Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling

Dusti Bowling just gets better and better. Each of her books have been totally different but they’re all completely gripping. 24 Hours in Nowhere used to be my favourite of hers but Dusti’s new book, The Canyon’s Edge, has blown the others out of the water. You will need to have a spare few hours to read this in one go because you won’t want to put it down!

Eleanor and her father are emotionally scarred from a shooting that occurred a year ago, taking her mother’s life. Eleanor and her father have been hiding away from the world and have not been able to move on. As a family they spent a lot of time in the desert and were experienced climbers. A year after the incident Eleanor and her father leave civilisation to trek a canyon in the middle of the desert. Things start fine but a flash flood in the canyon leaves Eleanor scrambling to escape the waters and her father washed away. Scraped, bruised and with no supplies Eleanor must brave the heat, the plants and wildlife of the canyon to try and find her father and get out alive.

I read an early copy of Canyon’s Edge back in lockdown (thanks to Edelweiss+) but it’s a story that I keep coming back to. I know this will be one of my top books of 2020. This is Dusti’s first novel in verse (although it does start and finish as a traditional novel) and she absolutely nails it. I love verse novels because of the emotional power of this storytelling and Dusti’s story is perfectly suited for verse. The story is raw, gut-wrenching but ultimately full of hope. I devoured this book because I needed to know that Eleanor was going to be alright. Like Eleanor dying for water I was dying to get back to the story when I had to put it down. It is the kind of story that will grab all kids and I know it will make a fantastic read aloud for Years 7-9 (11-13 year olds). Eleanor faces so many challenges, and just when you think things can’t get any worse they do.

If you haven’t discovered Dusti Bowling you need to read all of her other books before this releases in September.

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

Lucy Cuthew’s new book, Blood Moon, is an amazing verse novel for teens that focuses on periods, sex and online shaming.

During Frankie’s first sexual experience with Benjamin (he of the meaty thighs) she gets her period. They both agree that it is just blood, there is no shame and that they both had fun. However, Frankie starts to doubt Benjamin’s honesty when details of their experience are spread around school. What should have been something private is now very much public. Then a graphic meme about her goes viral and Frankie starts to wonder if she is dirty and should be ashamed. Frankie’s life really gets turned upside down when the online shaming becomes vicious and terrifying. With the help of her friends, Frankie will need to stand up and show those around her that she has nothing to be ashamed of.

Blood Moon is an empowering read with real emotional punch. It’s a story about periods but it’s also about friendships, family, first sexual encounters, bullying, and social media. Lucy has written the story in verse, which I always think adds impact to the story. It feels like a more personal form of storytelling and it really works with this story. A story told in verse makes you slow down and savour the author’s words. Take this section for example:

Lucy vividly portrays the impact that period shaming, both in person and online, has on Frankie. She faces nasty comments and images at school but these also spread online when a meme is made about her. She starts to feel physically ill and becomes afraid to leave her house.

The blood moon of the title also refers to Frankie’s love of astronomy. She works at the local observatory, along with her best friend Harriet, and is hoping to get a summer internship there. Frankie and Harriet have a telescope in their treehouse and it’s their shared history and interests that help to heal their relationship.

This is a must read for teenagers and adults alike.

The Rise of the Remarkables: Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward

This book is AMAZING! There is something for everyone – mystery, adventure, action, magic, ingenious machines, powers being used for good and evil, witty dialogue and curious characters. The fantastic cover (illustrated by Bex Bloomfield) alone is enough to draw you in and from the first page I was hooked on Brasswitch and Bot. Gareth drops you straight in to the action and gives you a taste of his world. Once you get a taste you just want more. This is a world of clockwork, machines and science but also a world tainted by power from another dimension. There are those with powers and abilities who live in the shadows and those who hunt them down.

When The Rupture occurred, monsters tore through into the world from another dimension, leaving many people with altered physical features and strange powers. Wrench is a Brasswitch, an ‘abberation’ who can control machines with her mind. After her parents died in a train crash when she was younger she tried to keep her abilities hidden away. Her abilities are discovered and she is taken by the ruthless Regulator, Flemington. When the mechanoid, Bot, rescues her, Wrench finds herself helping the Regulators to stop the rise of the abberations and the end of the world as they know it.

