Thursday, July 7, 2011

G'Day, Mate!

It's been a short week in the Teen Room with the Fourth of July holiday on Monday, but we have had some good participation in our You Are Here -- Australia activities.  Probably the most popular item has been our Australian slang quiz; the teens have enjoyed matching the Australian terms to their American counterparts.

A teen reader can find plenty of Australian lingo in some of the following novels: all are set there, or in nearby New Zealand.  Try one of the following for a taste of the land down under:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta:  This book was a Printz award winner; the Michael Printz award, you may remember, honors high-quality Young Adult literature.  In this story, a young woman who attends an Australian boarding school on Jellicoe Road finds herself trying to piece together her story. Taylor Markam is tough, and doesn't let anyone get too close; but she discovers that the people who she values most may know more about her past than she does. Marchetta is a masterful storyteller, weaving together seemingly unrelated events until reaching a satisfying, yet surprising, conclusion. This is a rather advanced book for teens, so will require a patient, thoughtful reader.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher: This is the tale of a parent's nightmare. 16-year-old Gemma is drugged and kidnapped from the Bangkok airport, smuggled through security, and taken away to the outback of Australia. Coming back to consciousness in a rustic cabin miles from civilization, Gemma gradually realizes that escape is impossible.  There is no form of communication, no way of tracking where she is. Even more disturbing is the fact that her captor, Ty, has been watching her and planning to steal her for years.  The story, written as a letter from Gemma to Ty, depicts the psychological effects of kidnapping, extreme isolation, even dependence on a captor. Though the ending is somewhat disconnected from the events of the story, the sense of place and suspense of the novel make it a worthwhile read.

The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke:  Set in 1950's Australia, this story of two cousins who meet one memorable summer. Clementine thinks her cousin Fan is everything that she could never be: beautiful, imaginative, wild. The girls promise to be best friends and sisters after the summer is over, but Clementine’s life in the city is different from Fan’s life in dusty Lake Conapaira. And Fan is looking for something, though neither she nor Clementine understands what it is. Printz Honor Winner Judith Clarke delivers a compassionate, compelling novel with the story of a friendship between two young women, and of the small tragedies that tear them apart from each other, and from themselves.

Jasper Jones: A Novel by Craig Silvey:   Charlie Bucktin is startled one summer night by an urgent knock on his bedroom window. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in their small mining town, and he has come to ask for Charlie's help. Terribly afraid but desperate to impress, Charlie follows him into the night. Jasper takes him to his secret glade, where Charlie witnesses Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

In addition to these titles, all set in Australia, there are many award-winning authors from that continent.  Two of the most prominent in Young Adult fiction are John Flanagan, author of the wildly popular Ranger's Apprentice series, and Allison Croggon, who writes the well-respected Pellinor fantasy series. Visit the library for any of these novels; or, we would be happy to suggest several more!


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