Wanted: YA or Children’s Fiction from Australia and New Zealand

At some point in the unspecified future, we three bloggers who comprise the Triple Take project would like to do a series on YA and Children’s Fiction by authors from Australia and New Zealand. The problem is, we don’t know too much about it yet. I mean, I’ve heard of Maurice Gee (NZ) and I positively adore John Marsden (AU), but there’s got to be more out there.

So! If you know of any good or even just potentially interesting books that would qualify, please let me know! It’s a bonus if they’ve been published in the US, but not a requirement.

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  1. There’s Catherine Jinks from Australia. Evil Genius is fun and the cover for the US edition of Living Hell rocks.


  2. I really enjoyed Jaclyn Moriarty’s Feeling Sorry for Celia and its companion, A Year of Secret Assignments (Australia). There are a couple other companions/sequels, but those two are my favorites.

  3. You should definitely check out Markus Zusak. I haven’t read much by him, but The Book Thief is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  4. badzphoto says

    I’ve read and enjoyed these books by Margaret Mahy: Changeover, Underrunners, The Other Side of Silent, and The Door in the Air and Other Stories. I just found out that she has some recent ones that I’ll need to read stat!

  5. I like Tim Winton a lot.

    Honestly, I really haven’t read that much from Australia or NZ because a lot of it’s hard to get ahold of in the US. :-/

    • Yeah. Right now we’re compiling a master list of things that look interesting and making note of where they can be obtained. Some newer stuff (or award winners) are on Amazon, but the older stuff not so much.

  6. Karen Healey’s book, Guardian of the Dead is young adult. (She’s from New Zealand.)

    The Nargun and the Stars, by Patricia Wrightson, is a older classic, but I loved it. (If you’re reviewing classics for teens, I’d also point you to Playing Beattie Bow by Ruth Park, and the Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell.)

  7. Cyphomandra says

    Wow. I am entirely in favour of more discussion of Aus/NZ children’s and YA, and now I have to restrict myself to the rigid limits of this comment box and not just overflow the whole thing with recommendations.

    NZ – Margaret Mahy, above all else, and given your list above I’d recommend The Tricksters, which is a family Christmas story (NZ style, so summer at the beach) about reality, fiction, and the way the characters move between them. Maurice Gee has written a lot (for adults as well), but his two trilogies – the Halfmen of O (contemporary children get sucked into fantasy world), written in the 1980s, and his just completed series (Salt, Gool, The Limping Man – future dystopia fantasy) are probably most well-known. Witi Ihimaera’s Whale Rider should be available in the US, given the movie. Tessa Duder’s Alex quartet has a fiercely driven and uncompromising heroine; she’s a competitive swimmer, but the series (set in the 1960s) is also about the many ways she refuses to fit into society’s expectations of her, no matter what the cost (the book in which she plays George Bernard Shaw’s Joan of Arc, and rehearses for it by cross-dressing, is particularly good). And Karen Healey’s The Guardian of the Dead is new, and good, and already mentioned – her next book, The Shattering, should be out soon, and again has a strong NZ setting and interesting characters.

    I have firm and not entirely complimentary opinions about the NZ Post Book Awards. It did pick Mandy Hager’s trilogy, The Crossing (post-apocalypse Pacific Island religious society), though, which I liked.

    You have more Australian recs above, so I’ll keep this to two; Robin Klein’s Hating Alison Ashley is a very funny children’s book about having a new, perfect girl show up at your hopelessly inept school, when you’ve been the only one with any sort of talent there before. And Morris Gleitzman, who also writes very funny books with amazing characters, despite writing about what sound like deeply depressing topics. He’s most well-known for Two Weeks with the Queen, about a boy whose brother is dying of cancer who determinedly sets out to get the Queen’s top doctor to help, and he also has a series about Afghani refugees that is funny while being extremely angry about Australia’s appalling refugee policy. His most recent series about World War II – Once, Then, and Now – is just stunning, though, and if you had to pick just one book from this rec I’d nominate Then. I found it a lot more affecting than The Book Thief.

    • What a lovely batch of recommendations! I’ve added every one of these to the list. I love that you lead off with The Tricksters—the earlier discussion of Mahy led me to that book, so that one was already on the list with a great big “Yes” next to it from me.

      So many of these sound great—especially The Shattering—but I find myself most intrigued by the Alex quartet. Cross-dressing + uncompromising heroine = my sort of book. In fact, I actually just ordered used copies of the whole series from Amazon. 🙂

  8. Justine Larbalestier, Garth Nix, Melina Marchetta — all Australian. I hope I’m not repeating anybody.

    • You’re not! I thought about adding Larbalestier’s Liar to the list, but I think one of our group has already read it. I’ll have to investigate her other books. And I’d never heard of Marchetta! Thanks.

      • Oh, that’s a total lie! I actually have a couple of her books on audio!

        • I see you wanted titles — sorry. Justine Larbalestier has also written How To Ditch Your Fairy and the Magic of Reason series. Garth Nix wrote Sabriel (and sequels) which has long been one of my favorite books. Melina Marchetta is best known in the U.S. for Jellicoe Road, which won the Printz award from ALA/Yalsa for outstanding YA book.

  9. I’m really excited to see so many suggestions! We definitely shouldn’t have any trouble finding stuff. It looks like the issue is going to be narrowing it down to a reasonable number of books. 😀

  10. Garth Nix (already mentioned, I know) has some fantastic stories out there. Shade’s Children and Sabriel are my top two recommendations for both my friends AND my students.

  11. Oooo… I’m going to have to chip in here! I’ll start with Paul Jennings – maybe a bit mainstream, but nevertheless, an excellent Aussie author – he who wrote the Un- books, such as Uncanny, or Unbelievable. Anthony Eaton’s “The Girl in the Cave” is one of my favourites (gets a read-aloud every couple of years in class!). There’s Gary Crew, and of course, who could forget Shaun Tan, whose illustrations are just magic.

    The Children’s Book Council of Australia have Awards every year, and the books chosen for that are just fantastic. There’s a lot of newer authors coming up that are appearing in those awards lately. I haven’t read any, but am looking forward to reading Isobelle Carmody. Sally Murphy writes in verse, her new book being Toppling, and Jen Storer wrote “Tensy Farlow”, which is a dark fantasy in the vein of Neil Gaiman or Rick Riordan. There’s also Wendy Orr, who wrote the Nim’s Island books.

    Ahhh… I think I might stop there. There are some great Aussie authors around!

  12. Not sure if this counts, but you might try Lucy Christopher—her Amazon profile says that she lives in the UK now, but was raised in Australia, and her novel Stolen is set in Australia.

  13. I second the Isobelle Carmody recommendation. Her Obernewtyn Chronicles rock.

    I’ll slip in a rec for “Lian Hearn” as well, though I’m not sure it really counts. In the US, they released Across the Nightingale Floor in an adult version and a YA version consisting of several smaller parts of the whole novel. The Tales of the Otori Trilogy is outstanding and should totally appeal to the Japanophile in you, as it is set in a breathtakingly detailed fictional Japan. (If you know much Japanese history, you’ll be able to pick out the parallels with no trouble at all.) Hearn actually lived in Japan for a while to immerse herself more in the culture, and her understanding of it absolutely shines. I don’t begrudge her the Hearn pen name, at all, and I doubt Lafcadio Hearn does either. They’re that good. She also wrote a bunch of kids/YA books under her real name, which escapes me now. (Gillian Rubinstein; I looked it up. 🙂

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