When the Lyrebird Calls, by Kim Kane

The sun had sneaked out from behind the clouds, and sparkles from the shoes bounded about the grass. Madeleine looked back up. the girl crossed her arms. ‘I was not enquiring after the shrubs, she said imperiously. ‘I want to know what you are doing in Bea’s dress slippers.’

Madeleine is not impressed at being sent to the country to stay with her eccentric grandmother for the holidays, while her big brother gets to stay with his best friend. Staying with Mum Crum means early mornings, yoga and hard work. But when she finds a pair of shoes hidden in the cupboard she is renovating, Madeleine is intrigued and wants to know more. Soon, she is finding out far more than she bargained for, when she finds herself transported back to 1900, to the home of the shoe’s owner.

Now Madeline is part of a family and time where women have no power or independence, as the Federation of Australia’s colonies nears. She witnesses the treatment of Aboriginals, staff and children, and is conflicted about both what she sees and how little she can do to change it. She also watches the family struggle through personal turmoil as she worries about how she will get back to her own time.

When the Lyrebird Calls is an absorbing time-slip novel for children and young adults, set in late colonial Australia, as well as in contemporary Victoria. While a number of issues are explored through the text, the action carries the story so that it does not become issue heavy. Young readers will enjoy being able to see aspects of colonial life through the yes of a contemporary narrator.

When the Lyrebird Calls, by Kim Kane
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781741758528

Ginger Queen Play Date Queen: The Only Friend by Kim Kane & Jon Davis

My name is Ginger Green.

I am seven years old.

I am the Play Date Queen.

Today my friend Maya is coming over after school.

My name is Ginger Green.

I am seven years old.

I am the Play Date Queen.

Today my friend Maya is coming over after school.

Ginger Green has invited Maya to come and play after school. Maya is excited too and things start well, despite Ginger’s younger sister’s antics. But things soon start going wrong. Ginger is accustomed to being in control of play dates, but no matter what she tries, this time things seem to be going wrong. For the first time, Ginger feels left out. There are black white and purple illustrations on every opening.

Ginger Green Play Date Queen is a series for newly independent readers transitioning away from fully illustrated text to first chapter books. Ginger and the rest of the ‘cast’ are anthropomorphised foxes, but the stories will be recognisable to young students navigating the everyday challenges of school and home life.  Each episode/instalment presents a realistic dilemma and offers solutions that restore harmony. Recommended for newly independent readers.

Ginger Green Play Date Queen: The Only Friend, Kim Kane Jon Davis
Hardie Grant Egmont 2016
ISBN: 9781760127855

The Vegetable Ark, by Kim Kane & Sue deGennaro

It is not well known that Noah had a brother.
But he did,
and his name was Neil.
Noah and Neil were very different.

The story of Noah and his ark is well known. Less is known of his early life. Kim Kane introduces the reader to Neil, Noah’s vegetarian brother. Both work hard, but they are very different, not just physically. Noah competes successfully at both things, and becomes a ‘fat cat’ wheeling and dealing and living well. Meanwhile Neil is more of a dreamer, happy to spend his days with his plants, smelling the beans. When Noah tells him about the coming rains and invites him to join the Ark, Neil responds, but not quite the way Noah expects. Illustrations in this large landscape format hardback are a mix of collage, pencil and paint. Images are set in white space and often float on the page. Endpapers are a cross between a weather map and endless rain.

If you ever wondered where Noah’s dove discovered the olive branch that she brought back to Noah, then wonder no more. It came from Neil’s tree. Neil, who was quiet and largely unnoticeable in his life, certainly when compared with his corporate brother Noah, triumphs. Where Noah seeks to corner the market in food supplies, Neil’s aim in saving all the vegetables is much simpler. He knows that any post-flood world will need vegetables. Noah wants Neil to come aboard the ark, they are still brothers, but Neil as always is doing things his own quiet way. There are plenty of themes about big issues in The Vegetable Ark but in both text and illustration they are cloaked in off beat humour and delightful quirkiness. Recommended for primary-aged children.

The Vegetable Ark: A Tale of Two Brothers

The Vegetable Ark: A Tale of Two Brothers, Kim Kane Sue deGennaro
Allen & Unwin 2010
ISBN: 9781741759969

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

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Pip – the Story of Olive, by Kim Kane

Olive Garnaut looked ever so slightly like an extraterrestrial: a very pale extraterrestrial. She had long thin hair, which hung and swung, and a long thin face to match it. Her eyes were pale green and so widely spaced that if she looked out of the corners of them, she could actually see her plaits banging against her bottom.
Olive’s eyelashes and eyebrows were so very fair that they blended right into her forehead and people could only spot them if the sun caught her at a strange angle. When she stood, her feet turned out at one hundred and sixty degrees (like a ballerina in first position), and her shins were the exact colour of chicken loaf.

Olive Garnaut is an unusual girl who lives with her mother, Mog, a hippy-turned-QC who is working on a judgeship. Olive and Mog live in a big house full of Mog’s bits and pieces. It has the potential to be a ‘magazine house’ but because Mog is so busy, it stays rather ramshackle. Olive has a best friend Mathilda, the only friend who comes to the house. Olive admires Mathilda’s much more ‘regular’ family. Year Seven can be a time of great challenges and so it is for Olive. It’s the year her friendship with Mathilda changes. It’s the year she becomes more curious about her absent father. And it’s the year she meets Pip, who brings the biggest change of all.

Kim Kane’s Pip: the story of Olive is a story both exquisite and agonising. As if approaching adolescence isn’t enough, Year Seven brings a whole new system of schooling, and an almost completely new peer group. There might be a few students familiar from primary school, but often the new environment means that familiarity fades very quickly. Main character Olive’s insights are age appropriate – alternately wise and naïve. Her mother is loving but absent. Her father is a mystery her mother would rather not recall. Olive’s calls for help are largely unheard, so Olive must help herself. Pip offers help but Olive has then to decide whether Pip’s advice is the advice she wants to take. Told in third person intimate, the reader sweeps along with Olive, feeling every joy, suffering every setback with her. Recommended for upper primary, early secondary readers.

Pip: the story of Olive, Kim Kane
Allen&Unwin 2008
ISBN: 9781741751192