale of a summer day, colourful full-page and double-page pictures ingeniously depict the two children’s creative inventions and the fierce imaginary battle which ends with a simple offer: »Friends«. The vivid, blurry watercolour illustrations imperceptibly blend real and imaginary scenes and eventually leave the protagonists lying peacefully in the sun »Until next time...«. (4+)
Australia (English) - 2006 - 27
Godwin, Jane (text)
Zak, Drahos (illus.)
The true story of Mary who wanted to stand on her head
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2005. 47 p.
Girl Otherness – Punishment – Rebellion – Happiness
Mary would simply be an ordinary and amiable little girl if it wasn’t for her peculiar determination to stand on her head forever. Neither of the stern doctors’ and teachers’ cruel remedies proves to be effective, so the desperate parents eventually agree to desert her in the desert – where the unruly child immediately befriends a camel, a mouse, and a lizard and happily spends her days looking at the world upside down. This witty and absurd tale in 31 verses follows in the footsteps of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, and Edward Gorey, the masters of nonsense poetry. It is completed by ingenious, darkish mixed-media illustrations and vignettes in all possible sizes, which perfectly capture the mood of the story. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 28
Heffernan, John (text)
Sheehan, Peter (illus.)
Lindfield, NSW : Scholastic Press, 2005.  p.
ISBN 1-86504-813-5 / -814-3
Island Monster – Happiness – Imprisonment – Freedom
In the middle of the sea, on a beautiful island, live a hard-working tribe who are so wrapped up in their work that they don’t know how to enjoy life. The only exception is a neglected, blind little boy. One day, a friendly sea-monster turns up and befriends the lonely child. Soon enough, bouts of laughter resound across the beach encouraging the grown-ups to join in, too. Wary at first, the adults soon feel an irresistible urge to play and laugh happiness has finally arrived. Yet, when the people anxiously employ ropes and chains to hold on to it forever, the monster and the boy secretly vanish, and all joy disappears with them. This touching, quiet, philosophical story raises the question of whether happiness can be captured. It is expressed in powerful, double-page pictures in which the unhappy people, drawn as plain grey-and-white straight shapes, form a stark contrast to the beautiful green island and the multi-coloured, bubbling, energetic sea-monster. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 29
Kelleher, Victor (text)
Hurst, Elise (illus.)
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2005.  p.
God Search – Child – Religion
Everybody talks about God, but when little Peter wants to know where exactly this mysterious Mr. God lives, he gets nothing but evasive answers from his family. The »kind of ... up there« and »sort of ... around« information leaves the small boy so puzzled that he decides to go out looking for him. After a day filled with surprising revelations, Peter feels he is none the wiser but so what. The witty and enjoyable story is wonderfully expressed in vivid, slightly blurry gouache paintings. They follow the curious bald-headed protagonist in his bright red T-Shirt as he pokes his head around bends, hears about Mrs Patel’s multiple gods, and shares his lolly with a ragged old tramp, only to learn that there may be more than one truth. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 30
Sydney [et al.] : Fourth Estate, 2005. 434 p.
Teenage girl Rite of passage – Parallel world – Dream – Danger – Secret – Quest
New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox’s new novel, the first part of the »Dreamhunter« duet, is set in an un-named country yet with a recognisable New Zealand vegetation and landscape – at the beginning of the 20th century. Laura and Rose, two 15-year-old cousins, are about to join the official »Try« to find out whether they belong to the lucky few who can enter the parallel world of »The Place« and follow into the footsteps of their famous parents and other dreamhunters, who retrieve its rich dreams for the benefit of the (affluent) general public. In this compelling, imaginative fantasy adventure, rife with dark secrets, intrigues, and powerful mythical songs, Laura is sent on a truly dangerous quest, which will make readers hold their breath until the very end. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 31
Sydney, NSW : ABC Books, 2005. 239 p.
