No 16 , September 2000
Greetings. I started writing this when I had just arrived back in Perth
after a wonderfully relaxing week in the Flinders Ranges in the arid north
of South Australia. We spent much of the time just walking along dry creek
beds and through red gorges - so peaceful except for the screeching from
occasional flocks of white cockatoos flying over. Its a shame that
the feeling of relaxation goes so quickly after just a few days back in
the office. And now I am battling to tear myself away from the telecast
of the Olympic Games so that I can complete this newsletter before September
I am hoping to meet up with many of you again at the next Conferences.
In November Ron and I will be at CERCOS from 9th - 11th in Hong Kong and
then again in Nice for ECIS from 16th - 19th. On the way back to Perth,
I land in Singapore about the same time as the IB Librarians Workshop
from 28 - 30th and so will be staying on for it. So do come up and say
hello if you are attending any of these Conferences. There will be lots
of new books (as well as old favourites) at the Austral Ed display. At
the ECIS Conference the Stand # is 108. It is such an enormous Exhibits
area that the Stand # is definitely needed.
In Australia, after many years of debate, the Government has finally brought
in a GST (Goods and Services Tax) of 10% on books as well as most goods
and services. Exports are exempt and therefore overseas International
Schools and teachers do not need to pay the GST. However since all Australian
book catalogues etc will show prices which include GST, I have decided
that it is easiest if Austral Ed book lists and newsletters from now on
also show the price including GST. However in this newsletter I have included
both prices, the one that includes GST and the price that Intl Schools
will pay. (This price is the GST price divided by 11 - since a GST of
10% is added to the original price.) You can see why everyone involved
in small business is not at all keen on this GST!!
You have probably already noticed that many of the prices are very strange
at the moment eg $13.41 or $16. 72. This is because publishers have been
fearful of being heavily fined for raising the price more than exactly
10% and so these crazy prices will remain for some months.
I am gradually trying to update the prices on the lists of recommended
books but time, as always, is the problem. At the moment some lists include
GST and some have only pre GST prices. Contact me if you would like paper
copies of the lists. Otherwise they are on the website: www.australed.iinet.net.au
And while we are talking about things financial, if your school has been
thinking of purchasing some books from Australia, now is the time to do
it. The Australian dollar has dropped almost 20% against the US dollar
over the past 18 months. It is now less than 55 cents to the US dollar!
Not good for Australians travelling overseas but excellent for anyone
wanting to buy Australian books!
Darelyn Dawson will be one of the speakers at the IB Librarians
Workshop in Singapore. I heard her speak very briefly once before about
the program for Literature Circles that she and a colleague have established
in the Sydney school where they are librarians. I am looking forward to
hearing her speak in more detail as I am impressed with the book that
they have written called Literature Circles: Reading in Action.
Its a dynamic approach to establishing discussion goups with students
and how to make them an extremely valuable part of the school curriculum,
as well as helping students develop a love of reading. A very helpful
resource for primary and secondary teachers and teacher librarians.
Literature Circles: Reading in Action by Darelyn Dawson and Lee
Fitzgerald pb $30.00 ($27.27 without GST)
Too Many Books to Read!
Like most of you, I always have a huge pile of books waiting to be read
and so I admit when I first came across Just Tricking by Andy Griffiths
I made an attempt to read it but was put off partly by the crazy, messy
and very detailed drawings of Terry Denton on the cover and inside (they
take so much concentration to read) and after reading a few paragraphs
I tossed it aside. It took a Swedish librarian who is very enthusiastic
about Australian books and who works in the British School in Tokyo to
show me the error of my ways and to get me to give another try to these
books, which are immensely popular with kids especially boys.
And its true the stories are very funny with an irreverent, infectious
humour which is maintained throughout the story. And of course when I
took the time to decipher some of Terry Dentons tiny illustrations
and to read the speech bubbles and flicked the pages to see the moving
picture effect, I could see why kids love these books so much. Like the
Wheres Wally books kids spend hours pouring over small detailed
illustrations whereas my powers of concentration are much more limited.
