Good morning bookworms!
Today’s Top 5 Tuesday is ‘books set in your own country’. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the super lovely Shanah over at the Bionic Bookworm. You can visit her here, and join in for Top 5 Tuesday by checking out all the amazing topics we have coming up!
Ahhhh, Australia. There’s actually a really beautiful poem called My Country by Dorothea Mackellar that perfectly describes the Aussie landscape in all its stark beauty. You can read it HERE or you can listen to a recording of it by Mackellar HERE. (I will warn you, she does this weird thing where she rolls her ‘r’s and it makes it hard to understand her enunciation.)
So! Books set in the land of Aus… To be honest, I really only know of Aussie authors who write books set in Australia, and I don’t really read that many as most of my Aussie authors (Kristoff, Kaufman, Pacat, Nix, Carmody, Douglass, Forsyth) all write fantasy novels. There are a couple though, so fingers crossed I can make out 5 books with the limited authors I know of!
A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews, are both set in Australia (although there is no town or city specified in either). I can say this is evidenced by one scene in which it is confirmed that August, Beck and Sam all attend the same school, AND by one scene where Sam is in a supermarket (or grocery store) and goes past a vegemite display. (I’m hungry for vegemite on toast now.)
The Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden is an amazing dystopian series where Australia gets invaded while this group of six (seven?) kids are out camping on a long weekend. The first book was released in 1993, so I’m sure that it has aged considerably when it comes to technology (I don’t remember the kids having cell phones on the trip), but if you love stories about kids fighting back or blowing stuff up, and messy romances in the middle of war, then I cannot recommend this series enough. It absolutely blew my mind when I was a kid and I was obsessed with it. I even got the exclusive dust jacket cover for one of the books. Also, much like the later HP novels, it’s not really a kid’s series as it discussed quite adult themes and there is definitely murder in these books. (There are newer covers now, nicer ones, but I have the barbed wire ones.)
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (and all her other contemporary novels too). I very much plan on doing a reread of this book soon because it was one of my absolute favourites growing up. (Also, I saw that it’s recently been re-released as a hardcover and I am dying to get my hands on a copy.) This is a contemporary YA novel that talks about ethnicity, the pressures of high school exams (and knowing what you want to do with your life), single parenthood, family secrets, and suicide. Marchetta was one of my favourite authors growing up, so I’m actually pretty excited to finally meet her soon (and have her sign my dilapidated copy of this book).
I remember reading Storm Boy by Colin Thiele as a young’un. Mostly because it was on my mum’s bookshelf (it was first published in 1963) and my mum liked it when she was also a young’un. To be honest, I don’t really remember that much about it, except the pelicans, but I know that there has just been a remake of the film starring Geoffrey Rush that is due out in April. So instead of rereading it, I’ll probably just watch the movie and see if it triggers any memories. Although, I know it’s not a long book – I remember it being quite thin, so maybe I will reread it one day?
OK, I admit that I am struggling now. I vaguely remember reading a LOT of Morris Gleitzman and Paul Jennings books when I was young (and not just their co-authored ones). They’re mostly children’s/middle grade level, and I know there was one Gleitzman book in particular where a kid painted a corrugated iron roof one stinking hot summer – super thrilling stuff. I’m sure there are others, but I can’t remember them very well at all. However, there are some children’s books that I would draw your attention to…
Possum Magic by Mem Fox is one of the greatest Aussie children’s picture books in existence. The story talks about a little possum who starts to turn invisible, and needs to eat ‘Aussie’ food to stay visible. From memory (and it’s been a while) this includes things like lamingtons and vegemite sandwiches. I don’t know anyone who didn’t grow up with this or Wombat Stew. I also have to give a quick shout out to May Gibbs if we’re talking about children’s books. Her iconic stories featuring characters such as The Gumnut Babies, The Wattle Babies and The Banksia Men have been around since the early 1900’s and are still in kids’ bookshelves today.
I am going to do a final shoutout, because I have been meaning to buy and read these books for a couple of years now, but just haven’t quite gotten to it yet. (I was waiting for the final book to come out!) The Valentine trilogy by Jodi McAlister is, from my understanding of my friends trying to shove these books down my throat, an urban fantasy series set in the Aussie bushlands. It’s about fae, and there’s murder, magic and plot twists, and … why haven’t I read these books yet? Anyway, Misrule just came out about a month ago, and I missed the book launch (sad face), but I WILL get to these books.
Until next time, happy reading 😊📚