Forgotten, by Nicole Trope

Finally they are in the queue to get back out onto the main road.
Coffee, here I come.
‘Not now, Aaron, I’m trying to concentrate.’
The traffic has built up in only a few minutes and cars scream past the service station. Malia feels her headache settle in.
This day is never going to end.
‘But Mum…’
‘What Aaron, what?’
‘Where is baby Zach, Mum? Where is he?’

It’s early morning, and already Malia knows it’s not going to be a good day. Her husband Ian has confessed to losing money on the pokies last night – money that could have paid the bills that are piling up. She’s got three kids to get ready for school and daycare. And there is no milk for breakfast. She has to get all three children into the car to make the short drive to the service station so that they can have breakfast. But something terrible happens while she’s buying the milk and suddenly her day is as bad as a day could be. Baby Zach is gone, and she is surrounded by police.

Ali Greenberg is a Detective newly returned to work from maternity leave. She’s been itching to be given a case to solve, but her boss is not sure this is the case for her. She knows better than anyone else around what it is Malia is going through. It might be a better idea to stay at the office – but she feels compelled to help Malia get her baby back.

Jackie is down on her luck. She has said sorry a thousand times, but still she has been punished for a terrible mistake. A strange turn of events gives her what she sees as a chance to put her life back together.

In one hot, troubling day, Forgotten follows the troubling, heartstopping race to find an abducted baby and reunite mother and child. The stories of four women who don’t know each other become inextricably intertwined, and readers will have their hearts in their mouths as the day unfolds.

Well crafted, this is a dramatic tale.

Forgotten, by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760296773

The Light on the Water, by Olga Lorenzo

9781925266542.jpgIn the first few minutes of her stay in Ravenhall, she’s still able to kid herself. After all, no one is scraping tin mugs against the bars.
Prison initially seems a quitter, more subdued place than she’d expected. More like a hospital ward at eleven in the morning, but with patients who have been misdiagnosed, with galling consequences. Injustices that leave them pondering gloomily, nursing their outrage.

Almost two years after her daughter  Aida’s disappearance, Anne Baxter is resigned to the fact that she is going to be arrested for her murder. Aida’s body has never been found, but nobody can understand why Anne would have taken her autistic daughter bushwalking on Wilsons Promontory, or how she could have lost sight of her. Unable to prove her innocence, Anne waits, in limbo, as the media stalks her, her neighbours shun her and complete strangers attack her.

The Light on the Water is a masterful exploration of loss in various forms – not only has Anne lost her daughter, but the disappearance came in the wake of the collapse of her marriage. She has also lost sight of who was and of any sense of normalcy in her life. At times it seems that the obstacles preventing her recovery are too high – her barrister ex-husband seems unsupportive, her remaining daughter seems self-absorbed, and her sister and mother are terrible. Most of her friends have drifted away, and with no real leads as to what happened to Aida, the circumstantial evidence mounts. Yet Anne finds ways to keep going, to keep functioning, even managing to find new friends and allies in unlikely places.

At times really troubling, The Light on the Water is nonetheless absorbing and deeply satisfying.

The Light on the Water, by Olga Lorenzo
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781925266542

The Mother's Group, by Fiona Higgins

All those things no one ever tells you about motherhood. It’s like secret mothers’ business. Lots of my friends had babies before me, but not one of them ever told me it would this hard…It’s like a code of silence.

Six very different women are brought together by one thing – they are all new mothers. Each comes from a different background and has a different experience of birth and the early months of a first child, but they meet through a mother’s group and determine to meet regularly and support each other through this new stage of their lives.

Over the course of the year the six become friends, but they also fight and disagree. Their circumstances are so different – from bringing up a child alone, to having a new baby plus a step child to care for, to struggling to adapt to a new culture. But what they have in common is their first child, and the tumultuous experience of the first year of motherhood.

