Paper Clips, an anthology of short stories about coming of age in Australia, edited by Yasar Duyal
Cambridge University Press, 2013. ISBN 9781107614208.
(Age: 11+) Short Stories, Coming of age. Stories by kids written for kids in middle school is a request I keep hearing, so a book of short stories by Australian youth should be just the ticket. This compilation of stories from kids mainly in private schools sorted into groups such as Adaptation, Childhood, Identity, Love and a Sunburnt Country, with lengthy discussion notes at the end for teachers to use in class could be useful as a text.
Some of the stories are wondrous, inviting, playful and inventive, but many read like lectures or essays on the topic, 'what does it mean to be Australian', with several of the short stories even starting with that phrase.
Standouts include Stories of our suitcase by Karen Huong, Evacuation by Ryan Harris, My own little Ponting by Milan Kantor, Home by Catriona Cowie, It will all be worth it by Annie Rocasek, and Darkness by Hugh Offor. These seemed to have original ideas, were told from experience and used humour.
The layout and design of the book does not invite the reader into the stories, it is so obviously a class text, that teachers may choose this for their class. Other books of short stories which have been recently published include, Hatched: Celebrating 20 years of the Tim Winton Award for young writers (Fremantle Press, 2013), Short and scary, a whole lot of creepy stories and other chilling stuff, edited by Karen Tayleur (black dog books, 2010) Trust Me Too, edited by Paul Collins (Ford St, 2012) and its prequel,Trust Me edited by Pail Collins (Ford St, 2011), Things a map won't show You, stories from Australia and Beyond, edited by Susan La Marca and Pam McIntyre (Penguin, 2012). For a teacher using short stories in the classroom, then a selection of those above including the recent Paper Clips could be advantageous, giving the teacher and student a range of stories to choose from.