In the Older Reader’s category, Fiona Wood has received the top honour this year- just 2 years after winning the same honour! Alongside her, receiving Honour Book are Vikki Wakefield (who had the same award in 2013 for Friday Brown) for ‘Inbetween Days’, and Meg McKinlay, whose book A Single Stone has also received many other awards before this one.
You can read Fiona Wood’s acceptance speech here: Read Winner’s speech from Fiona Wood. Details of other winners and awards can be found at the CBCA site, including popular authors, Morris Gleitzman, Sally Morgan and Emily Rodda.
Many of these are available in the school library – do you agree with the awards given? Maybe they’ll inspire you to read more from each of these great authors, and others on the Notables list for 2016. If you have read any of these, make a comment here.
Sometimes, authors have an idea for a book which takes a while to complete.
Garth Nix’ book Newt’s Emerald is an example of this – beginning its life (well, the first lines) 23 years before it was published! In a note at the back of the book, Nix talks about the first version of this book “which remains in a bottom drawer and there it will stay.” Thus, Newt’s Emerald represents the re-working of a past tale from Nix’ creative mind.
Within the story there is a mix of fantasy, love story and historical fiction, as Lady Truthful seeks to recapture an enchanted emerald stolen from her ailing father. To do so, she uses her own enchantments (along with those of her aunt), to follow a dangerous journey while disguised as a man.
Woven into the mix is her proposed introduction to society, as a young lady from a well-to-do family, turning eighteen. Thus, Truthful switches between the roles of a well-bred young lady and a gentleman, known as Chevalier de Vienne (her own French cousin). Will she be detected?
Truthful herself, is a mix of personalities – able to act as a lady, but at the same time able to parry with the male cousins with whom she has grown up. These influences come into play as the story moves into dangerous situations, as Truthful calls upon both her instinct and undeveloped magical powers to recover the Newington Emerald.
Add into this, an evil sorceress, people who are not always who they say there are, and you have situations which can twist and turn as the pages turn.
Newt’s Emerald – ‘a regency romance with a magical twist’. Shortlisted in the CBCA Older Reader’s category this year.
Will it pull off a magical award? Will it enchant Garth Nix fans? Will the mix of fantasy, romance and historical fiction bewitch young readers?
Perhaps Garth Nix describing his book might invite you into the tale?
Cloudwish comes from the creative mind of Fiona Wood, who won the CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers category) award in 2014 with Wildlife. Her earlier book, Six Impossible Things, was previously reviewed here. So it is no surprise to see her latest novel among the CBCA shortlist for 2016.
While Cloudwish is a school story, with much of the usual angst and issues facing young teens, it has so much more to offer.
What is life like for a young girl, whose parents are Vietnamese refugees with high aspirations for their clever daughter? A scholarship to a prestigious private school may seem the answer, but Van U’oc Phan faces struggles daily as the realities of her school life and home life contrast immensely and harshly.
With shades of Laurinda (by Alice Pung), Cloudwish is a wonderful portrayal of how different cultures may either mix or clash in our multicultural Australian society, and the extra struggles faced by children of immigrant families. Like Lucy Lam in Laurinda, Van moves between 2 worlds, and faces the challenge of fitting into both worlds. Poverty and privilege, blending in or maintaining a low profile, meeting parental expectations or following her own dreams – these are some of the issues for Van to deal with. Mix in a little magic and the fun begins.
References to Jane Eyre (Van’s role model?), Sylvia Plath and IB studies will strike a chord of recognition for many student readers. They also make it clear that Wood has worked in a school and indeed, she has tutored students from non-English speaking backgrounds (like Van) for many years. (See the SMH article, Working with a young Vietnamese-Australian girl inspired the author’s latest novel for more interesting details aout Fiona).
Cloudwish is a great read, and possibly, a relaxing contrast to the authors Van (and our own students) studies and admires!
Sue Lawson’s book, Freedom Ride, has previously been reviewed on this blog, so it is just to offer congratulations for its inclusion on the CBCA shortlist that this post is about. And to offer praise for a well-told historical fiction tale which is sure to make people stop and think.
In Lawson’s book, we are introduced to Robbie – a teenager in a fictional (but representative) country town in NSW. Through Robbie’s eyes, we quietly see the subtle segregation that was ‘accepted’ in Australian history. Naturally, Robbie’s youthful views are his family’s views, but these are slowly adjusted as he critically observes the practices and beliefs of different adults around him. https://crewsreviews.edublogs.org/2015/08/11/history-meets-fiction/
Since this time, Freedom Ride has already received several accolades, being included in the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult Literature, and of course, the current CBCA shortlist.
Freedom Ride was actually released to coincide with NAIDOC week, an annual celebration of Indigenous achievement. It is another worthy choice which young adults will enjoy, even as it teaches us something (cringeworthy) about our past.
How powerful is it for us to learn history from fiction? Do you enjoy reading historical fiction?