Quenarden – The Prophecies

When Beth finds a young girl wandering the property where she works, she has no inkling of the strange chain of events that will follow. The girl claims to come from the land of Quenarden and wants Beth’s help to find her way home. Beth enlists the helps of cousins Troy and Nathan, whose parents own the property, and the three follow the girl through a crack in a hillside, to find themselves in Quenarden.

Quenarden is ruled by an evil scanator and the residents live in constant fear. Their one hope is that three strangers will come to fulfil an old prophecy about the overthrow of the scanator. Beth, Troy and Nathan don’t think they could be the three, but when they are stranded in Quenarden, events unfold that suggest they could be – if they survive long enough to fulfil the prophecies.

Quenarden: The Prophecies is the first in a new trilogy from talented author Paula Vince. Vince has created a carefully depicted fantasy land, which is the key to creating believable fantasy, and her teen heroes are both plausible and likeable. All three grow during their adventures, each one discovering new things about themselves and the others.

Quenarden: The Prophecies will appeal to young fantasy fans aged 12 and over, who will eagerly move on to the second title in the series.

Quenarden: The Prophecies, by Paula Vince
Apple Leaf Books, 2002

The All-Time Australian 200 Rich List, by William D. Rubinstein

Identifying Australia’s richest people may seem to be a simple task. The Business Review Weekly has compiled a list of the richest Australians annually since the 1980s. But what about the richest Australian ever? With inflation, currency changes and sketchy records, how can the wealth of today be compared with the wealth of 200 years ago?

In The All-Time Australian Rich List researcher and author William D. Rubinstein compiles a list of the richest-ever Australians from the time of European settlement until today. He compares people from different eras using a formula that relates their wealth to Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) at the time that they lived. So, William Mansel, whose wealth was worth £5000 when he died in 1816 is considered richer than Kerry Packer whose current wealth is estimated at $6.5 billion, because Mansel’s wealth was 1.009 % of GDP, whilst Packer’s is ).918 %. (Incidentally, neither of these men is number one on the list – that person is revealed in the book.) Whilst the formula may be considered controversial to some, it is a simple way to make such comparisons and the list provides interesting reading and insight into the life and times of 233 of Australia’s richest ever people.

Rubenstein, who was formerly Professor of Social and Economic History at Deakin University, places current perceptions of wealth into a much wider historical context and compares the rich of Australia with the rich of Britain and the USA, to provide a more relative understanding of the wealth of Australia’s richest people.

This is an intriguing offering for anyone with an interest in wealth, studies of society, Australian history or biography.

The All-Time Australian Rich List, by William D. Rubinstein
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Diary of a Would-Be Princess, by Jessica Green

Mrs Bright says we have to do journal writing EVERY day. Guess what she says?
If you want to be a good writer you have to

This is the journal of Jillian James, class 5B. Jillian’s burning ambition, as well as not having to stay in at recess for not writing enough in her journal, is to be one of the popular Princess Group. The Princesses always look good, are always behaved in class, and sit together on the bus.

Jillian isn’t a Princess. The Princesses accuse her of being a dork, because she sits next to Nigel. Jillian doesn’t want to be a dork and she doesn’t want to be friends with Nigel, even though he comes to her house and helps her with her homework. In a rocky ride through year five, Jillian learns that being a Princess isn’t the only thing in life worth achieving, and that friends can come in different shapes and sizes.

Diary of a Would-Be Princess is a skilfully rendered diary format novel for 8 to 12 year old readers. As Jillian shares her thoughts about her life on daily basis the reader also sees her learning and developing. Themes of bullying, peer groups and acceptance are addressed in such a way that young readers will not feel preached at. A nice touch is the use of weekly notes from the teacher, Mrs Bright, who provides adult insight into some of the problems Jillian faces.

The use of the diary-format is much-used because it is popular with young readers. It provides a first-person insight unmatched by other formats.

Diary of A Would-Be Princess is great reading.

Diary of a Would-Be Princess, by Jessica Green
Scholastic, 2005

The Big Toocool Book, by Phil Kettle

I am the greatest sportsperson in the world. I have never been beaten. I am a natural champion – especially in my own backyard.

Toocool loves sport and, in his own estimation, there is no one better than him at whichever sport he tries. With his friends, including Marcy and Spike and his dog, creatively named Dog, he spends his day playing sport – any sport will do.

There are twenty four titles in the Toocool series, covering everything from cricket and Aussie Rules to watersliding and fishing. In The Big Toocool Book four of Toocool’s most successful books are brought together in one volume.

Titles included are Soccer Superstar, Footy Hero, Rugby Great and Cricket Legend. All are full-version, making this an economic alternative to buying the four books individually, and all feature the delightful illustrations of one of Australia’s best known illustrators, Craig Smith.

