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‘The Middle of Nowhere’ by Geraldine McCaughrean

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A story set in the Australian Outback. It tells the story of Comity, a girl named by her parents because of their belief in the ‘comity of nations’. Her parents live on a telegraph station in the middle of nowhere, a place where attitudes toward the Aborigines are brutal and harsh, where Comity’s best friend is Fred, an Aborigine boy. Then her mother dies.

I found some of this book difficult/uncomfortable to read because of the brutality that Fred has to suffer and the emotional part of me jumped up and shouted, ‘this is a book for 11+ children’. However, the more sensible part of me rationalised that children need to understand how awful man can be to man and to learn from it.

It was a very moving book and beautifully written.

‘The Fastest Boy In The World’ by Elizabeth Laird

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This is a book for children aged 9+ and although it is a short book of less than 200 pages, it manages to pack into it: running, the Olympics, Ethiopian history, poverty and a family mystery. For the age group it is an exciting story.

It tells the story of Solomon who lives in a small village in Ethiopia, miles from the nearest big town, with his parents, sisters and grandfather. Every day, he runs to school and dreams about becoming an athlete, like his heroes at the Olympics. Then, one day, his grandfather tells him that he will take him to the capital twenty miles away, that they will walk – as money is short. Once in the city, Solomon learns some surprising facts about his own history, and meets some other members of his family. But, when his grandfather is taken ill, Solomon has to run as he has never run before.

This is a pacy story that younger children will love.

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