502 More Great Aussie Jokes

Did you hear about the optimistic kangaroo?
It hopped for the best.

Who would open the batting for the Aussie animal cricket team?
Wombat and numbat.

Where did the gum tree go for its holiday?
To the beech.

502 More Great Aussie Jokes is the fourth joke book produced by Scholastic Australia to support Camp Quality, a charity which assist children living with cancer.

Like previous offerings, this one is full of jokes, with some contributed by Aussie celebrities including Kate Richie, Matt Moran and Lote Tuqiri. Jokes are organised into categories including sport, animals, school, knock-knocks and more. Illustrations are comic style line drawings, provided by Louis Shea.

At just $9.99 rrp and, in support of such a good case, this is an offering well worth buying for a jokester in your life.

502 More Great Aussie Jokes

502 More Great Aussie Jokes
Scholastic Australia, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.

Finding Home, by Gary Crew & Susy Boyer

The boy stood beneath the tree and looked up at the chattering birds.
They were truly beautiful. The cracking and clacking as they kissed and canoodled, so powerful yet so gentle.

The boy does not like his new home in Australia, far from the life he had back in England. But one thing he does love is the big gum tree in the middle of his father’s wheat field. Every night at dusk the cockatoos come home to roost in the tree, chattering and canoodling and dropping white feathers. But his parents don’t like the tree, which will be a nuisance come harvest, nor the birds, which may strip the crop and soon the boy can only watch as his father fells the tree and the birds lose their home.

Finding Home is a beautiful but confronting picture book for older readers, exploring issues of destruction of the indigenous landscape, environmental responsibility and family relationships. The boy’s connection with the birds and their tree home, far deeper than his parent’s connection with the land they are farming, shows him that there are more important things than financial security, and even more important things than family loyalty.

The illustrations, too, add layers of meaning, with a glimpse of a personal tragedy in England not fully explained, allowing inquisitive readers the chance to construct back story.

An insightful exploration of environmental issues.

Finding Home

Finding Home, by Gary Crew and Susy Boyer (ill)
Ford St, 2009

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

The Good Daughter, by Amra Pajalic

Mum took a deep breath and when she spoke again her voice was calmer. ‘They judge everything by how well you make coffee. They’ll say “If she can’t make coffee how is she going to cook for her husband?”’
‘I’m not looking for a husband.’

She’s grown up as Sammie, away from her mother’s Bosnian family and friends, and free to be what she sees as ‘normal’ teenager. But now she’s Sahiba, back in the fold of the Bosnian community and struggling to work out whether she can be Muslim AND normal.

Sahiba is a funny, honest first person narrator, struggling with the changes brought about by her mother taking over care of her ageing grandfather and returning to live amongst the immigrant community. She also has to contend with changes in her friendships, trying to fit in at a new school, bullying, boys and figuring out just who her allies are in her crazy new world. To top it all off, her mother is bi-polar and there are signs that she is not taking her medication.

The Good Daughter is alternately hilarious and insightful, touching not just on issues of identity and mental illness, but also on bullying, homosexuality, teen relationships and more, with a voice and plot which teens will engage with.

The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter by Amra Pajalic
Text Publishing, 2009

The Wand and the Sword, by Mike Zarb & Robin Gold

Sweet shmegeggy!’ exclaimed Burnie. ‘It’s the Redwitch!
The Redwitch snatched the wand from its display case. ‘Old York is mine…ALL MINE!’ She kissed the wand with a loud SMACK.
‘Yech!’ grumbled the wand. ‘Take a breath mint, will ya?’

Belmont and Burnie face danger once again as they head off on an exciting quest to find Excalibur and save Old York from the Redwitch, who is up to her usual mischief.

In this, the second story featuring Belmont, the small boy who has unexpectedly become the champion of Old York, and Burnie, his friendly dragon sidekick, the fast paced action and humour continue.

The text works together with the colour illustrations, combining to give the feel of an episodic cartoon in a format likely to appeal to reluctant readers and to children making the transition from picture books to first novels.

Loads of fun.

The Wand and the Sword (Belmont and the Dragon)

Belmont and the Dragon: The Wand and the Sword, by Mike Zarb and Robin Gold
Random House, 2009

Breath, by Tim Winton

It’s funny, but you never think much about breathing. Until it’s all you ever think about.

Pikelet (Bruce Pike) and Loonie are in different classes at school, but when they discover a mutual interest in thrill seeking, they become inseparable friends. They flirt with danger – holding their breath under water, playing chicken with trucks, and with knives – but when they discover the surf they realise they’ve found the biggest thrill of all.

As they learn to surf they are befriended by an older surfer, Sando, who becomes their mentor and introduces them to the risk and excitement of big wave surfing. But as they grow, and the risks become bigger, their friendship is strained. Pikelet learns that fear can be a good thing, and, while the other two are off travelling without him, he also learns the importance of breathing, when he becomes involved in a confusing relationship with Sando’s wife, Eva.

Breath is yet another masterpiece from award winning author Tim Winton, likely to leave the reader breathless as it explores the complexities of friendship, risk taking, relationships and self identity. Pikelet seems an honest narrator, telling the events of his late childhood and teenage years from the perspective of an adult looking back. At times he interprets or comments on these events, so that we become aware of his adult self.

For lovers of surfing and adventure sports, the surfing scenes will be a delight, and for those who have not engaged in such things, Winton provides an insight into the thought processes of thrill seekers. But, while the surfing scenes are significant, this is much more than a book about surfing, and will leave the reader thinking about matters of existence and purpose.