Brasswitch and Bot has shades of Hellboy and Skulduggery Pleasant. The abberations are being hunted down with the help of abberations, much like Hellboy, Abe Sapien and the B.P.R.D. The relationship between Wrench and Bot reminds me of Skulduggery and Stephanie’s relationship in the early Skulduggery books. The relationship and the banter between Wrench and Bot was one of my favourite aspects of this book. I really want to see more of these two taking on the bad guys together. I would also highly recommend this series for fans of Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series. Like Jessica, Gareth’s world-building and characters draw you in and you don’t want the story to end.

There is so much depth to the characters and you know there is more to discover about them. Bot is quite mysterious and secretive. You learn a little about him in this book but I want to know more about him and his history. Likewise, you get to know Wrench but she has more to learn about her powers and her past.

Gareth’s world-building is masterful. He gives us little details about this steampunk version of York throughout the story and gives us the details of the history of the Rupture. I really loved some of the little details of the world, like the Scotch dog (a mechanical creature that is made up of a giant set of bagpipes on legs) and G-mail (mail that is delivered by greyhounds).

Gareth’s dialogue is witty and there were lots of moments that made me chuckle. There are lots of TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations) used by the Regulators but my favourite is BBG (the Bloody Big Guns that come out when the situation gets serious).

I need book 2 right now! This is a series that will have me eagerly awaiting the next instalment and lining up like a Harry Potter fan to get my hands on it. Get to your bookstore or library and get The Rise of the Remarkables: Brasswitch and Bot now.

Interview with Jonathan King

Jonathan King’s first graphic novel for children, The Inkberg Enigma, has just been released. It is a brilliant graphic novel filled with mystery, adventure and secrets. You can read my full review here on the blog.

I really love The Inkberg Enigma (it’s one of my favourite children’s graphic novels of 2020) so I wanted to ask Jonathan my burning questions about the story. Read on to find out about Jonathan’s inspirations for the story, the process of creating a graphic novel and some of the Easter Eggs you can find in the story.

Reading The Inkberg Enigma made me feel like I was 10 again, reading Tintin. Did you set out to create the kind of story that you would have loved as a kid?

Yes, I absolutely did. Tintin was huge for me as a kid: The Black Island was the first one I read, but I devoured them all over the years. I knew from the outset that I wanted it to be an adventure with fantastic elements. I think I decided fairly early that it wouldn’t be a globe-trotting kind of thing – that Tintin often did – but digging into the secrets and corners of one location. That’s what I love about stories – that can show us how our own world has hidden wonders.

The Inkberg Enigma is set in the fictional town of Aurora. Being a Christchurch local I immediately recognised Lyttelton in your illustrations. Did Lyttelton inspire the setting?

Lyttelton – and Diamond Harbour access the water – definitely the primary inspiration for the setting. I have family in Diamond Harbour and Lyttelton, and have spent quite a bit of time there. I love the self-contained nature of the two of them (in my story there’s no Christchurch just over the hill). And I’ve always had a connection to places by the sea – with their attached nautical influence, like Lyttelton has, of hotels, seamen’s union buildings, antique shops with diver’s helmets in the window (which I really did see in Lyttelton!). Other influences are Cannery Row in Monterey in California – where John Steinbeck set his book of that name — Astoria in Oregon (where The Goonies was filmed) and, for the castle, Larnach Castle in Dunedin.

I love that the main character in The Inkberg Enigma, Miro, sells off treasures from his attic to get money to buy books. Is this something you would have done as a kid?

I don’t know if I would go quite as far as Miro does! But I do remember what it felt like to be obsessed with things – like Star Wars figures or comics – and doing anything to complete collections. 

Mr Hunter is one of the creepiest characters in the story. I’ve been wondering where he got his huge scar from?

I think Mr Hunter has been involved in some very dangerous situations at sea over the years – but ignored or buried them, to continue the regime of (what they think is) control over the sea and the creatures below. I think there’s a climate change metaphor in there too …

The kids at my school often complain about how long it takes a creator to release a new graphic novel. To put it in to perspective for them can you explain the process of creating The Inkberg Enigma and how long it took you to pull the story together.

It takes a long time for new ones to come out because it takes a loooooong time to draw them! Unlike commercial monthly comics – which usually have a writer, a penciller, an inker, a colourist, a letterer – a graphic novel is usually the work of just one or two people. It took me about three years from start to finish. Part of that was finding the story. I had the world and the kids in the story pretty early … but the story they were in and the relationship between them took a while to find; I made a false start and pencilled / roughed about 40 pages … that I abandoned. But once I cracked the relationship between the kids, the stay was clear. Then I just had to draw it all. Certainly a detailed, clear line style slows things down. I’d love to try a looser (faster!!) style in the future.