The Mothers’ Group is a book which anyone who has ever navigated the highs and lows of motherhood will connect with. The varied cast means most readers will either see themselves in one or more of the characters, or will at least recognise someone  they know. But it’s not just about sleepless nights and nappy changing – characters are faced with a range of big issues alongside the seemingly small ones (though anyone who has ever navigated the sleepless nights knows it is not a small issue).

The Mothers’ Group is a moving, heart-wrenching read.

The Mothers' Group

The Mothers’ Group, by Fiona Higgins
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742379869

Available from good bookstores and online.

Hush, Hush! by Margaret Wild & Bridget Strevens-Marzo

Baby Hippo couldn’t fall asleep.
He rolled and wriggled.
He stood on his head. He waggled his legs.
He grunted and groaned. “Oh, ah, oh!”
“Hush, hush!” said his mum softly and sleepily.

Baby Hippo can’t sleep, so he goes for a walk. Wherever he goes through the jungle he hears mothers telling their babies to ‘hush, hush.’ Eventually, feeling tired, he trudges back home where – eventually – he manages to fall asleep beside his own mum.

Hush, Hush! is a delightful sequel, or companion, to Kiss, Kiss! by the same wonderful pairing of author Margaret Wild and illustrator Bridget Strevens-Marzo and has a similar patterning to the text, whilst being different enough to be able to enjoy both. Strevens-Marzo’s art, with the purples of the dusky sky and the deep greens and browns of the jungle, along with the jungle animals, is beautiful.

This would make an excellent bed time sharing story and is sure to be as well received as Kiss, Kiss! which has sold over 200, 000 copies worldwide.

Hush, Hush!

Hush, Hush! by Margaret Wild & Bridget Strevens-Marzo
Little Hare, 2009

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

I Love My Mum, by Anna Walker

Little zebra, Ollie, takes the reader through a normal sort of day, the sort of day familiar to many mothers and small children. There are everyday tasks like washing and going for a walk. But everyday tasks are new to little people and there is mystery and adventure in the simplest of tasks. The text here is very simple and there is magic in the illustrations. Anna Walker has used watercolours and ensured plenty of white space remains. Ollie is a small stuffed toy, perhaps a zebra, and Mum is a slightly larger version. I Love My Mumis a small format hardback book, perfect for little hands.

Anna Walker’s illustrations are just beautfiul. Her gentle watercolours set in white space allow plenty of room for the reader to bring their own story. It’s easy to imagine sharing I Love My Mum with a small child and revisiting their day or their way of doing things. Walker’s use of an androgynous toy as main character allows wide appeal, although with the pink detail on the cover, it’s most likely this will be a treasured book for a small girl. A lovely book. Recommended for 3-5 yo children.


I Love My Mum

I Love My Mum, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2009

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.

Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

My Aussie Mum, by Yvonne Morrison

From the snapshots of Aussie Mums in the endpapers, My Aussie Mumis a celebration of mothers in general, and Aussie Mums in particular. This Aussie Mum loves to be a part of everything. She plays sports, supports whales, battles peak hour traffic, does the washing and makes lunches, loves lollies and can pick a fake sickie from ten paces. The illustrations from Nicola Bright are bright and colourful and full of family humour. There is plenty of white space to keep the focus on Mum and her antics. This Aussie Mum is perfect in her imperfection and is well-loved by her children.

My Aussie Mum is full of Aussie vernacular like ‘My Aussie Mum’s a ripper, yep, she’s as tough as nails’. This is not a stuffy Mum at all. She’s down to earth and fallible, but always passionate. She has three children and each of them celebrate and endure her various enthusiasms. The illustrations are somewhat at odds with the text, adding humour to the simple affirmations. Young readers will soon pick the gap between the words and text and are sure to provide examples of their own. The second-last opening shows a wide range of Aussie Mums, different ages, sizes and cultures. All are smiling, all look loved. Easy to imagine this being a Mother’s Day favourite. Recommended for 4-6 year olds.

My Aussie Mum

My Aussie Mum, Yvonne Morrison, ill Nicola Bright
Scholastic Australia 2009
ISBN: 9781741692297

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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