Takeshita Demons, by Christy Burne

Are you afraid of ghosts and evil spirits, or the black space under your bed? If you are, then put this book down right away and choose another. If I were you, I would choose a book about teddy bears and bunny rabbits, because then there’s a good chance that you won’t be reading about floating heads or evil spirits or any of the other things you’ll find inside this book. If I were you, I’d do that. But for me, it’s already too late.

Miku Takeshita is Japanese and until recently, she and her family lived in Japan with her grandmother, who she calls Baba. Since Baba’s death, the family have lived in England. Baba taught Miku about ghosts and demons and how to protect herself and family from them. Miku’s mum isn’t so sure these ghosts and demons exist. But it’s lucky Miku listened. Because demons are here and they are not here to smell the roses. Miku and her Irish friend Cait must outsmart demons they didn’t know existed. They must also decide who to trust if they are to enter the battle to reclaim Miku’s little brother Kazu. The only weapons they have are their own quick thinking and Miku’s recollection of her grandmother’s teachings.

Takeshita Demons combines present-day England with ancient Japan, when demons and ghosts were part of the everyday. Miku’s grandmother has prepared her to fight the demons that her mother does not believe in, but she never expected to use the knowledge. Miku and her friend Cait are enterprising and spirited young heroes who demonstrate they are a match for any demon. They draw on the strengths of family and friendship in their battles. Miku discovers that she is more like her grandmother than she could have imagined. Miku tells her story in first person, ideal for her recollections of Baba’s advice and teachings. Takeshita Demons is the first title in this new adventure series. A modern introduction to Japanese mythological creatures. Recommended for mid- to upper primary aged readers.

Takeshita Demons

Takeshita Demons, Christy Burne, Siku
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2010
ISBN: 9781847801159

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

Esty's Gold, by Mary Arrigan

Sometimes, if I close my eyes and think really hard, I imagine I can smell Mama’s old sideboard and see again the carved flowers and twisty pillars. But if I linger too long over the memories stirred by the scent of beeswax and old wood, the other smell intrudes, the one that makes me cold and turns my thoughts to cheerless grey – the front-door smell of pale, damp people and poverty.
It was always my chore to dust the sideboard’s dark oak surface and rearrange the china ornaments. I had to stand on a chair because I was small for my age and the sideboard was high. There was a mirrored back, which I’d look into and pretend the other me was part of another, brighter, magical world on the other side…

Irish Esty’s comfortable life is turned upside-down by the sudden death of her father. He is killed while trying to intervene between the tenants of an absentee lord and the troops sent to evict them. She is sent into service, a life she is ill-prepared for or suited to. It is the 1850s and Ireland is in the grip of the potato famine and Esty and her family. When there is a chance to leave Ireland, Esty and her family take it. Esty convinces them all that Australia and the goldfields is a better destination than America, where many of the Irish are going. The second half of Esty’s Gold is set on the Ballarat goldfields, living in tents, adjusting to a new land and new rules.

Esty’s Gold explores the links between Ireland and Australia through the eyes of a young girl. It was a tough period in history, both in Ireland and on the goldfields. In Australia though, Esty demonstrates that hard work and not a little luck can lead to a new life, a new future. Esty might be the youngest of her family (which includes her mother, grandfather, May, a fellow worker and John Joe, a stablehand) but it is she who binds the family together. The reader is introduced to Ireland’s woes, and goldfield dust and the spirit that helped to establish a new home. Recommended for upper-primary readers.

Esty's Gold

Esty’s Gold, Mary Arrigan
Frances Lincoln 2010
ISBN: 9781845079659

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.