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Connecting Gippsland through positive storytelling.


Lose yourself.

Get ready for some exciting summer reading with these recommended books for all ages

Feb 5, 2023

Words: Andrea Kinsmith

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Let’s get lost in some great tales of adventure this summer.

The Other Side of the Sky
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
(For teen or young adult)

I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I picked it up recently because I thought some of the concepts in it sounded interesting and I wasn’t reading anything else at the time.

I remember when Mark read The Illuminae Files, also by Australian author Amie Kaufman, that it took him a while to get into the story, but once he did, he was telling me about how clever the writing was and how it subtly drew you into the mystery.

I think The Other Side of the Sky might be similar. The story might not grab you immediately, but as you keep reading you realise that somewhere along the way you’ve become invested in the plight of the characters and are interested to see how the plot evolves.

But what really captured my interest in this story was two underlying themes.

1. How the tales of history evolve and change over time, becoming a mixture of truth and myths developed through fear.

2. The contrast between the Skylands, which are all technical, mechanical and clinical, with food, water, shelter and education but not much of a life; and the ‘earth’ lands, which are full of struggles, spirits, history, danger and magic.

As these two themes pop up throughout the narrative, providing real food for thought, the story takes on that extra little bit of depth that made me interested in picking up the second book, Beyond the End of the World.

The Book of Mistakes
by Corinna Luyken
(Picture book for ages 5+ years)

We love this picture book! The illustrations are gorgeous pen and ink, with watercolour washes and a touch of pencil.

Told from the point of view of an artist, we follow them as they correct mistakes, incorporate accidental splotches and change things that didn’t quite work out.

These adjustments transform the artwork in quirky and unexpected ways, taking both the artist and the readers through a creative journey of ups and downs. Told with lyrical text, this story shows readers that even the biggest ‘mistakes’ can be the source of the brightest ideas and – that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress: our adventures and trials making us who we are.

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The Butterfly Collector
by Tea Cooper (Adult fiction)

The next book in the to-be-read pile is the new story by Australian author Tea Cooper.

Apparently it’s a twisty historical novel connecting the stories of one lady, an artist from 1868, who discovers a unique butterfly in Australia; and another lady, a journalist from 1922, who investigates the butterfly story and comes up with a whole lot more.

It sounds unique, interesting and includes butterflies in the story – who doesn’t love butterflies?!

Happy summer reading!

Waiting for the Storks
by Katrina Nannestad
(Junior fiction for ages 8–14+ years)

If you haven’t already read Australian author Katrina Nannestad’s previous two books, We Are Wolves and Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief, then we highly recommend those also.

We Are Wolves is about three children from East Prussia who, while running away from Russian soldiers, lose their family and find themselves wandering around in forests or from empty house to empty house, trying to survive and stay together as best they can.

Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief is about a Russian boy orphaned when German soldiers overran his village and destroyed his family. As a small boy he was able to run away into the forest, but in order to survive he needed to be taken in by the Russian army. This story is actually based on what is known about the youngest soldier in WW2, Sergei Aleshkov, who was only six years old at the time.

Katrina’s newest book, Waiting for the Storks, continues the theme by telling the story of the Polish children who were kidnapped and placed into a rigorous German program to take away their names, their language and their Polish heritage to make them ‘good’ German children.

All three of these stories are remarkable. They don’t dismiss the horrors of war, but they are written like an adventure and are therefore very readable and relatable. We do learn some history and about other cultures through these stories, but they are also worth reading because they are just really, really good stories.

Our dear friends at the Reader’s Emporium ( have been supporting Gippslandia since #1. Why don’t you show them some love? Head to Shop 12 Seymour Arcade, Traralgon from 10am.

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