Sam finished up at nine. He put his hoodie on and came out of the back entrance of the Little Burger Hut in the Warramar Mall. Finny was waiting for him. So they walked home together. Sort of together, but apart.
‘You going to get into trouble, coming home late?’ Same asked, after half a block or so. Finny didn’t even bother to shrug. ‘Trouble? No. the later the better. It’s payday. He’ll probably be pissed.’
‘That’s good? Isn’t he worse when he is?’
‘Maybe. Now way to know.’
She went back to staring at the footpath.
Sam and Finny are school outcasts both. Sam plays football, and works at the Little Burger Hut, so despite not being super-popular, he gets along. Finny is different, tall and skinny with dark hair, she shuns sympathy and shrugs off high school bitching. Her stepfather is a drunk and very free with his fists. She and Sam are friends, although Sam’s not quite sure what sort of friends. Then Sam interrupts a mugging in the park on their way home from work and their whole world changes. Literally. It seems that Finny and Sam both have skills that are needed in a land at war. One of Sam’s strengths is an ability to know, wholeheartedly, what is right. It’s a skill he will have great need of as he and Finny journey through the strange land they find themselves in.
Paladin is a story for all teenagers who know they have a place but just can’t seem to find it. It is there. A Paladin is not a place but a calling. Paladins are what in medieval times were called Knights. They have bravery and physical prowess, but they have more. And it would seem they are born, not trained. Sam moves between the two worlds, struggling to understand just where he fits. Truth and justice are strong themes as Sam undertakes the rites of passage. Sam is caught between two worlds, neither of which is perfect, as he tries to make sense of what is right and what is other. Fantasy worlds are often created to sustain a series, but Paladin is complete in and of itself. Which is not to say there’s not enough material for sequels… Recommended for lower- to mid-secondary readers.
Paladin, Dave Lucket
Omnibus Books 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
One night in the Outback, when it was so dark that the stars looked like pinholes in a black velvet curtain, two bushmen were sitting by their campfire. One was a young bloke, a jackaroo. The other was a drover from out on the red-soil plains. He was pouring tea from the billy. The jackaroo was telling him a tall tale about a fish he had nearly caught. ‘That sounds like something that might happen on Speewah Station,’ the drover said when the story was finished.
Two men, a drover and a jackaroo are yarning over their fire, somewhere deep in the Australian inland, when they are unexpectedly joined by an old swaggie. The old swaggie joins their conversation and the three talk about a big property beyond the black stump and the legendary Crooked Mick. The property, Speewah Station, is enormous, and ‘so far out in the bush the crows fly backwards to keep the dust out of their eyes’. Crooked Mick was so powerful ‘he could split a hardwood log just by looking at it’. As the night progresses, the three men escalate the tales about Crooked Mick until at last the swaggie vanishes into the night, as silently as he arrived. Could he be the ghost of Crooked Mick?
There’s nothing so ‘Australian’ as a yarn from the bush and this one is as tall a tale as they get. Like children trying to outdo one another in the school yard, the men around the fire take turns at expanding on the rumours and stories they’ve heard. The legendary Speewah Station and the even more legendary Crooked Mick grow taller and broader by the second. The tale-telling ceases to be about the subjects and is more an imaginative game as the time progresses. Children will relate to the absurdity of the tall tales and the humour. Many will be inspired to create their own stories about Crooked Mick, or perhaps about their own lives. Great fun. Recommended for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.
Crooked MickDave Luckett ill Andrew Joyner
Omnibus Books 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond .
Mr Tipkins lost his temper entirely. He smiled, and his smile was the sort of smile you see on the sort of wizard you don’t want to meet on a dark night. ‘You want something powerful, do you?’ he asked. ‘Something unusual? Something people will notice, eh? Well, take this!’
When Mr Tipkins, a gift-giver from the Department of Wishes of Faerie, arrives to bestow baby Alain with a gift, he gives him more than was intended. This has consequences not just for baby Alain, but for Tipkins as well, who finds himself sent away to the Collegium Magica to be trained as a Faerie Mage. While the Collegium offers plenty of opportunity for Tipkin, he soon finds that his new life won’t be at all straightforward.
The Truth About Magic is the first in a new fantasy series, School of Magic, with wizards, spells and magic aplenty. There is loads of action, some humour, and characters both likeable and dastardly.
Perfect for young fans of the fantasy genre aged ten and up.
The Truth About Magic, by 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