Out of the Blue, by Michael Panckridge and Pam Harvey

Sean Williams woke with a start. He sat up quickly and looked around his dark bedroom. There was nothing. The house was quiet. His clock read 1.35am. It was too early for the garbage men or a milk truck or any sort of delivery van, so what had woken him up?

Sean slid out of his bed and padded over to his window, pushing the curtain aside so he could see out. Suddenly, he saw what had made him wake up like that. The sky was lit with flashes as if a whole heap of meteors were cascading to Earth. The bright light must have come through a crack in the curtains and hit him in the face. As Sean watched, half a dozen more flashes shot through the dark and disappeared. The sky returned to normal.

Teasdale is not the sort of place where unusual things happen very often, so there is some excitement when bright lights are sighted in the night sky. The resident eccentric, who claims a previous alien abduction experience is quite excited. But for Sean, his sister and her friends, it is the beginning of a mystery. Each of the characters investigates in a slightly different way, but each piece contributes to solving the puzzle. At the same time there are other puzzles. What’s up with Gabby? Why is she so grumpy? What is the strange object Sean found, and why are the UFOSITE people acting so suspiciously. And then there’s the abandoned shooting range. These holidays are going to be like no other.

Sean is younger brother to Hannah but is also friends with her friends, Gabby, Angus and ED. They have the kind of freedom to explore that is remembered by many adults but often not available to children of today. This freedom allows them to explore and investigate while still retaining the security of their individual families. Michael Panckridge and Pam Harvey keep the families in the background, but ensure that it is clear that the children operate from a safe base. All treat the local eccentric, Byron Watts, with respect, despite some doubts regarding his claims. Sean is the nominal main character, but there are plenty of insights from the other characters. Teasdale, the setting is a small inland town in the bush and it’s easy to imagine it anywhere along the east or south coast. Recommended for mid- upper primary readers, particularly lovers of mystery.

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue, Michael Panckridge and Pam Harvey
Angus & Robertson 2009
ISBN: 9780207200601

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review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author www.clairesaxby.com