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Book Reviews

May, 2001

Follow the Blue

Follow the Blue , (p/b, 205 p, Allen and Unwin, 2001, A$15.95)
This new tale by the author of Guitar Highway Rose is gentle, funny and charming.

Bec is fifteen, in her last years of high school and has always been known as sensible. She is kind to her nerdy younger brother Josh and rather proud of him and her feisty little sister, Bing. She loves her architect father and her loopy but lovable mother, a television cook.

One summer, when Mum and Dad are off on a book promotion tour to the US, leaving the children with a likable, laid-back housekeeper, Bec kicks up her heels and does something different. Like colouring her hair. Going out with boys. Organising a party (how daring!).

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Nothing dramatic happens the entire novel, but it doesn't matter. It is pleasant, occasionally, to read a novel that is lacking in major teen angst. These are the teens to whom what the opposite sex thinks of you and what is being said about you are of vital importance. All the characters are likable and fond of each other. There is enough Ôromance' to keep young female readers reading on. The style is light and breezy and the book easy to put down for teens who can't concentrate too long.

Good reading for girls between fourteen and seventeen.

Old Magic

by Marianne Curley. London: Bloomsbury, 2000. p/b 317 p. $15.95

Kate lives with her grandmother, Jillian, in a small town somewhere unidentified, but probably New South Wales. Like her grandmother, who runs a New Age gift shop, she is a witch, of the Rone with "nature", psychic variety. So when new boy Jarrod arrives at her school, she knows instinctively that his klutziness is caused by a curse on his family which has been plaguing them for centuries - his father has been crippled, his mother lost several children and he himself can't look at anything breakable without smashing it. Kate also knows that he has huge magical powers he's not acknowledging.

And the only way to stop the curse is to prevent it having been laid, which means a trip through space and time to mediaeval England. Jillian can get them there with a powerful spell, but danger is waiting for them. The sorcerer who laid the spell is not so easily defeated... This is quite an enjoyable young adult fantasy which manages to combine the fantastical elements with teenage concerns of being accepted by peers; Kate is something of an outcast. I did wonder, at times, why she bothers with Jarrod, who is not at all grateful for most of the novel, but teenagers do behave that way. The historical section has the odd glitch, such as side saddles in thirteenth century England (they arrived with Anne of Bohemia, Queen of Richard II, some time later, but never mind. This would suit a school library.

Sue B

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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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