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OFF THE SHELF Issue 4 May 2012

Exploring the






talks about Disharmony

CROSSING GENRES Bec Kavanagh on using genre novels in the classroom




SUBURBAN STORIES One teacher’s musing on sense of place in Australian young adult literature

The Penguin 2012  catalogue is now available! Filled with all the new books for 2012 plus resources and booklists, this is the definitive guide to all things education related from Penguin.

To receive a hard cop your postal detail y, email s to:

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ation.wo c u d e in u g n e .p w w w

cAn mAke A girl lAugh, she’l l go for you, right?


Just how can seriously weird teenager, Johnny Khamka, survive Welcome to the second edition of Off the Shelf high school and, for 2012. Your responses to the issues so far more importantly, get have been so overwhelmingly positive that thishis childhood friend now year we are thrilled to bring you fourJosie, editions – a seriously hot teenager, one each in February, May, August and October. to take him seriously? In this edition, we welcome Leah is Giarratano, The answer to keep author of Disharmony,people to the Penguin family; laughing, Graeme Base talks about 25 years of especially Josie. But when Animalia; Alison Lester delights us with Johnny decides toher take latest picture book comedy Sophie Scott Goes South; seriously, he’s The Word Spy provides us with an activity seriously at risk of not being book sure to entertain students and teachers funny all. novel alike; Kirsty Eagar discusses her at newest The next hilarious Night Beach; and that’s not all! We alsostory bring from the author you great articles by teachers and educational of assist Thai-riffic! and Con-nerd. consultants that will you in your classrooms and libraries. 9780143306511 $16.95 April

Have you visited Penguin Teachers’ Corner yet? ( Our regular posts will keep you up to date with all the latest book-related resources, as well as posts from your fellow teachers and librarians and guest authors and illustrators. Last year we brought you the first of our Professional Development Days. With two very successful days held already this year in March, at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, we look forward to providing Professional Development Days in Sydney and Brisbane. Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you receive your invitation. Penguin Teachers’ Corner is now tweeting! Follow us on Twitter (

MAY 2012 Issue 4 GET



Suburban S 10 06

What is it with Suburbia? NOTHING ever happens there. No romance, very little intrigue, certainly no one ever has the good grace to die there. Nothing to write home about.



describing the inner turmoil protagonist undergoes as she steps down from the tram on to suddenly be hit by the hea odour of porcine malevolenc Well, good on you. At least yo set your story somewhere you readers can relate to, even if t experience outlined above is (perhaps) a little fantastic. So why don’t more authors see t importance of a recognisable setting for their young reader and what is the significance o doing so?

All the stuff that gravitates into the lexicon of Australia’s literary canon managed to (quite properly) avoid the boring suburbs in favour of proper Australian settings, like Uluru, or In The Best of Both Worlds: A The Great Barrier Reef, expensive bayside areas like Sorrento on The Pedagogy of Place (2003), Dav Grunewald discusses the noti Mornington Peninsula, coastal that humans influence and ar surfing off Western Australia 04 areas Interview with Graeme Base or ‘The Outback’. You don’t expect as a result, influenced by thei Suburban context. This cycle of pedago a 08 murderous feral pig toStories come influence (of place on people 12 after Exploring the Curriculum charging you as you getAustralian off people on place) so used to begin with my soon though, I moved out to ais ‘needed An the number 19 Things tram on Sydney 16 10 You private Didn’t Knowhospital date of birth, but someone psychiatric on the gro citizens might have some direc Road, do you? 18 Leahof Giarratano gasped a couple years ago, outskirts of Sydney,on where set bearing the we well-being of th and I’m afraid I’m far tooGenres up an intensive treatment program Th 24 Crossing social and ecological places peo Ifvain youfor answered yes to that, please that now. And then for traumatised veterans. The(Grunewald, tha actually inhabit’ 26 Word Spy Activity Book keep We people I tellreading. people that I’mneed happily program was very successful and we as 2003, p. 4). like you: alert, adventurous. With



Notables married,30 because I CBCA guess that’sNominations the were soon&being referred survivors dir eyes scanning forjust about every hideous thing most important thing inthe myperipheries life (feel of oth There to is afurther research poin free torampaging vomit, shouldbacon. you like). person. We Bu You would that can happen towards this cyclic transactio of all wars, as well gro be willing to write that scene treated veterans least‘veterans’: of whichpolice, is common sen Next it’s education: I completed nu wouldn’t you? You’d have a goasatour civilian Put bluntly, if your ca a BA with majors in psychology fire and ambulance officers. We readerswh and English and then aand masters also treated em Click to find us onrape, assault, armed in psychology before beginning robbery, stabbing and car accident any work at Concord Hospital, our victims, as well as people who’d wa repat hospital, which was where I been tortured and taken hostage. met my first Vietnam vet. He had Many of the patients at the hospital Un dreadful nightmares and intrusive were survivors of child sexual and

Q&A with

On the 25 anniversary of his classic Animalia, and its new, high-tech incarnations. th

Animalia was actually your second book, but in some ways do you see it as the start of your career? Well, it was Animalia that turned a hobby into a career. It just went crazy when it first came out in Australia, and a year later it did the same thing in the States. Nobody could’ve guessed it. I certainly didn’t create Animalia thinking there was some pent up demand for yet another English alphabet book, I just poured my heart and soul into it and I guess that’s what has resonated over the 25 years.

