Sunday, 4 May 2014

ETANSW Conference November 2013 Part 1

Presentation at ETANSW Conference November 2013
Text Choices for the Australian Curriculum
These are notes from my presentation at the NSW English Teachers' Association Conference: Innovation on 23rd November 2013.
I presented with Deb McPherson. Some of what we presented was inspired by Ernie Tucker.
Deb's reviews are followed by - DM. There is one review from Ernie - ET. Mine are -HS.
For any queries, please email me at

10 Futures
by Michael Pryor. Woolshed Press, 2012. ISBN 9781742753768. 229 pp.
This is a clever and very accessible anthology of ten linked short stories. Each story is set at a different time in the future, allowing Pryor to explore a fascinating range of 'what if'? scenarios in the best science fiction tradition. The stories are dated from 2020 to 2120 (the year 2110 is missing), but they are not organised chronologically. The anthology opens with the story '2100', one of the most positive futures represented. It ends with the nightmarish world of '2060', a grim picture of severe rationing and narrow lives where the countries of a seriously overpopulated world have been at war with aliens for more than twenty years.
In the world of 2100, robot technology has been developed to such an extent that daily life is managed by household robots. These robots, such as the much-loved Portia, are not only unfailingly efficient and knowledgeable but have developed pleasant human-like personalities. But what if the artificial intelligence they have acquired has evolved to the point where the machines have become human? As well as Artificial Intelligence, Pryor explores in this anthology such issues as the consequences of a global financial collapse, of global warming and of overpopulation, the impact of a pandemic, the ethical dilemmas arising from cloning and genetic selection, and even the mixed blessings of medical science ensuring vastly increased human longevity.
The stories are linked by the use of the same protagonists in each story. This is an original and interesting idea. There is no suggestion that Tara and Sam, who have 'been best friends forever', live for more than a century. In every story they are approximately the same age. Pryor is signalling that he is writing metafiction: not only is he asking 'what if?' about his science fiction scenarios, he is asking: 'What if I place these two characters that I have imagined in each of these very different worlds?' Not only does this use of the characters provide the anthology with a satisfying sense of unity, it offers the reader an opportunity to empathise, as these are warm and engaging characters. Tara is bright and feisty, a thinker, prepared to challenge authority if necessary, at some cost to herself. Sam is more cautious but loyal and protective; much quieter than Tara, he is an artist who loves working with his hands.
This is not the kind of science fiction that proposes lots of wacky future technological inventions. These future worlds are firmly based in our world today and simply explore the consequences if certain current trends develop further. Every story throws up ethical questions. For example, if human life is reduced to subsistence living after a global financial collapse, what do you do with a member of the community who is not doing his share? If neighbours with young children beg you to take them in but they may be carrying the virus that has killed billions around the world, how do you respond? If your life and the life of your best friend depend on betraying an innocent man, what do you do? These are unquestionably worthwhile questions for readers to explore.
These are well-written stories, not all with neat endings. There are interesting motifs repeated throughout, adding further to a sense of cohesiveness, such as Sam's casual use of expressions from both Mandarin and Hindi, in the same way as twentieth-century teenagers adopted Americanisms. Readers can learn a lot about the nature of the short story by looking closely at what Pryor has done here.
Recommendation: Most people seem to be recommending this for class study in Years 9 and 10, but it is well within the reading capacity of many students in Years 7 and 8. As always, it depends on the abilities of the class you are teaching. Wherever you use it, it will allow you to tick off the Australian Curriculum requirement for a text that explores the concept of 'sustainability'. In fact, I can't think of a better text for this purpose. As suggested above, it covers as well the 'ethical understanding' general capability and it would be easy to cover as well 'critical and creative thinking'.
The new syllabus recommends that students experiment with others' imaginative texts by changing aspects such as place and characters (Stage 3 Objective C). This text provides them with an excellent example of characters being transposed into different settings. As well as providing a model for students' own writing, Pryor provides opportunities for in-depth discussion of the nature of fictional characters.
Short story anthologies that work well in the classroom are fairly rare. This is a very welcome addition to the resources available to the secondary English classroom. It is highly recommended. - HS

The Accident
by Kate Hendrick. Text Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781921922855. 260 pp.
This is both a thoroughly engaging novel, perfectly pitched at its intended audience, and a very sophisticated piece of writing from a first-time writer. I was hooked by about page 3. The first of the three voices is that of Sarah, living in an affluent Sydney suburb in what has been a very warm and supportive family environment and currently doing her last year of the NSW HSC. For some reason Sarah has changed schools, seems to be doing Year 12 for the second time and is being introduced to her new school - 'a parallel universe. The school is unfamiliar, the uniform a different colour, but it's ultimately all the same.' Everyone who knows NSW secondary schools will be immediately at home. Sarah is easy to empathise with. With beautiful economy and an admirable lightness of touch, the author introduces us to some of the backstory: something has happened that has seriously disrupted the happy lives of Sarah's family. In some ways, it is a pity that we've already had the information about a car crash in the backcover blurb, because the skill with which Hendrick pieces together the jigsaw pieces is admirable.
The second voice is that of Will, also in Year 12. Will feels completely overshadowed by his much more assertive sisters - older sister Lauren and younger sister Morgan. Mum, a writer, has effectively withdrawn from family life after her husband walked out on the family. The children mostly fend for themselves. Will is concerned but helpless about the family dysfunction and especially worried about the uncommunicative Lauren, who has recently and unexpectedly returned home, after having left abruptly some time previously.
Eliat, the third voice, is the eighteen-year-old mother of two-year-old Tash. Eliat, who has spent her entire life in a series of unsatisfactory foster homes, has been taken in by Rose-Marie and Terry, a childless well-to-do couple, who are supporting Eliat at school and taking on most of the burden of raising Tash. Eliat, who is anything but the stereotypical teenage mother (one of her Year 12 subjects is Maths Extension 2), has learnt not to care about people. She is often impatient with school, bored that she already knows everything covered by the Biology syllabus, and resents Rose-Marie, who is irritatingly perfect. Torn between love for Tash and an addiction to risk-taking behaviour, she rebels against Terry and Rose-Marie's attempts to restrict her wild social life.
All three characters are complex and interesting, and they are supported by a cast of minor characters who also come to life. Part of the success is Hendrick's skill with dialogue, including the representation of the first-person voices. The voices are quite distinctive: Sarah describes her Art teacher as 'reassuringly scatty', while Eliat calls her Biology teacher 'a cow'. Will, who wants to be a writer, is much more self-reflective than the other two. The story is told in 33 short chapters, alternating from Sarah's voice to Will's and then Eliat's. But it's more complex than that. Each chapter is headed:


and, each time, one of the words is in bold type. Each chapter is not only a different voice but it's in a different time - before, after or later than the pivotal accident. Sarah and Will are both doing Year 12 at the same school, but Will's is the 'after' story and Sarah's is 'later': Will is in Year 12 the year before Sarah changes schools. Sarah never meets Will, but she becomes friends with his sister Morgan as they work together in the darkroom in the school's art department. There is a further connection: Will's other sister Lauren had been in a relationship with the doctor that saved Sarah's life on the night of the accident - the night he and Lauren ended their relationship. We know from Will's story that Lauren is troubled; it is in Sarah's story that we learn why. So there are both several connections between Will and Sarah, and yet at the same time no direct connection. The connection between Sarah and Eliat is in contrast very direct and totally random: Eliat just happens to be on the scene on the night of Sarah's accident and helps the doctor to stop the bleeding.
Hendrick begins the novel with Sarah's voice. We find it easy to identify with her but, initially, Will is less sympathetic and Eliat is antipathetic. We hardly notice as we read but gradually Hendrick shifts our perceptions, so that by the end of the novel we understand Will and our heart bleeds for Eliat. One of the strengths of the novel is undoubtedly the characterisation, but I was even more impressed with the narrative structure. Hendrick pulls together the different strands of the narrative and the different time frames with an effortlessness that is impressive.
Recommendation: This is highly recommended for class set use for a comprehensive Year 8-9 class. Students will engage with the very different ways Sarah, Will and Eliat deal with the difficulties in their lives. It's ultimately a very positive book, offering glimmers of hope while shunning easy happy endings. - HS

by J. L. Powers. Through My Eyes series. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743312490. 192 pp.
This is the second title in Allen & Unwin's valuable new series 'Through My Eyes', novels about children living in conflict zones. The first book was Rosanne Hawke's Shahana, set in Kashmir.
Amina is set in 2011 in Somalia, at a time when the streets of Mogadishu were still controlled by the militant Islamist rebel group, al-Shabaab. The second series of the SBS documentary Go Back to Where You Came From (2012) featured Mogadishu, claiming that it was one of the most dangerous places on earth - but it was worse in 2011. Amina's house has sustained a grenade attack that has destroyed most of the upper storey. The streets nearby are full of abandoned and destroyed houses. Many residents have fled to refugee camps in Kenya. No one dares to speak freely and al-Shabaab soldiers are everywhere. Venturing out to the local market - where there is little food, because of drought - is full of risks.
Amina's father is targeted and kidnapped by al-Shabaab because he is an artist. Her brother Roble is snatched off the street by a truckload of rebel soldiers looking for new recruits. Amina is left alone with her seven-month-pregnant mother and her frail grandmother. Neighbours are frightened or unwilling to help; the neighbour most able to offer support is suspected of having betrayed Amina's father to the rebels. The family have no income. Amina and her grandmother make one perilous journey to the market to try to sell one of her father's paintings, only to be ripped off by a conman who steals the painting.
The story is told in the third-person, through Amina's eyes. Amina is an interesting character. Like her father, she wants to be an artist and she wants her art to make a statement about the future of Somalia. At great risk, she draws with charcoal on the walls of abandoned buildings, including lines of her own poems. She leaves in the ruins what would be called in Sydney 'art installations', created from a variety of found objects. All her work is signed. Before he is kidnapped, her brother Roble had argued that her artwork was putting all their lives in danger. She replies: 'Our lives are always in danger.'
This is a survival story. The family suffer near-starvation and there are grave fears for the expected baby. Young readers are given a satisfying resolution, as the situation improves for the family and Amina's artistic talent is recognised, but it is no cheap happy ending. Amina's father is almost certainly dead and brother Roble's whereabouts are unknown.
Recommendation: As well as allowing students to see the world through the eyes of someone living daily with danger and starvation, this gives worthwhile insights into the life of a devout Muslim family, whose values conflict with those of the extreme fundamentalists who control the streets. This novel is strong enough to be considered for whole class use. It would work best with Year 7, preferably a girls' class. It is also a terrific title to include in a selection of titles about children in other countries. - HS

Australians All: A History of Growing Up from the Ice Age to the Apology
by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Ken Searle. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781742370972. 281 pp. Hardcover.
Aimed at an upper-primary lower-secondary readership, this is a magnificent achievement. Wheatley tells the story of the reaction of her fellow writer, Catherine Jinks, when she responded to a question about what she was working on. Jinks roared with laughter at the ridiculousness of the task - justifiably so, in my opinion. This is a project that needs a team of writers backed up by research staff and substantial research grants, not a single writer. But, over nine years and with no support, Wheatley alone researched and told these many stories that together give a wonderful insight into the history of our country. The result is a joy.
Wheatley chose to tell Australia's history through the stories of individual children and adolescents. Some are people who grew up to have a place in more traditional Australian histories but many are unknowns, offering a diverse range of insights. The diversity is important: this history includes the lives of women, the lives of Australia's Indigenous people and the lives of some of the many migrants who have built this nation. The stories are mini-biographies, most just a page long. They are illustrated with Ken Searle's paintings, as well as historical photographs and drawings.
The greatest strength of the history in my opinion is the story of our Indigenous peoples - especially of the traditional way of life that 'provided a healthier diet and much more leisure time than the lifestyle endured by the peasant farmers of Europe'. Wheatley records the stories of a number of Indigenous children whose families returned each year to homes that provided a rich supply of food in the right season.
Wheatley suggests that the way to approach this book is to browse at random. I began that way but was so impressed with the quality of the writing and the amount of information that I did not know that I soon turned back to the beginning and read the book, including the introduction, from beginning to end. I read quite slowly, savouring the insights. I can see myself re-reading quite soon.
The book has an appendix that gives us information about what happened to the children and their families in later life. There is also a glossary.
If you are buying Christmas presents for 8-14-year-olds, put this on your shopping list. I'm not claiming that their eyes will light up in the same way as if you give them the latest Wimpy Kid or teenage paranormal title, but this should be in every home. Many kids who begin to browse will be drawn in as I was.
Recommendation: You probably won't use this directly in your English classroom but make sure that there are several copies in the library and send students to it regularly for research purposes. There is much here that is relevant to the national curriculum cross-curricular priorities.
Note: Wheatley conducted a great many interviews during her research for Australians All. She collected her interviews with Indigenous Australians in a book called Playground (Playground: Listening to stories from country and from inside the heart compiled by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Ken Searle, with Jackie Huggins as consultant. Allen & Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742370972. 97 pages). We included Playground in our ETANSW conference presentation in 2011 and recommended it strongly as a resource for study of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. - HS

