On the River, by Roland Harvey

Here in the foothills, tadpoles practise to be grown-up frogs in crystal-clear ponds, surrounded by wiry grasses and tough little plants that have spent the winter sleeping under the snow….These are the headwaters of the Murray River, where the story begins.

From its small beginnings high in the Australian alps to its meeting with the sea, the Murray River’s beauty is legendary. But, though it is home to a vast range of wildlife, including fish, birds, frogs and insects, it has also played a major role in Australia’s farming, transport and industrial history and, as such, its delicate balance has been impacted.

In On the River, author/illustrator Roland Harvey travels the length of the river in words and pictures, with his pelican friend, exploring the beauty of the river, as well as its history, its role in the lives of both the natural and human world, and its struggles.

Populating beautifully rendered realistic landscapes and aerial views with the slightly cartoonish human figures which Harvey is known for, the book mixes whimsy with serious subject matter, highlighting the plight of the river as well as the things it is loved for, including recreation and its beauty.

Useful for classroom purposes, On the River is also great for private enjoyment.

On the River, by Roland Harvey
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760112455

Summer Rain by Ros Moriarty ill Balarinji

First…the land wakes in morning light.

9781760112110.jpgFirst…the land wakes in morning light.

Ros Moriarty and Balarinji present a northern Australian summer’s day. Summer Rain begins with dawn, and ends after the sun is gone. A summer rain shower increases the steaminess, and animals appear to crawl, stretch and swim. Illustrations are stylised and brightly coloured. In the final story opening, dancers appear to enjoy the cooler evening. In the final opening, the text is written in English and in Yanyuwa language. Verbs appear in a larger coloured font.

Summer Rain is a gloriously coloured dance of a story, sure to be acted out in kindergartens and early primary classrooms. It provides an introduction to the climate in the north of Australia and to some of the plants and animals who live there, both on the land and in the sea. Young readers will recognise the animals and plants. Summer Rain is a delight, sure to be a hit with local readers who recognise their own world, and other readers everywhere. Recommended for pre-schoolers and early years students.

Summer Rain, Ros Moriarty, Balarinji
Allen & Unwin 2015 ISBN: 9781760112110

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller


Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain, by Steven Herrick

My name is Jesse James Jones. Call me Jesse. Don’t call me triple j. I’m not a radio station, I’m an eleven-year-old boy.
Trevor looks down on me with understanding eyes. It’s pretty tough going through life with a name that people make fun of. ‘ven though I walk through the valley of the shadow -‘
‘Mum! Jesse’s talking to himself again!’ yells my sister Beth, from the next room.
‘Jesse.’ Mum’s voice is reproachful, as though I’ve been caught doing something sinful.

Fitting in to a new school is rarely easy, and when there’s a school bully with you firmly in his sights, it’s definitely going to be difficult. Lucky for Jesse there’s also a girl called Kate who has curly black hair and a beautiful smile. While Jesse’s helping her to save the whales, he’s also trying to save starving orphans in Africa, and his family from financial ruin.

Bleakboy and Hunter Stand out in the Rain is a funny story about standing up for beliefs, friendship and fitting in. Told from the first point viewpoint of Jesse, interspersed with a third person look at Hunter’s perspective, the reader is thus able to see the complexities of the boys’ interaction as well as what is happening in each boy’s life. This adds a depth which a single viewpoint would lack.

Young readers will enjoy the silliness of scenes including Jesse’s interaction with a poster of Jesus (who he calls Trevor to appease his atheist parents) and Hunter’s ability to find sponsorship for the Save the Whales cause , whilst appreciating the poignancy of the tougher moments of the story.

Herrick is a powerful storyteller. Bleakboy and Hunter Stand out in the Rain will not disappoint.


Bleakboy and Hunter Stand out in the Rain, by Steven Herrick
UQP, 2014
ISBN 9780702250163

You can read an interview with Steven Herrick here.

This book is available from good bookstores or online.

Darcy Moon and the Deep-Fried Forgs, by Catherine Carvell

‘The night you were born,’ he said, ignoring my question, ‘there was a rare lunar eclipse. The planets were aligned.’ He lifted a webbed foot and waved it in the air as if the planets were hovering in front of him. ‘When the eclipse passed,’ he continued, ‘the first ray of moonlight hit your newborn eyes and a cosmic does of planetary magic passed to you.’
Darcy Moon has a few problems – the biggest ones being her embarrassing parents, whose funny smells and hairy armpits are stopping her fitting in with the cool crowd.So when the animals at the local swamp start speaking to her, she doesn’t want to know. She can’t help them – and if anyone knows she talks to frogs, she’ll become a laughing stock. But Jumpy the frog and Wizen, the Western Swamp Tortoise, are pretty persistent, and when Darcy realises why the local frogs are disappearing she realises she has to help.

Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs is a fun adventure with an important message about ecology and the environment. Darcy is a gutsy girl who must use her nous to help the animals, and get out of some scrapes, which she does with aplomb.

Suitable for primary school aged children, Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs is a great début novel from West Aussie Catherine Carvell.

Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs, by Catherine Carvell
Fremantle Press, 2014
ISBN 9781922089717

Available from good bookstores and online.