It’s certainly far from “yet another alphabet book.” What was the concept you had in mind when you started out on its creation? At the time, I just thought, “I wanna draw everything!” and ended up organizing that around the alphabet. But it is really difficult stuff for an alphabet book. How can you possibly have words like that? Voracious and

vociferous and “ingenious iguanas improvising an intricate impromptu.” I seriously wonder whether the book would make it through the editorial process now. It’s a weird thing to create an alphabet book with such difficult concepts and words. But that very innocence – I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just doing things that I found exciting, illuminating, fun – that’s what made the book work, I’m sure of it.

How have you managed to preserve that innocence?

I really have maintained the same philosophy all the way through my career. Above all, I work on things that interest me. I don’t see a market opening for tropical dinosaurs or princesses or whatever. I just think: This is what I’m interested in, and I’ll trust that there’s someone else out there who’s interested in it as well.

Animalia’s illustrations are so incredibly rich in detail, but each has a few main figures – the Lazy Lions Lounging in the Local Library, or what have you. Do you see them as actual characters, with personalities and back stories? Yes – now. But that wasn’t the case at the time. The illustrations really were just worlds. The main character of each picture was probably no more important emotionally to me than anything else in the picture. They were vehicles invented by the alliteration, if you know what I mean. It was only when the TV series happened years later that we were able to cherry-pick a number of characters and then endow them with a personality.

What kinds of things do readers say to you about the book? There’s not a single signing I do now where there isn’t some young mum or young dad who comes in with their child and says to me, “My mum brought me to get an Animalia signed when I was little.” I always think, “Wow, I feel so old but wow, I feel so lucky.” And sometimes it’s

Maybe you can solve something that’s been bugging me for 25 years… Exactly why are the Two Tigers Taking the 10.20 Train to Timbuktu? Ha! There are no good answers other than those you come up with on the spot. And you know what, I reckon that’s half the fun of it. For a long time, people were writing to me and saying, “What’s the list? Give me the list! What are all the things in Animalia?” But I didn’t really know. I’d only drawn the pictures, I didn’t really know what was in them.

What do you mean by that? the dead same book – they have to almost pour it onto the table, it’s so battered, and it’s wonderful. That’s an incredible thing to happen to anyone – for something you created that long ago to still be being loved and passed down through generations.

Rereadability is one of Animalia’s really wonderful qualities…

You can only read something over and over if there’s reward in doing it. My books work hopefully at a simple level for a young reader, but also their older brother or sister will be interested in some of the detail and get some of the jokes, and adults will also get it from a different perspective. But that’s great – two readers are getting something different out of it simultaneously. That’s what sharing’s all about! It’s not just reading a book with someone, its really sharing a book in the genuine sense, and I love that concept.


Visit the app store to get the Graeme Base app!

Here’s a great example. Very early on, I was showing a bunch of kids in a school the original artwork for the Horrible Hairy Hogs page. We were going through all the things that we could find. Up in the top right hand side, I showed them the house on the hill, and somebody said it was probably haunted, and they could see the hang-glider and the hurricane and so forth, and after a while I moved elsewhere on the page. And suddenly one of the kids shouted, “No no no, there’s something else!” I thought we’d covered them all pretty well, so I asked him what he could see. And the boy said, “Horizon.” I’d drawn it, it was there, but I didn’t know I’d drawn it. Different minds come up with different ways of seeing things, and I just love that, so I would never want to write down a list… I’d rather it be interactive and have people say, “Well, this is what I’ve found, who can add to it?”



Is that interaction something you’re exploring through the iPad app? The app is a new incarnation – it’s very much based on the book. It’s lovely that this new form of publishing, a new form of expression really, is ready and able to take on Animalia and give it new life. There’s a lot of gameplay in all of my books, you get a sense of fun, a sense of search and reward, and that’s really what the apps are about. They look like they’re going to spawn a whole online project, and if that’s the case then we can just have a huge amount of fun. We can do a global think tank on what’s in the book! There’s so many slang words and conceptual things like horizon, new things that people will think of, that I just didn’t know where in there.


25th Anniversary Edition Available Now!

As l o ng a s you can make a girl laugh, she’l l go for you, right? Just how can seriously weird teenager Johnny Khamka survive high school and, more importantly, get his childhood friend Josie, now a seriously hot teenager, to take him seriously? The answer is to keep people laughing, especially Josie. But when Johnny decides to take comedy seriously, he’s seriously at risk of not being funny at all. The next hilarious story from the author of Thai-riffic! and Con-nerd. 9780143306511 $16.95 April

COMING SOON! The new book from Oliver – Thai-no-mite!


ophie Scott is only nine years old, but she’s going to Antarctica on an icebreaker with her dad, the ship’s captain. During the voyage to Mawson Station and back, Sophie keeps a diary. She sees icebergs, penguins, seals and whales. She makes new friends, experiences the southern lights and even becomes stranded in a blizzard!

Children’s Laureate and much-loved picture book creator Alison Lester travelled to Antarctica as an Antarctic Arts Fellow. Her alter ego, Sophie Scott, goes on the same adventure in a friendly, informative and beautifully presented book that sees the wonder of Antarctica through a child’s eyes.

