Posts Tagged ‘Melina Marchetta The Piper’s Son’

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I take my hat off to the real judges of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

Not just because they short-listed my Henry Hoey Hobson For Book of the Year for Younger Readers (though, let’s be honest, I LOVE them for that), but because they do such a difficult job, for little pay or thanks.

As a Qld Clayton’s judge, I managed to read less than half of the 95 books entered in the Older Readers category of this year’s Children’s Book Council Awards.

(Though in my own defence, I was given less than a month to do the job – thank the high heavens I’d already read ten before they asked me!)

The real judges read more than 400 books across four categories and then had to nut out Notables and Shortlists in each.

I enjoyed picking my Clayton’s Notable Books for Older Readers (the twenty-plus books that I thought were just terrific last year), but really struggled to decide the final six.

In the end it was a teenager’s plea that swayed me: “Pick some books that we might love, instead of the ones that oldies like you love.”

He had a point; I’m not 15 anymore. So in trying to be true to both myself and the intended audience, I went with the following six books because I loved them AND I couldn’t wait to press them into the hands of teenage readers.

Cath Crowley – Graffiti Moon

A lyrical, beautifully-crafted novel told seamlessly through three voices: Ed, a functionally illiterate high-school drop-out who moonlights as the mysterious graffiti artist Shadow; Lucy Dervish, the smitten teenager who is determined to track Shadow down; and Poet, the edgy wordsmith who is Shadow’s partner-in-crime.

The action unfolds over a single night at the end of Year Twelve, bringing to life the street art of Melbourne and illuminating the lives of its teenage protagonists.  An invigorating read that proves art and poetry are definitely not too cool for school.

Anthony Eaton – Daywards.

This final instalment in Eaton’s Darklands Trilogy completes a landmark undertaking in Australian speculative fiction writing.

The landscape is evocatively Australian, a thousand years into a dystopian future, where the only hope for a dying world lies in the bloodlines of the few surviving descendants of its oldest inhabitants.

Dara, her brother Jaran, and cousin Eyna are ‘viable” members of their hunter-gatherer clan. With clan elder Ma Saria,  the children flee the invading Nightpeople, by walking Daywards, into the deadly sunlight.

In their fight for survival, the children’s spiritual connection to the land is their only defence and greatest weapon against the technologically-driven survivors of the doomed Sky Cities.

This is political writing in the best tradition of science fiction, pitting a spiritual affinity with the land against the transgressions of technology and the contamination of nature.

While Daywards can be read as a stand-alone novel, this trilogy has been ten years in the making and cries out to be introduced to a new generation of readers.

AJ Betts – Wavelength

Oliver’s world has shrunk to the point where he can’t see past the 80 percent he needs to get into Uni with his mates.

But the study break he takes away from the noise and distraction of his Mum’s crunchy muffin business turns sour 300 kilometres from home.

He lands at the Sunny Haven Old People’s home without text books, clothes, phone, or money. The only person anywhere near his age hates him, nobody is on his wavelength, and his chances of achieving the all-important 80 percent seem to have disappeared with his luggage.

But somehow, between the incorrigible elderly and the girl he can’t impress, he learns what no text book can teach: life is long, choices are infinite, and there is always time to change your mind….

A must-read for teens stressing out over OPs and HSCs.

Cassandra Golds – The Three Loves of Persimmon

The shy and solitary Persimmon Polidori is an unlikely rebel.

Cast out by her family for favouring the frivolity of flowers over a more respectable career in vegetables, she labours alone, dreaming of love, in her heart-shaped florist shop on the top level of a vast underground railway station.

Five levels below, under the railway line to Platform One, a tiny mouse called Epiphany dreams of a world free of the rattle and screech of trains arriving and departing at six minute intervals.

They embark on their separate quests,  not knowing that they are destined to meet in a life-changing encounter that will win them their hearts’ desires.

An exquisitely layered tale that will appeal to girls who appreciate the magical in life and reading.

Fiona Wood – Six Impossible Things

Fourteen-year-old nerd-boy Dan Cereill (pronounced surreal) has lost everything.

His family is bankrupt, his dad gay, his Mum is sabotaging her own wedding cake business by talking potential customers out of getting married, the new house is freezing, the new school a living hell, and then there’s the impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door.

Dan sorts the whole unspeakable mess into something quantifiable; to make his life better he needs to achieve just six impossible things.

Fortunately, Dan Cereill is an anagram for Cinderella…And yes, there is a climactic dance scene, a midnight curfew, and unexpected helpers who come out of the woodwork to save Dan’s adorable dorky hide.