(Carradon trilogy; 2)
Futuristic society Government control – Freedom – Slavery
In this compelling sequel to »Bringing Reuben home«, Glenda Millard follows the fate of Judah, Cinnabar, their family, and new-found friends a few years after they have escaped from the domed city of New Carradon, where every aspect of life is controlled by the government. The young couple have settled down peacefully, but when they learn that the so-called Novice Scheme, allegedly a government programme to educate refugees, is in fact abused as a slave business, they are determined to help and put an end to it. This science-fiction novel for young adults cleverly juxtaposes the tightly confined world of technological progress and political corruption and the ideal, democratic, nature-loving community outside the dome as it focuses on the issue of slavery in a futuristic society. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2006 - 32
Porter, Annaliese (text)
Bancroft, Bronwyn (illus.)
Broome, Western Australia : Magabala Books, 2005.  p.
Australia Outback – Animals – Plants
Annaliese Porter’s quiet poem reads like an ode to the Australian outback. The first published picture book by this talented eleven-year-old girl offers snapshots of the life of animals and (Aboriginal) people who have shared this land for centuries. The stunning illustrations by Bronwyn Bancroft, one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal artists, perfectly capture the vastness of the red desert, its changing atmosphere through various seasons and times of the day, and its colourful inhabitants. In bright double-page pictures, which combine a traditional Aboriginal style of painting with modern watercolour illustration, she introduces readers to the exciting world of central Australia. (4+) ☆
Australia (English) - 2007 - 24
Bauer, Michael Gerard
Don’t call me Ishmael!
Malvern, SA : Omnibus Books, 2006. 277 p.
Teenager – Insecurity – Bullying – Friendship
Ishmael’s life is doomed. After all, what is there to do when you suffer from a mysterious condition called Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome that triggers abnormal behaviour in otherwise completely ordinary people and leaves you a complete loser? The desperate first-person narrator of this hilarious teenage novel describes in minute detail all the minor and major disasters hitting him over the head during one particularly trying school year. The accumulation of deadly embarrassing accidents in this light-hearted look at problems such as lack of self-confidence, bullying, and the search for a hole in the ground to disappear in, will have young readers giggling from beginning to end. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 25
St Lucia, Queensland : Univ. of Queensland Press, 2006. 208 p.
Teenager – Everyday life – Unusual event
In this collection of short stories for teenagers, award-winning author Brian Caswell explores a kaleidoscope of different topics. The tales range from the challenges of everyday life, the pitfalls of teenage love, the disappointment and anger against divorced parents to various unusual encounters with forces from outer space, which are in turn moving, heart-breaking, witty, and hilarious. Often ending in a truly Dahl-like twist of events, the stories are all the more enjoyable because readers are taken completely by surprise. The smooth and engaging first-person narrations interspersed with plenty of dialogue make this collection a diverting read. (12+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 26
The red shoe
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2006. 183 p.
Australia/1954 – Post-war society – Daughter – Father – Sister – War trauma – Suicide attempt
In this quiet children’s novel set in 1954, Ursula Dubosarsky describes the everyday life of little Matilda and her family. Matilda’s mother struggles hard to maintain a kind of sane family routine despite the fact that the often-absent father can’t seem to cope with his horrible wartime memories and older sister Elizabeth just suffered a nervous breakdown. In an unpretentious, matter-of-fact style, the curious six-year-old protagonist relates the events around her. The renowned Australian author uses real newspaper clippings cunningly woven into the haunting narrative to paint an authentic picture of small and big events in postwar Sydney and, at the same time, creates a family story filled with a sense of mystery, adventure, tragedy, and wonder. (10+)
(Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards; 2006)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 27
On the Jellicoe road
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2006. 288 p.
Mother – Daughter – Search for identity – Orphan – Friendship – Boarding school – Love
As newly-elected house leader, 17-year-old Taylor Markham faces difficult negotiations in the secret territory wars between the boarders at Jellicoe School, the Townies, and the Cadets. Yet, her heart is actually set on something else. Ever since her mother abandoned her six years ago, the troubled and angry girl has been trying to piece her life back together from snippets of fading memories and a weird dream that haunts her every night. Could the unfinished manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe almost 20 years ago hold the missing clues? In her new teenage novel, Melina Marchetta carefully intertwines two mysterious and utterly moving stories about friendship, love, tragedy, and loss that will not release their grip on the readers until the last page. (14+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 28
Millard, Glenda (text)
Chapman, Gaye (illus.)
Lindfield, NSW : Scholastic Press, 2006.  p.
