Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Texts for Secondary Method: English 2Y Second Semester 2013

The Texts for Secondary Method: English 2Y Second Semester 2013

For UWS students opting for 2Y, here are brief notes to help you select the text for your assignment.

Week 2 - 7th August
10 Futures by Michael Pryor. Woolshed Press, 2013. ISBN 9781742753768. 229 pp.
This is an anthology of ten linked science fiction short stories. Each story is set at a different time in the future, dating from 2020 to 2120. Pryor explores a range of possible futures, each an extension of something that is happening now. The stories are linked by the use of the same protagonists in each story: teenagers Tara and Sam. This could be used for Stage 4 or Stage 5, depending on the reading ability of students, and is a great text for Sustainability.

Town by James Roy. UQP, 2007. ISBN 9780702236372. 312 pp.
This anthology of thirteen interlinked short stories is a popular choice for Stage 5 study, especially in comprehensive schools. Each story takes place in a particular month - from February one year to February the next - and all are set in an unspecified fairly generic Australian country town. The protagonists are all teenagers: main characters from one story can appear as minor characters in another. The stories are very accessible and relevant to adolescent concerns and interests.

Maralinga, the Anangu Story by Yalata, Oak Valley Community with Christobel Mattingley. Allen & Unwin, 2012 (2009). ISBN 9781742378428. 72 pp.
This is a factual illustrated text that is accessible for readers from primary school age up. Well-known children's author Christobel Mattingley worked with the Anangu people to help them tell, in words and pictures, the story of what happened to their community when nuclear bomb tests were carried out on their lands in the 1950s. This text is suitable for both the Indigenous and the Sustainability cross-curricular perspectives.

Growing Up Asian in Australia edited by Alice Pung. Black Inc., 2008. ISBN 9781863951913. 288 pp.
This non-fiction anthology is a collection of true stories about the experiences of Asians in Australia – from ABCs who have been here for generations, but who still look Asian, to very recent migrants. There are dozens of stories, grouped under thematic headings. All the stories are quite short – many are only three pages long – and they cover a diverse range of experiences and a wide variety of tone. In Victoria this is a Year 12 text but it is appropriate for use in Stages 5 or 6.

Week 3 - 14th August
I Am Thomas by Libby Gleeson and Armin Greder. Allen & Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742373331. 32 pp.
Told in the first person, this picture book is the story of a boy who doesn't belong. He is constantly told that he will amount to nothing and that he doesn't fit in - at home, at school, at church, in the broader society. He refuses to conform. Libby Gleeson's words are reinforced by Armin Greder's often ugly illustrations. Variable font sizes emphasise Gleeson's words and Greder makes interesting use of framing, of positioning and of colour. This is aimed at teenage readers and explores issues of identity and belonging.

Vampyre by Margaret Wild and Andrew Yeo. Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781921529221. 32 pp.
'I am Vampyre./ I live in darkness. / I long for light.' This is another picture book for adolescent readers and it too uses first-person narration - the voice of a young vampyre who longs to break away from his destiny. Wild's sparse text is more like poetry than prose and Yeo's illustrations are haunting. Again, the themes explored include issues of identity and belonging.

Ubby’s Underdogs: The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon by Brenton E. McKenna. Magabala Books, 2011. ISBN 9781921248313. 160 pp.
This fantasy graphic novel by an Indigenous author is set in Broome and draws on the lives and stories of that diverse community. Ubby is a tough streetwise Indigenous girl who is the leader of ‘a rag-tag group of misfits who make up the town’s smallest gang’. This is a fast-moving action comic for teenage readers.

Tyranny: I Keep You Thin by Lesley Fairfield. Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781406331134. 119 pp.
This black-and-white graphic novel for adolescent readers is about anorexia. Anna’s enemy is personalised as a demon named Tyranny – the alterego who constantly tells her that she is not thin enough. Graphically, Tyranny is a spooky skeleton.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Scholastic, 2007. ISBN 9780439813785. 534 pp.
This hugely successful novel broke new ground. It's a big book (although it can be read in about an hour) and about half its pages are made up of visual text rather than words. However, it is not an illustrated text: the visual text tells the story, just as the words do. One follows the other, seamlessly. Set in Paris in the 1930s, this is - among other things - about the birth of cinema. It is accessible to readers in upper primary but appeals to all age groups. Lots of schools use it as a Stage 4 novel.