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbai slum
by Katherine Boo. Scribe Publications, 2012. ISBN 9781921844638. 288 pp.
Katherine Boo, an American journalist, spent several years interviewing and getting to know
people who live in the Annawadi slum close to Sahar International airport in Mumbai. The slum lies on airport land behind a concrete wall with a series of advertisements extolling the wonders of Italianate floor tiles that are promised to be ‘beautiful forever’. The contrast with slum life is extreme and savage. While this is an adult non-fiction text, its distinctive narrative and its insight into a major country in our region and in the world are invaluable.
Boo has adopted a novelistic approach despite constructing a work of non-fiction and her cast of characters is extensive. Three families predominate in the text. Asha is a woman who wants to be the slumlord and her daughter Manju helps run a school for slum children. Young Abdul is an expert garbage collector and recycler and helps support his family while earning the envy of a neighbouring family. Fatima hates the noise associated with her neighbours’ improvements to their hut. In an act of self-destruction she burns herself and blames Abdul. This incident creates a catalyst for madness and horror as Abdul is arrested for her murder. The incident serves to illustrate how corruption appears to be an integral part of the political, social and economic fabric as the police, neighbours, lawyers and organisers all work to get the most out of the situation.
Recommendation: Boo’s empathy and attention to detail enable the reader to share the experiences, hopes and despairs of a range of people. The deaths, prejudices, tragedies and inequalities Boo describes are confronting and globalisation looks very different when you are looking at it from a Mumbai slum. But that is the point – this text offers many Australian students insight into a poorer and very different world, an opportunity to walk in other people's shoes (if they had them). While students might read it and weep, it’s a book worth reading. Recommend it to mature readers in Years 10 and 11. - DM

Big Thursday
by Anne Brooksbank. Puffin Books, 2013. ISBN 9780143567165. 256 pp.
Nat is crazy about surfing, like his dad, Luke. The beach has always been there for him, as he lives on the northern beaches of Sydney, in a comfortable five-bedroom home with a view over Narrabeen Lakes. Then, almost overnight, everything changes: in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, Nat's father's business crashes and he is charged with fraud. Luke, now jobless, is sentenced to two years' weekend detention and the house and most of the family's possessions have to be sold. Nat, his parents and his two siblings, find themselves in an old caravan in the caravan park just across from where they used to live. Unable to find work, Luke becomes increasingly depressed. There is a climactic scene where Nat and a suicidal Luke are swept off the rocks at the end of the beach, are attacked by a bull shark and almost drown.
There are lots of novels about kids living in dysfunctional families or in difficult social circumstances, but novels about kids from comfortable backgrounds suddenly being plunged into a quite different lifestyle are rare. Brooksbank depicts very well the increasing strains on the family, especially when Luke's mother decides to take the children to live for a time with her parents in Tasmania. Nat misses his best friend Sam, the girl he likes - Grace, and the surf, but most of all he worries about his father's state of mind. Brooksbank gives us a resolution that offers some hope but no easy answers.
Recommendation: If you have kids that love surfing, this is a must-read for them. There are two terrific sequences where Nat and Luke fight the ocean. If you are located on the northern beaches of Sydney, this is also a terrific choice: there is something special about a book set in a familiar location. For other readers, this is a satisfying story of a boy facing difficulties in his life. It would work as a Year 7 class novel. Add it to wide reading selections of titles about families or about father-son relationships. - HS

by Erin Lange. Faber and Faber, 2013 (2012). ISBN 9780571294404. 345 pp.
Some of the best class set novels over the years have been books about bullying. Nothing quite get
kids so fired up as injustice. Every kid knows what it feels like to be bullied, and quite a few know what it's like to bully others. This novel asks them to think about another situation: what's your position if you don't actually participate in the bullying, but you are aware of it and just look on? What makes that question especially relevant is that this is a very contemporary novel. It is set in the world that adolescents actually inhabit these days but that few writers of adolescent novels have yet fully caught up with: a world lived online. This is the world of nonstop text messaging and of Facebook. We've had a few books about cyberbullying, and there has been considerable discussion about the effects of anonymity on behaviour. But this goes a lot further. This is a world in which a lonely outcast can have an online romance with a girl from the popular set and where the school freak can be transformed overnight into a media star on the web. It's a world where spectacle dominates to the extent that normal moral conventions and human empathy are lost in the excitement of the moment. It's a world in which ordinary, good kids can condone evil.
Butter is narrated in the first person by a very intelligent, self-deprecating voice. Butter is his nickname, one that was conferred on him by the bullies in a very cruel moment that is one of the memorable scenes of the novel. It's not until the last line of the novel that we discover his real name. In his teens, Butter is excessively obese - about 420 pounds or 190 kilos or more than 28 stone. His doting mother fluctuates between plying him with food as a token of her love - 'pecan waffles, Canadian bacon, and poached eggs' for breakfast - to trying to persuade him to try one of the latest diets. His father seems defeated, probably not even aware that it is a very long time since he has spoken directly to his son. Butter's conviction that he is an embarrassment to his father is just one of the bitter facts of his life. At school he is a freak and a loner. His only consolations are his music - he is a talented saxophonist - and his online, anonymous relationship with Anna. Anna and Butter have never spoken; she is falling in love online with the charming and witty, 'JP', the pseudonym Butter has adopted. He has built up a profile for his online identity: a popular and sporty boy from the private school across town.
We learn a lot about Butter from his relationships with some of the adults in his life, particularly Doctor Bean, the doctor who manages his diabetes, and the Professor, the music teacher at his college. As readers, we like and care for Butter, sympathise with his hopeless infatuation with Anna, appreciate his humour and intelligence. His fellow students see only his size.
In a moment of despair Butter sets up a website and declares that, on New Year's Eve, he will eat himself to death on webcam. That declaration transforms his life. Students are divided about whether he is serious or not but all of them are fascinated. Butter, from being a complete loner, is adopted by the in-crowd and is caught up in a social whirl. There is huge interest in what Butter will eat at his final meal. As a diabetic, Butter realises that he actually can kill himself by eating the wrong things; a severe allergy to strawberries is an added bonus.
The tension in the story depends of course on whether or not Butter will go through with his threat - and whether any of the students who have followed him on his website will try to prevent the suicide.
Recommendation: This is a high-interest, well-written novel that keeps readers turning the pages. Like a lot of the best books, it's both very funny at times and heart-wrenchingly sad. It's a great class set novel for Years 8-9, raising a wealth of ethical questions about bullying and about social values. While it will be a success with any class, try it with one of those lower-stream classes where most kids don't really want to read: this will get them in. - HS

