About Me

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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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Josepha and the Vu by Tulia Thompson

Josepha and the Vu
(Huia Publishers, 2007)
Josepha is the youngest of four boys. Overweight and unremarkable, he doesn't have his sibling's  sporting prowess. He is bullied at school by Jack Bucksworth who has stolen a sacred tabua from Josepha's house. When Josepha is determined to get the tabua back, bad things start happening and Josepha finds himself catching glimpses of supernatural beings. With the help of his friend Ming, Josepha confronts Jack on a school excursion with devastating consequences.
   The first chapter of this book was confusing as many characters were introduced quickly. But after a few chapters the characters became more solid and their relationships more obvious. The story really took off when Josepha left his home late at night to spy on the bully Jack.
   I enjoyed this book and found it suitable for late primary/early secondary school readers. It has a lot of action, an interesting plot and Josepha is an endearing character.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Trash by Andy Mulligan

In continuing on with a Philippino theme I have just finished Trash by Andy Mulligan. Although it doesn't mention where it's set it's clear by all the latino names and the reference to Smoky Mountain that this story is about children working in a Philippines rubbish dump. Two boys find a pouch containing some money, a map and a key. When the police come looking for the pouch, the action revs up a gear. Young Raph and Gardo enlist the help of street-wise 'Rat' to help them evade the corrupt policemen and find out more about their mysterious find.
Trash (David Fickling Books, 2010)
   The story moves along quickly and the reader can't help being drawn to the plight of these poor kids who literally have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
   Mulligan uses different viewpoints for each chapter which start simply with 'Rat here...' or 'Gardo now...'. It's an effective startegy as it means the reader doesn't have to grapple with working out who is telling the tale four sentences into the paragraph.
   I enjoyed this book as it has lots of action, good characterisation and themes of corruption, power and personal ethics are strong throughout. The book keeps asking the reader "When is it OK to steal?". Trash is published by David Fickling Books and it is suitable for middle grade readers through to older students.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shadows Under the Sea by Sally Grindley

Sally Grindley obviously likes writing about far-away places and this book is no different. Set in the Philippines, Shadows Under the Sea is about a young boy called Joe who travels with his family to study seahorses. Whilst staying on one of the outer islands Joe discovers evidence of a criminal gang who threaten the reef with their activities. Joe and his friend Dario end up trying to expose the gang and that's when their lives are in danger.

Shadows Under the Sea
(Bloomsbury, 2012)
   Grindley sets the scene well, depicting the steamy tropical shores and colourful reef that the family explore in some detail. Although Grindley can write powerfully, I do feel this is not her best work. The plot seems to be a device to draw attention to environmental issues with very little conflict until half way through the story. Perhaps this is because the Zoological Society of London helped her to write the book.
   Younger emerging readers with an interest in animals and the environment may not notice the didactic overtones, and simply enjoy the story as an exotic adventure. The book is published by Bloomsbury.