Learn more about Alison’s journey and the inspiration for Sophie Scott Goes South HERE


Suburban Stories

d r o ff i l C n a Roh

What is it with suburbia? NOTHING ever happens there. No romance, very little intrigue, certainly no one ever has the good grace to die there. Nothing to write home about. All the stuff that gravitates into the lexicon of Australia’s literary canon manages to (quite properly) avoid the boring suburbs in favour of proper Australian settings, like Uluru, or The Great Barrier Reef, expensive bayside areas like Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, coastal surfing areas off Western Australia or ‘The Outback’. You don’t expect a murderous feral pig to come charging after you as you get off the number 19 tram on Sydney Road, do you? If you answered yes to that, please keep reading. We need people like you: alert, adventurous. With eyes scanning the peripheries for rampaging bacon. You would be willing to write that scene wouldn’t you? You’d have a go at

describing the inner turmoil our protagonist undergoes as she/he steps down from the tram only to suddenly be hit by the heady odour of porcine malevolence. Well, good on you. At least you’ve set your story somewhere your readers can relate to, even if the experience outlined above is (perhaps) a little fantastic. So why don’t more authors see the importance of a recognisable setting for their young readers, and what is the significance of doing so? In The Best of Both Worlds: A Pedagogy of Place (2003), David Grunewald discusses the notion that humans influence and are, as a result, influenced by their context. This cycle of pedagogical influence (of place on people, people on place) is ‘needed so that citizens might have some direct bearing on the well-being of the social and ecological places people actually inhabit’ (Grunewald, 2003, p. 4). There is further research pointing towards this cyclic transaction, the least of which is common sense. Put bluntly, if your readers can’t

recognise or relate to the setting, then you (the author, librarian, teacher) have provided one step of isolation, in effect, a barrier between engagement and the audience. And it’s actually more serious than that. Texts that fail to reflect the known world of young readers ‘privilege world views and realities which may reflect the lived experience of only certain groups of students in the room’ (Badger and Wilkinson, 1998, p. 260). This is potentially treacherous to anyone in a classroom (or a society) who is from a minority background, and as such, it is unjust. You’d better have some fabulous characters and dialogue ready to go as back up, or we’re all back in the sty, so to speak. There is a perceivable dichotomy between the sort of fiction targeting young adult readers and the stuff deemed worthy of VCE or senior school study, and that is this: There are plenty of terrific suburban stories for younger readers, but not so for senior school reading lists. Robert Newton and Doug MacLeod have been happily contributing to the nation’s suburban cultural capital for years. Contemporary

authors such as Melina Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son), James Roy (Town) and Adrian Stirling (The Comet Box and Broken Glass) are all writing from real and identifiable perspectives about very different issues and characters, born out of Australian suburban settings. But skim through the VCE reading list recently and Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung seems to be something of a rare gem, one dealing with suburban perspectives on immigration. In Victoria, texts are chosen for VCE study by the Literature Advisory Panel and are further subject to approval by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Twenty-five percent of texts on the reading list are turned over each year, allowing for more selection as texts become available or grow stale. However the VCAA stipulates that from a list of plays, novels, poetry and short stories, “the text list for VCE English/ESL must... contain at least five texts for List 1, four texts for List 2 (one in each Context) by or about Australians” (VCAA, 2012). In VCE literature, one third of texts must be Australian. The fascinating question then, is: Why is the list of authors and stories for young adult readers rich in their own stories and places, when the senior (VCE) list is not? Apart from VCE Literature, the mandate is to a minimum of five and four texts in Lists 1 and 2 respectively. What does this say about our own views of ‘our literature’ and ‘our place in the world’? How do we see ourselves? Consider the context study list, which is effectively driven by List 2: The imaginative landscape; Whose reality?; Encountering conflict; and Exploring issues of identity and belonging. From the minority of texts mandated

to be either Australian or ‘about Australians’, what landscape is likely to be recognisable to an adolescent growing up in a sprawling suburb? Are we deliberately delineating between serious ‘senior’ texts and ‘young adult’ as a (therefore) less-serious genre? Perhaps we are falling over ourselves to cram enough quality into a tight and highly contested field of literature. Perhaps our love of literature and of the way that we know literature can affect a reader, inspire a mind, mend a heart or broaden a horizon has forced us to look out, rather than in. But in discounting the voices of local authors and their works, we are short-changing the wealth of our reading lists, and subsequently, our readers. So if we can’t change senior reading lists overnight, at least bear in mind the importance of setting in the novel and, more importantly, on the reader. In other words: Let them eat bacon.

Bibliography Badger and Wilkinson, 1998, Assessing Students’ Writing: The Myth of the Level Playing Field in Doecke, Brenton (Ed). & Australian Association for the Teaching of English,1999, Responding to students’ writing: continuing conversations with an introduction by Margaret Gill, Australian Association for the Teaching of English, Norwood, S. Aust.

Web Resources: correspondence/bulletins/2011/ february/2011febsup4.pdf (Accessed on April 4, 2012, 5.35pm) (Accessed on April 4, 2012, 6.00pm) Clifford.pdf



Andy’s just a regular kid with a normal, everyday life. Or is he? Why is a sinister scientist out to kidnap him? And who are his parents really? He’s about to find out, but this superhuman secret will change everything!

Click here to watch


Felice arena


In 2011, young girls, parents and teachers alike fell in love with Grace, Poppy, Letty and Rose, resulting in sales of over 100,000 copies VIEW across the series. Now we welcome two the website new Australian girls – Nelly and Alice. HERE New in May!

It's 1849...

and Nellie is starting her new life as a kitchen maid in a grand Adelaide house with her best friend, Mary. But Nellie’s desire to live out her dreams soon leads to a battle with the spiteful cook Bessie Rudge… Can Nellie keep her temper and avoid being thrown out to beg on the streets? And why is Mary acting so strangely? Follow Nellie on her adventure in the second of four exciting stories about an Irish girl with a big heart, in search of the freedom to be herself.

