Sea Secrets, by Gillian M. Wadds

We climbed over the rocks and at last sank into the cool water. Lazily we swam out through the narrow entrance looking down through our masks at the slowly moving underwater world: little brown waving trees, bunches of green lettuce, long strands of brown leather kelp. I hung there, weightless, floating in the clear water until I noticed something strange wedged into the rocks. I surfaced and dragged off my mask.
‘Hey, Jodie,’ I yelled. ‘Come over here!’

It’s school holidays and summer is well and truly here. While swimming with Jodie, Zena discovers a bag of abalone on the floor of Stingray Pool. She takes some home and shares them with her friends. Sean’s policeman father warns her to be careful, abalone poachers can be dangerous. Zena and her friends are uneasy but not too worried until their friend Tran disappears. They learn more and more about abalone and the risks poachers will take to harvest it. Summer is about to get much more exciting than they expected.

The front cover of Sea Secrets shows a view from underwater looking upwards. A diver floats next to the reef and seems oblivious to a shark swimming nearby. But it is the human ‘sharks’ who present most danger for Zena and her friends. Like the shark, danger circles closer and closer as they search for their friend. Gillian Wadds’ characters reflect the ethnic diversity in an urban environment without making a feature of their similarities and differences. They are just children, experiencing and responding to their environment, alternately excited by and fearful of what they find. There are family and cultural elements interwoven with the story, providing many topics for further discussion. Recommended for upper primary and early secondary readers.

Sea Secrets, by Gillian M Wadds
Hachette Children’s Books
ISBN 9780734409782

Chemical Leak! by Gillian M. Wadds

The only way I could get back on top of the container was to edge around the front of the drums and that meant getting quite close to the guard and the dog. Neither of them moved as I crept sideways past them, hardly daring to look where I was going. As soon as I reached the pipes I turned and scrambled up.
’And don’t come back!’ he yelled as I reached the top. ‘Tell her, Prince.’

Zena loves science and wants to prove to her science teacher and the rest of the class that she is a good researcher. So when she discovers a strange chemical leaking into the water at the beach, she decides to base her science project on it. First she needs to discover where the leak is coming from, and then she’ll figure out how to fix it.

But Zena soon finds that solving this problem may not be as easy as it seems. First she is caught by a security guard when she enters the yard where the leak is coming from. Then her father finds out how dangerous the leak is and tells her to stay away. Zena is sure there is a bigger problem here, but doesn’t realise that her life could be at risk if she persists with her investigations.

Chemical Leak! is an exciting read for young teens. As well as the mystery of the chemical leak, there is also exploration of family relations, ethnicity and racism, and friendship. Zena is a Lebanese Australian learning about the challenges of growing up and her motivation in pursuing the mystery is to prove to her classmates that she is clever.

Suitable for 10 to 14 year old readers.

Chemical Leak! by Gillian M. Wadds
Lothian, 2006