Return Ticket, by Warren Flynn

Sam, Shannon and Zak aren’t overly fond of history, but when a train trip as part of history camp goes strangely wrong, they find themselves having to live it.

Finding themselves in 1899, the three have to learn to adapt to life without cars, television, or even Coke. They need to find food, shelter and jobs to stay alive until they can figure out a way to get back to their own time.

Return Ticket is a time travel adventure which will appeal to young adult readers. Set in pre-Federation Australia, it also offers insight into the life, social structure and even politics of the time. The teen characters find themselves involved in the federation debate, caught up in racism and violence, and questioning their own places in both the society they are in and the one to which they belong.

Intriguing reading.

Return Ticket, by Warren Flynn
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2003

Dying for Cake, by Louise Limerick

Five women meet regularly for coffee while their children are at school. But something bad happens – Evelyn’s baby goes missing and Evelyn herself is in pyschiatric hospital unable, or unwilling, to say where baby Amy is.

For the remaining members of the group, Amy’s disappearance triggers change. Unable to understand Evelyn’s illness and unwillingness to help find Amy, each woman begins to reevaluate her own life.

Plump Joanna decides she needs to lose weight, but all she wants to do is eat cake. Wendy has a secret she desperately wants to escape. Claire is trying to recapture her artistic talent. Susan wants to reclaim lost time. Overshadowing all, is Evelyn. She doesn’t say what she wants. But doesn’t she want her baby back?

Dying for Cake is a journey for understanding and for personal identity. The many faces of motherhood, of friendship and of truth are explored warmly, drawing the reader in to the complex lives of the characters.

Dying for Cake is the first novel for Louise Limerick, a Brisbane-born mother and author.

A heart-wrenching read.

Dying for Cake, by Louise Limerick
Pan Macmillan, 2003

Pea Brain, by Janette Brazel

Bruce Brain wants to be normal. He wants a normal life with normal parents who do normal things. But with a real name like Bojangles and a habit of putting things up your nose, is there any chance for Bruce to be normal?

Bruce’s parents work hard in their shop, Mystic Moon, where fortune telling and crystals are just some of the new age offerings. But Bruce discovers that someone is trying to destroy the Mystic Moon. He doesn’t know why, but thinks he does know who – his teacher, Mrs Greenbaum. What’s worse, he thinks she’s trying to kill him.

Pea Brain is a fun, bizarre book from author Janette Brazel. Full of silliness and mystery, the book nonetheless manages to deal with themes of family and friendship.

Good fun.

Pea Brain, by Janette Brazel
Banana Books, 2002

Gil's Quest, by Damian Morgan

The epic tale of Gilgamesh, dating from around 2000BC, is the earliest known secular epic. Dealing with themes of man and nature, life and death and friendship and combat, it has intrigued listeners and readers since it was first told.

In Gil’s Quest the story of Gilgamesh is retold in a gripping format suitable for younger readers. Told in the first person voice of Gil himself, the story follows his quest for everlasting life, which pits him against Enki the Shag and takes him to the end of the world to seek the survivor of the Great Flood.

Gil’s Quest will appeal to young readers (aged 10 to 14) with an interest in fantasy, history or just gripping narrative. With an excellent blend of mythical writing style and accessibility to contemporray readers, this is a powerful read.

Gil’s Quest, by Damian Morgan
Koala Books, 2003