Slowly! Slowly! by T. M. Clark, ill Helene Magisson

Bongani stood tall.
‘Dad, am I big enough? Am I higher than the hyena? Can I go to school?’
‘No, my son. But today you can look after the crops. Chase the animals away.’

Bongani is desperate to go to school, but he’s too small. His father has another job for him. He can protect the crops from the cunning crows and the marching monkeys. He does his jobs but would rather be at school with his cousins. His grandfather, seeing his sadness, tells him that his cousins will never have the chance to catch a monkey. Despite his sadness, Bongani is intrigued. Slowly, slowly, says his grandfather. That’s how you catch a monkey. Illustrations are in pencil and watercolour in rich greens and blues, purples and oranges.

It’s a terrible thing to be too small to do what you want to do, when growing is taking too long. Bongani is keen to go to school but he is too small. His father sets him a task to keep him occupied but it is his grandfather who diverts him and teaches him how to catch a monkey. It is Bongani, however, who makes his own decisions once a monkey is caught. Grandfather’s gentleness and instructions allow Bongani to learn how to catch a monkey, and then to learn the consequences of the catching. A lovely story of family and learning. An interpretation of a traditional African tale, ‘Slowly! Slowly!’ will appeal to pre- and early-schoolers.

Slowly! Slowly! T. M. Clark ill Helene Magisson
Wombat Books 2017
ISBN: 9781925563221

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

Allsorts: Poetry Tricks and Treats, by Andrew Lansdown

This book is aptly named as it contains all sorts of sweet delights. If you are a teacher feeling a bit lost about teaching poetry in class, or just someone who wants to learn more about the craft of poetry, you will find this book an invaluable tool.

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

This book is aptly named as it contains all sorts of sweet delights. If you are a teacher feeling a bit lost about teaching poetry in class, or just someone who wants to learn more about the craft of poetry, you will find this book an invaluable tool.

Not only is Andrew Lansdown one of Australia’s best imagist poets, but included in the book are some personal observations about poetry, the best way to write a limerick, where ideas come from and ideas for writing poems as well as outlining different ways of writing e.g. quatrain, haiku, rhymed poem, sonnet or tanka.

Andrew explains techniques such as assonant rhyme, couplets, and alternating rhyme just to name a few and talks about ways of creating sound effects in poems using devices like onomatopoeia or rhyming tercets, and examples of using assonance, imagery or metaphor. To make it even easier for teachers and students of poetry, he has included an index which highlights each poem’s form and poetic techniques. So if you are looking for a ballad, a syllabic poem, a rhyming quatrain, sestet, or a villanelle, it points you in the right direction of examples. The index also highlights specific topics e.g. poems concerning animals, home, imagination, ocean or birds, which Andrew Lansdown is particularly fond of writing about.

Poems are arranged according to colour- the colours of liquorice allsorts. Colours are red, yellow, white, green, orange and black. Some of the poems in this collection are humorous and whimsical, like The Snaffle and There was an African Lion or The Elephant who Lost His Tail. Others are delicate snapshots.  Among my favourites are Fuchsia Wrens, Summer, The Japanese Gardener, Dressed to Kill, Genesis, Christmas Tree and Ball of Gold.

Andrew Lansdown has the knack of showing us that a poem can be about any subject even pesky mosquitoes. He provides plenty of examples to make you think differently about things or to make you laugh or smile. Wombat Books and Studio Journal are to be congratulated for collaborating to produce such a great collection of poems for children and adults to enjoy.

Allsorts: Lightt Hearted Poems for Light Hearted People

Allsorts: Poetry Tricks and Treats, by Andrew Lansdown

Wombat Books

RRP $24.95
Write and read with Dale

Yellow Zone, by Janelle Dyer

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

Scott and Sally Ryan find themselves in Yellow Zone after the world changes. Together, and with the help of some new friends, they learn to make a stand in a changed world.

It’s good to see a well presented novel coming out of a relatively new publishing company. I was looking forward to reading this book. The opening did not disappoint. It starts with a chase and a sense of danger. The reader is left to wonder who are the mysterious figures pursuing the journalist and what is the secret he has discovered. That sense of danger runs in various guises throughout the rest of the book.

The scene flashes forward two years to a Mardi Gras and the lone prophet trying to stem the tide and warn of God’s judgement, before whipping us off to Brisbane and a group of girls at the movies. Even at the movies the possible threat of terrorism hangs over the young girls, making Sally suspicious of the Middle Eastern man waiting outside the movie theatre.

From here, the story alternates for a time between Rome where eighteen year old Scott Ryan is holidaying and Brisbane where the rest of the Ryan family, including Scott’s younger sister, Sally, are. An explosion in Rome devastates the city and another that goes off in Paris has Scott’s parents and those of his cousins, Brad and Damien, concerned, as do the Black Hawk helicopters that fly over Brisbane and the terrifying reports on the TV. Anticipating further terrorist attacks Australia is put on high alert.

Attempts by the two families to contact their sons prove fruitless. Meanwhile in Rome there is talk of the end of the world, something Scott doesn’t even want to think about. Scott is trapped over the other side of the world from his family and unable to communicate with them. He doesn’t even know if they survived the series of bombs that exploded over Brisbane. To add to the confusion, Scott and Sally’s mother has disappeared and the family holds fears for her safety. Sally begins to question God, especially when Sally and the rest of her family end up being detained like refugees in Yellow Zone.

Meanwhile Scott is airlifted out of Europe and is shocked to find himself taken to Yellow Zone. While there, Scott uncovers a secret at Covenant House. The elderly and unproductive members of the community are disappearing. But what can he do, without putting his own life and those of the rest of his family at risk?

Scott and Sally, along with others under the leadership of Jack Koppel, realize they have to make a choice. If they want things to change they have to be willing to take the biggest risk to gain freedom.

The cover and title Yellow Zone are enticing and should ensure readers will pick up the book. Filled with plenty of action, as well as the budding romances that spring up between Scott and Rebekah and Sally with Ben who meet in the Yellow Zone, this novel is sure to appeal to both teenage girls and boys. There is a lot to recommend in this novel. It has an intriguing plot and a story that keeps the reader wanting to know what happens next. It’s obvious there had been a lot of thought and time put into constructing the plot and developing the characters. The characters are well defined and likeable. It also raises questions for the readers to think about after they have closed the pages of the book. I enjoyed Yellow Zone.

Given the plot line and dramatic situation raised presented this novel should have been gripping. While others may find it so, I didn’t…quite. But it is still an interesting novel and a good read that will have teenage readers and enthusiastic 11-12 year olds, turning the pages. Pace intensifies as the story reaches towards its conclusion.

The ending leaves one to suspect that the opening has been set up for a sequel or maybe a trilogy.

Yellow Zone

Yellow Zone, by Janelle Dyer
Wombat Books, 2009

This review first appeared online at Write and Read With Dale. It is reprinted here with permission.

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