Jim loved station life at Four Wells.
He loved hunting rabbits, exploring with his dog Bluey and chasing goannas. But sometimes he was lonely. If only his friend Frank didn’t live so far away.
Jim and his parents all love station life, but sometimes they feel lonely, cut off from the rest of the world. So when a pedal radio comes, and they can send messages by morse code, and even hear voices from the main base. Jim longs to have a turn on the radio, but Dad says he needs to wait until he’s older. However, when Dad has an accident and Mum is away from the house, it is Jim who uses the radio to call for help. He is a hero.
Radio Rescue! tells the tale of the introduction of pedal radios to outback communities, showing its importance by using a fictional family and the difference it makes to their life, coupled with back of book notes which explain how and why the pedal radio was developed, as well as the use of the radio to summon the Flying Doctors, one its life-saving services.
Illustrations, by master craftsman Robert Ingpen, are divine. Each spread includes text on one page, with the opposite including a grey scale, highly detailed picture of one of the characters on the outside of a fold out spread, opening to reveal a coloured illustratios including rich landscape and actios scenes. Ingpen’s style is perfect for a historical book such as this and adults and children alike will admire his work, and the detail included.
Perfect for both classroom use and private reading, Radio Rescue! is a collector’s delight too.
Radio Rescue! by Jane Jolly & Robert Ingpen
National Library of Australia Press, 2016
As the sunset spreads it gow
Little brolga’s dancing slow.
The outback hums with twilight sounds
Numbat dreams of termite mounds.
As the sun goes down, desert babies get ready to sleep – quolls cuddled up in dens, frilled-neck lixards hidden in mulga trees and emu chicks snuggled with their father in their nest.
In gentle rhyming text, youngsters are taken through the outback as desert critters prepare for sleep before being invited to close their eyes to dream of outback lullabies
Perfect for bedtime, Outback Lullaby is the third lullaby title from the team of Odgers and Stewart and is perfect for babies and toddlers.
Outback Lullaby, by Sally ODgers & Lisa Stewart
The side of my head stung and I winced silently. But even if I’d cried out it would have been drowned out in the sea of cheers that flooded the little bus. We’d arrived, and it seemed everybody but me was delirious with excitement.
I would have sighed, but that would have meant talking a big gulp of the stale air: the way my stomach was churning, there was no way I could risk that. I needed every bit of inner calm I could muster. I was about to give the performance of my life.
And this from the kid who’d never, ever been picked for any school play.
Harper and Heidi might be identical twins but their interests are very different: Heidi loves sun, skating and surfing, while Harper is into horses and all things agricultural. But, when Heidi causes the accident that leaves Harper unable to attend jillaroo camp, the sisters decide the best course of action is for Heidi to go in her place. It’s up to Heidi to pretend to be Harper, and impress the teachers enough that Harper can win a place at her dream school.
While Harper recovers at home Heidi readies herself for ten days or horse riding, fencing, and handling cattle. And ten days of pretending not to be herself. She doesn’t count on meeting the handsome Chaz, or on one of the campers being Trent Weston – who knows the real Harper. Keeping her secret is not going to be easy.
The Reluctant Jillaroo uses the idea of a twin-swap as the premise for a satisfying blend of romance, mystery and adventure, set in rural Australia. Heidi’s attempts to fit into farm life lend lots of humour, and the growing relationship with the affable Chaz adds interest, as does a mystery about a series of mishaps and missing items.
With horses, romance and mystery, The Reluctant Jillaroo is likely to appeal to teen readers.
The Reluctant Jillaroo, by Kaz Delaney
Allen & Unwin, 2016
She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, ‘I need to know where I am.’ The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, ‘Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.’
Verla and Yolanda are among ten young women who wake up from a drugged sleep not knowing where they are or why they are there. But as the day unfolds, so too does their terrible situation become clearer. They are in a prison unlike no other: in abandoned buildings on an unknown remote piece of land, surrounded by electrified fences. There is no escape, and their jailers are two men with no compassion and not much idea what they are doing. Their heads shaved, their clothes taken away and replaced with ugly, itchy uniforms, the women are to perform hard labour in a regime which is supposedly intended to reform them. Their crime? Each woman has been part of a sexual scandal with a powerful man – though these relationships were, for the most, not consensual.
The Natural Way of Things is an uncomfortable book, dealing with often shocking events playing out as part of a terrible, unfathomable injustice. But it is this discomfort which makes the book so brilliant. The readers is taken on an emotional journey through a raft of emotions including despair, denial, anger, hope and more. The characters, particularly Verla and Yolanda, are intriguing, and their developing relationships fascinating.
Exploring misogyny, corporate control, this dystopian novel is a must read for women and for men.
The Natural Way of Things
Allen & Unwin, 2015
Sean cleared his throat and stood up. ‘Laura, we know how much you love farming and Nambina. It’s that sort of love I have never understood or had, and it’s why today we are passing the reins of it over to you, darling girl….I believe you are destined for greatness within the ag industry…we can’t wait to watch and see what happens and where it ends up.’
When Laura Murphy is handed the reins of the family property, she hopes that she can justify the trust placed in her. She sets to work building her breeding program and establishing a school to teach young women farming and property management skills. She is independent, strong and determined to succeed.
Not everything is perfect though. Laura is haunted by a personal tragedy which cost her a friendship and broke up her relationship with Josh, from the neighbouring property. Her latest batch of students have started off strongly, but seem to splintering as a group as the year goes by. And a solicitor has notified her that someone else has a claim over Nambina. It’s going to take all her strength to keep it all together.
Crimson Dawn is a rural novel of courage, family and survival. With elements of mystery and romance, and a slit narrative which gradually reveals the details of the family split which lead to the property claim, there is a lot happening in the story, but McDonald weaves the varying threads together strongly.
An absorbing, satisfying story of outback life.
Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDOnald
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores or online.
How can mere red dirt and stones and scrubby trees and shrubs and rises and fall sin the land and haze and a vast blue sky be so potent? Such was its power, even in intense heat, even at night, sometimes, especially at night, the landscape seized you.
Ian Parkes grew up listening to – and loving – his grandfather’s stories about the bush, so when it came time for him to enter the workforce he was keen to experience life in the outback for himself. From his first job on a remote property he fell in love with the land, forging a lifelong connection with the love that continued long after he settled back in the city to pursue a career in advertising.
A Youth Not Wasted recounts Parkes’ time working on rural properties in the 1950s, from his working alone fencing and mustering, to living alongside fellow workers, days at the races and more. Painting a picture of a time which may have passed, in a setting which in some cases remains unchanged, A Youth Not Wasted will appeal both to those who may have had similar experiences as well as those who may just be intrigued by the difference to their own experiences.
An absorbing memoir.
A Youth Not Wasted, by Ian Parkes
Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2012
Available from good bookstores or online.