Crow Country
by Kate Constable. Allen & Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742373959. 252 pp.
No one likes to be uprooted from a familiar and comfortable home and taken to another environment. Thirteen-year-old Sadie is definitely not happy when her mother moves the two of them from the city back to Boort, the country town where she grew up. The Boort community appears to harbour out-dated views; black/white relationships are subject to censure and Sadie’s friendship with Walter, an Aborigine, attracts derogatory comments. Sadie finds herself in the middle of generational tensions and prejudices; she is attracted to Lachie Mortlock, but there are old conflicts between their families. But the most perplexing thing is that the crows keep talking to her! When Sadie time-slips back two generations, old secrets come to life. A stone circle exposed by the drought creates a focus for the conflicts in the novel and Sadie must find a way to make peace and return sacred items to an Aboriginal elder.
This time-slip novel has echoes of Playing Beattie Bow. Kate Constable is the author of the powerful Chanters of Tremaris trilogy. Crow Country was the winner of the Children's Book Council Australia, Book of the Year (Younger Readers) 2012 and of the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2012.
Recommendation: The Indigenous relationship to country is an important theme in this novel. Students in Year 8 should enjoy exploring this well-crafted novel and the text lends itself to addressing the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ histories and cultures. - DM

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
adapted by Simon Stephens, based on Mark Haddon's novel. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2013 (2012). ISBN 9781408173350. 100 pp.
This playscript of Haddon's famous novel was first performed in London in August 2012. A
slightly adapted version was transferred to the Apollo Theatre in March 2013. The play has played to rapturous audiences in London and has won more Olivier awards in 2013 than any other previous play, matched only by the musical Matilda.
As English teachers know, a play that is a huge success in performance does not necessarily translate into a script that works in the classroom, especially for students who have limited experience of live theatre. It is obvious from accounts of the 2013 London performance that the director has made innovative use of both visual and sound techniques, but the script stands up very well on its own, read silently or read aloud collaboratively in the classroom. Nor is a knowledge of Haddon's novel necessary; while some teachers will want to use the novel and the play side by side, to explore the ways in which different media tell the same story, the play can be read and appreciated on its own.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time tells the story of Christopher, a teenage boy with behavioural difficulties. While his behaviour has many similarities to that of people who suffer from Asperger Syndrome, Mark Haddon has always insisted he is no expert in mental illness and the play is not about any particular condition. Rather, it is about difference, about seeing the world quite differently from most other people. The novel used first-person narration with disconcerting success to allow the reader to view the world through Christopher's eyes. The triumph of the play is that it uses all the resources of theatre to achieve the same effect. The play is a powerful emotional experience, capturing Christopher's bewilderment in a world that makes no sense. It is both very, very funny and achingly sad.
The play is non-realistic in style. The stage directions at the beginning inform us that all actors remain on stage throughout, unless prescribed otherwise. They go on to inform us that:

There is also a dead dog. With a fork sticking out of it.

As with the novel, the language is often offensive, reflecting the violent frustrations of the adults in Christopher's life. The first few lines of the play, as Mrs Shears reacts to the sight of her dead dog, are shockingly offensive. Students need probably to be forewarned, but it would be sad if students in Years 10 and 11 are not mature enough to cope with the use of such language in context.
Scenes run into one another at a very fast pace, making this an enthralling read (and, I'm sure, a compelling theatrical experience). You will want to read it straight through with your students first, just for the story, even if they know the novel. The emotional impact is strong. Later, you can experiment with ways in which certain scenes could be presented. One of the most interesting is the scene when Christopher goes to the railway station when he decides to seek out his mother. There is a painful speech in which he explains the laborious way in which he gets there and then we have five voices, which the stage directions tell us should be pre-recorded:

Voice One          Customers seeking access to the car park please use assistance phone opposite, right of the ticket office
Voice Two          Warning CCTV in operation
Voice Three        Great Western
Voice Five          Cold beers and lagers
Voice Two          CAUTION WET FLOOR
Voice Four         Your 50p will keep a premature baby alive for 1.8 seconds
Voice Three        Transforming Travel
Voice Five          Refreshingly Different
Voice One          It's delicious it's creamy and its only £1.30 Hot Choc Deluxe

It's an aural and visual bombardment of station announcements, spruikers outside some of the shops at the station and the many, many advertisements, signs and notices. It runs on for two pages of script. It's appalling over-stimulation, a panic-inducing nightmare. In amongst it all there comes the announcement:

Voice Three        Dogs must be carried

and then again:

Voice Three        Dogs must be carried at all times

Christopher interprets everything with terrible literalism. Will he panic because he doesn't have a dog to carry?
The mindless litany ends by repeating:

Voice Three        Dogs must be carried at all times

It's no wonder at this point that a policeman, alerted by the lady at the cafe, comes up and asks Christopher if he is all right.
Students can have fun experimenting with the way this scene, which runs for a couple of pages, would be played and how the sense of intense panic is created. They might like to consider as well what the effects might be of lighting (perhaps strobe lighting) and sound.
Just as a scene like this is non-realistic, there are lots of moments in the play when the illusion is deliberately broken. For example, Christopher objects that the policeman is too old - 'too old to play a policeman'. The illusion is completely broken at the end, where Christopher - who is an extremely talented mathematician - is not allowed to explain his mathematical proof:

Siobhan              You don't have to tell us how you solved it.
Christopher       But it's my favourite question.
Siobhan              Yes, but it's not very interesting.
Christopher       I think it is.
Siobhan              Christopher people won't want to hear about                                     the answer to a maths question in a play.
                           Look why don't you tell it after the curtain call?
                           When you've finished you can do a bow and                                      then people who want to can go home and if                                            anybody wants to find out how you solved the                            maths question then they can stay and you can                                   tell them at the end.