Great stuff.


Breath, by Tim Winton
Penguin, 2008

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

Macquarie Pen Anthology of Australian Literature

The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literatureis a weighty tome with an ambitious aim – to bring together the best of Australian literature from all periods in a single volume. To do this, the book includes 1500 pages, and was compiled by a team of seven editors and with financial and academic input from organisations around Australia.

A review of such a volume is difficult because such a review cannot discuss the quality of the writings so collected, but must instead focus on the success of the choices made and their presentation. And such a collection is sure to be successful in the eyes of some, yet debated or even derided by others. For this reviewer, the book is a success both as a collection of quality Australian literature, but also as a point of discussion about what has and hasn’t been included. If readers and academics discuss whether more genre fiction should have been included, or why a particular favourite author hasn’t been included, this can only be healthy – because they are discussing just what does make up the best of Australian literature.

As to what the book actually contains – there are 513 works from 307 authors, including fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Each author is introduced with a brief biographical note and there are also several introductory essays – a general introduction to the collection, as well as introductions from each of the contributing editors who focussed on specific areas or eras of Australian literature.

This is a collector’s item which will please any lover of Australian literature, and will also make a wonderful academic tool from high school to university level. It is supported by a website, at www.macquariepenanthology.com.au, which includes a teaching guide for secondary schools and more.

Six years in the making, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature is an exciting offering with much to offer Australia’s literary and academic communities.

Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature

Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, General editor: Nicholas Jose
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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

The Trouble With Sauce, by Bruno Bouchet

When Mannington High becomes out of control the principal, Mr Foster, says to just send disruptive students to his office. One by one the students become good learners and quiet class members. But things go bad when the children turn into learning obsessed zombies and Jonty, Prune and Nathaniel have to make things normal again.

This exciting tale, by Bruno Bouchet, of zombie children and mind controlling sauce will have you turning pages faster than you can say “The Trouble With Sauce.” A good book for primary school students aged 9-13.

The Trouble with Sauce

The Trouble with Sauce, by Bruno Bouchet
ABC Books, 2009

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

Caterpillar and Butterfly, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Caterpillar lives alone in her leaf and turns down exciting experiences. One day she wants to hide away so she forms a chrysalis. When she finally comes out she is a beautiful butterfly and she tries lots of exciting things with her friends and spreads her story among other butterflies.

A great picture book by Ambelin Kwaymullina, good for small children aged 1-8.

There was once a caterpillar who lived all alone. Everything around Caterpillar seemed large and strange and she was full of fear.

Caterpillar lives alone in her leaf and turns down exciting experiences. One day she wants to hide away so she forms a chrysalis. When she finally comes out she is a beautiful butterfly and she tries lots of exciting things with her friends and spreads her story among other butterflies.

A great picture book by Ambelin Kwaymullina, good for small children aged 1-8.

Caterpillar and Butterfly

Caterpillar and Butterfly, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Fremantle Press, 2009

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

Tropic of Death, by Robert Sims

The little girl stood back and admired her sandcastle. She waved to her mother, who didn’t notice, before drifting off to look for shells. Wandering over to a clump of seaweed, she squatted and tugged at a slimy strand. It dislodged something strange in the mud, which she gazed at in fascination.

When a little girl uncovers a severed head on a Queensland beach, a resort town is shaken. But, when a second body is found it seems there is a serial killer on the loose. In Melbourne, criminal profile Rita Van Hassel doesn’t expect to get involved in the case, but soon finds herself on secondment in Whitley.

It doesn’t take long before Rita realises that, murders aside, Whitley is not the idyllic place it first appears on the surface. A secret research base casts a gloomy shadow of the town, and within the town itself there is a dark undercurrent of drugs and standover men. For Rita to solve the crime she is going to have to tread on some very dangerous toes.

Tropic of Death is an absorbing thriller. It is the second novel featuring Detective Rita Van Hassel who is a strong character, determined to do her job in difficult circumstances. With diverse characters and attractive settings, as well as a mixture of intrigue and action, this is a tale sure to delight lovers of crime fiction.

Tropic of Death

Tropic of Death, by Robert Sims
Allen & Unwin, 2009

Word of Honour, by Michael Pryor

A colossal shock racked the submersible. Aubrey was thrown to the deck. He lay there, alert, his mind racing, wondering what was happening.
The next moment, the Electra was rocked by another immense impact, much greater than the first. Aubrey was hurled against the leg of the table. He gasped as he took the blow on his shoulder and bit back a cry of pain.

With schooldays behind him, Aubrey Fitzwilliam is looking forward to university, and the chance to immerse himself in his magical studies. But, as Aubrey well knows, his life is unlikely to take a steady course. First, he finds himself stranded on a sinking submersible vessel, then on the trail of a plot to rob Albion’s largest bank. With his friends George and Caroline, Aubrey finds himself in more danger than ever before.

Word of Honour is the third title in the amazing Laws of Magic series and will be best enjoyed by those who have read the first two, although it will also stand alone. For fans of the series, there is plenty of the familiar – including the arch-villain Dr Tremaine, and Aubrey’s long-running battle to retain his fragile hold on life, after a failed magical experiment – but Pryor avoids using a formula to repeat the patterns of previous books, and there is plenty of difference here to retain interest, and to leave the reader eager for the next instalment.

With action, intrigue, humour and a colourful cast of characters in a fantasy world which is at once familiar and surprising.

Fantasy at its best.

Word of Honour (Laws of Magic)

Word of Honour (Laws of Magic), by Michael Pryor
Random House, 2008

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