Support and solidarity – Australian Biographies

Want to be inspired by others? have you ever wondered where ideas and action start? Then, maybe you need to look at some of the short but inspirational biographies found in these books:

 

These books provide words of advice, inspiration and explanation of how the Australians included have succeeded in making a difference in their world.

Examples include people in the world of:

  • sport – Mick Fanning, Kurt Fearnley, Adam Goode, Johnathan Thurston
  • art (music, dance, theatre, film) – Hugh Jackman, David McAllister
  • designers – Akira Isogawa, Harry Seidler,
  • politics – Jack Mundey, Bob Brown, Deng Thiak Adut
  • science – Howard Florey, Victor Chang, Dr Karl
  • conservation – Tim Flannery, Steve Irwin
  • social commentators – Waleed Aly, Chris Riley
  • and many more such as Eddie Woo!

Lesser known names are found in ‘Stand Up for the Future’, which celebrates inspirational young Australians. Those who are:

using their voices and talents to build a brighter tomorrow. (Those) who have taken their first steps towards being a game changer, and others who are firmly established as youth leaders, advocates and role models.

These are all great examples for youth to follow – people like Dylan Alcott, Ellyse Perry, Bindi Irwin and Jess Mauboy (names we know), as well as young achievers making a difference, perhaps yet to be household names?

Each of the bio’s features fabulous illustrative interpretations of the person highlighted. Good news too that the proceeds from the sales of these books will be donated to the Smith Family to help disadvantaged young Australians. Great acknowledgement of people making a difference – and a charity supporting others who could with a little bit of help.

Have a look at these titles – an easy read, accessible to younger readers, but equally inspiring to the YA audience.

Illustrations include these – do you recognise them? Hopefully, you will be inspired by their stories, no matter what your age! (Great for a quick read, too.)

Worse than school?

“There are lots of things worse than school.”

This comment, made by Charlotte, begins an argument between her and Luke’s best mate, Blake; on a day they decide to skip school. It later becomes something Luke ponders more deeply, as he gets to know Charlotte a little better.

In usual Steven Herrick style, ‘the Bogan Mondrian’ is told in a clear, waste-no-words fashion.

Luke and his friends are relatable characters – teens biding their time at school, but preferring to spend a more casual existence away from school. As regular visitors to the principal’s office for truanting and cheekiness, they are nonetheless likeable.

Luke is still coming to grips with life after his father’s premature death from cancer. Charlotte has recently enrolled in the local public high school he attends, though she is clearly from a wealthy background and could attend a costly private school. Even though they live in contrasting worlds of wealth, their friendship evolves as they work through their own personal issues, and occasionally gain support from each other.

That said, it is not always an easy relationship, with aggression and flareups often arising. Luke is uneasy about Charlotte’s homelife, and Charlotte is not very willing to be open and honest with everyone – under attack and often quite aggressive herself.

Other characters woven into the story provide interesting levels of support for Luke, in the absence of his father. Rodney, a petty local criminal, gives Luke a few pointers/things to think about at times, and later in the story, tools for action. Neighbour, Mr Rosetti, also provides advice and amusing banter each time they cross paths. Even Buster (the local mutt that Luke adopts for his walks) has a important place in grounding Luke’s emotions throughout the story.

For Blue Mountains readers, there will be places and names you may well enjoy recognising. On the other hand, you may have to allow poetic licence to Herrick as he tells his tale – with the cultural divide north and south of the highway a bit irksome, and the efforts of the Mr Pakula, the school principal, (seeking out truants himself) a bit questionable. But still the story must be told.

You will find that there are worse things than school; things sadly that some young people face daily. Herrick’s fictional youth tackle these the best way they can – though not always with glowing success. Lots of food for thought and highly recommended reading.

# Those who wonder about the title and cover design can find information on Mondrian here.

## More importantly, after you have finished ‘the Bogan Mondrian’, you can read here the reasons why Steven Herrick wrote this book.

### Shortlisted for CBCA Older Readers 2019.

Indie awards – 2019

Each year, Australian Independent Booksellers (aka your local bookshop) select what they consider to be the best new books. With quite a few categories, this also includes a section for Children and Young Adult. Here is the shortlist for these sections:

1. Children’s Category

2. Young Adult Category

You can help guide their choices by entering the competition to win all 24 nominated books at www.indies.com.au/shortlistcomp before March 17. Imagine that! Better check out your library (school or local) to get your hands on these titles.