Week 4 - 21st August
Bluefish by Pat Schmatz. Candlewick Press, 2013 (2011). ISBN 9781406342086. 226 pp.
This American novel for young adults tells the story of the unlikely friendship that develops between three misfits. The main character, Travis, from a poor white family, is new to the school and desperate to hide the fact that he is unable to read. The story is seen mainly through his eyes, in third-person narration. Bright and confident Velveeta befriends him. It is only when we read her letters, to someone named Calvin, that we realise that she too is hurting. The third character is black boy Bradley who breaks the stereotype: he's from a wealthy middle-class family and is a total nerd. This is a simple read, frequently quite moving, about lack of self-esteem and the price of illiteracy.

Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Brian Simmonds. Fremantle Press, 2013. ISBN 9781922089137. 120 pp.
Heavily based on historical research, this is an illustrated book about a young man who went off to World War I. Because of his experience as a farmhand, he becomes involved with the Light Horse Regiment. The story is told through multiple written and visual texts: fictional letters and postcards, real photos and newspaper extracts from World War I, passages of conventional narrative, black and white sketches, maps and telegrams. The text is suitable for class set use in Stage 4.

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky. Allen & Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742374710. 150 pp.
This is a beautifully written, haunting mystery beginning in Sydney in 1967 and ending on the 11th November, 1975. The setting is an exclusive girls' school and a small class of girls who are taken to the park by their teacher. Their teacher disappears, and her shocking, unexplained loss binds the girls together. Their personal story takes place against a background of historical and cultural events of great significance. This richly layered novel is for competent readers.

New Guinea Moon by Kate Constable. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743315033. 275 pp.
This is set in New Guinea in 1975, just before that country gained independence from Australia. The main character, a sixteen-year-old Australian girl, goes to spend the holidays with the father she has never known. Tony is a pilot for a small airline in the Highlands. Julie discovers a new world and becomes aware of the tension between the patronising Australians, many of whom have lived in New Guinea for years, and the locals who are eager for independence. This is an enjoyable coming-of-age story about family and first love.

Week 5 - 28th August
The Bridge by Jane Higgins. Text Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781921758331. 352 pp.
This excellent post-apocalyptic novel is the first from New Zealand author Jane Higgins. The oil has run out on earth and there have been water wars. The story is set in a divided city, constantly at war: on one bank of the river live the elite in Cityside; on the other bank, in Southside, live 'the hostiles', refugees from 'Oversea' and the 'Desert'. Nik has had a privileged education in Cityside, but not all is what it seems, and his identity and loyalty are to be severely challenged. This is an exciting thriller where black and white are not always clearcut. 

First Light by Rebecca Stead. Text Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781921758256. 336 pp.
Set firmly to begin with in a vividly imagined real world - first New York, and then the icy desert of Greenland, this novel takes the reader into an entirely credible world of sci-fi fantasy and an extraordinary community who have lived under the Arctic ice for centuries, since fleeing religious persecution in Europe. The story moves between two twelve-year-olds from very different backgrounds, whose lives eventually intersect in complex and satisfying ways.

Genesis (The Rosie Black Chronicles Book 1) by Lara Morgan. Walker Books, 2010. ISBN 9781921529399. 454 pp.
This is set 500 years into the future in a Newperth that is divided into the haves, the 'Centrals', the have-nots, the 'Bankers', and the fringe dwellers, the Ferals. This is a long but gripping read as the main character, Rosie, is on the run with a dangerous secret, unsure of whom to trust.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) by Marissa Meyer. Penguin Books, 2012. ISBN 9780141340135. 387 pp.
This might be chick lit, but it's wonderfully intelligent chick lit, playing deliciously with genre. It is a clever re-telling of the Cinderella story, transposed to some future time in New Beijing. Cinder is a cyborg, despised by her nasty stepmother and one of her two stepsisters. She is an engaging character and it is not surprising that there is a growing attraction between Cinder and the handsome Prince Kai, a budding romance threatened firstly by the fact that Kai does not know that Cinder is a cyborg and secondly by the evil Lunar Queen Levana's determination to marry the prince for political reasons. The plot twists and turns delightfully as Cinder fights to save her prince and Earth itself. This is especially popular with girls.

Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French. HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN 9780732290221. 320 pp.
This is set in the early years of the colony in Sydney. Most, but not all, the characters are real historical figures, including the protagonist, Nanberry. Aged perhaps 9 or 10, Nanberry was orphaned by the plague that virtually wiped out the Indigenous people in the immediate area of the first settlement in 1789. He was adopted by Surgeon White and lived between the two cultures. This is an interesting exploration of the first contacts between blacks and whites.

Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French. HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN 9780207198014. 144 pp.
This uses the story-within-a-story structure to explore the interesting idea of what Hitler's daughter might have been like - if he had had one. The framework involves three country kids telling stories while they wait each morning for the school bus. We accept the story about Hitler's daughter because we know from the beginning that it's clearly a made up story. This is an excellent introduction for young readers to Hitler and Nazism.

The Girl from Snowy River by Jackie French. HarperCollins, 2012. ISBN 9780732293109. 319 pp.
Set in the Snowy Mountains in 1919, this shows the shadow that World War I left hanging over Australian families and communities. Seventeen-year-old Flinty is forced to look after the family farm and her two young siblings while older brother Andy, damaged by the war, is 'gone with cattle'. This is a terrific picture of time and place.

Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French. HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN 978020732292096. 311 pp.
Georg is the son of an English academic who has lived happily in Berlin for fifteen years. But Georg's father is of Jewish heritage and life changes forever for Georg in 1939. He is forced to flee Germany, first for war-torn England and then for Australia, where he has to take on a new identity in order to survive. This is an interesting perspective on World War II, from the point of view of a child who had been educated to honour Hitler.

Week 6 - 4 September
The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant. Allen & Unwin, 2012. ISBN 9781742376691. 288 pp.
This ambitious novel is organised into three sections: the story of Omed in Afghanistan under the Taliban and his desperate – and unsuccessful – attempt to find asylum; the story of a traumatised Australian teenage boy, Hector; and a final section in which an older Hector goes to Afghanistan to try to search for Omed. The first two parts are limited third-person narrative, the world seen first through Omed’s eyes and then through Hec’s. But the third part is first-person narration in Hec’s voice – the voice of a writer who is telling both Omed’s story and his own. This is an interesting experiment in metafiction.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. Allen & Unwin, 2009. ISBN 9781742372624. 394 pp.
Set in a small Western Australian community in the 60s, this is a terrific thriller. Thirteen-year-old Charlie is woken in the middle of the night by Jasper Jones, the town's notorious teenage outcast. Jasper is in serious trouble and he comes to Charlie for help. There is a body in the bush, and Jasper knows that the police will accuse him of murder. This was written for adults but is an interesting choice for study with Year 10. Some people refer to it as the Australian To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner. Allen & Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742373843. 214 pp.
This absorbing novel begins in a funeral parlour where school drop-out and general misfit, Aaron, is about to start work. The funeral director has taken Aaron on only as a favour to the school counsellor, who is a friend. Aaron’s school reports are dismal: even the counsellor expects very little of him. He appears to be completely antisocial and he has failed all his subjects. But the story is told by Aaron in the first-person and the reader discovers that Aaron is very different from the persona he presents to the world. This has some terrific scenes of black humour and some intensely sad moments as well.

All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield. Text Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781921758300. 208 pp.
This is a quick and easy read. It's the summer school holidays and sixteen-year-old Mim's mum is on the couch and her brothers are in gaol. Mim knows she doesn't want to turn out like any of them. As the hot summer continues, Mim finds herself involved in trouble with the local crims, trouble with a boy and trouble with her best friend, while her relationship with her mother continues to deteriorate. Despite the setting, this is a warmly positive novel.

Week 7 - 11th September
The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf. Candlewick Press, 2013 (2011). ISBN 9780763663315. 430 pp.
This superbly researched account of the sinking of the Titanic is told in verse-novel form, using twenty-two different voices. The voices are those of real historical people who were on board, ranging from the wealthiest of passengers to a refugee girl whose money has been stolen. There are voices from the crew as well as the passengers, some of them surprising: several times we hear the voice of the ship's rat. The most surprising voice of all is that of the iceberg itself. Despite the fact that we know the ending, this is an absorbing read.

Cold Skin by Steven Herrick. Allen & Unwin, 2007. ISBN 9781741751291. 264 pp.
Herrick has written a traditional crime novel in verse. When a girl's body is found beside the river in a small country town, almost every male in town is a suspect. The story is told in multiple voices. There are clues and suspects but the resolution is a surprise.

Just in Case by Meg Rosoff. Penguin Books, 2007. ISBN 9780141318066. 231 pp.
Teenager David Case is minding his baby brother Charlie when he realises that Charlie is tottering on the ledge of the open window. David rescues Charlie just in time, but he suddenly realises how fragile life is. He's convinced that Fate is out to get him. To confuse Fate, he changes his name to 'Justin' - just in case - and transforms his identity. This is a highly original novel in which one of the main voices is that of Fate itself.