So the final scene, after the curtain call, is 'A Maths Appendix' - which the stage directions say is to be delivered: 'Using as much theatricality as we can throw at it.'
Recommendation: This is highly recommended for use with Years 10 or 11. The play itself is highly engaging, but I love the fact that it allows lots of opportunities for exploring the fact that a playscript is a skeleton to be fleshed out in performance. The Bloomsbury edition of the play includes quite extensive teaching ideas. There is a youtube clip showing the cast at the National Theatre in London working on the play at A performance of the play was filmed and has been shown in some Australian cinemas under the National Live program. - HS

The Debt series
by Phillip Gwynne. Allen & Unwin, 2013.
            Catch the Zolt: 1. ISBN 9781742378442. 275 pp.
            Turn off the Lights: 2. ISBN 9781742378435. 265 pp.
            Bring Back Cerberus: 3. ISBN 9781742378596. 279 pp.
            Fetch the Treasure Hunter: 4. ISBN 9781742378602. 349 pp.
            Yamashita's Gold: 5. ISBN 9781742378619. 388 pp.
            Take a Life: 6. ISBN 9781742378626. 467 pp.
This six-book thriller series is, in my opinion, Phillip Gwynne's best writing since Deadly, Unna. Aimed squarely at a male audience in the Year 6-9 age group, these are fast-moving and outrageously improbable action thrillers that read like a mass-market movie with spectacular effects.
The story is based on an improbable premise about an ancient Calabrian feud that resulted in 'The Debt' - a deadly dangerous obligation that must be met by each elder son as he turns fifteen. The Debt cost the protagonist's grandfather, Gus, a leg - which put a definite stop to his promising career as a runner. The representative of the next generation, the protagonist's father, seems to have paid the debt and has become an extremely wealthy businessman. His son, the protagonist, Dom Silvagni, lives a spoiled and expensive life in Halcyon Cove, a gated community on Queensland's Gold Coast. He attends the exclusive Coast Boys Grammar, which I hated immediately, where he is an indifferent student but a star of the running team.
For me, one of the strengths of the writing is the social satire. Gwynne is merciless in his attack on the idle and corrupt rich and on the pretensions of elite schools. For the intended audience, the strength that they will appreciate is the black humour, which includes what can only be called the 'yuck factor'. There are lots of pooh jokes as well, but there are also stomach-churning details such as the requirement that, as each instalment of the debt is paid (there are always six), the teenager is branded on the inner thigh with a hot branding iron, spelling out progressively the letters of the word PAGATO, meaning 'paid'. Dom's father has the full word branded into his flesh; his grandfather's branding is incomplete. Dom will have to accept at each stage of a successfully completed instalment a similar branding; the only alternative, if he fails like his grandfather to deliver the payment, is that he will lose a pound of flesh.
Each instalment of the debt presents a different and seemingly impossible challenge. In the course of accepting each challenge, Dom finds himself in a variety of extremely risky situations in a range of different locations, accompanied by some very odd characters, including a very dodgy private detective, a couple of street kids, a seventeen-year-old escapee from the law known as the Facebook bandit, and a South American taxi driver who mysteriously turns up over and over again just in the nick of time. There are countless shoot outs, car chases, breathtakingly dangerous boat trips, helicopter rescues and landings in light planes with unqualified pilots. Most of the locations are on the Gold Coast or in northern Queensland but Instalment Four involves a trip to Rome and a very scary excursion to Calabria.
You may have noticed that the page count increases with each book or 'instalment'. This series is designed to get kids hooked as readers, and I think it will work well with some. The plot is compelling, with some major surprises reserved until Instalment Six.
I usually read the first book in a series and then sample one or two others, but it's rare for me to read my way through a series. I'll confess that I enjoyed these enough to read all six of them.
Recommendation: Include these in a wide reading selection of action adventure thrillers for Years 7 and 8. - HS

Evan’s Gallipoli
by Kerry Greenwood. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743311356. 216 pp.
Kerry Greenwood takes us behind enemy lines in this engrossing account of the Gallipoli campaign from the point of view of a young non-combatant. Fourteen-year-old Evan Warrender has sailed to Gallipoli with his evangelical father to help support the Australian troops with supplies and prayer. As the terrible impact of trench warfare starts to send his father mad, the pair stumble behind the lines and are captured by the Turks. With some help from the enemy they escape, and it is Evan who increasingly takes responsibility for their fate. The pair are aided by a range of kind strangers as they struggle to return home. Friendships are formed and Evan discovers much that binds people together even when separated by race or religion or nationality. They cross Turkey, Thrace and Bulgaria until they finally reach Greece. After more obstacles and a crushing moral dilemma, Evan is able to secure a passage home where a final twist brings the story to its conclusion.
Kerry Greenwood has used the diary form convincingly in this well researched, complex and absorbing novel.
Recommendation: Evan's Gallipoli will provide an enriching text for Year 7 students to explore. - DM

The Farm
by Emily McKay. Penguin, 2012. ISBN 9781405909259. 424 pp.
The Farm got under my radar posing as a post-apocalyptic novel, when it was really about vampires and zombies! That is probably not fair, as this novel is genuinely post-apocalyptic. It’s also pacey and exciting (despite the melodramatic ending). Lily and her autistic sister Mel are just surviving at the farm, a secure but highly controlled enclave which is part blood bank and part prison. But Lily is highly protective of her sister and plans to leave. When Carter, a boy she had a crush on years before, arrives at the farm, it seems there may be other ways to escape and avoid the Ticks (zombies) roaming outside.
Recommendation: Multiple narrators and the sexual tension between Lily and Carter will keep students engaged and there is a plot twist at the end, but be warned: this is only the first of a series. The Farm would be a popular text for Years 8 or 9 as part of a post-apocalyptic wide reading unit. - DM

