The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky

There were only eleven of them, like eleven sisters all the same age in a large family. Because it was such a very small class, they had a very small classroom, which was perched at the very tip of the school.
‘Today, girls,’ said Miss Renshaw, ‘we shall go out into the beautiful garden and think about death.’

It is 1967 and eleven young girls take regular trips to the local gardens with their teacher, to observe life, to write poetry and to learn from the gardener, Morgan, who is a poet. But on the day that a man is hanged, Miss Renshaw takes them to the gardens to think about death. Glad of the chance for fresh air, the girls don’t object. But when Morgan offers to show them a cave at the beach near the park, something terrible happens. Miss Renshaw disappears.

When the girls are forced to return to school alone, they are not sure how much they should share with the adults who question them – after all, Miss Renshaw told them that Morgan and the cave were their secret. Will they get in trouble if they tell the truth?

The Golden Day is a beautiful novel with and atmosphere and dream-like intrigue similar to Picnic at Hanging Rock. Readers are invited to know the girls and to suffer with them in their child-like confusion, at the same time trying to puzzle out what has happened to Miss Renshaw, and unravel other mysteries which arise as the story unfolds.

Not a long volume, there is still a lot here to digest, leaving the reader thinking about the story long after the last page is turned.

The Golden Day

The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Six, by Karen Tayleur

It is a small car. A light-coloured car. Hard to determine exactly what colour it is in the grey of the pre-dawn – maybe white or silver or pale blue. All is quiet save for the ticking of the cooling engine and the bark of a neighbourhood dog.
Soon this will change.

One car. Six teenagers. Five seatbelts. Not a good combination – especially when mixed with an afters party, a hint of alcohol and a wet road. The Prologue of this gripping novel shows the reader a glimpse of the aftermath of a terrible accident, leaving the reader in no doubt how the action which follows will culminate, but what keeps the pages turning is the desire to learn which of the six viewpoint characters – if any – is killed in the accident and which survives, as well as exactly what it is that leads them to be together in the car.

The six characters – three girls and three points – are from a variety of backgrounds. Some are friends, some not. Their respective journeys through year 12 are quite different, but what they do have in common is a seemingly coincidental meeting the previous summer, where they make a shocking discovery which overshadows the months which follow.

Six is a delicious blend of thriller and coming of age story which is sure tot ickle the palate of teen readers who will enjoy unravelling the connections between the six characters and trying to work out what has happened and what will happen. Told chiefly from the first person perspective of one girl, Sarah, there are also chapters from either first or third person perspective of each of the others, to make a satisfying whole.


Six, by Karen Tayleur
Black Dog, 2010

9781742031552 This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Dawn Hawk, by Ken Catran

Spending part of his holiday with his teacher is not Bryce’s idea of fun, but here he is. His friend Focus has dragged him along to stay with Mr Justinian’s Aunt Roberta, following the death of great-aunt Petronel.

Petronel was, in her time, a famous female aviator, and Focus herself is passionate about aircraft and flying. Neither she nor Bryce, though, expect to be caught up in a crime ring in the seaside town. Aunt Petronel has left some clues about a missing plane, and Focus and Bryce are determined to find it. They aren’t the only ones who are interested in the plane, though, or in whatever else may lie hidden in the disused tunnel network under the cliffs. Rescuing the plane may take a back seat to the need to rescue themselves.

Dawn Hawk is a thrilling Crime Waves title from Lothian Books. Aimed at 10 to 14 year old readers, especially those with an interest in crime fiction, Crime Waves titles are high on action and mystery, while of a length manageable to most readers.

Dawn Hawk is an intriguing story.

Dawn Hawk, by Ken Catran
Lothian, 2003