Into White Silence by Anthony Eaton. Random House, 2008. ISBN 9781741663259. 416 pp.
This quite long book appears to be a factual account of a doomed voyage of exploration to the Antarctic in the 1920s. Author Anthony Eaton claims to have been visiting the Australian base in Antarctica when he came across a journal, which he says he is reproducing for us. The account is so convincing that readers have been known to google the name of the ship and the explorers, but it is metafiction: an excuse for Eaton to introduce some fascinating characters and to explore the drive that leads people to push themselves beyond the limits.

Week 8 - 18th September
Trash by Andy Mulligan. David Fickling, 2010. ISBN  9781849920568. 211 pp.
Set in the Philippines, this is narrated by multiple voices, including those of three young boys who make a meagre living scavenging on a huge tip in Manila. The tip is their home as well as their workplace. One day one of the boys discovers a bag, containing an identity card, a key and some money. The money is very welcome, but it soon becomes clear that the bag is much more valuable than it appears, when hordes of police descend on the tip offering large rewards for its recovery. The bag holds a deadly secret and the boys’ decision to solve the mystery propels them into a very dangerous situation. This is a great thriller with terrific characters.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Walker Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921720086. 400 pp.
This post-apocalyptic novel is set in a world that has been devastated by environmental neglect. The new rigidly regulated authoritarian world does not tolerate those who are different, so there are exiles who have become resistance fighters. Ashala, a resistance leader, has been captured and is being interrogated. There are lots of surprising twists and turns: all is not what it seems. There is also a very interesting use of the story of the Rainbow Serpent.

The Dream of the Thylacine by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks. Allen & Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742373836. 32 pp.
This picture book for readers of all ages tells the story of the last Tasmanian tiger, endlessly patrolling his tiny concrete and barbed wire cage, as he dreams of his lost freedom in the beautiful forests.

Week 9 - 2nd October
Wonder by R. J. Palacio. Alfred a. Knopf, 2012. ISBN 9780552565974. 313 pp.
This is an easy and engaging read. August was born with severe facial deformities and, despite many operations, still causes strangers in the street to gasp with horror. Because of his disfigurement, he has been home-schooled. Now, at Year 4 level, his family has reluctantly decided to take the risk of sending him to school. The novel is narrated in August’s voice - and it is the voice that engages the reader. The fact that August is only ten would normally be a disadvantage for high school readers, but there is nothing childish about this voice. August is bright and cheerful and accepting of his situation. He is also acutely aware of how others react to him and is extremely courageous. As he struggles to make his way in the hostile school environment, the reader cheers him on.

The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail. black dog books, 2012. ISBN 9781742031651. 256 pp.
Melbourne writer Suzy Zail uses her Hungarian father’s wartime experience to tell a gripping fictional account of what happened to the Budapest Jews who were sent to Auschwitz in 1944. Hanna, the fifteen-year-old narrator, is a talented pianist and is forced to go each day to the commandant's house to play for him. An unlikely relationship develops with the commandant's sixteen-year-old son, Karl - the 'wrong boy'. This is a book that helps the reader see the inhumanity of the Holocaust through new eyes.

Butter by Erin Lange. Faber and Faber, 2013 (2012). ISBN 9780571294404. 343 pp.
This is a very contemporary novel, one in which social media play a major role. It is narrated in the first-person by a teenage boy who is known to everyone as 'Butter'. Butter is seriously obese and has long been the subject of merciless bullying at school. In desperation, he decides to take action, announcing on Facebook that he intends to eat himself to death - live on webcam - on New Year's Eve. This is blackly humorous and terrific about bullying, including cyberbullying. It raises some important ethical issues about social media.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Penguin Books, 2012. ISBN 9780143567592. 313 pp.
Narrated by sixteen-year-old Hazel, who has been living with incurable cancer for more than three years, this is a compulsive read. The narrative voice is hugely appealing: this is a very bright and very funny girl who knows the inevitability of her fate and is determined not to be maudlin. Her greatest concern is for her parents: she describes herself as a 'grenade' that will some day explode, destroying their lives. Hazel meets Gus, a cancer survivor, and they fall in love. This is one of the great love stories in young adult fiction and a serious look at the extent to which we are masters of our fate. There have been lots of young adult books about  teenagers with terminal illnesses, but this is by far the best.