Monthly Archives: February 2008

More Prizewinning Books – Geraldine McCaughrean

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. Winner of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

Fourteen year old Symone takes the trip of her life to Antarctica, following in the footsteps of her (imaginery?) explorer companion. However no part of the trip is exactly as she suspected, and finally she is in doubt that she will even survive the journey. The book is a challenging and unique read with shifts in time and a not entirely reliable narrator. A book for the reader who loves a challenge.

 Read a review here….and here

Also by Geraldine McCaughrean – Not the End of the World.

Everyone knows the story of the Ark. The flood rising, the animals entering two by two. Noah. But what about the women and the children? Did they all accept Noah’s oreders to ignore their friends and neighbours struggling in the water?

When Timna does the unthinkable, defying her father and saving a life, she knows her fearful secret may bring death and diaster on board.  

Read the review

About Geraldine McCaughrean on her official website.


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Elizabeth Jolley Research Collection

It has taken twenty-three years but the Elizabeth Jolley Research Colection is online – up and running. Elizabeth Jolley, much loved prize-winning author, died last year at the age of eighty-three. For many year’s she had taught Creative Writing at Perth’s Curtin University of Technology where this collection was officially launched last month. Included is a biography, short stories and novel extracts, reviews and print and broadcats interviews.

Fans of Elizabeth Jolley can go the the Curtin website.

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Oetzi – the Ice Man

Students in Year 7 Hums/Science will be researching the discovery, in 1991,  of  a well-preserved human body high in the Austrian Alps. The body turned out to be 5300 years old, the oldest frozen mummy ever found. The body was taken to Austria where a team of scientists analysed the body to find out how old it was, and to try to determine the mystery of his death.

 The following sites will be useful as you research the work of scientists, especially their role in finding out more about Oetzi.

BBC UK – Death of the Iceman

Wikipedia – Otzi the Iceman

Mummy Tombs – Oetzi Iceman of the Alps

BBC News – Blood clues to Iceman’s death

South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology: Oetzi

Ask Mr.Dig – Otzi

Nova Online – The Iceman’s last meal

News in Science – Prehistoric Iceman fought to his death

Crystalinks – Otzi the Iceman

Oetzi: 5000 year old murder case solved

Archaeo News – Iceman was wearing earliest snowshoes 

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The Arrival – Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is one of Australia’s best known and awarded illustrator. In his own words his picture books are “best described as ‘picture books for older readers’ rather than young children, as they deal with relatively complex visual styles and themes, including colonial imperialism, social apathy, the nature of memory and depression.”

His latest book The Arrival deals with people who choose to leave the home they know and love, in search of a better place for their family. It is “is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope.” (

The notion of belonging has played a part in his own life, as growing up in Western Australia as  half’-Chinese, along with his awareness of the displacement of aboriginal people, led to his unclear notion of identity and a certain detachment from his roots. The book took a number of years to complete as he clarified how to express this theme of the migrant experience. Starting off life as afairly conventional picture book it eventually morphed into a series of visuals reminiscent of an old family photo album. The absence of any text allows the reader to become one with the migrant ‘hero’ and feel some of his displacement and wonder at the new world he arrives at.

Discover Shan Tan’s homepage and find out more about the man as illustrator, and now animator and film-maker.

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HubbleSite – Astronomy

Students studying astronomy will be inspired with the stunning images, informative videos and wealth of associated material relating to observations from the Hubble telescope. Also includes podcasts, wallpaper, background information and teaching units.

Check here.

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Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Competition

The Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards is the oldest and largest poetry competition for school students in Australia. The poetry awards aim to capture the imagination of students, inspiring them to express their thoughts creatively through poetry; while celebrating the legendary work of Dorothea Mackellar, author of the famous poem ‘My Country’. It is a unique national event, giving Australia’s young people a voice and an opportunity to strive for excellence in literature.
The competition opens in March and students are encouraged to enter.

More details here.

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The unbelievable truth of Forbidden Lies – fiction or faction?

Can you believe everything you read? How reliable are narratives? A new Australian documentary Forbidden Lies examines the drama that arose following the disclosure that the 2004 memoir by Norma Khouri, Forbidden Love, was a fabrication. The story tells of a love affair between and Islamic woman and a Christian man – a relationship that led to the woman’s death at the hands of her father in 1997. Dalia, the victim, was purported to be the author’sclosest friend. The publishing world loved it and the book became a world best-seller. 

The film spends the first fifteen minutes retelling the events of the story. The main strength of the film is the involvement of the author herself. Khouri is unfazed by contradictory narratives to her own. At times she seems astonished that there is any fuss about the lies and inconsistencies in her work. When questioned that her book would be better placed in the fiction category, Khouri is adamant that she could never call her book a novel. Eventually she suggests that a compromise could be found in the new category faction – alongside the Dan Brown bestseller The da Vinci Code!

The question remains – should we admire her or despise her for her ability to keep us listening. Find out more on the Forbidden Lies website.

Reference: The unbelievable truth of forbidden lies, Screen Education, Issue 48, p31.

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