It's 1918...

and Alice has never felt lonelier. Her father is missing at sea, her brother Teddy is away at war, and she’s not allowed to speak to her best friend any more. Alice tries to forget her worries by having a stall at the Apple Blossom Fair. But when strange events start happening in the town, everything goes wrong... Will the war ever be over, and will life for Alice ever be the same again? Follow Alice on her adventure in the second of four stories about a gifted girl in a time of war.

Coming i n 2012




AUSTRALIAN CURRICULUM TYE CATTANACH For a great many of you, implementation of the Australian Curriculum or AusVELS into your everyday teaching and learning practices has already begun. For some of you, it is something that you will be exploring and embracing in your future planning sessions. This article aims to make planning your units and ensuring that cross curricula priorities are covered effectively and thoroughly, and hopefully ease a little of the pressure from your planning times. Off The Shelf aims to do a focus article on all three of the cross curriculum priorities listed, outlining texts and classroom activities that will be useful to you in the coming months, beginning with Focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. The ACARA website outlines teaching and learning guidelines for this particular priority as follows: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures will allow all young Australians the opportunity to gain a deeper

understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, their significance for Australia and the impact these have had, and continue to have, on our world.” Read about the cross-curriculum priorities here. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are strong, rich and diverse. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Identity is central to this priority and is intrinsically linked to living, learning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, deep knowledge traditions and holistic world view. A conceptual framework based on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ unique sense of Identity has been developed as a structural tool for the embedding of Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures within the Australian curriculum. This sense of Identity is approached through the interconnected aspects of Country/Place, People and Culture. Embracing these elements enhances all areas of the curriculum. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander priority provides opportunities for all learners to deepen their knowledge of Australia by engaging with the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. This knowledge and understanding will enrich their ability to participate positively in the ongoing development of Australia.” Read the full outline for this cross curricula priority here. With this in mind we have selected the following three texts to assist you in teaching the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures priority.

EARLY YEARS You and Me Murrawee by Kerri Hashmi and Felicity Marshall “We walk this same brown earth – you and me, Murrawee...’’ In this lyrical, beautifully observed picture book, we see through the eyes of a young girl camping on the river with her family, life as it would have been two hundred years ago. Click here for more information

LOWER PRIMARY Two Hands Together by Diana Kid When the Rileys move in next door, Lily and Ella become the best of friends. But Lily can’t understand why her Dad doesn’t like the Rileys. Why doesn’t he want them to go over there? Why is he being so horrible and mean? Does something big have to happen to change his mind? Click here to download an extract

LOWER SECONDARY Born To Run by Cathy Freeman Catherine Freeman, known to us all as Cathy, is a sporting legend in Australia and around the world. She has raced against the best in the world and come out on top, winning gold medals at both the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. In Born to Run Cathy tells the story of her life, from her childhood in Mackay with her brothers and sisters, to lighting the cauldron at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games before going on to win gold in the 400 metres. In her own words Cathy reveals her childhood joys and dramas, including the separation of her parents, her mother remarrying, and the death of her older sister Anne-Marie who lived with Cerebral Palsy. Cathy talks candidly about the experiences of racism she encountered, and also about the trials of constant training and the need for self-motivation and positive encouragement to help bring her to the point where she achieved her childhood dream. This autobiography would be suitable for students from middle primary through to lower secondary school. Click here to learn more & download the teaching notes

UPPER SECONDARY Bye, Beautiful by Julia Lawrinson It is January 1966 and Sandy is going on fourteen when her family moves to a dry, wheat belt West Australian country town from Perth, during a dusty summer. Laurence (12) and Marianne (17) are her siblings, Glad, her mother and her father, Frank, is the local policeman, a man whose children fear rather than love. No explanation is given as to why Frank has been moved to the town, though his reputation as a hard man of principle can be read as a factor. Glad has to steel herself against some small town attitudes, and the girls find the town hot and oppressive. This mood is set up from the beginning, helped by the sad and intriguing prelude – why is Frank Lansing mentioned alongside the grieving family? Much is unsaid in this beautifully written and constructed book. The reader must look at how the characters behave to understand the relationships and attitudes. There are complex interactions that involve racial prejudice, romantic jealousy and small town perceptions and attitudes. It is a time of change in Australian society – ‘the swinging sixties’ are about to challenge many of the social conventions documented in this story feminism, black power, anti-Vietnam demonstrations, the pill and mini-skirts are just over the horizon.

Towards the end of the novel the Commonwealth Referendum of 1967 passes which ends constitutional discrimination against Aboriginal people who are since then counted in the national census. This adds to the poignancy of the story. Bye, Beautiful is a rich, emotional novel that is ideal for literature circle discussion or extension group work. It deserves more than one reading, as there is much to notice and understand on subsequent readings. Click here to download the teaching notes



Photo © Carol Gibbons

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My great great grandmother was Emily Caroline Creaghe, who in 1883, at the age of 22, became the first white woman to explore the Australian outback. Her diary is held in the State Library of NSW. I’d like to write about her one day. There are other interesting people in my family to write about, but most of them are alive and wouldn’t like it. One of them is my mum. She’s completing a PhD in ecology, and owns and operates two properties in central Queensland (my parents are divorced). One of these properties was her childhood home. Although it was sold when she was a young woman, she later bought it back. It’s very remote and very basic. There is no electricity, and the bath water gets heated in a copper kettle over fire. I started riding horses when I was very young, and I still go home to help with the mustering. My primary school had fewer than 50 kids, and we didn’t have to wear shoes.

