ABC Canberra reviews – Dragons, Tomorrow and Somebody’s Crying

These books were reviewed on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday February 16, 2010

Books reviewed by Deborah Abela

Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

Hunting for Dragons written and illustrated by Bruce Whatley


Picture book 4+ year olds

A young girl spends most of her weekends hunting for dragons. Her mother and father think she’s wasting her time, because there are no dragons, except in her imagination. But the little girl knows she is right. She searches all over the house and finds them everywhere: in the kitchen, the laundry, the bedrooms and even at times, right on the dinner table. There are many reasons to love this book: Bruce Whatley’s determined and cute dragon hunter with her suit of armour that includes a colander strapped to her chest and a cooking-pot helmet, but also for the fun of trying to spot the dragons on each page. In the pantry they can be found in a line of strawberries, on a dinner plate in the arrangement of a steak and vegies, in the shed with a collection of tools. She’s even found one amongst the books in her parents’ bedroom. Playful and lovely.

The Tomorrow Book written by Jackie French and Illustrated by Sue Degennaro

(Angus and Robertson)

Picture book

There was a little prince who loved books, but he became frustrated that the world outside never looked like the places he imagined when he read. He asked the butler why. ‘That’s real life, your highness.’ Not one to be daunted by real life, the young prince declares, ‘I think real life can be improved.’ The prince consults the books from his library and learns that water can be collected from rooftops and used over and over in the garden, that houses and cars can be powered by the sun or wind and that enough water from the air can be condensed to fill a pool (Jackie’s apricots grow on moisture from the night air). The kids in his neighbourhood become excited by the prince’s ideas and they put them into action. This is a book about recycling, reusing and re-imagining how we live and looking to the future with energy and enthusiasm, rather than gloom. All of the methods and inventions mentioned in the book are possible…from rooftop wildlife sanctuaries, solar panelled walls and rooves and maybe even one day, a space needle to ride an elevator past Earth’s gravity to the stars. The overriding message of it all is that ‘Tomorrow is going to be fun.’

Somebody’s Crying by Maureen McCarthy

(Allen and Unwin)

Young adults

Three years ago in the seaside town of Warrnambool, Lillian Wishart was murdered. Her nephew, Jonty was the main suspect but the trial never went ahead for lack of evidence. The friendship between Jonty, his best mate Tom and Lillian’s daughter, Alice, was torn apart by the murder and they all left town shortly after, but now, for different reasons, they’ve returned. This book weaves its way through the lives of these three young people as they struggle to live with a crushing past that wont leave them and the haunting mystery of who killed Alice’s mum. Maureen McCarthy captures perfectly the pain of these kids, their desperation to know how to face the death of Lillian, of needing to run when things get tough but sometimes having to face them head on, no matter how hard.


Flooded cities and Vampires

Hi there,

I’ve been immersed in the fourth draft edit of my new book, Grimsdon. There is such a nice feeling when it all starts coming together in the detail. Small looks, actions, pieces of dialogue that make you laugh or cry.

I’ve also been reviewing some student writing at Fiction with a Twist. You can find it at:

There’s some great new writing there. Everything from secret wars to vampires and bad customer service.

I’ve also been at the very beautiful Shellharbour in south coast New South Wales. I visited the kids and staff at Shellharbour PS and Shell Cove. Two brilliant days talking about books….thank you to all the wonderful staff who do so much more beyond their jobs to encourage a love of books in their kids.

Back to the edit. I have two more weeks until it is due, wish me luck!

Happy reading and writing.

Deb xo