Reviews

Picture Book

Books where text and illustrations work together to narrate the story and where the story can’t be understood without one or the other. These books are for all ages.

Emerging Reader

For children who still need support in reading.

Independent Reader

For children who are reading books their first books independently.

Extended Reader

For children who are confident readers but may not have the emotional and cognitive maturity to deal with some of the concepts and themes in books for young adults.

Young Adult

The books are recommended for mature readers and will include challenging themes and topics and may include swearing and references to drugs and sex. The protagonists in these books are usually young adults.

Information Book

Information books  written with the specific purpose for readers to learn more about  particular topics. They can  vary widely in style and age group.

Independent Readers

Secrets of a Sun King by Emma Carroll

reviewed by Tyrion Perkins

The cover immediately attracted me: children on camels in front of the Nile and desert, with a pharaoh on the back, set up the expectation of mystery, travel, and adventure. Secrets of a Sun King didn’t disappoint.

In London, 1922, Lilian Kaye finds a parcel on her granddad’s doorstep, sent by a famous Egyptologist. With the Egyptologist now dead, and her granddad in hospital, dying, it looks like the curse it carries will play out unless she can return it to Egypt where it belongs. Her family don’t have the means, or beliefs to take her, but at the British Museum, she befriends two other children whose mother would love to report on the immanent opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb. Soon they are journeying to Egypt and reading a secret and fragile diary of a girl who knew Tutankhamen as the teenager, Kyky, in his last days. There is also a subplot of missing brothers; and will the children really get away with pretending the newspaper asked for Mrs Mendoza, when they actually requested a man to report the tomb opening?

Emma Carroll writes with a warm and engaging style. She weaves in lots of historical information from the time, with impressions from her own travels in Egypt, and raises themes that would stand out to a modern audience, such as the sexism of the 1920s, and effects of the First World War on families, as well as bringing ancient Egypt to life in a personal story. I thought she was a little too against Howard Carter, the archaeologist who uncovered the tomb. The issue of whether it is right to remove the treasures from a tomb, when the people who created it meant it to stay buried, could have spoken for itself, without the characters saying several times that they didn’t trust him, when there was no particular reason at the time.

This book would appeal to any child who likes Indiana Jones, the TV show House of Anubis, or any of the myriad of Egypt and ancient mystery stories or documentaries that abound. The primary audience would be both boys and girls, 10-12, but all those who love mystery with a touch of adventure should find it thoroughly enjoyable.

Allen & Unwin $14.99 Paperback 304 pages ISBN 9780571328499

Tyrion Perkins has worked in many libraries, where her favourite things are story time and finding books to suit particular children.  She writes for all ages and is currently honing those manuscripts for publication. She is active in several organisations for children’s literature.

Extended Readers

Inheritance

By Carole Wilkinson

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Nic Mitchell is sent by her single dad to live at Yaratgil with her grandfather. Yaratgil is a run down cattle property pretty much in the middle of nowhere outside of Melbourne. No phone connection or internet so Nic is cut off from her friends. Bored and lonely she starts to explore the big house and the surrounding land. She discovers confronting facts about the Mitchell family history, not all of which adds up. When she learns how to slip through time she hopes to find some answers but initially the mystery of what happened at Yaratgil, of who was involved and how it relates to her today is not clear. An outsider at school, she manages to make friends with Thor, a taciturn boy with  Aboriginal heritage and together they work at uncovering the dark secrets in her family’s past.

This thrilling mystery is based on true events. Famous for her meticulous research Wilkinson has successfully created times and places that you can’t forget.  You can feel the heat, sense the isolation of a city girl stuck in a country town where the name Mitchell carries quite a bit of baggage. Effective use of the time slip narrative device  gradually reveals the history of the land on which Yaratgil was established. The tension and mystery thus created builds to an almost unbearable  weight of emotional intensity  A timely and terrific read  for good readers 10+ interested in uncovering significant events of Australia’s past not always taught at school.

Black Dog Books 2018 Paperback $17.99 Age 10+ ISBN 9781760650360

Categories

Picture Book

Books where text and illustrations work together to narrate the story and where the story can’t be understood without one or the other. These books are for all ages.

Emerging Readers

For children who still need support but are starting to read on their own

Independent Readers

For children who are reading  their first books independently.

Extended Readers

For children who are confident readers but may not have the emotional and cognitive maturity to deal with some of the concepts and themes in books for young adults.

Young Adult

The books are recommended for mature readers and will include challenging themes and topics and may include swearing and references to drugs and sex. The protagonists in these books are usually young adults.

Information Book

Information books for children are written with the specific purpose for children to learn more about a certain topic and vary widely in style.

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