Exploring Children's Books

News and reviews from Mia Macrossan


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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning by debut author Jessica Cluess is for slightly older readers, say 13+. It is about a girl, Henrietta who can burst into flames. She is discovered and taken to London along with her best friend Rook, a boy who has been damaged by the evil Ancients who are threatening to destroy the country. People hope that Henrietta will prove herself as a sorcerer and be approved by the queen as the prophesied one, the one who will save them all. Hettie is not so sure that she is this much wanted person and doubts her own powers, as well as being suspicious of the motives of some people around her. She is helped and hindered by the bunch of trainee sorcerers with whom she studies and works. It all comes to an exciting climax in a battle at the end of the book. But as we all know winning a battle does not mean  you have won the war so there is a sequel coming. This is a delightful book, Henrietta is an engaging character and the created world blends Victorian customs and technology with some very inventive fantasy elements. Great fun A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessical Cluess published by Random House for $19.99.


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Lizzie and Margaret Rose by Pamela Rushby

Lizzie and Margaret Rose written by Pamela Rushby, a Brisbane based writer who has specialised in writing Australian historical fiction. She is remarkable in the vivid way that she brings to life events, people and places from forgotten pockets of Australia’s past.

It is WW II – 10yr old Margaret Rose comes to live with her aunt and uncle in Townsville after she loses her parents in the London Blitz. The Australian way of life is strange to her and her cousin, 11yr old Lizzie is not that friendly. Townsville is preparing for war, people build air raid shelters, there is rationing, blackouts, young men going off to war, and exotic American soldiers bringing new music and dancing. Margaret Rose is worried that she may be moved on to another family if she doesn’t get on with everyone. Lizzie is a bit jealous that Margaret Rose is getting all the attention. The two girls after a rocky start get a better understanding of each other during an air raid when they are alone in the house. This is a moving story of how two girls become friends and of family life during the war, set against a carefully researched background that brings the time vividly to life. Published by Omnibus Books for 16.99 and a lovely read for anyone 9 +.