Did you experiment much with the character designs before settling on their final look?

I think their look came quite quickly. Learning how to draw it consistently took a little while longer!

The name of the bookshop in the story is a nod to your film adaptation of Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain that you wrote, directed and produced. Are there other Easter eggs for readers to look out for in The Inkberg Enigma?

I’m thrilled you spotted that. Yes, there are others: a number of Tintin props, I think. The books in the bookshop Miro looks at are favourites of mine. The museum building is based on the jailhouse in Goonies (a real building in Astoria!) I’m sure there’s other odds and ends!

How does your film background influence your comics?

I’m not sure. Probably it does n terms of story structure – something I’ve spent a long time thinking about. I probably think it terms of close ups and wide shots … and even the ‘lens’ that I frame images in: a wide angle lens sees something differently from a ‘long’ lens. Certainly telling the story with pictures is as important as words. 

Would you like to make a movie of The Inkberg Enigma?

All the way through making I didn’t think that I did: it was only ever meant to be a comic. Now that it’s finished, it’s its own thing … yeah, I kinda would actually! 🙂 

There are so few comics and graphic novels published in NZ for kids and teens, even though these books are some of the most popular with kids in our libraries. Do you have plans to write more for this age group?

I’m sure one of the reasons that there are so few is that for something takes so long, it’s really hard to get enough income to justify the time it takes (though I must acknowledge the support I ad from Creative NZ). Some cool local creators are Katie O’Neill’s Tea Dragon Society books, Ant Sang’s Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, Roger Langridge’s Abigail & The Snowman and, of course, bob Kerr and Stephen Ballantyne’s Terry Teo books. 
I would love to write more for this age group. Having done a book that took years to draw, I’d love to write book that’s just words – a mystery perhaps! And, yes, before long I’ll do another graphic novel. 

Check out my review of Jonathan’s graphic novel, The Inkberg Enigma. Available now from Gecko Press.

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

If you could have a superpower what would you choose? Laser eyes? Invisibility? Ice breath? Pizazz wishes she had a superpower that exciting but hers is just rubbish (or so she thinks). Sophy Henn introduces us to Pizazz and her super family in the first book in her new series.

Pizazz is a superhero in a family of superheroes. You would think that her life would be pretty awesome but, most of the time, Pizazz thinks it is super annoying. She has to wear the same outfit all the time and she has to keep dashing off to save the world, even if she’s in the middle of something important. Her friends used to understand how chaotic her life is but Pizazz has just moved house and schools. Being a superhero and trying to fit in really don’t go together. When she gets assigned as an eco monitor at school Pizazz thinks it is a bit lame until she realises this is her chance to save the world in a different way. If only horrible supervillains would stop trying to take over the world!

Pizazz is the hilarious, action-packed debut of the next superhero franchise you’ll get obsessed with. Pizazz has to deal with normal kid stuff like an annoying family, mean kids and making friends, but she also has to save the world from super-powered lasers and high-tech tank prams.

The book is jam-packed with Sophy’s fantastic black and white illustrations. There are plenty of super stares, super poses and super costumes. The thing I loved most about the illustrations are the parts where Pizazz and her family have to fight a villain. These parts look like a classic superhero comic.

I love Pizazz and all of her crazy family! They all have different superpowers, including Pizazz (although she doesn’t want us to know what it is). Her dog, Wanda, isn’t a normal dog either. She receives and transmits messages and keeps an eye on the family. My favourite character is Gramps, because he farts fireballs if he laughs too much. Sophy’s supervillains are brilliant too. There’s a giant baby called Googoo who fires toys from his tank shaped like a pram, Twerknado who uses his twerk power for destructive purposes, and pukey villain Megavom.

Pizazz is perfect for ages 7+. It’s a guaranteed great read for all kids. If you haven’t read Sophy’s previous series, Bad Nana, I highly recommend this too.

Finding Francois by Gus Gordon

Every new book by Gus Gordon is a treasure. They’re picture books that can be enjoyed by all ages, from new entrants through to Year 8. Gus tugs at your heart-strings and makes you fall in love with his characters. I loved Herman and Rosie (one of Gus’s earlier books) so much that I bought a piece of artwork from the book. Gus’s latest picture book, Finding Francois, is pure perfection and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.

Alice Bonnet lives with her grandmother. They’re a great team and they love spending time with each other, whether it is baking, going to the park for lunch, or strolling through the city saying hello to all their friends. There are some days, however, when Alice wishes that she had someone her own size to talk to. So, one morning Alice writes a note, puts it in a bottle and throws it into the river. She hopes that someone will reply and, one day, she receives one from Francois. Their friendship grows through their notes, but then tragedy strikes and the notes stop. As Alice discovers though, good friends are always there when you need them.

Finding Francois is a beautiful picture book that is both sad and uplifting. Gus Gordon has an extraordinary gift of making you feel like his characters are your best friends. I became emotionally invested in Alice’s life within a few pages and I wanted her to find a friend. I love how Gus gives you little details about the characters, like the things that Alice and Francois have in common.

‘Like Alice, Francois loved writing lists and reading books. And drawing mermaids too. (Alice wasn’t expecting that!)

But Francois also loved dancing. And wearing funny hats. And origami. And garlic butter. And flower arranging.’

Relationships and connection are a big part of Gus’s books too. Alice has a really strong relationship with her grandma and they build some wonderful memories together. Alice and Francois build a friendship without meeting each other, but this is a strong relationship too.

Gus’s illustrations are superb! Like Lauren Child and Oliver Jeffers, Gus’s illustrations are a mixed media delight. He uses images cut from old French homewares catalogues to stand in for furniture in the illustrations. One illustration even looks like it has been painted over an old French postcard. As well as meeting Alice, Francois and their families, Gus always makes the background characters come alive. You look at these characters and know that they have their own lives (like the bear in the cheese shop). Even the photos on the walls bring Alice’s ancestors alive.

Everyone needs some Gus Gordon in their life. Grab a copy of Finding Francois from your library or bookshop now.

Brilliant new books from Barrington Stoke

Barrington Stoke are one of the best publishers around. Not only do they publish dyslexia friendly books for kids and teens, they also ensure that these stories are written by some of the best authors for young people. Authors like Lisa Thompson, Laura James, Anthony McGowan and Meg Rosoff write short, engaging stories that are perfect for reluctant readers and readers with dyslexia. I’m a huge fan of their books and I read and recommended as many of them as I can. Anthony McGowan’s Lark, which won the 2020 Carnegie Medal is published by Barrington Stoke so they’re also an award winning publisher.

Barrington Stoke have an amazing line up of books coming in August and September. Their books are distributed here in NZ and Australia through Allen and Unwin so are available through bookshops and library suppliers. You can read about the upcoming releases below.

AFTER THE WAR: FROM AUSCHWITZ TO AMBLESIDE. By Tom Palmer, cover art by Violet Tobacco. Publishing: 6th August. For: 9 years+


Summer 1945. The Second World War is finally over and Yossi, Leo and Mordecai are among three hundred children who arrive in the English Lake District. Having survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, they’ve finally reached a place of safety and peace, where they can hopefully begin to recover. But Yossi is haunted by thoughts of his missing father and disturbed by terrible nightmares. As he waits desperately for news from home, he fears that Mordecai and Leo – the closest thing to family he has left – will move on without him. Will life by the beautiful Lake Windermere be enough to bring hope back into all their lives?
A deeply moving and beautifully told novel of friendship and belonging, inspired by the incredible true story of the Windermere Boys.

SEQUIN AND STITCH.
Laura Dockrill, illustrations by Sara Ogilvie.
For: 8 years+.
Publishing: 6th August

Acclaimed creator Laura Dockrill sews together family, imagination and heart in this lyrical and completely unique Barrington Stoke debut.
Sequin’s mum is a talented seamstress and their little flat is overflowing with beautiful silks, fabrics, buttons and beads. It’s a sparkling sanctuary, like a princess’s wardrobe. While Mum works at her sewing machine late into the night, Sequin takes care of her baby brother, Stitch, and dreams of a place in the spotlight for her brilliant mum. But when tragedy strikes, their shimmering world disintegrates and Sequin is forced to confront the biggest loss of all …

