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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Australia Day: Titles from Down Under

G'day! We're taking a break from our Countdown to ALA because it's Australia Day! Australia day is Australia's national holiday and marks when the British landed in Botany Bay and founded a penel colony there.

To celebrate, here are some books by some of my favorite Aussie authors.

    

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I had a really hard time deciding which of Marchetta's books to highlight here. I went with this one because it's the first of hers I read. There are two stories going on--one of a group of kids surviving a horrific car crash and their friends, and one of Taylor who has been chosen to lead the Jellicoe School in the annual Territory Wars against the Cadets and Townies. Her heart's not in it though, as Hannah, the closest thing she has to a mother, has disappeared. Also, the head of the Cadets happens to be a boy she hasn't seen this they ran away together 6 years ago, the last time Taylor tried to look for her actual mother.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jacyln Moriarty. Elizabeth has problems. Her best friend, Celia, is missing. Her father's moved back to Australia from Canada. To top it all off, the new English teacher wants the Internet Generation to rediscover the JOY OF THE ENVELOPE and is making the students at Ashbury (posh private school) become penpals with students at Brookfield (public school a few blocks away.) This is told entirely in letters (not always from real people) and I was going to include it on my National Letter Writing Week list, but I knew Australia Day was coming, so I saved it. The first in a series of companion novels, the second is The Year of Secret Assignments.

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdul-Fattah. In a school full of racists, it's easier for Jameela if she dyes her hair, wears colored contacts, and goes by Jamie. But, she does love her Lebanese-Australian culture. While hiding in both worlds, will she ever full belong in either if she's not being herself?

    

The Arrival by Shaun Tan. This wordless graphic novel follows a man as he flees dark and menacing shapes to try to make it in a new land, before sending for his family. In his new land, he doesn't speak the language or understand the customs, but he finds other immigrants who have fled other horrors in other lands, and they help him. It's a stunning work that speaks on many, many levels.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Death narrates this tale of a small girl in Munich in WWII. Death is serious, and funny, and really sick of war. He's not a big fan of humans, and usually doesn't notice them, but he notices Liesel. Liesel is sent to Munich as a foster child. She knows her mother is giving her up for reasons that have something to do with Hitler. In Munich, she makes unlikely friends and learns to read from a stolen book. There is power in stealing books. There is power in reading.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. I already talked about Lanagan's latest, Brides of Rollrock Island when I discussed mermaids. Tender morsels is a very dark retelling of the Grimm tale, Snow White and Rose Red. With two daughters conceived in horrible ways, Liga finds refuge in a magical world. But, some creatures can cross from Liga's old world to her new one, and her greatest fear is that her daughters will cross back.

    

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier. This is a sequel to Wildwood Dancing which I covered on Jacob Grimm's birthday. In this one, Paula (the bookworm sister) goes with her father on a trade trip to Istanbul. They're trying to buy an artifact related to the goddess Cybele, but strange things keep happening to the other merchants who are after the same thing. At the same time, things are happening in the Other World that need Paula's attention--one of her sisters is in trouble.

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Ellie and her friends went camping in the Outback, but when they returned, they found that Australia has been invaded, their families taken prisoner, their houses deserted. They eventually return to the Outback and become partisans. The first in a 7-book series, the second is The Dead Of Night.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. Lucy and Ed had a disastrous date a few years ago, and have been avoiding each other ever since. But, corralled into a triple date, they're stuck together. Lucy is obsessed with a the work of a graffiti artist named Shadow, convinced he's the prefect guy for her. Ed knows where to find them, so off they go into one of those epic adventures that will end with sunrise.

Who are your favorite Australian authors?

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