Tyenna by Julie Hunt and Terry Whitebeach

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Tye (short for Tyenna) is visiting her grandparents in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. She has two mums, her biological mum is a somewhat distracted and forgetful actress and fortunately her other mother is measured and calm, but it is with her grandparents that she feels the most settled and connected to the environment she loves and cares for. Coming to Tasmania gives her a chance to breathe and to reconnect to her Tasmanian friend, Lily. Unfortunately, her arrival in Tasmania coincides with the fire season and the risks grow with each hour of her stay.  When lightning sparks an inferno in the bush, Tye must do all she can to support her grandparents, the locals and firefighters, and stay safe. But she is also keeping a secret about a runaway boy who is potentially in harm’s way. Evacuation is eventually the only option, but can she leave the boy, and the old family friend who is struggling with memory loss, or will she put her own life at risk in making a difference?

This story places the reader in the centre of the bushfire disaster, with the pressures of locals, firefighters and their support teams, Parks and Wildlife carers and family members. The tensions are real and the drama is revealing of the dangers of fire. With some references to Aboriginal practices of land preservation with cold burn techniques, this book also highlights some possible risk reduction strategies, but is not condemnatory of those who love and care for the environment. There are animal stories scattered through the human dramas and conservation issues and this is an inspiring story of survival. Teacher's notes and series website are available from the publisher.

Themes: Bushfires, Environmental conservation, Climate change, Survival, Friendship, Family (LGBTIQ minor characters).

Carolyn Hull