His name is Kyle, but everyone calls him Calypso. In high school he grew dreadlocks, started listening to reggae and took to the ganja with a vengeance. Calypso isn’t Jamaican though, he’s from the Nukunu people of South Australia—not that he’s seen his mum’s mob in the Flinders Ranges since he was a kid. Now that Calypso is out of school, things are changing. He’s finally scored a job, is sharing a flat with his troubled cousin Run and is losing interest in the smoking. Gary, his new boss at the health food shop, wants to stock some natural remedies from Calypso’s ‘tribe’ and suggests he gets back in touch with them. Then there’s that girl at the hairdresser’s who Calypso can’t stop thinking about. It’s a summer of cricket, family and romance. In Calypso Summer, Jared Thomas has created a strong, likeable character who comes to a greater appreciation of his heritage, his family and his connections. Thomas brings the reader into Calypso’s world, vividly capturing his language and his large and vibrant family. This book contains frequent drug use and strong language, and as such is suitable for older readers. Thomas won a kuril dhagun Indigenous Writing Fellowship as part of the black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing program for this book.
Heath Graham is a teacher and former bookseller. This review first appeared in Issue 1, 2014 of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.
Ben Silver wants to be a detective when he grows up, solving crimes and sending criminals to jail. One day after school the police come to his house looking for his parents. Then his mum and dad arrive home just after the police leave and insist they are taking Ben and his little sister Olive on a holiday. With no time to pack or change out of their school uniforms. As his parents become more evasive, and their actions more inexplicable, Ben realises that something must be seriously wrong. His parents are in trouble. But what have they done? And what will Ben do if he figures it out? Tristan Bancks has crafted an exciting tale of family secrets and misadventure. He deftly captures the sense of betrayal children feel at being deceived by those they trust. Ben is a memorable character. He makes bad decisions sometimes, but he is more resourceful and resilient than he appears at first, and he is constantly torn between family loyalty and doing the right thing. This is a good book for upper-primary and lower-secondary readers.
Heath Graham is a teacher and former bookseller. This review first appeared in Issue 4, 2013 of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.
Marcus is a great warrior—a dragonslayer! At least, he is online. Gaming is the one place he feels at home since his only friend Bashir moved to India, a fact his parents just don’t understand. After Marcus’ attempt to buy himself a friend backfires disastrously, his mum and dad decide some more drastic action is needed: they enrol him in a boarding school. Bourkely Boy’s Grammar is a ‘unique school’ for ‘boys who have trouble fitting in’, in the depths of the Outback. Marcus soon discovers the truth about Bourkely: most of the students are bullies and thugs, the school itself is ramshackle and decaying, the teachers wear koala suits to class, the principal is a bearded brute with a vicious pet dingo, the library is haunted by a sabre-toothed nun, and worst of all, there are no computers! Armed with his wits, his new friends Fred and Trent, and his knowledge from The Warrior’s Guide to Everything by R J Bergin, Marcus has to survive at the school they call Bad Grammar. A funny fast-paced book, full of outlandish characters and incidents, and frequent asides from The Warrior’s Guide to Everything, this is a recommended read for young adventurers.
Heath Graham is an educator currently working at the State Library of Victoria. This review first appeared in the October/November issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.
Sam and Tara are best friends. Sam has an artistic bent and loves working with his hands, while Tara is passionate and driven by social justice. Across the 21st century and into the 22nd, these things are the only constants. These 10 short stories explore a range of possible futures, investigating social and technological possibilities ranging from the astonishing to the terrifying. Each future examines the implications of a potential development, from artificial intelligence to genetic engineering, global warming, cloning, financial collapse, life extension and more. Through the eyes of Tara and Sam, we experience 10 different scenarios for the next 100 years. Michael Pryor returns to the field of science-fiction to give us this collection of stories in the best tradition of futuristic speculation. Pryor combines his usual deft touch at characterisation with some well-informed futurism to produce an engaging range of stories. He explores ethical dilemmas that arise in worlds that we would consider utopias as well as much darker futures. The book is supported by an excellent selection of teacher resources aligned with the Australian Curriculum. This is a thought-provoking read for middle secondary students.
Heath Graham is an educator currently working at the State Library of Victoria. This review first appeared in the Feb/March issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine.