REVIEW: Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman (Review by Andrew Cattanach)

The opportunity to critique a childhood idol is an uncomfortable proposition. When I was a child my mother would thrust a library book in my hands after we’d run down the bus I was always late for. One of these books was Misery Guts, by Morris Gleitzman, a book that fostered my love of reading. I remain forever indebted to him.

Gleitzman’s new novel, Loyal Creatures, continues his legacy of placing ordinary children in extraordinary, trying circumstances. Frank is a bullish bush kid, of a size that belies his tender years. His mother has passed away and he lives a hard-working life with his father.

War has broken out and Frank is desperate to enlist, despite being underage. He pleads with his father to allow him to bring his loyal horse Daisy to the showgrounds for a trial, but his father refuses. One day Frank’s father receives a white feather in the mail, a signal of cowardice from the community, and gives in to Frank’s requests on one condition. They go to war together, and thus begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Growing up, stories of The Great War never fascinated me like other boys. They terrified me. I was born on ANZAC Day, in a small town that had the highest enlistment rate of any place in Australia during WWI. The legacy of war was everywhere, and all I could think of was what if it was me? What if I was one of those foolhardy young men desperate for an adventure, who jumped aboard those ships, never to return? Few books can answer those questions as poignantly as Loyal Creatures.

There is an incredible empathy to Gleitzman’s work, spilling over generously into his latest effort. I suspect war terrifies and frustrates him just as much as it does I, and every inch of bravado Frank shows in the opening pages of the novel is met with anger and sadness later as he discovers what war truly is. An horrific, unnecessary loss of life.

Loyal Creatures has something in it for all ages, another telling story of courage and sacrifice during WWI that we should never forget. As a Morris Gleitzman fan, I can truly say he is on top form with Loyal Creatures. Don’t miss it.

Grab a copy of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures here

Grab a copy of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures here

Countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist: 20-11 as voted by you


Welcome to day four of the countdown of Australia’s Favourite Novelists, as voted by you, to celebrate our month of Australian Stories.

Don’t forget to pencil in January 24th on the calender as we celebrate the Australia Day weekend in style with the announcement of Australia’s top 10 Favourite Novelists!

Today the countdown continues, 20-11 as voted by you.


20. Geraldine Brooks

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

people-of-the-book

Our Pick

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March. Her first novel, Year of Wonders, is an international bestseller, and People of the Book is a New York Times bestseller translated into 20 languages. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.

Click here to go to Geraldine Brooks’ author page


19. Rachael Johns

An English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. That’s some of the ingredients that make up one of the most successful Romance Writers in Australia, Rachael Johns.

In a relatively short space of time, Rachael has shown herself a force to be reckoned with, helping to bolster a new movement in Australian Romance writing. At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

outback-dreams

Our Pick

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she loved contemporary romance.

She lives in rural Western Australia with her husband and their three children.

Congratulations Rachael on coming 10th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Rachael Johns’ author page


18. Ruth Park

Another in a long line of writers born elsewhere yet able to capture Australian life so beautifully, Ruth Park’s writing has had a lasting effect on both adults and children for over 60 years.

Born in Auckland to a Scottish father and a Swedish mother, Park moved to Australia in 1942 where she had lined up a job with another newspaper.

Our Pick

Her first novel was The Harp in the South, a graphic story of Irish slum life in Sydney, which has been translated into 37 languages. Even though it was acclaimed by literary critics, the book proved controversial with sections of the public due to its candour. It remains her most popular novel and has never been out of print.

Between 1946 and 2004, she received numerous awards for her contributions to literature in both Australia and internationally including the Miles Franklin Award for Swords and Crowns and Rings in 1977. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987.

Click here to go to Ruth Park’s author page


17. Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s writers. He is the author of over 20 books, including nonsense verse, short stories, comic novels and plays. Over the past 15 years Andy’s books have been New York Times bestsellers, won over 50 children’s choice awards, been adapted as a television cartoon series and sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

the-39-storey-treehouse

Our Pick

Andy has had a long-standing collaboration with illustrator Terry Denton. Their latest collaboration is The 13-Storey Treehouse which was voted ABIA’s 2012 Book of the Year for Older Readers, and September 2012 sees the hugely anticipated The 26-Storey Treehouse. Meanwhile Andy and Terry are also working on a collection of inspirational writing exercises called Once Upon a Slime for English teachers and emerging writers and illustrators to be published in April 2013.

Click here to go to Andy Griffiths’ author page


16. Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults.

the-wild-girl

Our Pick

Since The Witches of Eileanan was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with The Gypsy Crown – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, The Lightning Bolt, was also a CBCA Notable Book.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback, a bad-tempered black cat, and many thousands of books.

Click here to go to Kate Forsyth’s author page


15. Christos Tsiolkas

Christos Tsiolkas was born in Melbourne in 1965. Loaded, his first novel, was published in 1995 and later made into the award-winning film Head On. In 1996 he collaborated with Sasha Soldatow on the dialogue Jump Cuts. His novel The Jesus Man was published in 1999.

barracuda

Our Pick

He is the author of several plays including Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?, Dead Caucasians and Non Parlo di Salo, co-written with Spiro Economopoulos.

His critically acclaimed novel Dead Europe was published in 2005 and in 2008 he reached bestselling status with the bold The Slap which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

Click here to go to Christos Tsiolkas’ author page


14. Isobelle Carmody

Isobelle Carmody is Australia’s most highly acclaimed author of fantasy titles for older readers.

She began her first book, Obernewtyn, when she was fourteen and since then she has written some of our greatest works of fantasy. She is perhaps best known for her Obernewtyn Chronicles and for her novel The Gathering (joint winner of the 1993 Children’s Literature Peace Prize and the 1994 CBC Book of the Year Award).

the-sending

Our Pick

Another of her novels, Greylands, was joint winner of the 1997 Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction – Young Adult Division, and was named a White Raven at the 1998 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. She has also written many short stories for both children and adults.

Isobelle divides her time between Prague in the Czech Republic and her home on the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Click here to go to Isobelle Carmody’s author page


13. Fiona McIntosh

Fiona McIntosh is a fantasy author originally born in Brighton, England. At the age of nineteen, she travelled first to Paris and later to Australia, where she has lived ever since.

She worked for many years in the travel industry but after her shift to full-time writing she roams the world researching and drawing inspiration for her novels.

the-tailor-s-girl

Our Pick

Adelaide is her home base, which she shares with her husband and twin sons, but Fiona does most of her writing from the peace of southern Tasmania.

To date she has written 24 adult novels across various genres and seven novels for children.

Click here to go to Fiona McIntosh’s author page


12. Rachael Treasure

fifty-bales-of-hay

Our Pick

Rachael Treasure currently lives in southern rural Tasmania with her two young children, Rosie and Charlie. Her three novels, Jillaroo, The Stockmen, and The Rouseabout, have all been bestsellers in Australia, selling more than 100,000 combined copies by the end of 2007. In 2008 Random House signed her to a 4 book contract for British release.

A former jillaroo and reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on rural affairs, she is a passionate working dog trainer and in 2007 received Tasmania’s rural woman of the year award.

Click here to go to Rachael Treasure’s author page


JohnFlanagan

11. John Flanagan

John Flanagan’s bestselling Ranger’s Apprentice adventure series originally comprised twenty short stories, which John wrote to encourage his twelve-year-old son, Michael, to enjoy reading. The series has come a long way since then.

the-royal-ranger

Our Pick

Now sold to more than twenty countries, the series regularly appears on the New York Times Bestseller List and has been shortlisted in children’s book awards in Australia and overseas. John, a former television and advertising writer, lives with his wife, Leonie, in the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly. He is currently writing further titles in the Ranger’s Apprentice series.

Click here to go to John Flanagan’s author page


Check out our Australian Stories section, full of the best Aussie Titles as well as prizes and giveaways!


Don’t forget to come back tomorrow at 10am as we continue to countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

Countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist: 50-41 as voted by you

Booktopia would like to give a massive thanks again to everyone who has voted in to decide who is Australia’s Favourite Novelist. Without you we wouldn’t be able to have this celebration of outstanding Aussie Writers.

The votes have been counted and we have our top 50, and it’s a wonderful list full of surprises. It reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Australian Literature both past and present, as well as a reminder of an exciting future ahead of us.

At Midday (EST) every day this week we’ll be announcing the list in groups of ten. The top ten will be announced at Midday on Friday the 25th of January.

So without further ado, here’s the 50-41 placings for Australia’s Favourite Novelist, as voted by you.


50. Peter Temple

Peter Temple is the author of nine novels, including four books in the Jack Irish series. He has won the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction five times, and his widely acclaimed novels have been published in over twenty countries.

Our Pick

The Broken Shore won the UK’s prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger for the best crime novel of 2007 and Truth won the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award, the first time a crime writer has won an award of this calibre anywhere in the world.

Temple’s first two novels Bad Debts and Black Tide have been made into films with Guy Pearce starring as Jack Irish.

Click here to go to Peter Temple’s author page


49. Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff was born and brought up in Perth. He grew up reading and collecting books and spent most of his free time playing Dungeons & Dragons.

He graduated with an Arts degree and then spent ten years in the field of creative advertising for which he won several awards.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Jay is the author of The Lotus Trilogy, a Japanese-inspired fantasy series published in 2012.

He currently lives in Melbourne with his wife and dog.

Click here to go to Jay Kristoff’s author page


48. Nikki Gemmell

Nikki Gemmell has written the novels, Shiver, Cleave, Lovesong, The Bride Stripped Bare, Wih My Body and The Book Of Rapture, as well as the non-fiction book, Pleasure: An Almanac for the Heart. Her work has been internationally critically acclaimed and translated into many languages.

In France she’s been described as a female Jack Kerouac, in Australia as one of the most original and engaging authors of her generation and in the US as one of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.

Our Pick

Our Pick

The French literary review “Lire” has included her in a list of what it calls the fifty most important writers in the world – the ones it believes will have a significant influence on the literature of the 21st century. The criteria for selection included a very individual voice and unmistakeable style, as well as an original choice of subject. Nikki Gemmell was selected along with such novelists as Rick Moody, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Froer, Rohinton Mistry, Tim Winton, Colum McCann, Michel Faber and Hari Kunzru among others.

Click here to go to Nikki Gemmell’s author page


47. Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood is the author of four novels – Pieces of a Girl, The Submerged Cathedral, The Children and Animal People, as well as a collection of short personal reflections on cooking, Love & Hunger.

She was also editor of the anthology of writing about siblings, Brothers & Sisters (2009). Her books have been critically well received and frequently short-listed for prizes.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Animal People was longlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award. She has a background in journalism and has also taught writing at a variety of levels

She currently lives in Sydney. She is working on a fifth novel. Charlotte Wood also writes about food and cooking at her blog, http://www.howtoshuckanoyster.com.

Click here to go to Charlotte Wood’s author page


46. Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s writers. He is the author of over 20 books, including nonsense verse, short stories, comic novels and plays. Over the past 15 years Andy’s books have been New York Times bestsellers, won over 50 children’s choice awards, been adapted as a television cartoon series and sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Andy has had a long-standing collaboration with illustrator Terry Denton. Their latest collaboration is The 13-Storey Treehouse which was voted ABIA’s 2012 Book of the Year for Older Readers, and September 2012 sees the hugely anticipated The 26-Storey Treehouse. Meanwhile Andy and Terry are also working on a collection of inspirational writing exercises called Once Upon a Slime for English teachers and emerging writers and illustrators to be published in April 2013.

Click here to go to Andy Griffiths’ author page


45. Di Morrissey

Di Morrissey  is one of Australia’s most popular female novelists. She grew up in Pittwater, north of Sydney.

She became a journalist on London’s Fleet Street, and worked for CBS in Honolulu. After moving back to Australia, she published her first book ‘Heart of the Dreaming’ which instantly became a bestseller. Since then she has published another 20 bestsellers.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Morrissey is an environmentalist and activist. She has been a longtime supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi and has visited Burma several times where she is now helping raise funds to build a monastery school in Sagaing. Morrissey’s latest book, The Golden Land, is set in Burma.

Click here to go to Di Morrissey’s author page


44. Christina Stead

Christina Stead (1902-1983) was an Australian novelist and short-story writer acclaimed for her satirical wit and psychological penetration. She wrote 15 novels and several volumes of short stories in her lifetime.

Her first novel, Seven Poor Men of Sydney, dealt with the lives of radicals and dockworkers. Stead’s best-known novel, with the ironic title The Man Who Loved Children, is largely based on her own childhood, and was first published in 1940. It was not until the poet Randall Jarrell wrote the introduction for a new American edition in 1965 that the novel began to receive a larger audience.

Our Pick

Our Pick

In 2005, the magazine Time included The Man Who Loved Children in their “100 Best Novels from 1923–2005″, and in 2010 American author Jonathan Franzen hailed the novel as a “masterpiece” in The New York Times. Stead’s Letty Fox: Her Luck, often regarded as an equally fine novel, was officially banned in Australia for several years because it was considered amoral and salacious.

Click here to go to Christina Stead’s author page


43. Christos Tsiolkas

Christos Tsiolkas was born in Melbourne in 1965. Loaded, his first novel, was published in 1995 and later made into the award-winning film Head On. In 1996 he collaborated with Sasha Soldatow on the dialogue Jump Cuts. His novel The Jesus Man was published in 1999.

Our Pick

Our Pick

He is the author of several plays including Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?, Dead Caucasians and Non Parlo di Salo, co-written with Spiro Economopoulos.

His critically acclaimed novel Dead Europe was published in 2005 and in 2008 he reached bestselling status with the bold The Slap which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

Click here to go to Christos Tsiolkas’ author page


42. Rachael Treasure

Rachael Treasure currently lives in southern rural Tasmania with her two young children, Rosie and Charlie. Her three novels, Jillaroo, The Stockmen, and The Rouseabout, have all been bestsellers in Australia, selling more than 100,000 combined copies by the end of 2007. in 2008 Random House signed her to a 4 book contract for British release.

Our Pick

Our Pick

A former jillaroo and reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on rural affairs, she is a passionate working dog trainer and in 2007 received Tasmania’s rural woman of the year award.

Click here to go to Rachael Treasure’s author page


41. Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman grew up in England and came to Australia when he was sixteen. He was a frozen-chicken thawer, sugar-mill rolling-stock unhooker, fashion-industry trainee, student, department-store Santa, TV producer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter until he wrote his first children’s novel in 1993.

Our Pick

He is now one of the world’s best-known and loved children’s authors. Gleitzman tackles tough subjects in a funny and offbeat way . He has never set out to write “issues books” and says that his writing is as much for himself as for his readers.

Click here to go to Morris Gleitzman’s author page


Don’t forget to come back tomorrow at midday as we continue to countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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