It’s Your World
By Kristy-Lee Swift
Published by Guillotine Press
This novel falls under the Young Adult category but I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Not just the content but the way it is written. This is a special book.
FYI: Kristy-Lee sent this book to me to read free of charge. All words are my own.
The story unfolds through verses – each strong enough as a stand alone poem – but together….together they spin a rhythmic tale of rights of passage, seeking identity and all the complexities of being a teenager.
So many thoughts! One is that this book reminds me of The Tree of Codes by Jonothan Safran Foer because when I opened it and found the delightfully unexpected format I had the same thrill and wonder of knowing the author’s mind was filled with such beauty that it spilled onto pages for the reader to savour. Thought number two is that sometimes poems and verse are more powerful than a simple chapter. The repetition of a single line is just not something you can get away with in a traditionally written novel.
There’s some serious themes in this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s poetic but it is heavy. There’s suicide, alcohol, friendship and teenage fun; all woven together by the protagonist, Evie, who I could not help but feel protective of.
The coolest thing is that Swift lives on the Mornington Peninsula. What a legend!
Things My Father Taught Me
By Claire Halliday
Published by Echo Publishing
Watching Insta-husband with our daughters always brings to mind my own childhood and the way my dad was with myself and my three sisters. The personality traits, passions and patterns that kids seem to absorb by osmosis from their dads are highlighted in the interviews within the pages of Things My Father Taught Me.
23 Interviewees told Halliday their story (spoiler: Halliday made a clever inclusion of her own story – perhaps an insight into what prompted this examination into this unique relationship.) In each piece there are loads of surprises but the thing that stayed with me long after closing the cover was that like it or not, good or bad, the context of family makes a big impact on who we become. As my mother says “Parents are either good examples or horrible warnings.”
I really enjoyed the stories from Em Rusciano, Jo Stanley and Santo Cilauro in particular. All the stories, though, got me thinking of what I have learned from my father. In no particular order:
- How to be a world citizen. The above picture was taken in Wales when I was 4 months pregnant with Mini and my parents came over to visit during a 3 month old trip across Europe. That is not unusual for them. In their 70’s now they spend more time in South East Asia in backpacker hostels than they do in Melbourne!
- What other people think of you is none of your business. Dad has no ego. None. He took a job as a mail boy at a solicitors office in his 50’s so he could focus on renovating his house and to fund another adventure. He rekindled a romance with my mum after she’d had a long affair and subsequent relationship. He seems allergic to pretence and he is the most clear headed person I know.
- He’s also teaching me about love. About caring for your partner. About how the hard yards can be beautiful and the depth with which you can share your life.
I could go on and on-I guess that’s the kind of impact a lot of the intervewees feel their dads have had on them too! In closing, this book gives the reader a chance to reflect as well as enjoy other people’s reflections on what dads mean. Enjoy.
I saw it for sale this week in Big W in Melbourne for about $20.
P.S The author sent me a complimentary copy of this book to read and write about. All opinions are my own.
A Ferret Named Phil
By William Reimer
Illustrated by James Moore
Would it surprise you if I told you that I used to have a pet ferret? His name was Van and he smelt quite bad and bit all my friends. Despite this, when I picked up A Ferret Named Phil, I remembered Van with fondness.
I’d recommend this picture book to 3-7 year olds. Seems like a pretty broad age group but I think this book would appeal to readers on a couple of levels.
One one, it’s a sweet story about a couple of ferrets. The rhyming language is easy to read and enjoy and the pictures would appeal to early readers. On the other though, this is a story about standing up to bullies and helping your friends.
I read it with Mini (5) and then asked her about what she would do if one of her friend’s was being bullied or if she noticed her best friend being mean to their little brother. Her answers varied from telling a teacher to telling them “No” to helping her friend and ignoring the bully. It’s the first time that we’ve talked about this topic so it was really interesting to know that she is across what a bully is etc and already has a couple of strategies up her sleeve.
Over all, this story is a great intro into these important conversations. Using animals to play out the story is a clever way at creating distance between the child and these types of behaviours. This distance makes this topic easier to discuss; it’s much easier to say “I think Phil would feel sad when Hugo is teasing him” rather than “I feel sad when someone teases me.” This opens up the discussion to questions like “What could Phil do differently? If Phil is feeling sad, what are some things he could do to feel better?”
Mini says “I like Phil because he is a good friend. He asked for help when he needed help.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Please note: William kindly sent me this book free of charge to read to Mini and write about on this blog. All words and opinions and memories of Van are mine.
We Only Saw Happiness
by Grergoire Delacourt
Well. I am not sure what to say about this book. I love it because it was a gift from a wonderful friend. The cover makes me smile. I like the title. But I am struggling to keep track of the story line. Maybe because I am reading it at 4am? It just seems like every time I pick it up and try to refresh myself by re-reading the last paragraph, it is like I am meeting the characters for the first time. Probably just me.
It jumps from present day to the past and is tied together by the theme of money. Each chapter is titled an amount of currency as though that is the cost of each event to the author. I think. Is it a metaphor? What is the price of each interaction we have? What is the trade off for relationships, jobs, possessions.
I’ll keep reading it though. Although I keep losing track, I am enjoying the pace in which it is written. Overall? Watch this space.