28 November, 2005

Ernie Tucker and YA reactions to Black Juice

English in Australia is the journal of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE). Ernie Tucker has a regular column in it, "On Books", and Allen & Unwin (thanks, Julia!) have just sent me a copy of the one he wrote for the Spring issue.

Ernie edits the annual poster of student reviews of the books shortlisted for the CBCA awards. Ingrid Reynish's and D'Arcy Hipgrave's (hi, D'Arcy!) reviews of Black Juice were included on the poster this year, but Ernie's comments on the reviews in general make very interesting reading (for an author - bear with me):
Only one reviewer in Year 9 didn't like the book, while all the others, from formidable readers in Year 7 to very thoughtful readers in Year 11, responded with enthusiasm. And they didn't identify with the characters. Faced with one of a reviewer's most difficult tasks, writing about a collection of ten complex stories, they praised the writer for the difficulties she had placed in the way of their reading, and they enjoyed the challenge.

Kathleen Oliver of Casino High reckons:
The absence of time and place, a context, makes black juice a beautifully crafted global text. It is about more than one culture...it is about all of us...it is about human instinct and the sensations of friendship, love, kinship, loyalty, hope...Lanagan's language leaves gaps that you are enticed to fill...There is an excitement and satisfaction when you suddenly understand what is happening.
These and other quotations are treasure - because I haven't been out in schools this year, I haven't heard much in the way of reactions from YA readers. A lot of reviewers have had opinions on younger readers' behalf, but I haven't heard much directly. Very reassuring.


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