The stories are very different from the other famous Australian short
story writer Paul Jennings. Pauls stories usually have a surprise
twist in the ending whereas Andy Griffiths stories maintain their
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton have now combined on four titles: Just
Tricking, Just Annoying, Just Stupid and Just Crazy.
Each of these comes with excellent Teachers Notes which are free.
Andy was a teacher and he and Terry Denton have devised some activities
based on the stories that students will really enjoy. There is a selection
of very funny True/False (or not enough evidence) questions to be answered
and also quirky drawing and writing activities.
Just Tricking, Just Annoying, Just Stupid and Just
Crazy pb $12.01 ($10.92 without GST) each (8 - 13 years).
And another confession. Margaret Clark is another Australian author who
has been very popular for years. Years ago when I read a number of her
books, her sense of humour just didnt appeal. And so I havent
read any of her books for years until Richie again said that a new series
called Aussie Angels was very popular with the kids and that he really
liked them as well. So I read, Okay Koala , the first in the series
and again to my surprise I enjoyed it and was impressed by the amount
of information included as part of the story on animals and Australian
wildlife in particular. Twins, Meg and Mike, are the Aussie Angels and
got the name through rescuing a number of animals. Their home is Animal
Haven set in the Otway Ranges in the south west of Victoria, where their
parents care for sick or injured or orphan native animals. This provides
the setting for stories of adventure (in Okay Koala there is a
dangerous bush fire) and humour. Margaret Clark lives in the area and
obviously knows it very well. It provides a wonderful setting as it is
next to the ocean but also near the mountains with dense bush land and
so there is a wide range of sea and land animals to involve in the series.
This is a very easy to read series with likeable characters and loads
of information about the Australian bush and animals.
Titles so far are : Okay Koala, Whale of a Time, Seal with a Kiss,
Hello Possum, Wannabee Wallaby, Cocky Too, Sheila the Heeler, A Horse
of Course and Operation Wombat.
pb $11.95 ($10.88) each (7 - 11 years)
Librarians may be interested to hear that Richie wanted to have a theme
of Australian books in the Library and so started off with an Australia
Week which was so popular that it was later extended to Australia Month.
As an alternative to using an arranged Book Club he also ran an Australian
Book Fair. He brought out most of the Australian books in the collection
(checked with me that they were still in print) and then invited parents
and kids to come in and order the books they wanted. It was a great succes.
Contact me if you would like more details.
Series, Series, Series
A few weeks ago I was at a family hotel where there was very
loud music, lots of people dancing and large family groups talking and
eating and one young boy at a table totally oblivious to what was going
on around him. He was completely absorbed in a very thick book. Of course
the book was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . I havent
yet managed to read it, the latest in the Harry Potter series but
its out and I am sure I will enjoy all 636 pages of it as soon as
I get time to read it. Their popularity continues unabated and I am delighted
at the thought that so many young readers will have the enjoyment of being
immersed in a story that lasts and lasts and that they will feel very
satisfied at having finished such an enormous tome. Hopefully in the future
they will not be put off reading a book just because it is long. Harry
Potter & the Goblet of Fire hardback $35.00 ($31.82) (9 years
The rest of the series is
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone hardback $25.00 ($22.73)
pb $14.20 ($12.91)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets hardback $25.00 ($22.73)
pb $14.20 ($12.91)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hardback $25.00 ($22.73)
pb $16.40 ($14.91)
I know that librarians are searching around for alternatives to Harry
Potter while they are so popular. Emily Roddas new fantasy series,
Deltora Quest, is a possiblity. The eighth and final book in the
series is due in November. It does not have the same level of humour,
excitement or originality as the Harry Potter books but it is enjoyable.
It involves a traditional fantasy quest to find the seven gems which make
up the Belt of Deltora. Each book involves a perilous quest for Lief,
Barda and Jasmine through seven very different lands to obtain the gems
to free Deltora from the tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord.
Deltora Quest series
1 The Forests of Silence 2 The Lake of Tears 3 City of
4 The Shifting Sands 5 Dread Mountain 6 The Maze of the
7 The Valley of the Lost 8 Return to Del pb $14.00 ($12.73)
each (8 - 12 years)
Emily Rodda also wrote the Rowan of Rin series which has been very
popular with an even younger age range. Rowan of Rin, Rowan
and the Travellers, Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal , Rowan
and the Zebak pb $11.90 ($10.82) each (7 - 11 years)
I am very pleased that another more sophisticated series has been brought
back into print, doubtless as a response to Harry Potters popularity.
