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Life

Why I Wrote “Mika and Max”

By Life No Comments

It makes me sad, and mad, that the first person with a disability who I ever got to know was my own baby! This is because, growing up, I had been separated from people with disabiltiies – or, rather, they had been separated from me. Not only in my education and day to day life, but in the books I read, and shows I watched on TV. People with disabilities, and their stories, were so effectively and comprehensively excluded from most mainstream culture that I wasn’t even aware it was happening until I became the mother of a child with…

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A review of “Mika and Max” from Reading Time, the Children’s Book Council of Australia

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Mika is growing up, though it seems her mother does not quite see it just yet. When the book opens, Mika and her family are on holiday at a music festival and right away, there’s an unease about Mika any young reader on the cusp of change will recognise. Laura Bloom manages to convey Mika’s unease with her skin, or the rather the skin that no longer fits her because she’s figuring out who she is – is she the person to be pulled in a dozen different directions pleasing everyone else or just the one she wants to be…

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Review of “Frankie” by Megan Daley from The Children’s Book Daily Review

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Frankie has always wanted a horse and when her family move to Mullumbimby for a ‘tree change’, she is hopeful this will become a reality. As it turns out, the ‘tree change’ was perhaps a last attempt at saving Frankie’s parents’ marriage, and the story begins with Frankie at her dad’s place and then off to her mums, who has repartnered and set up family with Vivian and her young daughter. Frankie is caught between concern for her dad, who is clearly not coping and is deeply saddened by the marriage breakdown, and excitement as her mother presents her with…

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Where are all the clever girls?

By Life, Storytelling, Writing No Comments

Last week I finally got to see Bruce Beresford’s new movie, Ladies in Black, based on the novel by Madeleine St John. Two hailstorms and a cyclone had previously stopped me, and I was beginning to think I wasn’t meant to go. But the skies cleared, I went, and I absolutely loved it – especially the idea that ‘there’s nothing so wonderful as a clever girl,’ which is said by one of the characters in the movie, and is a theme which is developed and celebrated. It also made me sad. Angourie Rice, who plays one of the clever girls in the movie – Lisa –…

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Thumbs up to Mary – and Lilith

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Mothers Day is complicated for me, because my son is non verbal, and has severe autism, and so a special occasion without presents for him, or cake, or a party, would have no meaning in his world. I’m very happy to make these things happen on days like Christmas, or his birthday, but not for myself. That would heighten the sense of the absurd that already hangs about ‘mothers day’ for me like the faint whiff of a chemical air freshener that I can’t quite separate from the perfume of fresh flowers. It’s manufactured to a certain extent, and then, on the other…

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The Outsiders

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I’ve always felt like an outsider. I was born late, the last of my generation in my large extended family. I was too young to participate in my family’s life while it was all happening, and by the time I reached those milestones of family holidays and celebrations, I often as not did them with just my mother, or by myself. As I grew older I went to schools in other, far flung parts of Sydney – many long bus rides away. The inner city area we lived in – Glebe – was still mainly a slum then, and I…

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The Female Face of War

By Life 2 Comments

“He’s afraid now that I will remember the wrong thing. That I will tell it not the way I’m supposed to,” says a woman in Svetlana Alexievich’s book about Soviet women’s experience of fighting in World War II, ‘War’s Unwomanly Face’. It applies to women’s experience of conflict and war everywhere, though: Once women stop being victims, and become combatants, physically, or psychologically, they are met with unease. Women are silenced on the topic of war, by men and women, and also by the traditions and genres of journalism, history and publishing. “We usually think of wars as something that men…

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