I studied economics at uni, despite hating it at high school. Mum’s been through hard times and I knew being poor sucked; plus Dad took me to see the Sydney Futures Exchange trading floor one holidays, and I thought it was just electric. I completed a master’s degree before taking a job at the Reserve Bank of Australia, and later a secondment at the Bank of England. You hear about people changing direction when they hit rock bottom, but I quit when things were really good, which puzzled a lot of people. When we came back to Australia, we ended up living out of our car and I worked in kitchens. Hands down, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Part of the reason for that is my husband. He’s Australian, but I got to know him in London. We went on surfing trips together – Portugal, Spain, France, Morocco … Like me, he wanted to try other things in life, and he’s now a professional football (soccer) coach. Despite all my urgings, he has never used dialogue from either Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights in his half-time speeches. He should, though.


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Not long after getting to know him, we did a halfmarathon on Jersey Island together. I haven’t done any running for the last five years. I’d like to blame it on having kids, but I’ve just gotten lazy. I do surf every day, though. Aside from people, it’s been the most important thing in my life. If it wasn’t for surfing, I wouldn’t be writing, I wouldn’t have got to know my husband, and I wouldn’t be living in a place that fascinates the hell out of me. On the other hand, if I didn’t surf, I’d get a lot more done. I am obsessed with the number 27. To the extent that if I’m given a multi-digit number for something – say the ISBN for one of my books – I’ll add the numbers to see if they reduce to 27 (or 3 or 9, both factors of 27). I’m not sure that 27 justifies this level of obsession, but it did win me a lot of money on a roulette table in Biarritz once. When I first started writing seriously, about 10 years ago, I got my qualifications as a personal trainer. It wasn’t something I would have ever imagined myself doing, but it was invaluable as far as writing was concerned, and it meant I could still surf every day. It taught me so much about people. Most importantly, it taught me to shut up and listen. Then The Biggest Loser came along, and people started expecting me to shout at them all the time, which was never going to happen. And I got counting fatigue. My road to publication was bumpy. My first book got me an agent in the UK, who was so impressed she put it up for auction. That would have been great except for the fact that nobody bid. My second attempt was soundly rejected, and managed to lose me that agent. I wrote Raw Blue and Saltwater Vampires over the next couple of years, and I had a moment, sitting in the audience of a writers’ festival, when I finally realised that writing was something I should do regardless of the outcome, because the discipline and process were so important to me. A few days after that I found out I was getting published. I’d like to say that the number 27 was involved somehow, but that would be stretching it.


o avoid Losing It in the bushes with some random guy in a heavy-metal T-shirt after too many tequila shots, four best friends make a bet: to lose it before schoolies week – and preferably in a romantic, sober way that they won’t regret. What follows is a sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, but always compelling comedy of errors as Abby, Mala, Bree and Zoe each try to find their Mr Right... or at least ‘lose it’. An honest, realistic and thought-provoking novel for young adults by the award-winning author of Bye, Beautiful and The Push.


used to begin with my date of birth, but someone gasped a couple of years ago, and I’m afraid I’m far too vain for that now. And then I tell people that I’m happily married, because I guess that’s the most important thing in my life (feel free to vomit, should you like). Next it’s education: I completed a BA with majors in psychology and English and then a master’s in psychology before beginning work at Concord Hospital, our repat hospital, which was where I met my first Vietnam vet. He had dreadful nightmares and intrusive thoughts of things he’d seen during the war, and one of the treatment techniques we used reduced these for the first time in 20 years. He was such a great guy and was so relieved that I was hooked! I wanted to work with traumatised people. Given that I was also the psych on the specialist burns unit, I was getting plenty of practice. Relatively

soon though, I moved out to a private psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Sydney, where we set up an intensive treatment program for traumatised veterans. The program was very successful and we were soon being referred survivors of just about every hideous thing that can happen to a person. We treated veterans of all wars, as well as our civilian ‘veterans’: police, fire and ambulance officers. We also treated rape, assault, armed robbery, stabbing and car accident victims, as well as people who’d been tortured and taken hostage. Many of the patients at the hospital were survivors of child sexual and physical abuse. After working there for eight years or so I was still interested in all aspects of traumatisation, including the way it affects the developing personality. Some child abuse survivors grow up to thrive. Others display a range of psychological disorders or behavioural problems,

like substance abuse and antisocial acts. And a small minority of the latter group began to fascinate me. This group take all of the violence that has been inflicted upon them as children and fantasise about directing it outwards, harming others. Our gaols are full of them. But even within gaol, there is a group darker than others, a small number of individuals, mostly male, who have no capacity to feel any emotion, remorse or empathy for anybody. The psychopath. I always wanted to meet a psychopath. Until I did. If you’re interested for more about that story, you can go here, even though it is to the enemy camp! When my close friends told me they were thinking of doing a doctorate at Wollongong uni, I decided to jump on board, envisioning hanging out with them at the beach. Instead,

Morgan Moreau was a truly terrible mother. An absolute witch. Literally.