Diana Wynne-Jones is an extraordinarily inventive and witty writer from
the UK and I remember her books with pleasure. The Chrestomanci
series is about a series of worlds protected by an enchanter with nine
lives. I am very keen to reread them and so have now added them to my
evergrowing pile. (If you would like to read a review of them, look at
the latest September issue of Magpies Magazine where Ray Turton write
of her delight at rereading them after a gap of twenty years.)
1 Charmed Life, 2 Magicians of Caprona , 3 Witch Week,
4 Lives of Christopher Chant $11.99 ($10.90) each (8 - 14 years)
The Aussie Bites series has been so popular with kids that a
number of librarians have just ordered one or two copies of the whole
series which now numbers over 30 titles and more keep coming. The books
are very recognisable because of the bite taken out of the corner and
the range of stories is excellent. (The latest Serena and the Sea Serpent
by Garth Nix is especially engaging.) For all the titles contact me or
see the Puffin website www.puffin.com.au The publishers have decided to
bring out a companion series for readers just beginning on their first
chapter books. They are called Aussie Nibbles, with of course a
smaller bite out of the corner of the book. Younger kids will be delighted.
(6 - 9 years)
Titles so far are
Blue Hair Day by James Moloney First Friend by Christobel
Freeing Billy by Meredith Costain Poor Fish by Jane Godwin
The Two Gorillas by Ursula Dubosarsky pb $9.95 ($9.05) each
Books for Young Adults
With such an emphasis in Australia on sports (very evident
from the Olympics) its surprising that there has been so little
fiction published for children or young adults on sport. A few series
have become available recently but there has been very little that I would
really recommend so to read a book about an Olympic swimmer by a new young
author who was an Olympic swimmer herself is a treat. Lisa Forrest obviously
writes from personal experience and it is such insights that provide the
most interest as she describes how Nina Halletts world changes and
how she copes but later collapses under the pressure of expectation and
media attention when she achieves her goal of swimming record breaking
times. Very believable and well written but perhaps the most interesting
was the description of the feeling of immense pleasure when everything
comes together and there is a silken feeling as she is able to glide through
the water, effortlessly but very fast.
Making the Most of It by Lisa Forrest pb $16.39 ($14.90) (12 years
Its interesting that James Moloney tried to write a book about rugby
but found that the characters ended up taking over and rugby was relegated
more to the background. Xavier is ayoung man for whom being picked for
the first Rugby team at achool means everything until he meets and fall
in love with Nuala Magee, an unpredictable, witty and engaging girl. The
development of their very edgy relationship is absorbing. And Xavier begins
to question the things that he had always taken for granted - even his
commitment to the rugby team.
Touch Me by James Moloney pb $16.37 ($14.88) 14 years up
We have all been distressed by the terrible events in East Timor and I
was pleased and surprised to read a book for children which gives an insight
into the East Timorese people and their immense courage and fortitude.
Jose Rodrigues was just 14 years old when the Indonesians took over East
Timor. The book is set at that time and gives us a portrait of Jose and
his familys life in their village and of his love for a pet fighting
cock which symbolises the fierce courage and determination of the East
Timorese people. The book also gives some background to the events of
1975. It is an extremely well written and moving story.
No-name Bird by Josef Vondra pb $16.35 ($11.05) 11 years up
Aidan Chambers is a well known and respected UK author and literary critic.
His latest novel has just been awarded the Carnegie Medal and it is excellent.
