Mirrors, Divas and Photographers

These books were reviewed on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday November 9 2010

Books reviewed by Deborah Abela, National Literacy Ambassador and

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


Mirror written and created by Jeannie Baker

(Walker Books)

Picture Book for all ages

Jeannie Baker took over 5 years to finish this book and the wait was definitely worth it. Clever in every way, the book opens out so that there are two stories told side-by-side. The left side follows the day in the life of a boy from Australia, the right, introduced in Arabic, about a day in the life of a Moroccan boy. The story was inspired by Jeannie’s travels through Morocco and the way she felt welcomed as a stranger at a time when she believed Australia was becoming a nation less friendly to the idea of foreigners. On the surface these two boys have very different lives, but beyond the details, they are both very similar, knowing the importance of being loved by their family and their wider community. Apart from the different ways of dress and ways of being, the two boys could be each other when they look in a mirror. Jeannie first drew images and used them as a guide for collages that she made with a combination of materials such as sand, paper, wool and fabric. Read it again and again and pour over the delicious detail, the sentiment and the reflection of yourself back in this delightful work of art and ideas.

Dame Nellie Melba written by Gabiann Marin and Illustrated by Rae Dale

(New Frontier Publishing)

Primary aged children

This is the first in a new series of books called Aussie Heroes. This one explores the life of Australia’s first diva, Helen Porter, who from the age of six, knew she wanted to be a famous opera singer. We follow the life of the precocious child who has inherited her father’s stubborn personality leading her to not only follow her passion but also make the odd careless decision, such as her marriage at the age of 21 to a jackaroo and plantation manager. Soon tiring of station life, Helen longs for Melbourne, her lessons with her Italian opera teacher and for the stage. Enticed back to Melbourne with a chance to perform, Helen leaves the farm with her young son and once again is caught by the excitement of performing. Audiences love her and she is soon singing in the best opera houses in the country, but it’s not until a chance to travel to England and audition for the big houses of Europe that Helen Porter, now Nellie Melba, becomes one of the finest opera singers of her time.


Always Jack written by Susanne Gervay

(Harper Collins)

Primary Aged children

This is the third book in a series about a joke-telling, inventive and irrepressibly cute boy called Jack. Jack lives with his sister, mum, soon-to-be stepdad, Rob and purple underpant wearing Nanna. Jack’s life is very busy with his photography, his science experiments, schoolwork, best friends Christopher and Anna and, to Jack’s absolute boredom, constant talk about the upcoming wedding between his mum and Rob. But when Jack’s mum is diagnosed with breast cancer, his whole world threatens to crash around him. His head pounds and his sleeps fill with nightmares of losing his mum. Even though the doctors have caught it early, his mum is preoccupied and after the operation and during her radiotherapy, she is tired and can’t do star jumps like she used to. A three-time breast cancer survivor, Susanne Gervay’s story is all the more poignant because it is from Jack’s point of view: delving into his fears, confusion and his love for his family. This book is a clear, informative look at what takes place from cancer diagnosis to recovery, never shirking the need to inform but doing so with a gentle, deft hand.



1 Comment

  1. November 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Love all these reviews- these books are all going into new and exciting areas. Greag blog.

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