I hung around the worst of the worst at Long Bay Gaol (in the Acute Crisis Management Unit), completing my clinical placement with people with severe personality disorders. It wasn’t fun. And when I’d completed my coursework and thesis I decided that if I could do all that while still working, I could write a novel. And I pretty much vomited out Vodka Doesn’t Freeze, a crime novel in which I killed nasty villains and wrapped up the crimes most satisfyingly. I assumed this would be my book under the bed (do you know, I actually typed ‘body under the bed’ then!), but it turned out that several publishers wanted it, and I signed with Random. In the meantime, I was also asked to host Beyond the Darklands for Channel 7 (don’t throw things!). It was an interesting concept – trying to psychologically explain to a layperson why some of our most dreadful murderers committed their crimes.

Four crime novels later, I was beginning to feel cleansed of a lot of the stuff I’d absorbed working in trauma for all of those years – it actually was very cathartic for me – but I have always wanted to write a young adults urban fantasy novel. Always. Way before I met that Vietnam veteran all those years ago. But I couldn’t have possibly done so when I began Vodka Doesn’t Freeze: My thoughts were far too dark. They’re still not exactly puppies and lollipops, but I have them on a leash. Which brings us to Disharmony: Morgan Moreau was a truly terrible mother. An absolute witch. Literally. And although she spent decades trying to breed the right mix, there were only three children she ever wanted – Luke, Samantha and Jake, known in secret circles by other names: the Psychopath, the Empath and the Genius. But these secrets extend to the siblings – they’ve never

heard these names; hell, they’ve never even heard of each other, and have no idea what makes them so special. But they’ll have to learn fast. Because from a gypsy camp in Bucharest, a juvenile lock-up in Sydney and a castle in Geneva, these teenagers are about to face Yakuza assassins, a homicidal gypsy king, brutal wardens and a voodoo warrior. And they’re only their mortal foes. Yep, a psychopath snuck back in. Still, he’s just a boy. Even though he was bred by a witch who mated with a minor daemon to create him, he’s kinda nice. He can’t feel empathy though, and emotions confuse the hell out of him. I guess I’m exploring the nature/ nurture debate about psychopaths, and a lot more of my work is also twisted up in the series. I’ve worked with a lot of traumatised adolescents, including in juvenile lock-ups, and I have some understanding of how kids feel about injustice, for instance. But it’s not all about my day job – I include all the types of magic I love and have (hopefully) stuffed as much action as possible into the books. The second manuscript has been submitted and the third is in process.

And with the volumes of background notes, I could easily create a four and five! Here’s a sneak peak into the future: Luke, Samantha and Jake have finally found one another in Geneva, but there’s no time for a warm and fuzzy family reunion. Hidden no longer from creatures who profit and revel in a world at war with itself, they’ll survive only by learning how to use skills they never knew existed. And they must learn how their powers work together. But their enemies seek to drive them each to the farthest corners of the world. In Pantelimon, Romania, the gangster gypsy king has declared war on Samantha’s family, and Mirela, Lala and Shofranka are running for their lives. Even aided by Birthday Jones and his streetkid crew, the Empath’s family are in mortal peril. And when Samantha feels Tamas, the love of her life, being tortured she leaves her siblings behind in a blink. Luke has attracted an even more evil foe. Abrafo – the name translating to Executioner in the voodoo world – will never stop until he finishes what he started in Dwight Correctional Centre: brainwashing the Psychopath. And it’s imperative that Jake find out who wants to use his emotion synthesis program to create weaponry, because he’s learned how to distil feelings into liquid, gas and data code. He knows that pure hate, boiling rage, or seething envy fired into a crowd or distributed via email would be a terrorist’s fantasy. But even if our siblings manage to fight their individual enemies, there’s still Kirra the ninja assassin gone rogue, determined to regain her honour with her Yakuza

Will the prophec y hold true? Will Samantha, Luke and Jake restore harmony? Or destroy the world? The form er seems impossible . And the latter? Tick, tick.

family. And, of course, Morgan Moreau – mummy dearest – who’s never exactly had the strongest of maternal instincts, but who’s not going to let go of these children easily. And then there’s Morgan’s former lover, who unbeknownst even to her is an ancient and powerful Warlock with more to lose than any other if harmony is restored to the world. The Psychopath, the Empath and the Genius cannot stand alone against the power of the Warlock. Using a mutant version of Jake’s emotional weaponry, the Warlock has created

a mega-army of sleeper zombies. Remotely activated from anywhere in the world, these mortals live their lives unaware that at any moment they might be transformed into mindless killing machines, right when they’re standing next to our heroes or their allies. Still, Luke, Jake and Samantha are not without firepower. They’re mastering their talents. But for Luke, these powers, combined with his loveless, violent past, are dark and very dangerous. Can the Psychopath control his nature? Can Samantha cope with the losses, the visions and voices without descending into madness? And what of their other siblings – the children created and discarded by Morgan Moreau in her quest to fulfil the Telling? Damaged and disturbed, these children now also want to play. Will the prophecy hold true? Will Samantha, Luke and Jake restore harmony? Or destroy the world? The former seems impossible. And the latter? Tick, tick. Disharmony: The Telling will be available in June 2012

Click HERE to view the trailer for Disharmony



‘Wouldn’t it be funny if they were real?’ ‘Shiny red men?’ ‘What if I were the sane one and everyone else was mad?’ A sometimes dark, often funny novel about friendship, giant cockroaches, mental illness and trying to determine what’s real and what’s not. Welcome to the mind of Colin Lapsley, a 15-year-old boy admitted to Ward 44.