Set in Amsterdam, it tells of two interwoven stories. Jacob Todd is visiting
Amsterdam for the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem in which his grandfather
took part. However his view of his grandfather, and his perspective on
life is changed as Geertrui Wesseling, now an old woman in hospital, tells
her story about his grandfather who was sheltered by her family and with
whom she fell in love. The interlinked stories are intriguing, the characters
absorbing, the history fascinating and the descriptions of Amsterdam entrancing
and the descriptions of Jacobs delight and frustration as he struggles
with a new language are delightfully humourous. This is a complex and
sophisticated novel but it is overall a joyful book. There are moments
of pain, of intense adolescent embarrassments but especially a feeling
of liberation as Jacob sees new possibilities for himself. It is as though
being in a new country liberates him of all his old expectations. This
is a book to savour. For me by far Aidan Chambers best book. (14
Postcards From No Mans Land by Aidan Chambers pb $25.20 ($22.91)
One of my favourite Christmas picture books will be reprinted just in
time for Christmas. Of course I cant understand why it was ever
allowed to go out of print but for the moment I shall just be glad that
it is back! The Nativity by Julie Vivas features the beauty and
solemnity of the text of the original King James version of the Bible
and this is wonderfully contrasted with the vitality, humour and originality
of Julie Vivas illustrations. Mary is beautifully and heavily pregnant
as she struggles to get on to the donkey that carries her to Bethlehem,
Joseph is so loving and full of wonder as he looks at the new baby and
the Angel Gabriel is delightful as he wanders in his hobnailed boots among
the sheep looking out for sheep poo!
The Nativity by Julie Vivas pb $12.95 ($11.78)
We met first Ernie in Clive Eats Alligators pb $14.19 ($11.61)
a simple but charming picture book showing the individuality and likes
and dislikes of seven children. Here Ernie and his parents go to live
in Arnhem Land in the north of Australia with the Gunbalanya Aboriginal
community and so we get to know more about Ernie and also about 6 other
Aboriginal children who become his friends. Ernie writes to his friends
back home over the year and each letter shows us what he and his friends
do as the weather changes with each new tropical season. Its a wonderfully
simple but vibrant introduction to Aboriginal life and culture in this
community. The kids do ordinary things like playing football but they
also go hunting and collect bark for bark paintings.
Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo by Alison Lester hardback $27.35
This is another excellent picture book set in India that I have added
to my list of Childrens Books about Asia. Set in the jungles of
India where tigers live and terrify the villagers, this is the story of
the courage and cleverness of a little girl who outsmarted a tiger by
wearing a mask on the back of her head. No matter which way she turned
the tiger thought she was watching him and so didnt attack. Its
beautifully illustrated and the text would read aloud very well.
Facing the Tiger by Kerri & Larry Pitts illustrations by Jenny
Sands hardback $22.95 ($20.87)
Non-Fiction from Round the World
Wake Up, World! A Day in the Life of Children Around the
World by Beatrice Hollyer
hb $32.95 ($29.95)
A marvellous book which explores the lives of eight children each from
different countries. It shows the similarities and also the contrasts
as the children wake up, get dressed, go to school, play, have dinner
and get ready for bed. We look inside their homes and see their families
and the things they like. The children come from Australia, Brazil, Ghana,
India, Russia, Vietnam, UK and USA; countries with very different climates
and geography. There are also very different levels of comfort in their
way of living but the excellent phtotographs show us the vitality of the
chidren, the strength of their family life and the ingenuity of their
games. A very appealing book which celebrates the diversity of the children
of the world. This book has been published in association with Oxfam and
all royalties go to Oxfam which provided the photgraphers who took the
Vendela in Venice by Christina Bjork and Inga-Karin Eriksson translated
from the Swedish by Patricia Crampton hardback $26.40 ($24.00)
A beautifully detailed and illustrated book on the delights of Venice
by the same author who gave us the wonderful Linnea in Monets
Garden. hb $24.20 ($22.00) That book gave us a wonderful introduction
to Monets art and life through the enthusiasm of a little girl visiting
his garden for the first time, and similarly this book gives us an introduction
to the history, art and culture of Venice through the eyes of Vendela
when she visits the city with her Dad. Beautifully illustrated by Inga-Karin
Eriksson, the book is packed with information about the delights of Venice
but it is all so easy to absorb since it is in story form. I would recommend
the book not just to children but to anyone planning to visit Venice in
the future as reading travel books on the city can become all too overwhelming
because of the incredible amount to see. For nine years up.
Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge by John Nicholson hardback $24.95
With the prominence of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the television coverage
of the Olympics this book has come out at a most opportune time. John
Nicholson tells and illustrates in fascinating detail the story of the
building of the giant coat-hanger; of the engineering problems
it faced and of the work it provided for thousands of men during the Depression
years. The detailed illustrations of the steel work (53,000 tonnes of
steel and 6 million rivets were used) are very interesting even for me,
not known for my interest in things mechanical. Nicholson as always brings
a personal touch to the story in his descriptions of the workers during
the Depression and of the dangers as they worked at great heights above
the harbour and of course the lone horseman who galloped up and cut the
ribbon with his sword before the Premier of NSW was able to formally open
the bridge in 1932. He was a disgruntled Royalist who thought that a member
of the British Royal family should have opened the Bridge!
The Australian Childrens Book Of The Year Award
Winners and Short List 2000
Many of you have already received the Short List for this very important
Australian Award but the winners were only announced in August.
Book of the Year: Older Readers (NB Some of these books are for older
48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls pb $16.37 ($14.90)
A very funny book that I reviewed in the September 99 newsletter.
Dan is a charming young man if slightly scatty in his last year at school.
His attempts to cope with calculus, the absence of his mother in Geneva
for a year and his total lack of knowledge about washing, shopping or
any home survival skills as he shares a house with his bass playing 22
year old aunt Jacq and her captivating university friend Naomi make hilarious
reading. Make sure you read it yourself, dont leave all the pleasure
to the students. (14 up)
Killing Aurora by Helen Barnes pb $16.37 ($14.90)
An original and challenging book. It is a suburban satire which looks
at the pressures of an advertising world obsessed with the slender female
body, at school life and a number of disfunctional families with a sharp
and often black humour. It is also a chilling look at a girl suffering
from anorexa nervosa . For senior students.
Borrowed Light by Anna Fienberg pb $16.42 ($14.93)
Callisto is aptly named after a moon. She is fascinated with astronomy,
she feels distant from people but is always wanting to please. A story
about a relationships and about having the strength to be yourself. (14
Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf by Sonya Hartnett pb $18.56 ($16.88)
Again a theme of an isolated bush town and coming to terms with oneself.
The discovery of a living thylacine (or Tasmanian Tigher) believed to
be extinct, gives a sense of hope.
Tyro by David McRobbie pb $14.18 ($12.90)
Set in Scotland in 1953 this is a strong story about the effect of violent
bullying on a shipyard apprentice. (14 years up)
Stony Heart Country by David Metzenthen pb $14.18 ($12.90)
When Aarons father is sent to a small country to rationalise the
workforce of its one major industry, Aaron knows he is in for a rough
time. A moving well crafted story. (13 up)
Book of the Year: Younger Readers
Hitlers Daughter by Jackie French pb $12.95 ($11.78)
An absorbing thought-provoking book about the power of story and the nature
of evil. Can the children be blamed if a parent does something terrible?
Hannah & the Tomorrow Room by Libby Gleeson & Ann James
pb $10.89 ($9.90)
In this, the third story about Hannah she is thrilled at the thought of
having her own room but everything is spoilt when the room is suddenly
needed for her sick grandpa.
Captain Mack by James Roy pb $13.08 ($11.89)
A novel about the unlikely friendship between Danny who is being bullied
at school and an old man who was a POW in Burma during the war and now
feels imprisoned in a nursing home. A sympathetic look at what really
Graffiti on the Fence by Elaine Forrestal pb $14.18 ($12.90)
The exploits of the local skateboarding trio infuriate Lallie, an elderly
neighbour but when Hellz gets to know her he is very surprised.
Hazel Green by Odo Hirsch pb $14.22 ($12.93)
Hazel Green is a spirited heroine and the Yak is an introverted boy who
is a mathematical whiz. They both live in the Moodey Buiding and when
Hazel is wrongly accused of stealing their friendship makes them a formidable
Rowan and the Zebak by Emily Rodda pb $11.90 ($10.82)
Fourth in the very appealing series of fantasy stories about Rowan. Here
Rowan must travel to the distant lands of Rins ancient enemies to
rescue his little sister, captured by a monstrous flying creature.
Picture Book of the Year (Some of these picture books may be for
Jenny Angel by Margaret Wild illus by Anne Spudvilas hardback $25.13
A very moving story about a girl who believes that she is her brothers
guardian angel and as long as she and he believe, then he will not die.