JUST ANOTHER LITTLE LIE. Eve Ainsworth. For: 12 years+. Publishing: 6th August


It’s just a little blip. Violet’s mum hasn’t been herself for a while. A few too many glasses of wine in the evening. Mornings when she can’t get out of bed. Now Violet’s the one looking after her little brother and looking out for empty bottles in Mum’s bag. But it’s just another little blip. Mum will be fine again soon. She has to be … How long do blips last for?
Award-winning author Eve Ainsworth returns with a stark, honest and deeply moving novella exploring the difficult subject of alcohol addiction.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS: A RETELLING. Tanya Landman, cover art by Helen Crawford-White. For: 12 years+. Publishing: 6th August


Carnegie Medal-winning author Tanya Landman reignites another beloved Brontë classic in a phenomenal retelling, accessible to all readers.
The night that Heathcliff, an unkempt orphan, arrives at the Heights, Cathy’s life will change for ever … but theirs will not be a happy love story. From a harsh childhood to a foolish marriage, a troubled path of pain and punishment lies ahead. Yet no matter how they suffer, they cannot stay apart – for whatever souls are made of, Cathy’s and Heathcliff’s are the same. After all these years, will Cathy’s ghost find the peace that life denied her?

THE HOUSE OF CLOUDS. Lisa Thompson, illustrations by Alice McKinley. For: 8 years+. Publishing: 3rd September


Tabby’s fed up. Fed up with losing her best friend and fed up that Grandad has come to stay. Grandad’s always telling the same old silly, made-up stories. And now Tabby has to walk his smelly dog Buster every day after school. When one of Tabby’s walks takes her to a lonely hilltop house she spots something strange going on. So strange she can’t help but mention it to Grandad. Of course he tells her another fantastical story but when tragedy strikes, Tabby’s left wondering if Grandad’s impossible tale could be true?
From the Blue Peter shortlisted author of Owen and the Soldier.

THE INVASION OF CROOKED OAK. Dan Smith, illustrations by Chris King. For: 8 years+. Publishing: 3rd September


Stranger Things meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this thrilling sci-fi adventure with an environmental twist.
Nancy’s parents are acting weird. Their eyes are blank, they won’t eat – it’s like they’re no longer themselves. Pete and Krish are obsessed with unexplained phenomena and when they offer to help Nancy investigate, they’re sure they can crack the case. But the deeper the trio dig, the darker the mystery gets … Crooked Oak is under attack from a dangerous foe, and they’re the only ones who can stop it.

THE PECULIAR THING WITH THE PEA. Kaye Umansky, illustrations by Claire Powell. For: 8 years+. Publishing: 3rd September


Prince Pete isn’t ready for marriage – he’s only eleven! And this peculiar business with the pea is the daftest thing he’s ever heard. Mother reckons she can find him the perfect royal bride and thinks the pea is the one true test. But when scruffy-looking Patsy comes along, claiming to be a princess, Mother’s careful scheming quickly turns to soup.
A laugh-out-loud retelling of The Princess and the Pea like you’ve never heard it before!

NOODLE THE DOODLE. Jonathan Meres, illustrations by Katy Halford. For: 8 years+. Publishing: 3rd September


Noodle the Doodle, an adorable rescue pup, is joining class and he even gets to come on the school trip! But while Noodle’s settled into being a class helper, and really loves being around all the pupils, taking on a school trip to the beach is a whole different ball game … Can noodle stay on his best behaviour or is this school trip about to take a turn for the chaotic?

Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt

Nothing Ever Happens Here is a fantastic story that focuses on a family coming to terms with the dad announcing that he is transitioning. It’s an important story not just for kids but teachers and parents.

Izzy’s life in her small town is pretty non-eventful until the day that her dad comes out as Danielle, a trans woman. Izzy worries how this will affect her family. Will she lose her dad? Will her parents split up? What will her friends and the other kids at school say? Izzy is someone who has never liked the limelight but now a spotlight is shining on her family.

The story is told from 12 year old Izzy’s perspective so you get the conflict from her point of view – wanting to support her Dad (or Dee as they come to call her) while wanting things to be the same they’ve always been and being afraid of what others will think. As part of an LGBT charity the author, Sarah Hagger-Holt, brings her experience to the story without it ever feeling preachy. It’s a story that shows you the situation from many points of view, from the father who has never felt herself, to the wife and children and close friends.

This is an important book to have in all school libraries as I’m sure there will be kids in our schools that are in similar situations. It also makes kids aware of these issues. Suitable for anyone 10+.

