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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

'Yellowcake Summer' reviewed as "sharp writing, black humour"

 Yellowcake Summer, the sequel to Yellowcake Springs and the winner of IP Rolling Picks 2013 award for Best Fiction, has been reviewed as sharp writing with plenty of black humour.

Yellowcake Summer by Guy Salvidge

"Rated 4 of 5 stars.
This is a very potent sequel. By nature, it's very difficult for sequels to have the same power to surprise and amaze as their predecessor, but this one comes close -- and better yet, isn't a letdown in any way. One could read them out of order, but in my view the payoff is much greater by reading Yellowcake Springs first.
The vision that Salvidge has established of the future is consistent (and consistently grim). The adventure (especially of Rion) is entertaining, and the writing is again very sharp. What struck me here more than in "Springs" was the sense of black humor.
Sure, Salvidge is standing on the shoulders of Huxley, Orwell, et al. -- but he deserves to stand in their company."
- Rory Costello

'Granny Rags' wows critics at Reading Time

Granny Rags by Janet Reid

"This junior family thriller that embodies a not-so-fearsome witch, bullyboys, petty crooks and a mystery to be solved, moves at an un-put-down-able pace. This is just the right sort of book to help establish the 'reading bug'.
Tim Trickett is a new boy at a small rural school and prey to the bullyboys because of his diffidence socially and physically. He also has an over-protective mother and a physical ailment that he seeks to keep secret.
Fortunately for him, before the term begins he meets Lockie, an outgoing, broadly spoken boy from the neighbourhood who acts as a social buffer for Tim. Lockie's family is well-grounded working class; Tim's father is a DON, Director of Nursing at the local hospital. This itself gives grist to the bullies, who relentlessly present Tim the challenging initiation test that involves him facing up to the reclusive Granny Rags, the local 'witch'.

Tim, urged on by Lockie, not only passes that test, but also perceives that there is another face to Granny Rags. Moreover, the two boys become aware of threats to the old lady by local crooks. Old mysteries buried in the past come to light when the Schoolmaster sets the class ferreting out local history.

The plot moves rapidly, yet never loses its grounding in social reality. There is freshness in the references not only to the Harry Potter books, but sly digs at prevailing adult tastes. There is much merit in this seemingly easy to read story of small town country life."

- MS, Reading Time

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Shadows in Paradise interviewed by Redland Times

"Redland Bay's Carolann Dowding has written a detailed account of her search through adoption secrecy and bureaucracy for her biological family."

Carolann Dowding, author of Shadows in Paradise, recently starred in a feature article by Lyn Uhlmann in the Southern Bay News (syndicated through the Redland Times / Bayside Bulletin).

Go Carolann!

Read the full article here.

Shadows in Paradise by Carolann Dowding

Shadows in Paradise details Carolann's 20-year search for her biological family. Although she loved her adoptive family and had a happy upbringing, she always felt like something was missing. She needed to know the truth.

She persevered through red tape to find her biological mother and then, with the help of a private investigator, followed the clues leading to her biological father. Carolann's story is one of hope and never giving up.

Media attention for two wave-making books: magical realism novel and child abuse legal battle memoir

Blood by Peter Kay
Blood was recently featured in The Mercury Saturday Magazine. Blood, written by Tasmanian local Peter Kay, is a magical realism novel involving time travel, romance, adventure, and the WWII bombing of Darwin.

Blood has also been featured in The Sunday Tasmanian, The Saturday Tasmanian, CQU News and the University of Canberra Monitor.

Sexual Abuse Survivor's Handbook by John Saunders
Sexual Abuse Survivor's Handbook by John Saunders has also been making waves. Read the feature article in the Northern Star here.

Sexual Abuse Survivor's Handbook has previously been mentioned in NSW Parliament, featured in interviews on ABC Radio, and has been the star of several public forums for child abuse survivors.

For details about a forum near you, contact us at

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Review of The Smallest Carbon Footprint in the Land

For teachers and librarians looking for books to address the sustainability theme in the National Curriculum, The Smallest Carbon Footprint is a collection of stories that certainly fits the bill!

A prince wants to marry the girl with the smallest carbon footprint in the land, and he has her diamond slipper to ensure he finds the right girl; Chicken Licken warns everyone that the sea is rising while Foxy Loxy tries to trick them; Cool Girl learns how to grow organic vegetables from the Sensational Seven…this is a collection of some traditional fairy tales each with a very modern twist designed to spread the sustainability, eco-friendly message.

This is an engaging way to introduce students to the sustainability cross-curriculum priority as embedded in the stories are new vocabulary and explanations for terms that even young students are encountering. They can build on their familiarity with Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin, Little Red Riding Hood and so on and enjoy a 21st century story that will make them think. Teachers will appreciate having a resource that helps them introduce complex concepts in a way that is enjoyable, makes sense and sets a great platform for discussion, as well as comparing the new with the old.

Not only does the collection make a good read-aloud inspiring discussion, but with short stories and intriguing monochrome illustrations it is a great stepping stone between picture book and novel for the newly-independent reader to read alone.

An unusual but worthwhile book to add to your collection.

Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children's Services)
Together, we learn from each other

Review of Bringing Down the Wall

Just in, a terrific review of Bringing Down the Wall, sent in by Barbara Braxton...

Once, Joshua was very close to his grandfather but since his grandmother got really sick and died, he hasn’t seen him because his mother will not let him.  Joshua suspects it has something to do with his grandfather’s new wife, but eventually the tug of family overcomes him and he sets out on his own to visit him secretly. Timidly he approaches the house and knocks, and is greeted by Riva who tries to persuade him to ring his mum while they wait for Grandpa to come home with ice cream.  But Josh wants to see his grandpa first and when he arrives, they sit down and Grandpa tells him a story from his childhood about little boys not being able to make a difference.

But Joshua disagrees – he thinks they can and he thinks he is. 

That’s not the only lesson Joshua learns that day in a sensitive portrayal of a situation of a family’s rift that is all too common.  For not only does Joshua learn that just one person can take the step to healing, he also has his grandfather’s wisdom of knowing why the rift has occurred and there is understanding rather than blame. Sometimes time can heal, but sometimes it can create a gap too wide to cross. His may not be the only heart healed today.

The soft muted tones that Sona Babajanyan has used in the illustrations echo the poignancy of this story that explores topics that are common in our students’ lives but not necessarily written about in books. The ache between grandchild and grandparent and vice versa is tangible, and there’s always a piece of you missing when one is removed through divorce or death.  Too many years can be lost if there is no reconciliation and Joshua may prove inspirational to some. This is fiction mirroring real life. Sometimes all it takes is the courage to pick up the phone. Little people CAN make a difference, indeed.

Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children's Services)
Together, we learn from each other