Highly recommended as a class novel study consideration for years 9 – 10. Teaching notes for this novel are now available.

r s e ary Editio v i n n A h t n 25 E N L B O W AILA AV

HAPPY BIRTHDAY 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of Graeme Base’s iconic picture book Animalia. This beautiful book still holds hours of fascination for children and adults alike after all these years. Visit to take the 25th Anniversary Challenge!

It’s the Hogg Bay Show and Boris is very excited. He has entered everything from Best Pumpkin to Best Pet. And he’s baked a very special carrot cake. All Boris wants is to win first prize. But Frank the sheep has other ideas… Can Boris save his cake and the show?

Boris is excited! The whole class is going on a school excursion to the city. They’re visiting the museum, the park and the Road Safety School. There’s so much to see and do, and Boris wants to try everything – including a big red bike that looks like it could go really fast . . . You’ll never be bored when Boris is around! With his big dreams and super-sized imagination, anything is possible – and adventure is guaranteed.

Andrew Joyne and inte r is an illustra tor and rnation carto The ally South C Sunday Age, T in newspapers onist publishe h h d nation a humori ina Morning P e Age, Sydney M nd magazines all ost, and sts Ross i n o cluding y r n ing Her Reader’s Campb picture ald, Sun e book w D -Her ith Peng ll and Wendy H igest. He has illustrat ald, uin Boo armer. T ed book ks h of stori sb es featu , and most rece e Terrible Plop r was his y ntly he ing Bor He lives first h i s a , s a lovable pr in Strat halbyn, warthog oduced a serie South A s ustralia . .


Genres Bec Kavanagh

As a reader, it’s easy to be preoccupied with genre. You find something you like, find another book like it and BAM! Suddenly you’re a ‘crime buff’ or a ‘fantasy lover’. You go to the library and you head straight for ‘your’ section. You might like other books, but why mess with a good thing? People occasionally raise concerns about ‘young adult’ as a genre – that perhaps it limits authors or readers by pigeonholing them as ‘young’. But in many ways the young adults genre is much more liberated than its adult counterparts. Rather than being separated into fantasy, romance, crime, etc, books sit next to each other under the happy banner of ‘young adult’. So it is no wonder that young adult authors take full advantage of this, borrowing, begging or stealing from genres as they

pave their own way, resulting in books with unique, refreshing outlooks that are incredibly hard to categorise. The nice thing about this, of course, is that the generation of readers growing up with these genre-bending books is much less closed-minded when it comes to reading habits. Even more so as young adult titles find themselves receiving the ‘crossover’ treatment, and are published in both adult and YA editions. In many ways, the freedom of the YA genre is going a long way

towards breaking down genres altogether. For educators, the wonderful thing about books that cross genres is that they make it much easier to create pathways into reading. Parents and teachers who lament the lack of ‘quality’ fiction being consumed by young readers can succeed in introducing new kinds of books via the bridge of genre-crossing. A good example is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This is a gothic paranormal romance. It’s got love and witches and all the right ingredients for a YA bestseller – which it is. But it’s also got a good dose of well researched history in it. Suddenly readers who thought they would only ever want to read paranormal romance have been introduced to the parallels of historical fiction. From there it’s easy to recommend a handful of other books that share the appeal of having an historical aspect. And if one of these other books happens to be more historical drama than romance, well, you get the picture. Genre-crossing is also a great way to introduce challenging

issues in an unexpected light. In Doug MacLeod’s newest book The Shiny Guys, he looks at the suffering and treatment of mental illness through the lens of Colin – a young boy who has been plagued by visions of the ‘shiny guys’ ever since his sister’s disappearance some years earlier. The inclusion of giant cockroaches adds a surreal edge, for which many authors would feel the need to offer an explanation. However, MacLeod pushes the boundaries of what is expected, leaving things ambiguous and creating a wonderful empathy between the reader and Colin. In adult fiction, even people who read across genres are often limited by the rules of what they expect within each. If you’re reading a romance, you expect that there will be a happy ending; literary fiction is often ambiguous or sad; science fiction works within logical parameters; while crime leaves you second-guessing every character, wondering who the villain will be. So there is something liberating about knowing that you’re stepping into a genre that is essentially a melting pot of the genres you are already familiar with. What if the bad guy were to fall in love? What if (gasp) science fiction introduced plot

elements that couldn’t possibly exist? What if we couldn’t trust the character who is telling the story? It would crack our reading experience wide open. Genre-crossing makes it possible to introduce books that have a legitimate connection to the classroom subject matter, as well as strong appeal to students. It changes the approach to learning. Books like Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and VIII by H. M. Castor are good examples of this. They’re historical fiction – with a twist. Westerfeld and Castor have done their research and there is a good degree of historical fact in each novel, but they’ve taken what they needed and then added fictional twists, changing outcomes and landscapes or zooming in on particular characters to make

the stories more interesting. This leaves plenty of scope for classroom discussions – more perhaps than if the books were strictly historical fictions, sticking closely to the accepted facts. Students need to find out for themselves the line that has been drawn in the sand in the battle between fiction and reality. They are required to research characters and events to pull the fact out of novels like these, and in doing so they discover truth for themselves, rather than merely soaking up information. It is liberating to read young adult fiction that so often goes against traditional rules and expectations. The more genres bleed into each other, the more possibilities appear – to change teaching, create lasting reading habits, and ultimately to gain a richer experience.

Genre-crossing is also a great way to introduce challenging issues in an unexpected light

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Trapped between bandits and the empire, can Hu and Ren save their world?


ollow the adventures of Hu and Ren, and be prepared for warriors, bandits and more, as they try to suvive the dangerous and unstable world of ancient China. A thrilling military drama, filled with real historical action that will captivate any reader.