The Ghosts on the Hill by Bill Nagelkerke

The Ghosts on the Hill by Bill Nagelkerke is a spooky, historical tale that is perfectly formed. At just 75 pages readers can gobble it up in one bite and it is ideal for reluctant readers who need a short but engaging story. It would also make a great read aloud for Years 5-8.

Elsie lives in the port town of Lyttelton in 1884. She spends her days fishing and exploring. It is one day while she is fishing that she meets brothers Davie and Archie. They have come to Lyttelton on the train from Christchurch but have no money to take the train back again. They decide to walk back over the hill on the Bridle Path, the path carved over the hill by the early settlers. However, the weather closes in and the boys both die on the hill. One year later Elsie is haunted by the memory of the brothers and a feeling of guilt because she didn’t stop the boys from leaving. When Elsie misses the train to Christchurch and a chance to meet her new cousin, she decides to face her fears and make the trek over the Bridle Path. Do the brothers haunt the hills? Elsie will find out when she faces her own challenge on the hills.

I loved this story as an adult and I know I would have loved it as a kid. Growing up in Christchurch I studied the early settlers in primary school and even had a field trip walking over the Bridle Path to Lyttelton. The places in the story are so familiar to me yet quite different, given the time that the story is set. You don’t need to be familiar with the setting though to appreciate the story. The fact that the story is inspired by real events makes a chill go down my spine and loads of kids love spooky stories. Bill includes newspaper clippings from 1883 in the story and details of the real events in his author’s note.

Bill incorporates te ao Maori in to the story too. Through Elsie’s father, who is Maori and living at Rapaki (just around the bay from Lyttelton), we learn about the Maori stories of the area, including the stories of the patupaiarehe, the wicked fairies that live in the clouds on the hills.

I found myself comparing the events of the story with how it would be different if the story was set today. The children in the story have a lot more freedom than children today. Elsie’s Mum is happy for her to walk over the hills by herself, and Davie and Archie walk from the centre of town and catch a train through to Lyttelton with no adult with them. Getting from one place to another easily is something we take for granted these days too. I couldn’t imagine walking from Lyttelton, over the Bridle Path, and all the way to the middle of Christchurch city, but that’s what Davie and Archie were going to do. If you were stuck in bad weather on the hills today you would just get out your cell phone and call for help but in 1884 you were on your own. You had to stay where you were or carry on. These would be some great talking points to discuss if you were sharing the story with a class.

The Ghost on the Hill is a fantastic addition to a school library or as a class set of books. The Cuba Press have even created some wonderful teacher’s notes to go with the book that you can find here.

Worse Things by Sally Murphy

The thing I love about verse novels is that they pack so much emotion and imagery in to so few words. Each chapter or poem is like a snapshot of the character’s life. Worse Things is Sally Murphy’s fourth illustrated verse novel and this story is proof of her mastery of this form of storytelling. Sally takes us inside the lives and minds of three very different kids whose stories intertwine.

Jolene is the daughter of two doctors. Her mother is always busy but lives her life vicariously through her daughter. Her mum’s dreams of hockey stardom were shattered when she was younger and she just wants her daughter to excel in the sport. Jolene hates hockey. She also hates that her father is saving lives on the other side of the world rather than being at home with her. Blake is footy-mad but his season is over when he fractures his arm. He doesn’t feel included with his footy mates and doesn’t know who he is without footy. Amed is a refugee who has spent most of his life in a refugee camp. He now lives in Australia with his Aunty but he knows very little English. This leaves him feeling left out and struggling to make friends. There are always worse things than a nagging mum, missing out on footy or not having friends.

I loved each of the characters because they are all dealing with their own issues. My favourite character was Amed because he had been through a lot in his life and he was able to put things in to perspective more than Jolene and Blake. I especially loved this thought from Amed:

‘If I could talk to you
I might explain
just what it’s like
to be an outsider since birth
to be so outside
you wonder if you will ever be safe.

And then
when you finally are
to find yourself kept separate again
by the invisible fence of language.’

Sally’s writing is just so beautiful and her imagery so rich. This is a story that works so well in verse form, and like many stories told in verse, it probably wouldn’t have the same impact as a novel. Sarah Davis’ bright, graffiti-style cover will make the book jump off the shelf too.

Grab yourself a comfy spot and an hour or two to savour this wonderful book.