CBCA Young readers shortlist 2013 – with links

The discussions have just begun about the 2013 CBCA Book of the Year shortlisted books.

Here is my post about the shortlisted books for the younger readers. We have 3 of the 6 in our secondary school library. It is interesting to see that Pennies for Hitler was on both the Older and Younger Readers lists but made it to the Younger Readers’ shortlist. Of the three books we have in our library, two are about young people surviving the Holocaust and the third is about refugees as well. The runaway winner in our library is After by Morris Gleitzman. His books are very popular but the series of books about the plight of Felix has captured the imaginations of many of our boys.

2013 Younger Readers Shortlist

  • French, Jackie Pennies for Hitler (Angus & Robertson, HarperCollins)
    • This is  a companion novel to Hitler’s Daughter but is not a sequel. The two books easily work as stand alone stories but each offer different perspectives on WWII. In Pennies for Hitler, set in 1939 Germany it is dangerous for anyone to have any Jewish ancestry. Life for 11-year old Georg is good, offering a lot of promise under the Führer. Everything changes when Georg’s father, an English university professor, is killed by a group of pro-Nazi students. His crime is that he is suspected to have a Jewish heritage. Georg’s German mother, fearing for her son’s safety, arranges for him to be smuggled into England. After an uncomfortable and frightening journey Georg reaches England and stays with his father’s sister, his Aunt Miriam. Her wartime work means that Georg spends a lot of time alone. He spends his time listening to the radio, reading newspapers and trying to improve his English accent. When the London bombing becomes too prolific Aunt Miriam, like many others at that time, decides to send Georg to safety in Australia. He is put into foster care and is taken by a kindly elderly couple living in country NSW. When things go wrong here as well Georg has an important decision to make.  This is a well written book with  a lot of historical accuracy. It is about war, and peace, and seeing things from different perspectives, developing empathy for others and tolerance.
    • Read a review from ReadPlus,  one from SMH and another from Children’s Books Daily. There are also teachers’ notes in PDF form from HarperCollins.
  • French, Simon Other Brother (Walker Books Australia) Not in our library
  • Gleitzman, Morris After (Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia))
    • I enjoy reading Morris Gleitzman’s books. His stories for young people involve many important human foibles and experiences but he maintains such a good balance and is never too intellectual or patronising to his readers. The third book in the series, Now, portrayed Felix as a grown man. In this novel Morris Gleitzman returns to the 1945 and the Gabriek’s farm where Felix is hiding in a whole after the brutal death of Zelda. He is not there for long. Soon Felix is facing some of his greatest challenges as the war draws to a close. The invading Nazis become an even greater danger and then he encounters the Polish partisans who appear to be just as dangerous to him as the Germans. Although he still has maintained some of his natural naivety he is determined to survive.  Felix is now a teenager and has developed skills that make him useful.  He has some medical skills the partisans can use, and as in the earlier books he still has compassion for others and a courage that wins him friends. Some of the final chapters are very sad especially when, as the war in Europe coming to an end, Felix goes looking for his parents in the death camps. What he finds is terrible.

      Morris Gleitzman also doesn’t shy away from the grey areas of war. Most people are not simply good or evil or clever or stupid. He does however explain what happened during this time very honestly and realistically. The violence, the damage and anger are all portrayed on the pages but throughout the story there is also courage, compassion and hope. It was a fitting way to finish the story of Felix.

    • You can read a review from ReadPlus or a student review from the Penguin blog.
  • Hartnett, Sonya Children of the King (Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia))
    • Sonya Hartnett is a consummate writer, whose stories often leave me feeling uncomfortable, but are always well told. In this book she combines stories from two eras. The first is set in wartime Britain, the second stems from the time of Richard III and the mystery of the missing “Princes in the Tower”. Two children, Cecily and Jeremy, are sent away from the London bombings to live in the country, with their mother and Uncle Peregrine. Whilst there Cecily and another evacuee, May discover two little boys hiding in a nearby derelict castle. Who they are and why are they there? The characters of all the children are well written and they all have interesting and different parts to play in the story. The themes of class, growth/emotional development are woven into the story that is not simply a wartime story nor a ghost story nor just a mystery story or a coming-of-age story. Sonya Hartnett has woven many strands into her latest book.
    • You can read the transcript of a Q&A about this book on the interviews page on Sonya Hartnett’s site.
    • Read a review from ReadAlert (SLV) and another from ReadPlus
  • Herrick, Steven Pookie Aleera is Not my Boyfriend (University of Queensland Press) Not in our library.
    • The latest verse novel from Steven Herrick.
    • Read a review on the AussieReviews site and another by Joy Lawn for The Australian
    • Download the teachers’ notes PDF from the publishers site.
  • Millard, Glenda & illustrated by Stephen Michael King The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk (HarperCollins)
    • Not in our library. Part of the Kingdom of Silk series: #6.
    • You can read more about the book here from the Children’s Books Daily.
    • Download the teachers’ notes PDF from the publishers site.