Last week I read four books which were all marvellous. I’ll talk about them as they come out, but the first to be published is The Cartographer by Peter Twohig. Twohig is a Sydney writer and this is his first book. It’s set in 1959 Melbourne and an eleven year old boy, on his travels through his neighbourhood (which is Melbourne’s Richmond), sees a woman being strangled. Unfortunately, the murderer has seen him looking through the window so he knows he has to flee and hide in the drains and tunnels under the road. The book is very funny, very touching, with strange, wonderful characters, particularly the boy’s family. If you enjoyed The Selected Works of T S Spivet by Larsen back in 2009, I guarantee you’ll love this.
Wonder is the first book from R J Palacio and I guess the best way to describe it is to say it’s close to The Boy in Striped Pyjamas. If you cried reading that book, you’ll cry more often when you read Wonder. Auggie Pullman is a bright ten year old who has been home-schooled up until now. The reason for this is he was born with a terrible facial deformity and in spite of many operations, Auggie still doesn’t look like you or me. His parents have decided if he goes to school he’ll be better equipped to cope with the world, and we go through this really tough year with Auggie. This book is a sure winner!
Two of my very favourite authors have new books coming in April – Helen Dunmore’s The Greatcoat and Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye. They are both slim novels, novellas really, and both are centered around ghosts. Tyler’s story is about Aaron, slightly handicapped with leg and arm problems, and his wife Dorothy, a doctor who doesn’t give much of herself. Dorothy is killed in an accident in their home, and Aaron is totally grief-stricken. Then he starts to see Dorothy, talk with her, and even discuss the cracks in their marriage. Dunmore’s book is set in the 1950s near an airfield where bombers left on their run to Germany in World War II. Isabel and Philip are newly married and have come to this small Yorkshire village where he will be the junior GP. Isabel finds an old RAF greatcoat in the cupboard and uses it to keep warm at night. Then in the middle of the night, after her husband is out attending an emergency call, she starts hearing knocking on the window, and there, on the other side, is a young RAF pilot, and it seems she remembers him. But is he real? Two great stories.
I thought it would be interesting to talk about a couple of books for that 10 to teenage years group. I’ve read all these books, and can easily recommend them. Firstly is Andrew McGahan’s new series for teenagers, The Ship Kings. The first book is The Coming of the Whirlpool, the story of Dow Amber, born the son of a woodsman so must follow his father’s path. But Dow has a passion for the sea and this leads him to a village of fearful people, a ruling class of people (the Ship Kings) and a brush with a monstrous whirlpool. For slightly younger readers, there is John Stephens’ The Emerald Atlas, where three children become involved in an ancient prophecy. For the older kids, you cant go past Blood Red Road by Moira Young, a dystopian novel with Saba going in search for her stolen brother. The best teenage book I’ve read this year. It is for the older kids, because Saba does end up cage fighting. And lastly in this group, James Moloney’s Silvermay, the story of Sixteen year old Silvermay who must protect Nerigold’s baby from the dark forces of Coyle Strongbow. All four books will guarantee hours of silence in your home.