Australian Women Writers Challenge: 2014

Last year, I excitedly jumped into the Australian Women Writers challenge. It was wonderful in many ways, and I completed the challenge, though (for reasons to do with my own goal setting and perfectionist behaviour) I let it drop completely in the second part of the year.

This year, I’m taking a much more relaxed approach to it, and looking at children’s and young adults books, particularly ‘classics’. Sadly, there’s a long list of classics I’ve never touched and another list of classics which I haven’t read in a very long time. I’ll probably review some newer ones as well, especially picture books I read with my son.

I have a short list of books I want to tackle, and I’m definitely signing up for the full Franklin (read 10, review at least 6).

What Australian kids classics (written by women, of course) would you recommend?



      1. I have to disagree with you there, kids books are most definitely as well written today as they were then. They’re just different. They’re a different language, a different culture, a different perspective and the craft has changed with time, as any creative culture does. The trap for those of us who are adults is that we dismiss the changes as unimportant or inferior.

        But that’s the nature of adulthood and the purpose of youth – to grow and push us into new things.

      2. I think there’s plenty of well written children’s books these days- but I don’t feel that they’re as well written as Playing Beattie Bow (and I’m talking the 8-12 yr level, not Young Adult) I should clarify too, that I’m talking about Australian books. The US has really embraced the 8-12 (Middle Grades) books in a way which I don’t think has happened here. I find most of the Australian books for that age group are either series (often good but very repetitive) or (especially books with female protagonists) are rather twee. I think publishers could be doing more in 8-12 – the way they are in YA and picture books.

      3. Again, looking through an adult lens, I can see how you would feel/think that. But I find it problematic and dismissive of modern writers. Yes, publishers could be doing more for Junior readers – but they’ve always had a chasm between what they SHOULD be doing and what they actually do. It was like that in Ruth Park’s day (she’s just the stand out that made it through, like JK Rowling is today) and until adults stop underestimating the great writers of junior fiction out there, it will always be the way.

      4. Playing Beattie Bow really is a standout, though, isn’t it? I never read it as a child – I picked it up for the first time this week and was absolutely struck by the vividness of the writing – it’s something I don’t see very often in kids books (of any era) and rarely in YA or Adults. I also reread The Min Min in the last week and was amazed by how bleak and yet beautiful it was. It almost seems like some of the themes/ideas which were aimed at younger readers there have moved into YA (which I believe has expanded a lot since then) I wonder whether there would have been pressure on both authors to make their books more ‘middle grade’ or more ‘young adult’ if they were writing them today – the divide between them seems greater these days than in the past.

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