The Stars at Oktober Bend, by Glenda Millard

9781743315897.jpgi am the girl many loves. the girl who writes our story in the book of flying. i am alice.
they sewed me up when I was twelve. mended my broken head with fishbone stitches. tucked my frayed edges in. tucked everything in. things meant to be and things not. do it quick. stem the flow. stop life leaking out of alice. that’s all they wanted. so gram said.

Alice Nightingale is fifteen and longs to be all that fifteen year old can be. But when she was twelve something terrible happened and now when she speaks people can’t understand her – won’t understand her. So she writes instead, poems which she scatters around town – and on the wind.

Manny James, who is alone as Alice, runs at night, trying to escape the memories of his past as he tries to make a new life in Australia. He finds a poem, treasures it, and wonders if it came from the girl he sees sitting on the roof of the house near the river.

The Stars at Oktober Bend is the beautiful, haunting story of two wounded teens who together strive to make sense of themselves and of the world around them. Alice must overcome the troubling events of her past, and the way her family has splintered, while Manny must adapt to life in a new country, the loss of his family and the terrible effects of war. Author Glenda Millard manages to give both characters authentic, wonderful voices.

Poetic, shocking and movingly perfect.

The Stars at Oktober Bend, by Glenda Millard
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781743315897

Flood, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

In January 2011 much of Queensland and parts of NSW were subjected to terrible flooding. the rest of Australia – and the world – watched in horror at the destruction and loss of life. In Floodthe team of Jackie French and Bruce Whatley capture those times in words and pictures accessible to children.

The rain stopped, but the wall of water surged into the river. Hour by hour the river rose. In some places water only nibbled at the bank, but in others it burst across the river bends…up into the streets. It sounded like a helicopter.
It sounded like a flood.

In January 2011 much of Queensland and parts of NSW were subjected to terrible flooding. the rest of Australia – and the world – watched in horror at the destruction and loss of life. In Floodthe team of Jackie French and Bruce Whatley capture those times in words and pictures accessible to children.

The text explains the flood – its origins, its sights and sounds – and specific instances of heroism, such as the tugboat driver who stopped the boardwalk from doing further harm. The illustrations highlight the damage and desolation with watery browns and blues, as well as the courage and heroism of volunteers working int he midst of the floods. The image of a dog as a watcher, and participant, in many spreads gives youngsters a character to empathise with.

French and Whatley have teamed together on brighter subjects before – most famously the. Exploration of such a serious topic required a different approach, and Wahtley’s use of different drawing and painting techniques helped here. Whatley has used his non-dominant hand for the images and his use of acrylic washes highlights the feeling of wetness.

Profits from the sale of Flood are being donated to the Qld Premier’s Disaster Relief appeal.

Flood

Flood, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley
Scholastic, 2011
ISBN 9781742830728

This book is avaialable in good bookstores or through Fishpond.

Who Wants to Be a Billionaire, by Colin Thompson

The trouble with living happily ever after is that it can get pretty boring, and for witches and wizards it can get ten times more boring than it does for ordinary people because they are ten times more intelligent than ordinary people.
Ordinary people who are older than about twenty are quite often already on the slippery slope downhill to a life of total boredom, but they pretend they’re not by gardening or going on holiday or restoring rusty old cars until they are shining like new, but just as rubbish as they were when they were new because they were rubbish cars in the first place.

At the end of ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ (Book 8 in the adventures of the Flood family), all was well with the world. The Floods had returned home to Transylvania Waters and re-established their place as the ruling royal family. But it’s become a bit boring, all that calm and tranquillity in a well-run and happy kingdom. So the children travel to New York and summer school. Aubergine Wealth is the economics professor and he outlines their project – a competition to see who can make the most money. The Flood children compete to make the most money, manipulating the stock market and cornering the market on toilet paper (amongst other things). All’s going well until the end of the project when a final competition rule is revealed.

The Floods are just your normal average family…wait…no they’re not. They’re the wackiest collection of wizards and witches that you’re ever likely to encounter. They seldom do what you think they might and whenever they’re backed into a corner, they find a hidden door and turn potential defeat into glorious triumph. But they are a family and they have many traits of the normal family – bickering siblings, the quiet one, the confident one, the loving and supporting parents. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they compete with each other. ‘The Floods’ series is hilarious fun, full of puns, crazy ideas and will have readers, chuckling, giggling and outright guffawing. Recommended for mid primary readers.

Who Wants to be a Billionaire? (Floods) Colin Thompson
Random House 2010
ISBN: 9781864719451

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.