Forget Me Not
by Tom Holloway. Currency Plays, 2013. ISBN 9780868199696. 80 pp.
Whenever I go to the theatre, I am looking for plays that might work in English classrooms. Sadly,
very few are appropriate, even when they're good. This one, which was performed at Belvoir Theatre in 2013, will, I think, work in Year 10 or Year 11 classrooms.The language is a bit confronting but appropriate to the context, and I think most senior classes will cope with it. It tells the terrible story of a child taken from Liverpool when he was aged three and sent with many other children to a new life in Australia. It is based on detailed research about the more than 3 000 children who were shipped to Australia from England as orphans between the end of World War II and 1970. Gerry, now around 60, has always believed he was an orphan. He was brought up in a brutal Australian institution and was severely damaged by the experience. His life has been unhappy and often violent. It is his daughter, Sally, who insists that he contacts the authorities and try to find out who he is.
The play is non-realistic in style and is not arranged chronologically. The most gripping scenes are those between an inarticulate Gerry and the frail old woman, Mary. It is a while before we realise that Mary is, in fact, Gerry's mother, mourning for the child she gave up because she was persuaded by the authorities that he would go to a better life. It takes even longer to realise that the scenes between Gerry and Mary are imagined. By the time Gerry and Sally get to Liverpool, Mary is dead.
I try as often as possible not to disclose endings, so I apologise for that. However, I don't think it will spoil your appreciation of the play.
There are of course a lot of other resources about these stolen children, including documentaries, some fictionalised accounts written for young adults, and David Hill's autobiographical account.
Recommendation: If you are wanting a new play for Years 11 and 12, this might be worth considering. - HS

Froi of the Exiles
by Melina Marchetta. Penguin, 2011. ISBN 9780670076086. 608 pp.
Quintana of Charyn
by Melina Marchetta. Penguin, 2012. ISBN 9780670076246. 528 pp.
These are Books 2 and 3 of The Lumatere Chronicles.
Melina Marchetta may be better known for her realistic novels such as Looking for Alibrandi but she also writes wonderful fantasy. These two novels complete The Lumatere Chronicles that commenced with Finnikin of the Rock. Good fantasy requires a believable world and realistic characters and Marchetta certainly delivers in those areas, as well as supplying a complex political struggle.
In Froi of the Exiles the curse on Lumatere has been lifted and Froi, the loyal follower of the Queen, is sent on a secret mission to the Kingdom of Charyn where he starts to discover more about his own origins amid a country in political turmoil. Quintana, the princess of Charyn, is thought to be half-mad, but she and Froi find a rapport and it is Froi who saves her and
helps her to escape.
In Quintana of Charyn the princess is on her own as Froi is recovering from multiple arrow wounds. The book has six different narratives, including those of Froi and Quintana, that weave together and twist apart as Marchetta brings the complex threads of her ambitious plot together.
Recommendation: This is passionate, intricate and violent fantasy. Savagery is part of the landscape and rulers and followers alike have their humanity tested. The series would be an excellent anchor in a wide reading fantasy unit about authority, revenge, politics and the power of friendship. While the books are long, they are gripping and rewarding to read. Year 9 students should enjoy their excitement and inventiveness. - DM

The Girl from Snowy River
by Jackie French. Angus & Robertson, 2012. ISBN 9780732293109. 343 pp.
The time is 1916-1919 and the setting is a rocky farm on the high slopes of the Snowy Mountains. Flinty sees her brothers and neighbours go off to war. Some, such as Flinty's brother Jeff, never return; others, such as older brother Andy and the boy she loves, Sandy, have changed markedly and refuse to talk of their experiences overseas. Flinty's mother dies of a heart attack when she hears of her son's death and her father succumbs to the influenza that swept the world post-war. Rather than staying to look after the family when he gets out of the army, older brother Andy has gone a-drovin' in Queensland. So Flinty, at seventeen, looks after younger siblings, Joey and Kirsty, and tries to eke a living out of trapping rabbits.
French brings together a wide variety of different elements to tell Flinty's story: stories of the soldiers of World War I and of the traumas they brought back with them; stories of the nurses on the battlefields; the very different experiences of Australia's Vietnam troops; Banjo Paterson's ballads, including the legend of Clancy of the Overflow and of a wild ride to round up mountain brumbies; the struggles of small farmers in a bleak environment; French's own personal experience of crippling back injury. Part of me believes that it shouldn't work, but French is a magic storyteller and as usual she engages her readers. The element that is most unlikely is the presence, in 1919, of the ghost of a Vietnam veteran; Nicholas, who has lost both legs in Vietnam and is in a wheelchair, belongs fifty years into the future and - most oddly - is acquainted with the rather formidable old lady Flinty will become. Nicholas (from the future) and the seventeen-year-old Flinty become friends and confidants; she encourages him to try the artificial limbs that might allow him to walk again and he reassures her that, while life will be hard, happy times are ahead. By juxtaposing Nicholas's experience as a Vietnam veteran alongside the experiences of returned soldiers from World War I, French is able to explore ideas about the wastefulness of war.
This is a grand, sweeping story with some nail-biting moments, especially the two terrifying horse rides. It's an excellent historical novel, vividly evoking both time and place, but its strongest appeal is the character of Flinty. Girls will empathise with her courage and resilience and will rejoice in the eventual happy ending when Sandy admits that he has never stopped loving her.
Recommendation: Like so many of French's novels, this could work as a class set - for girls in Years 8 or 9, although it would not be my first preference from the very impressive body of work that French has produced. Make sure to introduce it to your girls; add it to a selection of historical fiction, or love stories, or stories about resilience. - HS

Greek Myths: Stories of Sun, Stone and Sea
by Sally Pomme Clayton and Jane Ray. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2012. ISBN 9781847802279. 77 pp. Hardcover; paperback - ISBN 9781847804938 - due for publication in
December 2013.
This is a lavishly illustrated collection of some of the best-known Greek myths, including that of Pandora, Perseus and Medusa, and Orpheus and Eurydice. The narration is very accessible and would be great to read aloud. There are brief notes at the end of each story, linking the myth to the modern world: the Temple of Delhi is still there; you can walk through the Lion Gate at Mycenae, just as Agamemnon did; Mount Chimera in Southern Turkey still burns. There is also an appendix with a useful list of Greek gods and goddesses.
Recommendation: This is an excellent addition to your collection of traditional stories. In paperback, it could be worth considering as a class set purchase, allowing a unit of work specifically on Greek mythology. - HS

