Holiday Reading 1999: A selection of children's and young adults' books

Young adults

Allison, Anthony Hear these voices
Youth at the edge of the Millennium Presents case studies of teenagers living with homelessness, prostitution, alcoholism, and neighbourhood violence.
Bowler, Tim Shadows
Jamie's father keeps driving him on to win, to become a world squash champion. But Jamie can't take it any more and is desperate to get away. Then he finds a girl hiding in his shed, and in helping her to escape from the danger that is pursuing her, he is at last able to deal with his own problems. By the winner of the Carnegie Medal.
* Burgess, Melvin Bloodtide
Burgess, a recent visitor to Christchurch, has placed a Viking myth in a violent urban contemporary setting; judging from early reviews he has once again stretched the boundaries of young adult fiction.
* Cadnum, Michael In a dark wood
While the Sheriff usually gets short shift in retellings of the Robin Hood story, this pattern is reversed in Cadnum's powerful and poetic book in which the Sheriff is the main character. He is portrayed as a man proscribed by the rules and regulations of his duties who has found himself "in a dark wood, the right road lost". Young Adult novelist Robert Cormier describes Cadnum's writing as "shimmering prose … poetry with muscle, capturing both the beauty and brutality of life in Nottinghamshire" and the book "an enduring piece of literature".
* Chambers, Aidan Postcards from no man's land
Two interwoven stories linking Jacob Todd, a soldier sheltered by the Dutch during the second world war, and his grandson and namesake visiting Amsterdam for the first time.
Clarke, Judith Night train
Honour book in the older readers' section of the Children's Book Council of Australia's annual awards. Luke seems to have turned himself into a loser, failing at school, paralysed with fear and indecision, losing touch with reality.
Cormier, Robert Heroes
A scarred soldier returns to his home town.
* Crew, Gary Memorial Illustrated by Shaun Tan.
A moving album of war stories centred round an Australian city council's removal of a Moreton Bay fig planted in 1918.
Cross, Gillian Tightrope
Ashley begins to receive bizarre threatening messages from someone who seems to know her every move.
Disher, Garry The divine wind
In the Australian town of Broome, against the backdrop of world war two, Hart, the son of a pearling master, and Mitsy, the daughter of a Japanese diver, fall in love.
Fleischman, Paul Whirligig
While travelling to each corner of the country to build a whirligig in memory of the girl whose death he has caused, Brent finds forgiveness and atonement.
Gerstein, Mordicai Victor
A novel based on the life of the "savage of Avegnon', the boy who was discovered living wild.
Griece-Tiso, Pina Sticks & stones
An error of judgement on the part of a teacher leads to more serious consequences.
* Gwynne, Philip Deadly, unna?
This gem of an original book has appealing characters and an involving plot, as well as the ability to bring the strengths and prejudices of small town Australia to vibrant life.
Hunter, Mollie The king's swift rider
A young man becomes involved in espionage rather than bloodshed as Robert the Bruce fights to win the throne of Scotland from the English.
Johnson, Angela Heaven
Fourteen-year-old Marley's seemingly perfect life in the small town of Heaven is disrupted when she discovers that her father and mother are not her real parents. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.
Lucashenko, Melissa Killing Darcy
"A very important part of the as yet largely untold story of being young, black and gay [in Australia]", by an indigenous writer. (Review from Magpies.)
McCarthy, Stephanie Diary Z
Red Liston suffers from obsessive-compulsive diary behaviour.
* Maloney, James Angela
Third in the trilogy following the acclaimed Dougy and Gracey. The friendship between Gracey and Angela is sorely tested during their first year at university. A sensitive and compelling exploration of Australian race relations with high relevance for New Zealand readers.
* Mark, Jan The eclipse of the century
Highly praised by Philip Pullman and rumoured as a possible nominee for the Booker Prize.
* Marsden, John The other side of dawn
Final in the Tomorrow series.
Myers, Walter Dean Monsters
Innovative presentation, the text combining film script and diary entries, with photos by Walter's son Christopher, himself an author/illustrator of some stunning picture books.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds Sang spell
When his mother is killed in an automobile accident, Josh decides to hitchhike across country, and finds himself trapped in a mysterious village somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, among a group of people who call themselves Melungeons.
Napoli, Donna Jo Sirena
As she did in Song of the Magdalene Napoli creates a fresh story out of ancient sources. The gods grant immortality to the mermaid Sirena when she rescues a human man, Philoctetes, from the sea and they fall in love. Their love is tested when it turns out that Philoctetes' destiny is to be involved in the Trojan War.
Newth, Mette The dark light
While enduring a bleak existence in a hospital for lepers in Norway during the early 1800s, 13-year-old Tora tries to find meaning in a life surrounded by death.
* Price, Susan The Sterkarm handshake
According to Philip Pullman, "a multi-billion pound company has created a tunnel back to the lawless 16th century, where the Sterkarms rob and murder. There is violence and passion and an awareness of the complexity of moral responsibility." And Gillian Cross said, "A stunningly skilful evocation of life in the sixteenth-century Scottish borders." Winner of the Guardian Award.
Shaw, Margret Walking the maze
Her teachers say that Annice reads too much and she knows she ought to be worried. She is caught between two worlds: her life at school and at home, and the fantasy world of books and the painting that she finds at the local gallery.
Skurzynski, Gloria Spider's voice
Through the character of mute Aran, nicknamed Spider, Skurzynski retells the familiar tale of the doomed lovers Abelard and Heloise. Although some of the contemporary idioms jar, the story is compelling and goes beyond the tragic details of the affair itself.
Stewart, Alison Sweetwater night
When Matt convinces his best friends to camp at Sweetwater with him and his sister, he asks them to risk more than they could possibly imagine.
Walker, Sarah
Camphor laurel Sarah Walker captures the bittersweet moments of companionship between special friends Melissa and Julietta. Honour book in the older readers' section of the Children's Book Council of Australia's annual awards.
Wynne-Jones, Tim Stephen Fair
At the age of 15 Stephen begins having nightmares like those that drove his older brother away from home. Eventually the dreams lead to a discovery that is shocking but which allows his family to come back together.
* Zephaniah, Benjamin Face
The moving story of a young man, Martin, whose life is completely changed when his face is badly scarred in a joyriding accident.