Friday, July 22, 2011

Post Card Fridays: I Come From a Land Down Under

Today's Post Card Friday is from our Aussie loving D.C. Librarian Kady!

Y'all ready for this? Today's Postcards From... series is examining the amazing YA books of Australia.

I love Australian authors. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my blog posts before and if you're interested, you can find my gushings about particular favorites here, here, here, and here. But today I thought I'd talk about books I haven't mentioned before, books that cover different aspects of Australia's geography from the city to the outback.

The City
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Ed Kennedy doesn't have much to look forward to in his day to day life. He's an underage cab driver living in a shack just outside of town with his gigantic, slobbering dog. He's hopelessly in love with his best friend and he's just accidentally saved the day in a bank robbery. Now, Ed has started to get mysterious messages on the back of playing cards. Every time an Ace shows up, it comes with a different set of cryptic clues. Clues he must follow to help make his hometown a better place. I Am the Messenger takes us through an unnamed Australian city, introducing us to the people we'd normally just pass by on the streets without a second glance. Who is sending the messages? How can Ed be sure he's correctly interpreting the clues? And since the tasks get progressively harder each time, what will the fourth and final Ace hold in store for him?

The Country
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Recognize the name? You should, I think I'm Melina Marchetta's single biggest advocate in the United States. I'll preach the gospel of Marchetta until I have no more breath left in me. With this book at least, I have backup. Jellicoe Road won the 2009 Printz award, meaning it is among the very best of the very best in YA literature out there. And it's easy to see why: There's a territory war in Jellicoe between the boarding school kids, the townies and the military school cadets who spend six weeks every year encamped nearby. Taylor is the unpopular leader of the boarders while the dreamy Jonah (who she of course has a complicated history with) is heading things up for the cadets. On the townie side there's the equally magical Chaz, who has a thing- past or present, no one's really sure- with Taylor's second in command. This should be the year when the boarders take back their lost territory and finally really prove their dominance, but Taylor has other things on her mind. Like why did her mom abandon her on Jellicoe road six years ago? Where has Hannah, her guardian and closest confident, vanished to? And is it possible that the half finished manuscript that Taylor finds in Hannah's things, about five children living on Jellicoe road in the 80's, holds the answers she needs to make sense of the world around her?

The Outback
Stolen by Lucy Christopher

This is a fairly typical story, I'm sure it's happened to you at least a few times. So you're in the airport in Bangkok, fighting with your parents (I mean, what teenage girl hasn't done that?) when a very nice, very cute, slightly older, kinda familiar looking guy offers to buy you a drink. It would be rude to say no after all. But then you start to feel a little bit woozy and the next thing you know you're waking up in a dark, completely foreign bedroom. Because it turns out that the handsome stranger is a CRAZY, PSYCHO STALKER FREAK who has been following you for YEARS and he's brought you to his wilderness survival fort in the Australian desert so you can LIVE WITH HIM FOREVER, just the two of you. "Oh, so what?" you say. "That sounds like a normal Tuesday afternoon," you say? Well, now there's nothing around you but miles of (admittedly) beautiful desert, lots of poisonous critters just waiting for you to make a false step and herds of wild camels. Crazy-psycho-stalker-freak says he'll catch one and tame it for you, if you just agree to STAY IN TOTAL ISOLATION with him FOREVER and never contact anyone you love EVER AGAIN. And you may be going crazy too, because it's starting to sound like an okay idea.

This just a small sampling of the talent and diversity present in Australian YA lit. After you've finished with these books be sure to check out these authors:

Cath Crowley
John Marsden
Garth Nix
Gabrielle Williams
Jaclyn Moriarty

And of course I whole-heartedly recommend ANYTHING written by:
Melina Marchetta
Markus Zusak

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