Treading the Boards, by Celeste Walters

Mum is overjoyed. ‘My boy is treading the boards,’ she gushes, and throws her arms around me. She could simply have said, ‘He’s in a play.’ But you don’t know my mum.
Then she immediately rings Dad. ‘Thomas is strutting the stage,’ she announces. ‘He takes after us…What? No, not your family. My family. The artistic side.’
I have to listen to all this.

When it is announced that class 8B will be putting on a play, no one is less impressed than Tom. The only good thing is that he manages not to get a speaking part. Until his best friend unexpectedly leaves the country. Suddenly, Tom has a part to play – and a line to learn. A line which, if spoken incorrectly, could prove to embarrassing.

Still, it’s not all bad. The teacher, Mr Bloomer, has arranged for the lovely Miss Effington-Smythe to come along to rehearsals and offer some advice. She is beautiful – and Tom wants desperately to be noticed by her. Then Tom sees his father with another beautiful young woman, and his troubles really start. How can he get his dad to see the error of his ways?

Treading the Boards is a humorous novel for upper primary aged readers, with lots of silliness and some twists and turns, with some gentle exploration of issues including family break ups and first crushes . Mostly, though, it’s just a good fun read, likely to appeal to both boy and girl readers.

Treading the boards, by Celeste Walters
Little Hare, 2007

Deception, by Celeste Walters

Not much that happens in the silver city is not influenced by Kenneth Cullinan. He has a finger in every pie in town – business; politics, even football.

Josh Sim lives in the silver city. His life is study, family, and following the team. Until the game goes national, with Cullinan at the centre of the push, and Josh and every other local is left without a team to support.

Josh’s Dad played for the team and, to his grandfather, GD, football is life’s focus. When the team is closed, GD loses his passion for life.

Meanwhile, Josh’s mother, Liz, is living a lie. Every Wednesday she sneaks off to her new job – cleaning silver at Kenneth Cullinan’s home. The extra money will help put Josh through university, but she can’t tell him where the money comes from. Cullinan is universally hated and Josh wouldn’t understand why she is working for him.

When Josh uncovers his mother’s betrayal, he leaves home and takes to the streets. It seems, for a time, as if nothing will mend the rift.

Deception is a skilfully crafted book for young adults which will also appeal to adult readers. Author Celeste Walters creates a multi-layered and multi-streamed tale which shows the darker side of a city and of human nature, but also features hope and love as very real parts of life.

There is a tendency among writers for older teens to confuse realism with pessimism, and Walters carefully avoids this trap. The book is, at times, very dark, yet there, amidst death, family breakdown, and chaos, is a demonstration of goodness, of hope for a brighter future. There are no easy answers to the difficulties Josh and his family face, but there is an opportunity to search for answers, to work towards solutions.

A resonant read for ages 14 and over.

Deception, by Celeste Walters
University of Queensland Press, 2005