The Bushfire Brumby, by Delwyne Stephens

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

Rachel and Tim visit their older brother, Roger at his farm. While there they meet up with a brumby and Roger agrees that despite the drought which is threatening his own livestock, they can keep the brumby. But they need a name for it. Nothing feels right.

Overturning stereotypes, it is interesting that it’s Rachel who likes the spiders and insects rather then her brother but she is the one wary of the brumby at first.

The Bushfire Brumby is a simply told story yet one with enough tension and drama that will make sure it appeals to a lot of kids. The story also gives a good picture of the effects of drought on country areas. The drought is portrayed realistically and from the description I could almost feel the oppressive heat. The story also gives a good picture of the effect on wildlife like kangaroos and emus as well as the sheep and cattle.

How the children learn to trust the brumby’s instincts and how the brumby earns his name is well handled. The illustrations effectively complement the text. I loved the sad look on the pony on page 14.

The newspaper report at the end is a good touch and will be useful for teachers looking for a variation in text types.

This book is a sure winner for young readers. Aussie Books are to be congratulated for their insight in publishing these highly readable books that reflect Australian life and humour as well as problems associated with our land.

The Bushfire Brumby , by Delwyne Stephens
Published by Aussie School Books, Distributed by Blake Education

The Copperhead, by Delwyne Stephens

Rachel was scared, too. She was so scared she could hear her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She knew what type of snake it was from the colour. It was a copperhead. Copperheads were deadly.

Rachel is always getting into trouble for not thinking before she acts. When she and her brother Tim go searching for blue-tongue lizards, she is determined not to get into any more trouble. But when Tim grabs hold of a snake’s tail, thinking it’s a lizard, Rachel knows she must stop and think before doing what needs to be done.

The Copperhead is an easy to read chapter book for primary school aged readers. Set on a country Australian farm, and featuring one of Australia’s most dangerous animals, it will appeal to Australian kids. Part of the Aussie School kids series, The Copperhead is 48 pages long and has plenty of illustrative support for readers new to the novel format.

Good stuff.

The Copperhead, by Delwyne Stephens
Aussie School Books, 2007

Wheels, by Delwyne Stephens

Reviewed by Jackie Hosking

Without testing the water how can we know what is shallow and what is deep?

Fifteen year old Shane Jamieson is put to the ultimate test when he loses the use of his legs in a motocross accident. He soon learns that many aspects of his life are surprisingly shallow; his girlfriend, his father’s obsession with winning and his own insecurity.

Delwyne Stephens tells an amazing story about Shane as she sits us in his wheelchair and shows us that frailty and strength are not the opposites that they may first appear to be.

Wheels is a courageous story that leaves the reader feeling blessed no matter what their life circumstances. It is about faith and hope but mostly Wheels is about life and not being afraid to live it authentically with dignity and with grace.

Well done Delwyne. Your debut novel is terrific!

Wheels , by Delwyne Stephens
Published by Futuretrack, 2006