This is a story about the Jennys journey from denial to acceptance.
Lukes Way of Looking by Nadia Wheatley illus by Matt Ottley
hardback $27.35 ($24.87)
Luke has a very different view of the world and this is seen in his paintings
which infuriate his teacher. A chance visit to the Modern Art Gallery
thrills Luke and gives him confidence when he discovers that others also
see the world in a similarly highly imaginative way.
Memorial by Gary Crew illus by Shaun Tan hardback $24.95 ($22.69)
The tree was planted as a memorial to the men who died in the war but
now there are other priorities.The wonderfully detailed illustrations
add a complexity to what is for me an often disappointing text. For Upper
Buffy an Adventure Story by Bob Graham hardback $27.44 ($24.95)
Another charming story from Bob Graham about a dog who can perform wonderful
tricks but is searching for a home where he can be truly himself.
The Great Bear by Libby Gleeson illus by Armin Greder hardback
The unusual dark and haunting illustrations of this story give a nightmarish
background to the sparse text which tells of a captive dancing bear which
escapes death to become the Great Bear constellation. For Upper Primary
Hello Baby by Jenni Overend illus by Julie Vivas hardback $25.20
Its not often that I feel I have to warn teachers about a picture
book for young children, especially one that is beautifully illustrated
and gives such a warm and comforting depiction of the birth of a baby
brother in a very close delightful family. The problem is that some people
and cultures will be offended by the nakedness of the mother as she gives
birth. A good picture book perhaps to stimulate discussion for older students.
Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Fishing for Islands: Traditional Boats & Seafarers of the Pacific
by John Nicholson
hardback $25.90 ($23.55)
John Nicholson designs, illustrates and writes superb nonfiction books.
In Fishing for Islands he links his obvious love of boats and his
interest in their design, decoration and how they are built with the history
of the settlement of the Pacific region. (9 - 16 years)
Crash! The Search for the Stinson by J Beck, D Blacklock &
K Allan pb $14.95
An absorbing account of a very famous air crash in 1937. A young bushman
found the wreckage after making his way through almost impenetrable mountain
bushland. How the two survivors were brought down from the mountains makes
fascinating reading. The story is presented in detail, chronologically,
with many quotations from the rescuer and the survivors, as well as colour
and black & white photos, illustrations and newspaper extracts. An
extraordinarily well told story of courage and physical endurance. (9
Inside the Australian ballet by Diana Lawrenson hardback $27.35
Not just about the dancers but also about the large team of skilled people
who are essential to the functioning of the Australian ballet (and of
any large ballet company). Interesting information including details of
the tight minute by minute procedure that has to be followed before curtain
call. Excellent layout and photographs. ( 9 years up)
How to Guzzle your Garden by Jackie French pb $14.24 ($12.95)
Jackie French is amazing. As well as being a talented childrens
author she also writes innumerable gardening books mainly for adults.
This one is for children. Here she explains that one of the major delights
of gardening is eating all the delicious things you have grown. She describes
with great enthusiasm how to grow plants even if you dont have a
Sand Swimmers by Narelle Oliver hardback $24.95 ($22.69)
A unique look at Australias so-called Dead Heart. Narelle
Oliver has managed to combine on the same double page spread, a narrative
frieze depicting Sturts journey (and short quotes from his diary)
while the main illustration shows us the landscape that Sturt would have
seen. However Oliver also includes the creatures that Sturt did not see
- a wonderful variety of creatures that lived both on and below the surface
of this harsh desert landscape and she shows us some of their unique ways
of survival. An innovative and beautiful book which can be appreciated
by upper elementary and middle school students.
Tapestry by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli pb $18.60 ($16.91)
Maria traces back the tapestry of her story though five generations of
Italian Australians. A complex story very much for senior students.
(By the way I thought that some of you may be interested in a new Graduate
Diploma Studies of Asia for teachers which is being offered by distance.
A leaflet is enclosed.)
If you would like to order any of the books reviewed in this newsletter
or in the accompanying lists, send orders to Austral Ed by fax, post or
All prices are in Australian dollars.