All the Green Year by Don Charlwood
Text Classics, 2012. ISBN 9781922079428.
(Age: Junior - mid secondary) All the Green Year by Don Charlwood, along with Sydney Bridge Upside Down by David Ballantyne are two of the titles from the Text Classics series for adults which will find a YA readership, particularly in English classrooms. All the Green Year was studied by 13 to 15 year olds for two decades. It may not generate quite as much interest in the twenty-first century but its episodic structure makes it ideal for close study of one or more of the events in protagonist, Charlie's adolescence.
The book is set in 1929 in a fictionalised small town on Port Phillip Bay on Melbourne's fringe. The waterside setting and early Depression era atmosphere and tone resemble The December Boys by Michael Noonan. The boys in All the Green Year are not visiting orphans, however. Seemingly reared as much by place as their parents, their relationships with fathers and men are fraught; beatings are commonplace and sternness easily escalates into violence. Charlie and, particularly, Johnno are the targets of teacher, Mr Moloney's have to flee in Charlie's boat from the repercussions. The gripping last quarter of the novel (beginning on page 203) could even be read as a novella.
As the Introduction states, this story is an evocation of Australian childhood and an exploration of boyhood, especially of male friendship. It is also important because of its insight into a slice of Australia that should not be forgotten. Teacher Notes are available.