About Me

My photo
Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Monday, May 28, 2012

One Small Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch

Macquarie Island lies to the south of New Zealand on route to the antarctic. It is bitterly cold, "a speck of green in a vast, windswept sea...". One Small Island is a beautiful picture book that documents the ancient geology and modern history of this remote island. A major theme is the damage inflicted to the island's fragile ecology by humans. First the sealers killed thousands of seals and brought introduced animals to the island. The beautiful Macquarie Island parakeet was then wiped out by introduced predators.
One Small Island (Viking, 2011)
The introduced animals included cats, dogs, rats wekas and rabbits. Over time these feral creatures destroyed the native environment and the rabbits in particular reached plague proportions. This book shows how scientists are currently trying to eradicate the rabbit and restore some of the island's habitat for sea birds and mammals.
   This is a delightful and informative picture book. The illustrations are a mixture of realistic drawings, scientific diagrams, maps  and sketches. The result is surprisingly pleasing. One Small Island is an absorbing book which I highly recommend.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy

Shadow of the Boyd
(Harper Collins, 2010)
Long ago I'd heard a friend tell the tale of a young cabin boy who had survived a massacre in New Zealand in the early 1800s, along with a woman and two small girls. Shadow of the Boyd is the retelling of this true story, the terrifying experience of fifteen-year-old Thomas Davidson. Davidson's story is told partly as a straight narrative and partly from diary entries which jolt his memories further, revealing details of his time on the brigantine Boyd.
   Menefy took much of her information from old shipping documents but had to rely on imagination to fill in most of the details. The result is an engaging read but a brutal one. Menefy did well to describe the massacre simply but without too much gore. The way the survivors lived with the Maori people after the massacre was fascinating.
   This is a good read for those interested in New Zealand history.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Island by Armin Greder

The Island (Allen & Unwin, 2007)
This picture book is both disturbing and beautiful. It has one many awards in Europe and was shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia awards a few years back.
   The Island tells the story of a stranger washed up on the beach in a raft. The islanders are suspicious of the stranger and eventually their fears turn to outright hostility. The illustrations are roughly drawn in dark shades but their impact is huge. Some of them reminded me of Munch's famous painting 'The Scream'. Others were very like Van Gogh's early works of farmers in the fields or sitting at the table for an evening meal. The contrast between the well-fed islanders and the naked thin stranger says a lot about wealth distribution, human rights and discrimination. A thought provoking book for older children.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pacific Poets #2 Konai Helu Thaman

Dr Konai Helu Thaman
Poetry is one section of the PSSC English Exam which students can prepare for easily as long as they memorise at least four poems. Tongan academic Dr Konai Helu Thaman is one poet who has several collections of poems to choose from. An old favourite of mine is You, the Choice of my Parents which was first published in 1974. "Island Fire" is a short poem of only 16 lines from this collection. It is a great one to memorise for the exams because it's so short and it can be compared with other poems around such themes as Western education or the generation gap. Konai Helu Thaman's style is rich in imagery as in the lines "...the slow turning of/ Foreign text book pages" and her use of metaphor is also strong considering she has very few lines to work with in this compact piece.
Other excellent poems from this collection include "You, the Choice of my Parents" and "Reality".