Indo Dreaming
by Neil Grant. Allen & Unwin, 2005. ISBN 9781741141795. 264 pp.
Indonesia is our nearest and biggest Asian neighbour and we need to investigate more texts that are set in this populous nation. Indo Dreaming is by the talented writer Neil Grant who also wrote The Ink Bridge, which was an Honour Book in the Children's Book Council Awards for Older Readers in 2013. Indo Dreaming takes the reader to Indonesia where nineteen-year-old Greg, called Goog by his mates, is on a surfing safari. His trip is really a search for Castro, a missing friend - a friend he believed had been taken by a shark but who seems to be sending him postcards from Indonesia. As he makes his way around from Kupang in West Timor to the islands of Lembata, Flores Sumbawa and Lombok and Sumatra he teams up with an American, called Niagara, and together they chase their respective dreams, Niagara to follow in the footsteps of his ‘Uncle’ Max’s Indonesian journal and Goog to discover what is really behind the mysterious postcards.
There’s humour and peril in the novel. Goog goes shark fishing, drinks the local water against his mother’s advice with foreseeable consequences, loses all his stuff, finds a girl and then loses her too, gets wrecked at sea and surfs to safety. It appears his whole trip has been manipulated by the enigmatic Jasper, a people smuggler and master scammer, so that Goog will meet up with his father and Niagara’s ‘Uncle’ Max who are fighting for some villagers against the Indonesian army. The plot certainly lacks credulity but the overall feeling of being a stranger in a strange land is well established. Jasper is as controlling as the puppet master in the Wayang puppet performances that Goog sees.
Recommendation: With Heart of Darkness references and powerful surfing descriptions, Indo Dreaming could appeal to students (particularly boys) in Years 9 and 10. It would have a place in a wide reading unit focused on Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia. - DM

by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781742375700. 48 pp. Hardcover.
This picture book is a great retelling of the story of Aboriginal warrior Jandamarra. Greenwood's very accessible text emphasises the intelligence and resourcefulness of the young man torn between conflicting loyalties. After being chained and imprisoned, Jandamarra decides to fight for his people. His unmatched knowledge of the area and his skills enable him to continually evade pursuit. Eventually, badly wounded, he is shot by an Aboriginal tracker, who cries as he takes aim.
Greenwood's text is beautifully supported by Denton's watercolours. The focus here is on the magnificent Kimberley landscapes. Denton's paintings are presented in various ways. They range from a dramatic two-page spread of cattle being driven along the Lennard River into the huge, rocky ranges to comic-strip style frames, one group of three showing Jandamarra, standing on the edge of a cliff, shooting the hat off a startled trooper below. The variety works very well. The paintings are not just illustrations: they reward close reading.
Recommendation: This is aimed at an upper primary-junior secondary audience but you could use it with any year. It's a worthwhile addition to the resources available for the Indigenous cross-curriculum priority. - HS

Korea Unmasked: in search of the Country, the Society and the People
by Won-bok Rhie, translated by Jung Un and Louis Choi. Gimm-Young International, 2005 (2002). ISBN 9788934917717. 234 pp.
Many schools are looking for interesting texts to support their exploration of the cross curriculum
priority, ‘Asia and Engagement with Asia’. Korea Unmasked will certainly provide a fascinating look at that country and its graphic format makes it immediately accessible. I am grateful to Corrina Hawke from Wagga Wagga High School who told me about this text. She has done extensive work on its use (and that of other related texts) in the classroom.
Professor Rhie acknowledges in his forward that the book represents his subjective view or ‘mind map’ of Korean society. The text is very engaging and manages to convey dense information and attitudes about Korea and its neighbours, China and Japan, in a most engaging way. Areas covered are Korea’s difficult relationship with those invading neighbours, the Korean people, their successes and tribulations and the long and difficult road that has to be followed if unification is ever to occur.
Comparisons and contrasts with European experiences help the reader/viewer to understand more clearly Professor Rhie’s analysis.
Recommendation: There is much to be gained for students in Years 9 and 10 from an exploration of this text, while keeping in mind that the Professor brings his own preconceptions and biases with him. As he says in his introduction: ‘I expect there may be some who disagree with my views.' Any student exploration of Korea and other Asian countries will benefit from seeking to engage with a range of different texts. - DM

Light Horse Boy
by Dianne  Wolfer, illustrated by Brian Simmonds. Fremantle Press, 2013. ISBN 9781922089137. 119 pp. Hardcover.
This is a handsome hardcover volume, a companion volume to the previously published Lighthouse Girl. It's a fictional story, firmly based in research, of a young man from the country who joins the Light Horse Regiment at the beginning of World War I and sails off to war. His ship picks up German survivors from the Emden; he discovers that the Emden's captain shares his rapport with horses and confesses, in a letter to his sister, to feeling uneasy about his perception that the 'enemy' is not all that different from friends and family back home.
Jim serves at Gallipolli, where he sees his best friend Charlie blown to bits, and then on various battlefields in the Middle East, in both the medical corps and the veterinary corps. He is severely wounded in Palestine and returns to Australia believing that he will probably be blind for life.
The story is told mostly in letters between Jim and his sister Alice, supported by other documents, and interspersed with some short passages of conventional historical narrative. The text is enhanced by the dramatic black and white sketches and by many photographs from World War I.
Recommendation: This will work as a class set text in Years 7-9. It could be used as a companion text to Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, as both are well-researched fictional accounts of the part played by horses in World War I, or it could be used alongside Lighthouse Girl. Lighthouse Girl uses the same narrative technique of telling the story through a range of different kinds of text, both written and visual. There are a number of direct connections between the two books, including the fact that it is Fay's lighthouse on Breaksea Island off Albany that is the first thing that Jim sees when he tentatively removes the bandages from his eyes. Both are beautifully told, exciting and often moving stories of the experiences of Australian young people in World War I. - HS

