New Gold Mountain, by Christopher W Cheng

I hate being here. I feel lonely. I miss Baba and Mama, and I feel not worthy because I cannot earn enough gold to send back to China and I can’t pay respects to Baba at his grave.

Shu Cheong came to Australia with his father and Third Uncle in search of gold and a new life for their family back home. But now Father and Third Uncle are dead and Shu Cheong is in the care of a new uncle who is not really his uncle at all. They are living and working on the goldfields at Lambing Flat.

Life is hard for all of the gold miners, but particularly so for the Chinese, who have to face the increasing hostility of the white miners. Shu Cheong shares his day to day life and his community’s battle for a fair go, through first person diary entries.

This is a story of hardship, but also about hope, as author Christopher Cheng shares a sad, but important tale of a part of Australian history with which most children would not be familiar. Part of the My Australian Story collection, this hardback offering is suitable for private reading, but would also make an outstanding addition to classroom or library collections.

My Australian Story: New Gold Mountain, by Christopher W. Cheng
Scholastic Press, 2005

Innocence Lost, by Karen Miller

Reviewed by Davina MacLeod

In Innocence LostKaren Miller has laid a feast before us once again.

If you have had the pleasure of reading Book 1 of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology, The Innocent Mage, you may recall how palate cleansing that entree was. You may also remember that just as you were cosily tucking into the main course it was whipped from the table, so to speak.

Never fear, the craving will now be assuaged. The table is set, the main course has returned. We meet old friends like Asher, straight as ever, and Gar ever the royal, who does what he must to save the kingdom. Matt is still the gentle yet stolid Horsemaster, and Dathne starts letting go of some secrets at last, while keeping Asher flummoxed, but in love. You will enjoy a visit to Conroyd’s home where you join the lavish dinner , and you may cheer when you witness his hopes crumble.

Can Asher and Darran make peace, and keep it, when Gar begs them to? They do try. But what are Conroyd and Willer, the little weasel, hatching together? Will they manage to bring Asher down?

Don’t expect the expected when dessert is served. Although Miller has brought most of the same tantalizing ingredients to book 2, she adds a few more spicy tidbits to the mix in the same inviting manner as she did in book 1.

Get ready to tuck in. Innocence Lost is already in the shops.

Innocence Lost, by Karen Miller
Voyager, 2005

© Davina MacLeod 2005

About the Reviewer:
Davina writes Children’s Historical Fiction based in Melbourne. She has been editing fiction for eight years, and is a member of the Australian Society of Editors. Although she edits anything that can be put into print, Speculative Fiction is, for her, the most enjoyable.

Emily Loves to Bounce, by Stephen Michael King

Emily loves to bounce. Sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she eats, but most of the time she bounces.

As Emily bounces her way through the day and through the pages of this delightful picture book, young readers will find themselves springing along. The text is simple – full of boings and different kinds of bounces – and the plot is equally uncomplicated. We learn of Emily’s seemingly boundless energy and then we see what happens when the day comes to its end and she rests, finally, in her parents’ bed.

Emily is brought to life by author/illustrator Stephen Michael King’s gorgeous pen and ink rendering of Emily, complete with boinging ringlets and a bright red and yellow polka dot dress. King uses bold, bright colours effectively framed with lots of white space to keep the eye focussed on the action.

Toddlers and preschoolers will love this book and parents with energetic young ones will relate well.

Emily Loves to Bounce, by Stephen Michael King
Scholastic, 2005, first published 2000

All That Glitters, by Ron Bunney

‘I’m told the journey is a long one and that good horse handlers are scarce. Confound it! I can’t look after them myself.’ He smiled at Martin. ‘Would you accept the job?’
Martin’s thoughts bolted. A trip to the goldfields. Once he found some gold he’d no longer have to knuckle his brow to anyone. This could be the opportunity he’d been waiting for.

Martin Graham knows a lot about horses. A stable hand at a Guildford inn, he jumps at the chance to join the travellers heading to the goldfields around Coolgardie. Whilst his job with the Honourable Cecil Thornton-Flatbury is destined for failure, Martin is determined to continue his journey. Along the way he joins forces with Beth Wilkes, a serving girl whose path he has crossed several times before. Their relationship is a stormy one – Beth trusts no man, including Martin. But when they come across other women needing help, Beth is all heart. Together Beth and Martin make a life on the Goldfields, and learn that finding gold isn’t the only life to be had there.