Suitable for readers as young as six or seven, the subject matter will appeal to readers several years older, meaning that this might be a good offering for struggling readers in upper primary as well.

The Big Toocool Book, by Phil Kettle, illustrated by Craig Smith
Scholastic, 2005

Storm Born, by Jenny Mounfield

Elissa is in trouble at school, yet again. When the other kids tease her, she fires up and the end result is always a trip to the Principal’s office. At home, things aren’t much better. Dad is always angry and there’s no money for the one thing Elissa thinks will make her happy – a horse.

When a beautiful black stallion appears in her yard after a storm, Elissa is sure the storm has brought him to her. She is desperate to convince her father to let her keep the horse. When a strange boy enters her life, the horse forges a bond between them and together they work out a plan to show the horse’s value. But just as things start to look brighter the boy, Michael, disappears. To help him, Elissa will have to face her fears.

Storm Born is a story about friendship, acceptance and family. Both Elissa and Michael come from families with problems, and their ability to support each other is a special feature of the book. Readers aged 10-12 will enjoy the story and be intrigued by the touch of magic which lends a twist of fantasy to the book.

An absorbing read.

Storm Born, by Jenny Mounfield
Koala Books, 2005

Shakespeare is Alive and Well and Living in Sun City , by Allen Lyne

Reviewed by Molly Martin

The narrative opens with a broken down car, cryptic coded message ‘emus are cranky,’ ‘because they cannot fly,’ a boiling cauldron and three old women. Jeffrey Case a thirty-eight year old disinherited scion of a wealthy family, divorced, cabdriver longs to become an actor. He has dabbled in acting for years with little success. Following delivery of a mysterious passenger to 2 Glassie Jeffrey finds himself caught up in a series of strange happenings. In his attempt to return a package containing only a head Jeffrey returns to 2 Glassie where he finds a group of peculiar Shakespeare quoting individuals all dressed in 1950s garb. Unable to rid himself of the head Jeffrey attempts to throw it into the sea only to have the head snagged by a black falcon. Nightmares filled with images of himself bowling severed heads toward headless bodies and a horrifying torture chamber, ice cream vendors who play Greensleeves and offer more than icy treats, retired workers and young junkies all figure in the conundrum. The head on a book shelf, the head in the fridge, and the head in the bushes, women who yodel at odd moments, and an ex wife called Moonflower are all a part of the enigma surrounding Jeffrey Case. A mesmerizing flutist, conversations with Shakespeare himself, Hecate’s hex and witches dust move the narrative forward. A night of great debauchery, The Bard’s Players, Jeffrey performs as a double act on a regular basis and Yorrick understudies everyone.


Shakespeare is Alive and Well and Living in Sun City is the second offering produced by writer Lyne and read by this reviewer. Well rounded, spiritedly portrayed characters, vividly painted settings and animated dialogue all move the tale along at breakneck speed in this fast paced romp.


Writer Lyne skillfully weaves a fanciful, complex tale using the theater as his back drop, Shakespeare in a ‘what if’ role and human foibles at their best. Snappy dialogue, betrayal, lust and puzzlement couple with fascinating settings and absorbing storyline keep the reader moving along from chapter to chapter. Lyne has taken a well known theater figure, Shakespeare, placed him and his work in modern times to produce a highly entertaining work sure to please Shakespeare lovers and those who know little of the Bard alike.


Not for everyone; while language is not profane or vulgar there is some graphic sexual content.


For those who may not understand Aussie terms a small glossary might prove helpful to the US reader, but those few words only add to the fun for the reader.


Good book for a lazy summer afternoon, ages 13 and up.


Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.


Shakespeare is Alive and Well and Living in Sun City, by Allen Lyne
Booksunbound, ISBN 1 59201 034 2
Available in print and ebook formats


Reviewed by: molly martin


Gene of Isis, by Traci Harding

In nineteenth century England, Ashlee Granville approaches her society debut with trepidation. When she enters the marriage market, she will be forced to hide her special talents – talents which she has worked all her life to develop. A powerful clairvoyant, Ashlee wants to travel and continue her studies. But those around Ashlee have other plans – and, it seems, she is destined to marry.

In 21st centruy Australia, Mia Montrose receives the phone call she has always dreamed of getting. A scholar with a Doctorate in Ancient Languages, she has been asked to join an archeological dig which promises to be the most exciting job of her career.

In the 13th century, Lillet du Lac, a Priestess protected by the Cathars, is entrusted with the transportation of a sacred treasure.

These three women have a connection that none of them could guess at – all bear the sacred Gene of Isis. And, despite the centuries that separate them, all three are guided by the same man. With his help and working together, they must overcome a foe none of them could have imagined.

