Filling a Niche. "Walking Naked" by Alyssa Brugman, "The Barrumbi Kids" by Leonie Norrington and "The Garden of Empress Cassia" by Gabrielle Wang. [review]
For several years, Judith Ridge has bemoaned the dearth of substantial, challenging Australian novels for 'middle years' readers. During a recent stint working in a specialist children's bookshop, she was frequently asked by parents of these readers - upper primary, lower secondary - for 'books that will last longer than an afternoon'. She was hard-pressed to find many recent Australian titles that would fit the bill. Two new novels by first-time writers aiming both to entertain and challenge their audience with complex yet accessible stories, concepts and language go a small way towards filling this gap.