More Than This
by Patrick Ness. Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781406331158. 480 pp. Hardcover.
If you haven’t read Patrick Ness’s award-winning trilogy, Chaos Walking, get it now. If you have, you can now be sure that Ness’s international writing awards were no fluke because here again is that nail-biting, page-turning story that makes you forget time and makes your family complain because you’ve still got your questions about the mysteries in the story swirling around in your head.
The first sentence is typically present tense and shocking: ‘Here is the boy, drowning.’ On page three of this prologue: ‘He dies.’
In chapter one, he wakes (?) naked, except for bandages, in a grey cold place that he fears is a morgue, but he gradually comes out of some of his confusion to identify his name, Seth Wearing, and his childhood home in England, not his current home in Washington State USA. As he tries to orient himself, he dreams or has sudden flashes of memory about his American school friends, Gudmond and Harold and Monica, having fun stealing a baby Jesus statue from the neighbour’s Christmas illuminations. Next his family and younger brother Owen appear in a normal breakfast scene that nevertheless leads me, the reader, to wonder what happened to Seth and Owen in that English house with the prison walls just beyond the back fence and what happened on that beach in Washington before Seth went into the sea and drowned.
These are the first of many questions as Ness takes Seth, aged sixteen, nearly seventeen, into the dusty tropical heat of his utterly deserted English town, where he searches and scavenges for intact food and drink tins to survive like some futuristic Robinson Crusoe. Ness is also the master of the cliff-hanging chapter ending, so I am not going to reveal much more about this story that thrives on a reader-writer partnership. I am shocked when Seth finds a steel coffin in his old bedroom and deduces that he was in it and that this is his own lonely hell.
In another memory flash or dream, Seth remembers his love for Gudmond and how he is the only one he could tell a little about what happened to Owen, but when Gudmond takes a phone photo of the two of them in an embrace on his bed, only from the shoulders up, ‘just for me’, I am filled with foreboding.
The past and future stories interweave and are further complicated by the stories of two other survivors or ‘accidents’, twelve-year-old Polish migrant Tomasz and African-English girl Regine, who also had traumatic deaths. Lest you think that the plot is too grim, Ness uses some soothing humour with Tomasz’s self-taught English and his contrasting, young-boy’s perceptions of their relationships and the danger they face. The trio suffer not just from past memories but present dangers, as they are hunted by ‘the Driver’, an immensely powerful and cunning humanoid or robot. Their situation is always questioned by Seth, who wonders if they are just part of some huge program, while Regine asks whether two parallel lives are possible. The mystery deepens, twists and turns as they try to find meaning in their stories and wonder if they are being manipulated in some more powerful story with an unknown beginning or ending and are just suffering an inexplicable present in some abandoned, future world.
I enjoyed puzzling out an interpretation as the action swept me along, with the title becoming more significant in the traditional way of speculative fiction. There is questioning of current social values and practices: our online world, there has to be more than this or, more hopefully, there’s always more than this, even when we feel trapped in what we think is our own lonely hell.
Recommendation: This superb novel might not be quite as powerful as Chaos Walking but Ness set himself a formidable standard there. It is very accessible for readers fourteen years and older and if parents, librarians and teachers who might worry about the two sexual references read it, they will be re-assured as well as rewarded with a great read. - E.T.

Murder at Mykenai
by Catherine Mayo. Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781922077943. 389 pp.
This is a lively and entertaining story about the friendship between teenage boys, Odysseus from
Ithaka and Menelaos from Greece. Set a decade before the beginning of the Trojan War, it's a fast-moving account of weapons training, wrestling, chariot racing and general teenage-boy risk-taking, against a dangerous political background that includes the assassination of Menelaos's father. Odysseus is a particularly appealing character, bright and mischievous, with that self-confidence that comes from knowing that you are loved and supported by your family: his parents, Laertes and Antikleia, are positive, forward-looking characters. Menelaos's life has been much less fortunate: well into adolescence he has been confined to the women's quarters because of tragic family secrets. He is forced to flee Mykenai when his father is assassinated and ends up in the brutal care of a tutor, Palamedes, who both rapes and flogs him. Menelaos survives largely because of the loyalty and persistence of his friend, Odysseus.
This is a terrific action novel from a first-time author from New Zealand. There are some very funny scenes, including the opening sequence when a runaway and very angry ostrich disrupts a ceremonial procession, but there are also some dark moments. Odysseus and Menelaos find themselves in a violent and treacherous world. Menelaos is so despairing of his humiliation by Palamedes that he deliberately puts himself in the way of a spear when hunting with Odysseus.
Recommendation: Most students in Years 7 and 8 study Ancient Greece and it's surprisingly hard to find good fiction that helps students to visualise the world they are learning about in their history classes. You could use Murder at Mykenai as a class novel, especially with a class of boys, in Year 8 while they are studying Ancient Greece. Be warned, however, that the rape and violence might be disturbing to some readers. It would be fun to explore the way the author combines knowledge about Ancient Greek life in the bronze age with Greek mythology. It would also be fun to explore connections with Homer's telling of the Trojan War. I especially enjoyed the young Menelaos's infatuation with the beautiful young Helen. - HS

New Guinea Moon
by Kate Constable. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743315033. 288 pp.
After a fight with her mother, sixteen-year-old Julie didn’t expect to be taken up on her defiant
challenge to send her off to her father for a while, especially as Tony lives in New Guinea and Julie hasn't seen him since she was a toddler!  But Caroline thinks that maybe a break would be good for both of them. So, in December 1974, just prior to Papuan Independence, Julie finds herself on the tarmac at Port Moresby dealing with a bag thief and the heat and humidity. She gets some help from a young man, Simon Murphy, who it later emerges has a Papuan mother and an Australian father.  Julie and Simon fly together to Mt Hagen where Julie meets her shy father and tries to understand the different attitudes and experiences of indigenous people and expatriate Australians. Simon occupies a halfway place in the community and Julie is attracted to him and to Ryan Crabtree, the son of her father’s boss. When tragedy occurs, Julie has a lot of growing up to do and finds that some people are more help than others.
Recommendation: There are few texts available which can increase our knowledge of our nearest neighbour. Kate Constable grew up in New Guinea, where her father worked as a charter pilot, so she is well acquainted with the country. Her previous novel, Crow Country, won the Children’s Book Council of Australia award for younger readers in 2012. Students in Year 8 or 9 will find much to appreciate in this finely developed narrative. - DM
I was particularly interested in the behaviour of the Australian ex-pats, some of whom identify fully with New Guinea and have no wish to leave it after Independence, while others have arrogant colonial attitudes. - HS

Part 2 follows in next post.

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