Review Blog

Sep 11 2007

Right book right time: 500 great reads for teenagers by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen

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Allen & Unwin 2007
(Reference) In a must-have addition to school, public library and personal collections, Agnes Nieuwenhuizen has gathered together an outstanding collection of books for teenagers. Right book right time gives reviews not only of recent popular fiction but important international books and translations as well as classics and enduring books. It contains information that teenage fiction experts will relish and will also be a ready reference for access to themes and for buying to check that the best and most up-to-date teenage books are included in the collection. The introduction gives useful quotes for librarians and teachers to use about reading the right book at the right time for as Doris Lessing says "it is the key to the enjoyment of literature."

The book is organised under many familiar themes like Action, adventure and crime, This sporting life, Fantastic worlds, War & conflicts but often contains additional information and lists within these topics. An example in the action theme is a list of Matthew Reilly's favourite books, which would make a great display in a library. A list of books published for adults but perfect for teens can be found in This sporting life.

Some of the themes that are tackled are ones which secondary school teachers, librarians and public librarians will find particularly useful. These include topics such as Extreme and edgy which includes issues like bullying and suicide. The section, In praise of pink books, by Lili Wilkinson examines books for girls that explore personal relationships and are often funny and wise. The magic of comics and graphic novels gives a useful list for those unfamiliar with this genre. My only criticism is that as interesting as the chapter headings are, finding the additional lists within the sections was difficult. I knew I had read a list called Gender benders, which looked at gay issues and single parent fathers and I did retrieve it through the extensive index of authors and titles, by knowing that the author David Levithan was almost sure to be on it.

Agnes has also included some non fiction and films within the themes. Not such ordinary lives includes autobiographies and biographies as well as real life adventure stories. There are film lists for Outside the Square and Major Australian war movies.

This is a great book for dipping into, reading reviews, finding new titles and authors and getting a feel for teenage fiction.
Pat Pledger

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