Hi everyone, this first booklist is going to feature a selection of my favourite Australian tween reads. I think I’ve featured a few of these before in older posts. Maybe the reason I keep coming back to them means they have more than what’s just on the cover! So, friends, are you ready to sample some interesting contemporary tween reads? Well, what are you waiting for, press the button below to start your journey…
For an entertaining read on what makes your average Aussie tick, there’s nothing much like a story by John Marsden. With this first title, The year my life broke, you’ll find it ticks most of your boxes. Funny family antics: tick, some mystery and adventure: tick, filled with school scenes and cricket lingo: double tick!! This abnormally normal story will have you gripping the pages and laughing at the same time!! I didn’t realize that Marsden could get anyone interested in cricket and school like this. I really enjoyed this well written story with its cast of believable characters!!
This next one, 47 degrees by Justin D’Ath, takes us on a journey through a fairly recent event that happened in Australia. When temperatures soar to 47 degrees one hot summer day, twelve-year-old Zeelie hopes the nearby bushfires everyone’s talking about aren’t heading towards her family’s new home. Nothing can prepare Zeelie for what’s to come. This fast-paced and poignant novel of survival by Justin D’Ath, draws on his own experience of escaping the 2009 Black Sunday Bushfires. The description of the nature of bushfires, survival techniques used by people living in rural Australian communities and their courage and kindness has really been well written by Justin D’Ath. My heart went out when I read and saw the notes at the back of how these fires in 2009 had affected the author’s own property.
The bone sparrow by Zana Fraillon was a poignant and heart-rending story for me. This acutely relevant tale gives us a fictionalized account of life inside a detention centre for refugees. Subhi is a refugee who was born in an Australian immigration detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland. Life behind the fences is all he has ever known. But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world. Then one night Jimmie arrives, a scruffy, impatient girl who appears from the other side of the wires, carrying a notebook written by the mother she lost. Subhi and Jimmie might both find a way to freedom, as their tales unfold. But not until each of them has been braver than ever before. Life inside the detention centre was bleak in my opinion, no place for children. To hear of people being numbered like animals, given rations of food and clothing, unsanitary living conditions and no access to an education for children just stabbed me in the chest. The few elements I did like reading were the stories the two friends shared as they read Jimmie’s mother’s book and the description of their blossoming friendship. There were some scenes towards the end that were a bit too gruesome for me but I liked how there was some kind of resolution. This is a read that all kids should try to understand about the refugees who have no choice but to leave their homelands in hopes of a better future. Young Subhi being a Rohingya Muslim taught me their culture and I thank Zana Fraillon for writing this tale. This is better for older kids.
This last title, Mister Cassowary by Samantha Wheeler is another unique story. When Flynn and his dad arrive at Grandad Barney’s banana farm, it’s clear that Flynn has a lot of investigating to do. Everything in the place is a mystery, especially his grandad who died almost a year ago, and the strange dinosaur-like birds called cassowaries that make his dad so scared. Why doesn’t Dad tell Flynn what happened? After Flynn meets local girl Abby and discovers two orphaned baby cassowaries, the mystery deepens. This was a delightful read that was told in sixteen chapters. Although some mystery surrounds grandad’s death and Dad’s behavior around cassowaries, Flynn’s determination and bravery allows him to find the truth. I found it really cool that this story had started as a science project for the author’s kids and the information she’s included at the back about cassowaries is quite fascinating!!
So there you have my list of reads. What about you? If you have read any other Australian fiction authors, I’d love to hear from you.
Stay safe and keep reading