KIDS LIT

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - ROSE­MARY NEILL

Purin­ina: A Devil’s Tale By Christina Booth Loth­ian, 31pp, $ 28.95 A TRIB­UTE to the Tas­ma­nian devil, this be­guil­ing pic­ture book traces its ges­ta­tion, birth and dev­il­ishly noisy jour­ney to adult­hood. Purin­ina, Booth’s snarling, snort­ing hero­ine, shares the Abo­rig­i­nal name for the mar­su­pial. Al­though Booth’s prose can be a lit­tle flat, her draw­ings pos­sess a spir­ing lyri­cism. Booth is also sub­tle and mov­ing in the way she ex­plores the threats ( peo­ple and dis­ease) that could make the devils ex­tinct. Horse­rad­ish: Bit­ter Truths You Can’t Avoid By Lemony Snicket HarperCollins, 176pp, $ 22.95 THIS book of wit­ti­cisms and wis­dom is drawn from Lemony Snicket’s pub­lished and un­pub­lished works, along with things he has said at din­ner par­ties and an­ar­chist ri­ots. Re­leased to co­in­cide with the first pa­per­back edi­tions of Snicket’s megaselling Se­ries of Un­for­tu­nate Events books, Horse­rad­ish of­fers Snicket’s philoso­phies on ev­ery­thing from life’s big mys­ter­ies to school bells. Nat­u­rally, th­ese ob­ser­va­tions come with a dash of wry­ness, a side serve of melan­choly and a ker­nel of dread. Ot­to­line and the Yel­low Cat By Chris Rid­dell Macmil­lan, 171pp, $ 24.95 OT­TO­LINE Brown lives in a pen­t­house- sized apart­ment in Big City and is cared for by Mr Mun­roe, a hairy bog crea­ture cum nanny. Ot­to­line is a mistress of dis­guise and when a pam­pered pack of lap dogs go miss­ing she sets out to solve the mys­tery. Bri­tish car­toon­ist Chris Rid­dell’s story is as clever as it is in­ge­nious. A sly wit in­fil­trates his nar­ra­tive and or­nate draw­ings, and his cre­ated world is never less than plau­si­ble. griEVE By Lizzie Wilcock Scholas­tic, 371pp, $ 19.99 THE alien­ated yet vul­ner­a­ble teenager is a familiar archetype in young adult fiction. As the ti­tle sug­gests, teen pro­tag­o­nist Eve is the em­bod­i­ment of sullen grief. When her mother ap­par­ently goes miss­ing, her trucker dad re­solves his loss through slabs of beer and long road trips, while Eve re­sorts to shoplift­ing, cut­ting her­self and un­der­aged, love­less sex. While it’s an achieve­ment to make the self- de­struc­tive Eve sym­pa­thetic, this school­girl en­dures so many crises ( ab­sent mum, poi­sonous step­mother, stint in a psy­chi­atric ward) the nar­ra­tive be­comes over­wrought. Lizzie Wilcock, who won a Vic­to­rian Pre­mier’s Lit­er­ary Award for her first young adult novel, Los­ing It , has at­tempted to tele­scope too much trauma into one novel, tip­ping her story into melo­drama. Yirra and her Deadly Dog, De­mon ABC Books, 100pp, $ 14.95 THIS novel for newly in­de­pen­dent read­ers is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween in­dige­nous writer Anita Heiss and the stu­dents of La Per­ouse pub­lic school in Syd­ney’s south­east. Yirra de­picts a sub­ur­ban Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity while telling the story of De­mon, an over­sized mutt that steals the neigh­bours’ undies and fright­ens the day­lights out of old women. Preachy in places, it is also graced with a warm, easy­go­ing hu­mour as it paints a hu­man- scale por­trait of a mi­nor­ity of­ten in the head­lines for all the wrong rea­sons.

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