Will it be another win for Jessica Townsend (author of Nevermoor)? Which of the YA books do you prefer? Winners are announced on March 18.

You can view other nominated titles, like ‘Boy Swallows the Universe’ (perhaps a popular choice?) at the Indies website. Have a look at the titles you missed from last year – or have they already caught your eye? (like 2018 NF winner ‘Saga Land’).

Rich and Rare…

rich-and-rare-frontAt over 480 pages, Rich and Rare, may at first seem like a challenge – but as a collection of Australian short stories, poetry and artwork, it is probably one of the most accessible books published in Australian YA fiction recently.

Editor, Paul Collins, has described it as as ‘a sumptuous literary feast’ in which ‘no one will go away hungry, as the collection is a literary banquet with something for everyone.’ And like a feast or banquet, it is a book which you can dip in and out of wherever you want, and, as much as you want or need.

With the contents divided into 13 different genre groupings, there will be parts that appeal to many different readers, at different times in their reading journey. With an amazing collection of contemporary Australian authors, it also provides a tasting of writing by our very best, well recognised Australian authors, poets and illustrators – which is truly inspirational.

As a collection of short stories, the anthology provides many great examples of how to tell tale succinctly; which will appeal to a generation which wants things ‘fast and furious’ and who read with ‘a need for speed’.

As a collection of short stories, set in Australian condoitions, it provides many ‘aha’ moments which readers will recognise – for example:

  • the perfect weather which ends school holidays (A Tidy Town)
  • the sadness of losing a sibling (My Brother’s Keeper)
  • the tussles of brotherhood (the Knitting Needle Ninja)
  • when talent and perserverance triumph (Bringing Luisa to Life)

It also provides some interesting tales, which challenge:

  • the rights of privilege and inheritance (the Two-faced Boy)
  • the spirit of adventure (Search)
  • what you should/could do to support your family in times of crisis (I Can’t Sleep)
rich-and-rare

# Young and free creators in ‘Rich and Rare’

While Brodie writes diary entries to frogs (the Frog Diaries), a precious pet is lost in Carpet Capers, and a vindictive teacher makes life uncomfortable for his young students (Dr Lovechild Regrets) – but will he reap what he sows? In the mix, with many many more tales, there is a great assortment to both please and intrigue readers – indeed, too many to write about individually.

In the busyness of daily life, this anthology could be  a welcome collection. With reknowned authors, interesting genres/themes and inspirational tales to share, it provides strong but concise stories without huge time demands on readers. Perhaps ones that will inspire discovery of lengthier stories written by many of these talented creators? Indeed, there are many more stories to discover within and beyond this amazing collection.

Which is your favourite:

  • tale with the book?
  • author within the book?

Brothers – ‘When We were Two’ – Robert Newton

Dan’s had enough and takes off from home – the trouble is Eddie, his younger brother has decided to tag along too. What is he to do? Turn around to take him back? Send him back to a cruel and aggressive father – the one he is fleeing from himself?

Eddie is determined and refuses to go back anyway. So to make tracks , Dan has to encourage the marching activity Eddie loves, put up with his incessant chatter and humour him with stories and imaginings. And thus they march away from their old life in Gunnedah.

Along the road (to the distant Port Macquarie), Dan has to have his wits about him, as they encounter different people with different levels of interest in the pair. Dan is wary of the many of the adults they meet on the road; including one who shows an uncomfortable interest in young Eddie. (Eddie is a little slow following a childhood accident; Dan is hugely protective of him.)

Robert Newton has blended some endearing characters in this tale, and he takes you alongside on their march, with both humorous events and soulful accounts of the boys’ past. Each step they take becomes a triumph, as they overcome lots of hurdles along the way – both physical and mental hurdles, and you really want to cheer them on towards their goal.

Eddie is as delightful, as Daniel is dedicated – a terrific team of two. A group of would-be soldiers also finds Eddie endearing, when the boys join their march over the mountains to join up for the Great War. Together they become an interesting band, as Eddie’s childlike antics brings out the true nature of the men and boys around him, as they all move towards their own goals.

There are many changing moods in ‘When we were two’ – among them are periods of determination, anxiety, confusion, sadness and happiness. Dan and Eddie are searching for their lost mother, on a journey away from the past, towards an unknown future. It is the strength of their brotherly love and dedication that spurs them on, and it is indeed…

‘A powerful, heart-rending story’…

N.B. Shortlisted for CBCA Older Readers award. Is this one the winner?