The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has announced the short list for the 2013 Children’s Book Awards.
Here is the Older Readers short list (These books are for mature readers) with notes from Ms Powling and links to author, publisher and teachers notes where available.
I have yet to read this and it must now be on my to-read list.
“Although two adolescents are the focus of this blackly humorous romance, this novel is as much about the peculiar nature of family life, especially marriage and failed hope, and the lack of connection between people. Creepy and Maud are neighbours, both the children of parents caught in nasty marriages. Creepy’s father has trained their dachshund to bite his wife on command, whereas Maud’s father kicks his wife’s much-adored hairless cat when angered. The two sets of parents have a long-running feud but the teenagers commune silently through their facing bedroom windows. Creepy has been observing Maud for some time (yes, he is well-named) before he makes contact. She is less aware of what is going on around her, engrossed with the pain and pleasure of pulling her hair out. Creepy finds out her habit is trichotillomania. He is fascinated. Creepy and Maud address us in chapters (turnabout, but not uniformly) with Creepy’s comments particularly insightful. He understands his father’s behaviour as the reactions of a beaten man whose life is out of his control. Ditto ‘Limo-Li’ Maud’s father who Creepy categorises as ‘in service’, and ‘People in service have no control. They’re all operating on someone else’s timetable’. The behaviour of the children is an attempt at control—ugly, destructive—but eventually productive in changing the ‘game’. A way of looking that brings aspects of life sharply into the foreground and which has the strange seem sane in comparison to accepted behaviour. Told with wit and compassion.” From Magpies: The Source
This story has many fascinating characters and very tangled relationships. Having lost her mother, seventeen-year-old Friday goes on the run and falls in with a band of street children who are led by an unpredictable but charismatic young woman called Arden. She running to escape her memories but throughout the book, Friday remains haunted by the ghost of her recently dead mother, and also the family curse; a history of drowning. Things don’t go well and Friday is lost, alone and afraid.
Suzy Zail is an Australian-born author and daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She writes this her first fictional story in the first person. Hanna Mendel, is a 15-year-old girl living with her older sister Erika and her parents in the Debrecen Jewish ghetto in Hungary. She is a good student and talented pianist who has always behaved appropriately. Her world changes when the Nazis arrive to announce that the ghetto is closing and the family will be “resettled”. After a long train journey in a cattle car they end up in the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. There are examples of many survival strategies throughout the story and it quickly becomes evident that there are no longer any simple solutions or simple judgements in Hanna’s life. The characters are flawed and changeable, not simply good or evil but often a mixture of both. There is also a romance that blossoms between Hanna and the camp Captain’s son, Karl. He does not seem to be like his Father and sees more to Hana than her Jewish heritage. Her mother and sister do not fare well but this is the story of Hanna. She may be a naïve teenager but she is determined to survive. The end of the book leaves an opening for a further story.
An engrossing and affecting story on another serious subject, depression. Colin is a 15-year-old boy who, after a very traumatic event, is hospitalised. He exists in a world where fantasy and reality merge in his mind. Some of the other patients offer him friendship and are part of the lighter aspects in the story. Although not a comedic novel there are many touches of dark humour.
Neil Grant has written a YA novel that tackles the very divisive political issue of asylum seekers whilst still delivering a story with enough action and suspense for our boys to enjoy the tale without losing any poignancy.
This is the one book in this part of the list I have not read and we do not have in our library.
How about you? Have you read any of these books?
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