Magpies, Thai-riffic! and Important Things

I had the pleasure of chatting about these books on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with the lovely Louise Maher on Tuesday June 8 2010

What a great bunch of books!

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

The Important Things written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas

(New Frontier Publishing)

Picture book ages 4-8

One of the beautiful things about picture books is that they can deal with some of life’s most complex and difficult issues in simple and uncomplicated ways. In Peter Carnavas’ new book, Christopher’s mother does everything because Christopher’s father had faded from their lives. One day, she fills a box with all his father’s things…small, unimportant things…and takes them to a second-hand store. But, those unimportant things begin reappearing in their house: an old cracked coffee mug, a pair of slippers, piano sheet music. His mother can’t work out what is happening until one night, unable to sleep, she sneaks downstairs to find Christopher with dad’s old green hat. Christopher explains he brought the things back because he was trying to remember, whereas his mum admits, she took them away because she was trying to forget. The next day, they went back to the shop and brought all his dad’s things back….small things, important things…and found a place for them all. This is a gentle book about the importance of remembering and of finding a place for people no longer in our lives as part of making us who we are.

Magpie written by Luke Davies and illustrated by Inari Kiuru

(ABC Books)

Picture book ages 5-7

Luke Davies remembers as a kid the terror of being chased by a magpie.

He remembers running home to his dad and sobbing and mostly, he remembers his dad declaring, ‘Right! We’ll go get that magpie.’ Dedicated to his father, ‘banisher of magpies and defender of the realm’, this book retells the story of those memories but this time, father and son go on a more epic journey of protection and love in the form of a male dog and his frightened pup. Illustrator Inari Kiuru creates a father who travels over vast lands with his son, over many days and nights, through rain, darkness and howling winds, until he reaches the place of the attack. ‘Dad held my hand, hurled rocks into the empty trees, screamed at the black bush, ‘go away!’’ Even though the son knew the magpie had long gone, he loved his father for the journey, the protection and mostly, ‘I loved him for pretending.’

Thai-Riffic! written by Oliver Phommavanh and illustrated by Evi O

(Penguin books)

Novel for ages 10+

Albert Lengviriyakul (Lengy for short) thinks of himself as a fake Aussie…he sounds Aussie and feels Aussie but was made in Thailand. His family lives above their restaurant called Thai-Riffic! (with an exclamation mark!). They are very proud of their business but Lengy prefers pizza over red curry, would rather have a name that doesn’t look like alphabet soup and is desperate to be the ‘same as everyone else’. Interspersed with cheeky, cartoonish drawings, each chapter is a small vignette of Lengy’s life: a life where he does everything he can to forget he is Thai. But he is constantly reminded just how loved Thai culture is….his parents’ food for multicultural day is a hit, the bad-tempered neighbour Mr Roberts comes round to loving Thai food and his best friend, Rajiv chooses Thailand for his school project because of how fascinating it is. Oliver is a comedian, teacher and writer and he’s created a ‘coming of culture’ book for Lengy, who begins to appreciate his heritage and discovers he can be both Thai and Aussie, in a book filled with laughs, likeable characters and loads of fun! With an exclamation mark!