Sparrow, by Scot Gardner

One two three breath one two three four.
After the dusk burned out and the stars began winking in his salt-stung eyes it became impossible to judge the distance to shore. The stars finished some way above the waterline, but was theat the Kimberley coast he could see, or clouds hanging low over an endless ocean?
One two breath one two breath.

Travelling by boat at the end of a survival trip off the Kimberley coast, Sparrow sees that the boats i about to sink and decides to swim for safety and for freedom. His life in juvie has been tough, and h’es prepared to risk everything for freedom. But there are sharks and crocodiles in the water, and its getting dark. the shore, too, is filled with dangers. Yet none of these dangers are perhaps as dark as the memories that crowd his mind.

Sparrow is a compelling story of survival both in the remote Kimberley wilderness, and on the streets of Darwin. Sparrow, selective mute after a childhood of trauma, relives the events which have lead to him being in juvenile detention as he tackles the new challenges for day to day survival which have arisen as a result of his decision to flee the boat.

A moving, unforgettable story.

Sparrow, by Scot Gardner
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760294472

Stuff Happens: Fadi, by Scot Gardner

Principal Davies didn’t realise that banning tackling games would mean that our need to tackle would build up and build up until it had to come out.
It came out one recess on the EBO – the oval across the road from school.
I tackled Jack, even though tackling was banned. I broke the rules and I think I broke Jack’s arm.

Fadi is a big by with a big heart. Being a year older than everyone else, and with Samoan heritage and a love for rugby, Fadi feels like whenever he moves he breaks something. But staying still is too hard, and sometimes stuff just seems to happen.

Fadi is a book about getting into trouble, fitting in and learning to like yourself. Gently humorous, the story is also realistic, exploring issues which might confront contemporary children.

Aimed at chidlren in middle and upper primary, Fadi is part of the Stuff Happens series from Puffin Books and will engage both competent and reluctant readers.


Fadi (Stuff Happens)

Fadi, by Scot Gardner
Puffin Books, 2015
ISBN 9780143308126

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Dead I Know, by Scot Gardner

Aaron Rowe has a new job – training to be a funeral director. Luckily Aaron isn’t scared of death. What he is scared of is losing Mam, who grows further away from him every day. And he’s also pretty scared that his sleepwalking habit is going to land him in a lot trouble. If he can’t figure out the truth about his past, he might never get over the terrible dreams which torment his sleep…

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, ‘Steady, we’re here to help.’ Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Green supposedly threw herself off, and you have absolutely no idea how you got there.

Aaron Rowe has a new job – training to be a funeral director. Luckily Aaron isn’t scared of death. What he is scared of is losing Mam, who grows further away from him every day. And he’s also pretty scared that his sleepwalking habit is going to land him in a lot trouble. If he can’t figure out the truth about his past, he might never get over the terrible dreams which torment his sleep.

The Dead I Know is Scot Gardner at his finest. Managing to be funny, scary, sad and exhilarating all in the same book is hard. Doing it sometimes all on the same page is even harder. Aaron is a troubled teen with a difficult past and a ton of problems in the present, yet he is likeable and even positive in the face of some pretty tough stuff. His story is one which grips and doesn’t leave you alone.

It’s hard to put this book down, even when you’ve finished it.

The Dead I Know, by Scot Gardner
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN 9781742373843

The Dead I Know

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Happy as Larry, by Scot Gardner

The name Laurence had been Mal’s idea. It was a serious name that met Denise’s wish to counterbalance the frivolity of Rainbow. Mal considered, with an inward smile, that his friends would probably call the boy Larry. Larry Rainbow. A name that stood out on a stormy day, that rolled off the tongue like a favourite poem and that captured within its simplicity a smile.

Larry Augustine Rainbow is a much loved, much wanted child born into an ordinary family and looking set for an ordinary life. But as he grows up, the world changes, and so does his family.

Larry makes good friends, but his parents’ pasts, and the troubled life of a young neighbour, mean that his good times are sometimes overshadowed by darkness, and, in his teens, it seems that his family will be torn apart.

Happy as Larry is an intriguing book – from the beginning readers are drawn in by an almost fairy-tale style narrative style, though it doesn’t take long for the reader to realise there are chinks in this family’s happy existence. But, while Larry’s life is filled with twists and turns which are at times sad and others truly horrible, there is also plenty of sunshine and this is ultimately a feel-good book. Set against real world events of the past 20 years this is an outstanding offering for young adult readers.

Happy as Larry, by Scot Gardner
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

Bookmark Days, by Scot Gardner

My name is Avril. This story is about me and my cousin Katie, who is from another planet. My planet is run by sheep, hers is run by fashion. You’ll also meet our families, a few horses and dogs, and one seriously hot guy.

Avril Stanton lives a quiet, isolated life. She lives so far from her nearest town that she doesn’t even go to school. In between doing correspondence lessons, she helps on the family farm, with her parents, grandparents and little brother. In contrast, her cousin Katie lives in the city and always has at least one boy on the go. But in spite of their differences, the two are best friends, and Avril can’t wait for Katie’s annual visit.

But this year things are different. Katie is driving Avril crazy with her nonstop talk about boys and boyfriends. Avril has never been in love – but has just met her neighbour, Nathaniel, who would be perfect if he wasn’t a Carrington, from the one family Avril is supposed to hate. Avril finds herself jealous of Katie’s confidence and ease with boys, and wonders if their friendship is in trouble.

Bookmark Days is a story about friendship and first relationships, as well as family structure and loyalty. As Avril and Katie deal with their own problems, they are also affected by the strain between Avril’s family and the neighbouring Carringtons, a feud which spans three generations, and have to realise that insecurity and relationship problems are not just the domain of the young.

Part of the Girlfriend Fiction series, Bookmark Days Deals with issues which many teens will face, with the rural setting and city/country contrast providing a novel setting.

Bookmark Days, by Scot Gardner
Allen & Unwin, 2009

The Detachable Boy, by Scot Gardner

Crystal hooked her thumbs into her backpack straps and took off like a stampeding giraffe. ‘Yeehaa!’
Ravi rolled his eyes and slapped his thigh. ‘Hi ho, Ravi, away!’ he cried as he galloped to catch her.
I was winding up to dash after them when a black Saab came out of nowhere and thumped into me. Thumped me so hard my legs dropped off, my arms detached and my head bounced across the garden and rolled beneath a camellia bush.

John Johnson is a bit weird. That’s because he’s detachable. His body parts come off and can be put back on. This can prove a little embarrassing, so John hasn’t told his friends about his problem. So when he’s hit by a car in front of his friends, he hopes they haven’t noticed. They haven’t – but someone else has, and soon John and his friends are in danger. When Crystal is kidnapped, John has to use his detachability to fly to America in a suitcase and rescue her.

The Detachable Boy is a hilarious novel for primary aged readers with a blend of silliness, adventure and friendship. John’s ability to take himself apart and put himself back together gets him into as many scrapes as it gets him out of, and the twists and turns of this adventure often involve bits falling off or being put into funny places.

The humour and fun of this piece make it a sure winner with mid and upper primary aged readers.

The Detachable Boy, by Scot Gardner
Allen & Unwin, 2008

Burning Eddy by Scot Gardner

Some people call Daniel Fairbrother Dan. Most just call him Fairy. It’s not a name that he likes.

Daniel is searching for meaning in his life. His family life is dominated by his moody and unloving father. Away from home, he has no friends and little to be happy about.

When Daniel meets a Dutch woman, Eddy, he starts to slowly see changes in his life. Eddy is eight-six. She has a tattoo, a history and can make music with her farts. She pays Dan well for the work he does in her garden, and seems to read his mind. She offers him more than work and pay – she offers him friendship. Eddy’s friendship does not prove to be an instant fix to all of Daniel’s problems – his father’s moodiness seems to escalate, the other boys pick on him and he is haunted by memories. But Eddy shows Daniel hope. Maybe there is a point to life – and maybe, just maybe, things will get better.

Burning Eddy is a poignant story about growing up, about family and about friendship. Author Scot Gardner weaves a tale which draws the reader in, caring deeply about these characters. Along the way he continues to drop bombshells that reshape the reader’s perceptions of the characters, so that the story is an ongoing surprise.


Burning Eddy, by Scot Gardner
Pan Macmillan, 2003