Unforgotten, by Tohby Riddle

Nobody knows where they come from.
But they come.
Impossible birds of the big sky
and the long night …

Unseen, angles come to Earth to watch over, to warm and to mend. But the harshness of the world, and the vastness of the work required proves too much for one of these silent comforters, and it falls to Earth where , sorely in need of comfort itself, he is at risk of not being able to move any more. His plight is seen and acted upon by an unlikely group of rescuers including a clown, children,  even a patched donkey.

Unforgotten is not a story – it’s an experience. And a lyrical, beautiful experience at that. The text is a poem, a line or two to some pages, and no text on others,whisping its way in white font across black backgrounds. The illustrations are an intriguing montage of photographs and drawings, so that the viewer can explore in detail or simply absorb the whole. An initial reading leaves the reader thinking; rereading provides depth and enhances the wonder of the work.

Suitable for readers of all ages.


Unforgotten, by Tohby Riddle
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742379722

Available from good bookstores and online.

Nobody's Boy, by Dianne Bates

there were phone calls that night
welfare people whispering
I was in the next room
scoffing down the pie and drink they gave me
the walls were thin
can you take him?
can you help us out?

I knew what was happening
does anyone want this kid?
that’s what they were saying
does anyone care?

Not many seven year olds know how to ring for an ambulance, but Ron Green does, because he’s been looking out for his mum for quite some time. Now she’s in hospital, and Ron is in foster care, being passed around from place to place. H’es nobody’s boy. His aunt Maree takes him in, but she doesn’t want him – she’s got her hands full with three kids of her own. Dad’s new wife Anna won’t have Ron in the house. And the people who sometimes care for Ron, Pearl and Brian, are off travelling Australia in a caravan. Eventually, Ron is taken in by new foster carers, happy to have a boy of their own. It’s the sort of home he’s always wanted – with a mum and a dad, a room of his own, even trips on aeroplanes. But all Ron really wants is to be with his dad.

Nobody’s Boy is a moving verse novel about the difficulties faced by children who have no stable family life. Ron is a confused,sometimes angry child, who just wants to feel loved. Whilst there are people in his life who do care for him, his sense of abandonment by his parents is strong. Neglected by his mother whilst in her care, he particularly wants to connect with his more stable father, but this is difficult because of his stepmother. The challenges faced by foster families are also highlighted. Ron’s foster parents are caring people who try hard to provide him with the stability he needs, but find it hard to take the place of his absent parents and to undo the damage done in his past.

The subject matter is confronting and sad, but well handled. Readers are given an insight into Ron’s life made clsoer by the use of the verse novel format, allowing key moments and personal feelings to be shared with heartbreaking intimacy.

Whilst the cover image suggests an older boy, Ron turns 10 during the story, making this suitable for primary aged readers, though older readers will also connect.

Nobodys Boy

Nobody’s Boy, by Dianne Bates
Celapene Press, 2012
ISBN 9780987255600

Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Carousel, by Ursula Dubosarsky & Walter Di Qual

This a book which makes for repeated oral readings, particularly by adult readers to children, who will love the rhythm of the words and the magic of the horses – real or imagined.

One winter’s day my dad and I
Went down to see the carousel.
We stood and watched as round and round
The little horses rose and fell.

This enchanting rhyming picture book begins with the protagonsit,a young girl, watching the carousel with her father before she, too, gets to ride on one of the painted horses. On the ride she is transported, imaging herself galloping free as the wind far from the carousel. But, when the ride slows, the girl feels the horse’s sorrow that it can never be free to leap and bound, to wander in the wilds. So she makes a wish that all of the horses will be free – a wish that she believes come true, with the sound of hooves in the night and the horses running free ever after.

The Carousel is a magical tale of imagination and freedom, told in rhyming verse which scans with a rhythmic echo of the rocking of the horses as they canter free. Most spreads have just one four line stanza, allowing the illustrations to dominate the text. And what illustrations they are – mixed media renderings of the magic of the carousel, and of the horse galloping across red earth, through blue water and against purple night skies.

This a book which makes for repeated oral readings, particularly by adult readers to children, who will love the rhythm of the words and the magic of the horses – real or imagined.

The Carousel

The Carousel, by Ursula Dubosarsky & Walter Di Qual

Viking, 2011
ISBN 9780670074624

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

Now I Am Bigger, by Sherryl Clark & Nina Rycroft

look, there’s someone
just like me

hands on head
arms out wide
touch my nose
tickle my ears
that baby does
everything I do

From the moments after birth, to a birthday party, Now I am Bigger captures the big and little moments of a baby’s life. Similar in format to a verse novel, this picture book offering consists of a series of free verse poems each focussing on one of baby’s experiences – being wrapped in a light cocoon after birth, floating in a bath, looking in a mirror, learning to crawl and walk – and brought to life in gentle water colour and pencil illustrations.

The poems can be read separately, but together create a lovely exploration of the world of a baby. Perfect for read aloud to the very young, the gentle rhythm of the text could be used as a bedtime story, but will also appeal to older children who have babies in their lives.

Now I am Bigger

Now I am Bigger, by Sherryl Clark & Nina Rycroft
Working Title, 2010
ISBN 9781921504174

This book can be purchased in any good bookstore, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids, edited by Jim Haynes

Kids love verse, and the Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kidsis, as the title suggests, packed full of verse. There are poems short and long, chosen especially for the Australian audience.

Selected by poet and entertainer Jim Haynes, the collection includes poems from Australia and around the world on topics ranging from the serious to the downright silly. What is common is the use of rhyme and rhythm, and the aim of the selector to appeal to Aussie kids.

The over 600 poems included in the volume are organised into 20 categories, or chapters, including poems about creatures, about childhood, and about places, or poetic forms including the limerick and the epitaph. Poets represented are well known, including Banjo Patterson, Edward Lear and TS Elliot, or lesser known, modern or historic. Some poems will be familiar to readers, others will be new. All have the potential to touch the reader and stay with them afterwards.

This is a wonderful offering for kids and adults, for home, school or library.

Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids

Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids, edited by Jim Haynes
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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