Happy May Day, everyone, not that we celebrate it here in Australia. Still, it’s a day with some fascinating traditions so I’m at least going to mark it! And now, having done so, I will get onto our Six Degrees of Separation meme. If you don’t know how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book – and I’m sorry to say that again it’s a book I haven’t read, but it’s a good choice because it commemorates an author who died earlier this year, Beverly Cleary. The novel Kate chose is Beezus and Ramona, Cleary’s story about two sisters that went on the spawn a whole series of Ramona books.
Now, as frequently happens I considered many links for this book, and very nearly went the sisters route, but I tried to be too clever and got stuck. So, I retreated to my original plan which was to link to Martin Boyd’s A difficult young man (my review). Why, do I hear you ask? It’s simple. It was published in the same year, 1955, as Beezus and Ramona.
A difficult young man won the ALS Gold Medal in 1957. I’d like to have linked to the previous winner, Patrick White’s Tree of man but, as I read it before blogging, I’m going to go back a few more years to link to 1948’s winner, Hans Bergner’s Between sky and sea (my review). This is a rare example of a book written in Australia in the author’s original language, and translated into English for publication. I could have linked to a recent example of this rarity, Shokoofeh Azar’s The enlightenment of the greengage tree, but I used that book last month. I could have linked to a book by the translator, Judah Waten, who is also a novelist, but I haven’t reviewed him here. So …
For my next link, I’m looking at content. Hans Bergner’s novel tells the story of a group of Jewish refugees from the Nazi invasion of Poland who are passengers on an old Greek freighter looking for a new life in Australia. It’s a confronting story. Confronting in a different way, and in a different form, is Anna Rosner Blay’s hybrid biography-memoir, Sister, sister (my review). It’s the story of her Polish mother and aunt’s survival through the Holocaust and their eventual emigration to Australia.
I’m sticking with content for my next link, but am adding form as a secondary link, because Susan Varga’s Heddy and me (my review) is also a hybrid biography-memoir about surviving the Holocaust – this time a Hungarian mother and her very young daughter – and their family’s migration to Australia.
And now, I’m being completely boring, and will continue the mother-daughter hybrid biography-memoir theme to link to Nadia Wheatley’s Her mother’s daughter (my review). Nadia’s mother’s story also involves World War 2, but she enlisted as a nurse in the Australian army, so her story is very different to the previous two (and for more reasons than just this!)
There was a reason for sticking with that theme, because – and this is possibly a bit of a stretch, but I going with it – Nadia Wheatley has been involved in a project called “Going Bush” which aims to make country a focus of the school curriculum. It resulted in a book called Going Bush, which captures children’s exploration of some urban bushland along Sydney’s Wolli Creek. I haven’t read or reviewed that book, but I did recently review an Indigenous Australian written and illustrated book about country in the Sydney region, Jasmine Seymour and Leanne Mulgo Watson’s Cooee mittigar: A story on Darug songlines (my review). (Wolli Creek is in the Eora Nation, but that neighbours the Darug Nation, and their languages are related.)
So, it looks like I’ve stuck with Australian authors this month, even though we’ve travelled from our starting place in the USA, to Europe and Australia (back and forth a few times), before settling in Australia. We’ve mostly stuck to the twentieth century, although the last book is timeless. Four of my links were written by women.
Now, the usual: Have you read Beezus and Ramona? And, regardless, what would you link to?