Alison Lloyd

Dr Susan

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d Dr n a a c r a M a L Dr Susan introduce e r y t in c a M Pam f short o y g lo o h t n a their new secondary r e w lo r o f s ie stor with the d e t a e r C . s t n stude rriculum in u C n a li a r t s u A ection of ll o c a is it , d min s many e d lu c in t a h t stories ite authors – r u o v a f r u o y of Hartnett, a y n o S , y o R s Jame ennings J l u a P , le d id Tohby R re. and many mo

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CBCA 2012

Penguin Books Australia congratulates our Shortlisted and Notable authors and illustrators in the 2012 Children’s Book Council Awards

SHORTLIST & NOTABLE One Small Island Author: Alison Lester Illustrator: Coral Tulloch In One Small Island, Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch bring us the story of Macquarie Island, a remote and precious World Heritage site. Together they explore the island’s unique geological beginnings, discovery and degradation at the hands of humans, and the battle to restore it today. Eve Pownall Award (Shortlisted), Picture Book of the Year (Notable)

Come Down, Cat! Author: Sonya Hartnett

Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo

From the combined talents of Sonya Hartnett and Lucia Masciullo comes this tale of friendship and bravery, and the things we are capable of doing for those we treasure most. Early Childhood Book of the Year (Shortlisted), Picture Book of the Year (Notable)

The Jewel Fish of Karnak Author: Graeme Base Complete with hieroglyphics, sparkling jewels and an ingenious mechanical device built into the back of the book, here is a cautionary tale set amongst the wonders of an ancient world. Picture Book of the Year (Notable)

Pizza Cake Author: Morris Gleitzman Save ten lives with a paperclip, discover how a big banana can ruin your sister’s holiday, make a new friend with a garbage bin, develop a taste for sheep’s spleen and chips, bounce on a vampire’s bed, rescue your dad from a dog and a spider, use a toilet roll to get justice, upset the neighbours with a pickaxe, eat a pizza that makes you fearless, and imagine a world where teachers earn more money than a rock star. Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon Author: Aaron Blabey No matter what hour, she lurked looking sour, be it midnight or mid-afternoon. Her dresses were shabby, her mood always crabby. Her name was Miss Annabel Spoon. Picture Book of the Year (Notable), Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

Crusher Kevin: Aussie Nibbles Author: Penny Matthews

Illustrator: Andrew McLean

Soon Charlie will have a dog of his own, but it won’t be a big, scary dog like Crusher. Who could ever love a dog like that? Early Childhood Book of the Year (Notable)

Mr Moonlight: Aussie Bites Author: Jane Carroll

Illustrator: Anne Spudvilas

Something is making a weird noise under the house at night. It’s not a possum, or a rat. What is it? Tom can’t wait to find out. Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

Birdie in the Sky: Aussie Chomps Author: Prue Mason Birdie and her dad love being up in the sky in their Tiger Moth, Peggybelle. That is, until a terrible accident makes it a matter of life and death, and Birdie finds herself flying the plane alone! Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

Crocodile Jack: Aussie Bites Author: Leonie Norrington

Illustrator: Terry Denton

Jack’s big brother tom has asked him to go fishing! But Jack knows you should never go fishing when there are crocs about... Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

Norman Does Nothing: Aussie Bites Author: Jen Storer

Illustrator: Andrew Joyner

No one does Nothing quite as well as Norman the garden gnome.But one day his peaceful world is turned upside-down… Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)


SHORTLIST & NOTABLE Ready, Set, Boris Book 3 Author: Andrew Joyner You’ll never be bored when Boris is around! With his big dreams and super-sized imagination, anything is possible – and adventure is guaranteed. Early Childhood Book of the Year (Notable)

When We Were Two Author: Robert Newton Dan and his brother Eddie take off for the coast, in search of their lost mother, in search of a better life... but it’s a long road they face and Dan must use all his wits to get them there in one piece. Older Readers Book of the Year (Shortlisted)

Alaska Author: Sue Saliba Award-winning author Sue Saliba’s lyrical young adult novel about following your heart to the most unexpected and beautiful of places. Older Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

Goliath: Leviathan Book 3 Author: Scott Westerfeld

Illustrator Keith Thompson

Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant, maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath. It can end the war. But whose side is the inventor really on? Older Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

The Accidental Princess Author: Jen Storer

Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo

When the pixies and fairies of the lilac hedge mistake Matilda for royalty, she is drawn into a wondrous world. But evil forces threaten the hedge and its folk, and Matilda must fight to save her new friends. She can’t do it alone, but could it mean losing her sister forever? Younger Readers Book of the Year (Notable)

Using eBoo ks? Many of your favourite Peng uin / Puffin boo are now availa ks ble as eBooks . F ro m Morris Gleitzman to Is obelle Carmo dy, there’s a wide range to choose from. Visit penguin.c s for more information on titles and how to download! Visit penguin.c for a fu ll list of available eB ooks.


For phone orders & enquiries please call

Orders can be sent directly to

Penguin Group Australia PO BOX 701 Hawthorn, VIC 3122 (or to your usual bookseller)

er the ord

f etails o d e h t r & ente s featured in ok the bo edition. this






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Off the Shelf - May 2012  

Off the Shelf is a FREE resource from Penguin for teachers and librarians. Visit and subscribe via email to rec...

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