Where We Begin – Christie Nieman – Pan Australia – 25 August 2020
Seventeen-year-old Anna is running into the night. Fleeing her boyfriend, her mother, and everything she has known.
She is travelling into the country, to the land and the grandparents she has never met, looking for answers to questions that have never been asked.
For every family has secrets.
But some secrets – once laid bare – can never be forgiven.
Where We Begin is a beautiful story about belonging.
Everything is a bit of a mystery when you start reading Where We Begin. The blurb on the back of the book is vague and the start of the story places our main character alone on bus, we don’t know where she is going or why. We don’t know where she has come from. We don’t know why she left or what she is going to. We don’t even know her name. It’s hard to write a review without revealing these mysteries, so if you want the authentic experience, go, read the book and then come back.
Where We Begin weaves into its story powerful truths about the history of Australia, racism, teenage relationships, family and domestic violence, alcoholism and its effects, and storytelling. The title makes so much sense to so many aspects of the story once you’ve read the book. Honestly, there is so much to love about this book, from our studious and determined main character who is thrown into a spin over her new circumstances, the trauma she has experienced throughout her childhood and the new pain she experiences as she learns the truth about her family and past.
The Secrets of Magnolia Moon – Edwina Wyatt – Walker Books – Published 1 November 2019
Magnolia Moon is very good at keeping secrets.
She knows just what to do with them, and has a way of talking to the jumpy ones to stop them causing trouble.
Which is why people are always leaning in and whispering:
“Can I tell you a secret?”
The Secrets of Magnolia Moon is a lyrical and whimsical story about growing up, becoming a big sister and dealing with secrets. Full of metaphors, repetitive sequences that bring a smile to your face and a writing style that uses lots of imagery, this feels like realistic fiction that borders on the fantastical, or at least magical realism.
Magnolia Moon is good at keeping secrets. She’s even better at knowing the exact right thing to do with a secret. In this book Magnolia must learn to let a friend go, start a new friendship and decide how she feels about welcoming a new baby into the house.
A Patch from Scratch – Megan Forward – Penguin/ Viking – Published 28 March 2017
Jesse and Lewis want to grow their own fruit and vegies, just like people do on a farm. They’re going to dig and build, plant and grow, and when they’re finished they’re going to have a feast!
A Patch From Scratch is the story of Jesse who, with his mum and his dad and his big brother Lewis, creates a veggie patch.
There is something so deliciously earthy about this book, from the avocado-green end pages to the beige backgrounds on each page. This book is packed with heaps of content. The story flows nicely as the family first dream about their new veggie garden, then create a plan, begin building the chicken coop and raised garden bed, and start their planting. Everything from composting to companion planting, seed raising to pest control is covered within the story. There is enough information for this to become a wonderful guide for children who want to create their own veggie patch. Jesse even creates his own plant diary. The back of the book also contains information about the history of home veggie patches, where to find more information, the cycle of the veggie patch creation and maintenance and even some recipes to try.
Welcome To Country – Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy (ill.) – Black Dog Books
Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the land is part of us. This is where we come from. Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.
Welcome To Country shares the wonderful traditional words of welcome from the Wurundjeri People of Melbourne. It is beautifully written and the words flow gently over the pages, set against gorgeous illustrations.
In a day when showing respect to the traditional owners of the land is so key (though it has never not been important, I might add), it is wonderful to share the words traditionally used to welcome visitors.