Girl – Butterfly – Flying – Wish – Imagination
This philosophical, fairytale-like picture book is Glenda Millard and Gaye Chapman’s second collaboration after »Heart of the tiger« (2004). The fragile ink- and watercolour-illustrations whisk readers away into a magical land where the Lord of Flight creates stunningly beautiful butterflies to fill the hearts of people with joy before the dreary winter settles in. When little Kaito (who bears some resemblance to a slightly Japanese Little Red Riding Hood) finally reaches the Mountain of Dreams after a strenuous journey, she is devastated to learn that the floating, fluttering creatures only live for one day. Nevertheless, with a lot of imagination, the girl eventually finds a way to preserve the miracle of flight until spring returns. (4+)
Australia (English) - 2007 - 29
Ormerod, Jan (text/illus.)
Surry Hills, NSW : Little Hare Books, 2006.  p.
Farm – Drought – Survival – Water – Divining rod
In this picture book, acclaimed illustrator Jan Ormerod recalls the difficult life on a droughtstricken farm in the Western Australian bush. The slightly nostalgic, evocative illustrations in bright blue and shades of brown, red, and orange bring the glimmering heat of a typical dry summer day alive, with land, people, and animals sweltering under layers of red dust. To survive, little Dougie and his father have to cart water to the farm every single day, from a well more than an hour down the track. When the boy learns that his grandfather was able to find water with the help of a divining rod, he ignores his sisters’ teasing and his mother’s scepticism and determinedly knuckles down to learn the mysterious art of water witching to save his family. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 30
Tan, Shaun (illus.)
Melbourne : Lothian Books, 2006.  p.
Journey – Immigrant – Loneliness – Homesickness – Assimilation
Award-winning artist Shaun Tan’s latest offering for young and old readers is an extraordinary graphic novel relating the tale of a young man who ventures out into a strange, far-away country across a vast ocean to seek a better life. With hardly any money and no knowledge of the language or the customs of his chosen land, all that the immigrant can rely on to find food, work, and a place to live are his inner strength and ingenuity plus help from sympathetic strangers. In a sequence of hundreds of sepia-coloured illustrations in varying sizes, this textless masterpiece invites readers to share the protagonist’s homesickness, displacement, and confusion in an enigmatic world devoid of any recognisable, familiar patterns. The graphite pencil drawings, created with a meticulous attention to detail and brimming with fantastic elements, are reminiscent of an old-fashioned photo album that reveals a long-forgotten, secret adventure. (12+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 31
Tonkin, Rachel (text/illus.)
Leaf litter : exploring the mysteries of a hidden world
Pymble, Sydney, NSW : Angus & Robertson, 2006. 29 p.
Plant litter – Habitat – Life cycle – Seasons
This non-fiction picture book takes young readers on a trip into nature. In detailed, large-format illustrations teeming with wildlife, the author examines the world on a small patch beneath a tree during the course of one year. While leaves and plants grow, fall to the ground, and start rotting, small animals are born, fight for survival, leave the place, or die. Even small children will delight in naming animals and discovering fascinating scenes by lifting the flaps. The poetic and informative text adds a second level for older children who are interested in changes occurring in the habitat. The »Things to find« appendix invites readers to explore the pages more thoroughly and the glossary provides an abundance of additional information. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 32
Wild, Margaret (text)
Spudvilas, Anne (illus.)
Woolvs in the sitee
Camberwell, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2006.  p.
City – Catastrophe – Panic – Loneliness – Coping with fear – Courage
The city has turned sinister, strange creatures are lurking in the shadows, and to young Ben, life has become a fierce struggle for survival. Only when his sole friend, the elderly next door neighbour, disappears, does the boy, who has been hiding in the basement, summon enough courage to decide: »I will no longer let the woolvs forse me to scrooch [sic].« In this unsettling picture book, readers are left in the dark as to what kind of catastrophe may have hit the city. The sketchy, bold charcoal illustrations set against alarming watercolour backgrounds underline the oppressing atmosphere of the narration, while the misspellings and twisted grammar draw particular attention to the poetic text. This outstanding work naturally lends itself to discussions about war, fear, environmental destruction, or psychosis. (10+)