Gene of Isis is the first book in the new Mystique trilogy by acclaimed fantasy author Traci Harding. Harding weaves the three tales together, creating three richly detailed and overlapping worlds. The three female characters are each unique and their male champion a nice blend of strength, good counsel and humour. Harding has combined historical fact, with real events from church history woven with a combination of theoretic altenatives and fantsay.

An absorbing read.

Gene of Isis, by Traci Harding
Voyager, 2005

Heart of the Tiger, by Glenda Millard & Gaye Chapman

In a land with no trees lived an old man, a boy and wooden tiger called Tiger.

When the old man dies, the boy inherits the tiger. He loves the tiger and treats him well, taking him for walks and listening to what it says. When the tiger tells him that it is made from a branch of the last ever tree, the boy longs to see what a tree is, and to experience the sight and smell of green. The tiger tells him that he can do it, if he is prepared to make a sacrifice. The boy agrees and sacrifices the thing he most loves – the tiger – in order to bring green back to the treeless land.

Heart of the Tiger is a poignant and touching tale by award-winning author Glenda Millar and talented illustrator Gaye Chapman. The hard cover format and richly coloured illustrations make it a quality offering and Millard uses her words economically – her environmental theme is neither overstated nor hard to discern. The oriental feel of both word and picture allows readers to connect the fable with others of its genre.

This is Chapman’s first picture book, buts she is a seasoned artist and uses a blend of techniques to subtly support and extend the text. The image of Tiger, who has at this point has been destroyed, looking over the boy’s shoulder as he waters the ground, is especially evocative. The contrasting endpapers – with a barren landscape at the beginning and a green one at the end – are also richly rendered.

Heart of the Tiger, with its gentle, yet evocative text, will be just as enjoyable for home reading as in the school setting.

Heart of the Tiger, by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Gaye Chapman
Scholastic, 2004

Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Peny

Reviewed by Kyla Ward


First off, you need to know that ‘daikaiju’ is Japanese for ‘giant monster’. That is, Godzilla, King Kong, Rodan and all their kind. Now you are qualified to enjoy the most unusual and entertaining anthology I’ve read in a long while.

Each of the 29 fiction entries features giant monsters but the variety is incredible. Some appear in traditional city-crushing mode (Garth Nix’s ‘Read it in the Headlines’) and some as effective metaphors (David Carroll’s ‘Footprint’). Some are the butt of giant-sized jokes (Michelle Marquardt’s ‘Crunch Time”) and others are caught in the most bizarre situations imaginable (Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Notes Concerning Events at the Ray Harryhausen Memorial Home for Retired Actors’). New extreme sports are proposed, along with unthinkable liaisons. Although I liked some stories better than others (and two of the entries are poem cycles and one a script), there wasn’t a single dud. The whole is rounded off by an essay on the films that provided the inspiration.

Robert Hood is a prolific Australian writer, with a slew of short stories and young adult novels to his credit. Daikaiju! reminds me of a previous project he co-edited, entitled Crosstown Traffic (Stuart Coupe & Julie Ogden, Five Islands Press, 1993), which put the detective story through the hoops of science fiction, fantasy, horror and more. Robin Pen was a founding editor of the prestigious Australian journal Eidolon and is known for his film criticism. But although Daikaiju is edited by Australians and published by an Australian small press, the contributors are very much international. As is the devastation; Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, San Francisco, Washington, Hai Phong and the charming Cornish village of Launceston are all trashed at various points. I recommend this book to anyone looking for something different, or who likes their heroes and villains truly larger than life.

Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales, Edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen
Agog! Press, Sydney, 2005

The Plum-Rain Scroll, by Ruth Manley

Taro, the odd job boy at the Tachibana-ya (the orange Tree Inn) isn’t looking for adventure, but adventure, it seems, is looking for him. When his Aunt suddenly disappears from the inn, Taro goes looking for her. Soon, he finds himself in an unlikely group of companions, including Prince Hachi (Lord Eight Thousand Spears), a ghost named Hiroshi and an Oni with a taste for poetry.

Together, this group searches for Taro’s lost Aunt Piety who, they discover, is the only person able to translate the Plum-Rain Scroll. Aunt Piety is hiding from the evil Black Iris Lord, Marishoten, who seeks to capture her and have her translate the Scroll so that he can meet his aim of overthrowing the Mikado.

Set in folkloric Japan, this classic story has wonderful elements of fantasy, adventure and suspense. Young fantasy lovers will love the style and be endeared to the fantastical creatures who Taro befriends.

The Plum Rain Scroll was first published in 1978 and was the Children’s Book of the Year in 1979. It has been re-released in 2005 as part of UQP Children’s Classic Series. This delightful offering is suitable for readers aged 10 to adult.

The Plum-Rain Scroll, by Ruth Manley
First Published by Hodder & Staughton, 1978. This edition published by University of Queensland, 2005