Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Is 2011 The Year of Awesome Bookness?

Jeepers this year has been a big, big year for awesome books! Anybody who reads my blog will know I went a bit loopy over the heartbreakingly beautiful Black Painted Fingernails and the glorious Dangerously Placed, but they are just two of the many incredible books I've been lucky enough to have taken into my home, my life and my heart in this fabulous year for reading!

I use the social networking website Goodreads to keep track of what I've read. It's a wonderful platform for discussing, reviewing and recording your reading life. I love looking back at the end of a year at all the books I've read and how many stars I've given them. This year, my "read" list is already crammed with four and five star reads. My five star reads include A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson - a wickedly funny mystery set in the taxidermy lab of a natural history museum in Melbourne; Burn Bright, a dark, unsettling, sensual fantasy novel by Marianne de Pierres; Withering Tights, a helter skelter madcap romp of a story by Louise Rennison; and Angel, a refreshing, disturbing, innovative addition to the canon of paranormal novels featuring angels.

And today I finished another five star book. It's called Troubletwisters and it's a truly delicious, odd and sparklingly magical novel by the always marvellous Garth Nix and a writer I can't wait to read more of, Sean Williams. The story centres on twins, Jaide and Jack, who are sent to live with their mysterious Grandma X following a bizarre storm at their house, and the disappearance of their strange, wonderful father. Upon arriving at Grandma X's house, the twins discover both their grandmother and her house are magical, mysterious and possibly dangerous. They discover that they themselves have talents and gifts that are at the same time exciting and terrifying. They discover talking cats, secret doorways, crocodile skulls with a taste for human fingers, hypnotic hot chocolate, possessed weather vanes and, most frightening of all, eerie, white-eyed creatures who can speak inside their minds. The creatures and Grandma X call the twins "troubletwisters". But what is a "troubletwister"? And why are Jack and Jaide so important to Grandma X, to the creatures, and to the fate of the planet?

This was a completely gorgeous read - dark and mysterious; funny (often blackly so, particularly where the cats and the snapping crocodile skull are involved), quirky and innovative. I would expect nothing less from Nix, a writer who has compelled me since I was the age of Jack and Jaide. So many books have come out in recent years with an obvious sole goal of becoming the "Next Harry Potter". This book deserves that title, yet (thankfully) doesn't seem to strive for it. With the Harry Potter film franchise wrapping up, it would be wonderful if this series (the second novel is previewed at the back of this book), could be a successor. I hope it catches on. It deserves to.

It's such an exciting time in children's and young adult literature right now. I think, in years to come, we will look back on this time as a "golden age" of the genre. Sometimes I wish I was a teenager again, so I could read all of these incredible books with teenage eyes. Mostly though, I'm glad that these books are around for me to read an an adult. They prevent me from ever having to grow up. Thank heavens for that. Wouldn't growing up be a horrible thing to have to do?

There's only one trouble with all of this. Now I've finished Troubletwisters, which of the many, many books on the pile beside my bed do I read next? Whichever I pick, though, I'm sure if it's a 2011 publication it's going to be something pretty special. Because jeepers this is one heck of a year!

- Kate Gordon


  1. It is one heck of a year, you got that right. So many interesting things going on. Sometimes in the chinese curse sense - 'may you live in interesting times' and sometimes in the 'Thyla: my that's an interesting book cover, think i'll read it' sense.

  2. Lovely post, Kate!
    Like you, I'm glad these books are around for me to read an an adult too. Now I'm off to grab a copy of Troubletwisters, it sounds great. :)