- The Jack Brown Series: Jack Brown and the Labyrinth of the Bats and Jack Brown and the Path of the Python by Greg Pyers (ABC Books, 2006).
Jack Brown and the Labyrinth of the Bats was included in the 'Curriculum Collection' of the Library Services of the Queensland Department of Education in Australia, with this review:
Initial full-blown action effectively launches the reader into this easy-to-read adventure/mystery that sustains perilous exploits throughout. The first book in the 'Jack Brown' series, it is a cross between The famous five and Jumanjii, providing a plethora of appeal for the upper primary/lower secondary audience. The dynamic thirteen-year-old duo of 'animal clairvoyant' Jack Brown and his cousin Molly, a martial arts expert, will enthral the reader. Animal poaching, hidden gold coin smuggling and other criminal activities abound in an involved plot that unwinds quickly. Contrasting geographical settings of the African jungle and English countryside add interest and variety….
Relationships/Overcoming Trauma/Mental Illness
- Peeling the Onion by Wendy Orr (Allen & Unwin)
Anna is used to being athletic, popular, normal. After a car accident leaving her with multiple fractures and probable long term difficulties, she feels the layers of her familiar self being peeled away. Can she pick up the pieces of her life?
- Crossing the Line by Di Bates (Ford St)
is a moving and sensitive story dealing with the topics of self-harm, obsession and stalking. Being abandoned is nothing new for Sophie. But things look up when she moves in with Amy and Matt. So how come she ends up in a psych ward? And aren't therapists supposed to help? 'Drama, pathos, nail-biting stuff – this is Dianne Bates at her best,' Margaret Clark. See the online review in January Magazine.
Bates, an experienced and gifted storyteller....has handled the difficult and confronting themes of self-harm and stalking with great insight told in a strong narrative voice.
~ Good Reading, September 2008
Bates understands well the key to keeping readers turining pages is creating characters the world cares about. Sophie's story, delivered in first person present tense, is potent and immediate....Bates shows readers how it feels to live with mental illness - how utterly soul destroying it is. But more importantly, she shows us how it is possible to work through such seemingly insurmountable problems and find a semblance of peace....This is a story that stays with the reader long after the last line is read. Highly recommended.
~ The Reading Stack, August 2008, Jenny Meurfield
- Leaving It to You by Wendy Orr (Angus & Robertson, 1992)
Lindas teacher has organised for their class to visit elderly people. Shes not keen at first but increasingly develops a real interest in and forms a relationship with cranky old Mrs Pugh. When she goes into hospital, her antiques start to disappear. Linda wonders whether the thief also wants to get rid of Mrs Pugh. How will she find out? For students in Years 7 to 9. Short listed in the CBC Awards.
- Life Smart by Vicki Bennett (Finch Publishing, 2001)
This book provides sound advice for how to deal with the most pressing issues of these vital years, including the ups and downs of friendships and love, learning to believe in ourselves and accept others, finding direction in our life, and relating to our families.
Vicki captures twenty-first century teen living through the eyes of those who are living it. A must-read for all young people and their parents. An uplifting read I couldn't put it down.
~ Dennis Doyle, Executive Director, Young Achievement Australia.
Cultural Differences / Dance / Judaism
- Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati (Penguin Books (Australia), 2010, Flux (USA) 2013)
Forbidden by her ultra-orthodox Jewish parents to have ballet lessons, a young girl starts to dance in secret, ultimately having to choose between her family and a career as a dancer. This conflict between self-actualisation and family loyalty is a universal one, as are the related themes of culture clash, feminism, personal freedom and the divisive nature of religious extremism. The author, Robyn Bavati, is available for school visits and writing workshops.
Second World War History
- Caged by David J Landau (Macmillan 2000)
What reviewers have said:
Caged is a testament to the bravery against the unimaginable evil and is one of better books I have read in a long time.
~ Anna Punshon, Burnie Advocate
It is a worthy memorial to a brave man.
~ John Vile, The Sunday Tasmanian 28th January 2001
David Landau, a Polish Jew, gives us a rare story of surviving the Holocaust. He was one of the few survivors who fought back against the Nazis. It is a story of a personal tragedy, but its also a tale of the resistance, courage and survival, told at a relentless pace... Amidst all the destruction, slaughter and misery, he was supported by the love of his childhood sweetheart, Luba... Their story is inspiring and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
~ Abbeys Bookshop
The story of a great hero from WWII has finally emerged from the shadows.
~ Matt Condon, The Sunday Herald, Sydney 11th February 2001
- Caged by David J Landau (Macmillan 2000)
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