All that Glitters is a solid historical novel for readers aged 12 and over. Exploring an intriguing part of West Australian history, it does so through a plot which holds plenty of interest. Beth and Martin are likeable characters and their exploits will keep teen readers turning the pages.

Bunney has an obvious interest in Goldfields history, with the detail of the book showing depth to his research.

All That Glitters, by Ron Bunney
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2005

A Prayer for Blue Delaney, by Kirsty Murray

I’ll tell you about it. It’s a marvellous place. There’s kangaroos and horses to ride, and fruit simply falling from the trees. There are families that want boys like you, families with farms where they have their own milk and cream with breakfast every day. No one’s ever hungry in Australia. It’s a land of plenty and the sun shines every single day of the year. SO now, who’d like to go to Australia?

When Colm is offered the chance to leave England and move to Australia with other orphan boys, he doesn’t want to go. His mother has left him at the orphanage and one day, he believes, she will come back for him. But the choice isn’t Colm’s. Soon he is on a ship bound for Australia, and a new life.

In Western Australia Colm finds himself in Christian Brothers boys’ homes – first at Clontarf and then Bindoon. When he runs away from Bindoon he heads for Fremantle, hoping to find a way home. What he finds instead is a new life, in the company of Billy Dare and his dog Rusty. Together they travel first to the Goldfields and then across Australia’s stark centre, working along the Dog Fence. But it is when Billy falls ill that Colm goes to Melbourne and meets Blue Delaney, Bill’s daughter.

A Prayer for Blue Delaney is the third book in the Children of the Wind quartet. It stands alone from its predecessors, but overlaps with the central character from the previous book, Billy Dare, reappearing here as mentor to the young Colm. This much acclaimed series is an outstanding example of historical fiction – exploring an era with accuracy yet with a story which young people will relate to their own lives. Colm’s quest for a sense of self and family is a universal one.

Great stuff.

A Prayer for Blue Delaney, by Kirsty Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2005

Bumageddon, by Andy Griffiths

Not only had Zack just arrived back on Earth after saving the world from a zombie bum invasion and rescuing his parents from Uranus, but he had also graduated from Silas Sterne’s Bum-fighting Academy. In one hand he proudly held his basic bum-fighter’s certificate, and in the other a special medal of excellence for his work in the bum-fighting simulator.
Unfortunately, however, none of the challenges Zack had faced so far – either real or simulated – had prepared him for giant-brown-blobbification.

Young readers first met Zack in The Day My My Bum Went Psycho and continued following his adventures in Zombie Bums From Uranus. Now, in the final instalment of the trilogy, Zack is back, fighting giant white bums as they attempt to take over the world. In an adventure packed with bums, smells and silly puns, there are also robots, romance, time travel and masses of brown stuff.

In this gripping conclusion Zack, his bum and his friend Eleanor tackle the dreaded white bums in a final conflict just as bizarre and funny as the earlier instalments. Of course, most adult readers won’t find these books as hilarious as primary aged children will – but they aren’t aimed at adults. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. But if you liked the first two books, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

Bumageddon: The Final Pongflict, by Andy Griffiths
Pan, 2005

Howzat! by Max Fatchen & Dave Luckett

There are lots of books about cricket around, but what sets this book apart is that it includes both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, all focussing on the sport of cricket. There are poems, stories and nonfiction facts as well as cartoon style and informative illustrations…

Belinda’s long and lanky,
Her hair just flies about
But what makes me so cranky –
She always bowls me out.

She is a demon bowler,
She says she’s fast as Lee,
But when she claims a wicket,
Why is it always me?

There are lots of books about cricket around, but what sets this book apart is that it includes both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, all focussing on the sport of cricket. There are poems, stories and nonfiction facts as well as cartoon style and informative illustrations.

Highlights include a humorous Cricket commentary and poems on subjects as diverse as The Ashes and Seagulls on the oval. There are also serious pieces, including explanations of how cricket balls and bats are made, and other historical insights.

This is a great offering for a young cricket fan.

Howzat!: A Celebration of Cricket, by Max Fatchen & Dave Luckett
Omnibus Books, 2005