This fresh and funny reversal-of-fortune story about love and loneliness in Year 10 is perfect for early-to-mid secondary schoolers with undeniable appeal for older readers as well.

Melina Marchetta – The Piper’s Son

This stunning stand-alone book picks up the lives of a group of friends from Saving Francesca. It’s five years down the track, and this time it’s Tom Mackee who needs saving.

Tom has lost his way, seeking oblivion through drink and drugs. Trying to forget the London bombing that claimed his uncle’s life, trying to survive without the friends he has pushed away and a family torn apart by grief, alcoholism and loss.

His journey back from the edge is a heart-wrenching read, leavened with a warm humour and lovingly crafted by an author who understands the flaws and strengths of family and friendship, and how they weave a safety net capable of saving us all.  Powerful and unforgettable, for mature readers.

And that’s my six. No doubt they will differ from your six in various important ways – and so they should. As Kate Grenville once wrote “Each of us brings our own experiences, memories and prejudices to a work of art and looks at it through that unique lens. We all read the same words…but we all see different things.’

[This is an abridged version of the talk I gave to celebrate the Qld CBCA Shortlist announcement at St Aiden’s College on April 12. Please click here for a full list of CBCA Notable and Short Listed Books in the 2011 Book of the Year Awards.]

The CBCA 2011 Notable Books have been released (click here for the full list), so it’s now safe for me to publish my own Clayton’s Notables for Older Readers.

AJ Betts – Wavelength A must-read for stressed out Year Twelve students

Laura Buzo – Good Oil Ahhh, first love, don’t we all remember that?

Cath Crowley – Graffiti Moon A lyrical adventure proving that Art and Poetry are not too cool for school

Cassandra Golds – The Three Loves of Persimmon An exquisite fable for those who believe in love, magic and talking cabbages

Kirsty Eagar – Saltwater Vampires Aussie vampire fiction with bite – a clever re-imagining of the story behind the wreck of the Batavia

Anthony Eaton – Daywards The highly-anticipated final instalment in a landmark Australian speculative fiction trilogy

Jackie French – A Waltz for Matilda Absorbing drama set against the backdrop of the shearer’s strike, federation, suffragette movement and war

Steven Herrick – SLICE Sixteen year old Darcy suffers from premature enunciation; his mouth runs ahead of his brain. Just delicious.

Leanne Hall – This is Shyness A weird and wonderful night on the prowl with Wolfboy and Wildgirl

Sonya Hartnett – The Midnight Zoo Talking animals and gypsy children create a moving fable about war and freedom

Nette Hilton – The Innocents Deadly secrets in 1950s Australia. A rewarding read for mature readers.

Joanne Horniman – About a Girl A beautiful, wistful story about love between two teenage girls.

Belinda Jeffrey – Big River, Little Fish All the makings of an Australian classic, set against the 1956 flooding of the Murray.

Kathryn Lomer – What Now, Tilda B? A heartening story of finding a purpose washing up on the shores of your life.

Melina Marchetta – The Piper’s Son Heart-wrenchingly real; a lovingly crafted story of grief and redemption from an outstanding Australian writer

Foz Meadows – Solace and Grief Supernatural fantasy set in Sydney’s underworld introducing a vampire saviour and other members of the Rare.

Kirsty Murray – India Dark Based on a true story of exploitation and mutiny in a troupe of child stars touring India in 1909.

Tim Pegler -Five Parts Dead Dan has dodged death five times, but his mates haven’t been so lucky. Supernatural thriller with dual time-line making for addictive reading for teens.

Nicole Pluss – Scout Fascinating historical fiction based on a young English girl’s experiences setting sail to the colonies.

Michael Pryor – Laws of Magic 5: Moment of Truth The latest enthralling episode in a phenomenal steam-punk adventure series.

James Roy – Anonymity Jones When life falls apart for this sixteen year old, should she hang on, get out or get even? Tough choices for our resourceful, headstrong heroine.

Karen Tayleur – Six Guaranteed to keep you reading. Six teenagers. Five seatbelts. One after-party. And a twist in the tale.

Fiona Wood – Six Impossible Things Fresh and funny tale of love and loneliness in Year Ten.

Richard Yaxley – Drink the Air A beautiful and moving verse novel set in Hervey Bay about love and loss in high school.

[PS: I was given less than a month to come up with a CBCA Clayton’s shortlist for 2011 (which stays strictly Secret Squirrel until tonight’s Qld CBCA function at St Aidens), so I didn’t get to read all 95 novels entered in the Older Readers category. So please feel free to add any other Notables published in 2010 that you have discovered for yourself.] 🙂