An Ode to A Tome: Tales from the Inner City, Barracuda and The Trauma Cleaner

We all have those books. The ‘I fell asleep reading you’, ‘I dropped you in the bath’, ‘I covered you in crumbs as I devoured you over lunch’ – the un-put-downables that became like instant best friends or toxic lovers. To celebrate the powerful ways in which words can rouse us, we’re asking our favourite book bloggers to pen An Ode to A Tome, love letters to three books as penned by the authors and artists appearing in this year’s program.

This week, Little Waller shares her heartfelt gratitude to the books she loves best: Tales from the Inner City by illustrator Shaun TanBarracuda by author and playwright Christos Tsiolkas and The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein.

To my dearest top three,

It is you I have chosen. From a long list of fellow books swarming with originality and intrigue, it is you who has stolen my heart. From your thought-provoking characters and effortless writing styles to your powerful themes and exquisite illustrations, each one of you has masterfully etched a story into my mind that has stayed with me long after I turned your final page. Top three, you have stirred my emotions and challenged my thinking. It is only fitting that I should do my best to express my deepest gratitude for you.

Tales from the Inner City, Shaun Tan

Where do I begin? It truly is a rarity to find such vibrant, distinctive and evocative illustrations as the ones so beautifully blanketing your glossy pages. Gracefully interwoven among’st your captivating poetry and intelligent prose, I’m in awe of your ability to seamlessly merge visual and written mediums to craft poignant stories exploring the unique relationship between animals and humans. From frogs in company boardrooms and bears in the legal system to snails eloping on city streets, your surreal tales not only invite me to ponder my co-existence with animal life, but also enrich my understanding of my complex self by utilising these intriguing creatures as a powerful device to reflect the inherent emotions, instincts and actions of humankind.

Tales of the Inner City, it’s books like you that will stand the test of time! Your wondrous themes hold a peculiar charm and wit that are simply unforgettable. You have effortlessly humbled my superior human thinking and eloquently shown that at our core: humans really are animals. It’s because of your words, I have acquired a more grounded outlook and harmonious approach to life. You have invaluably transformed my mindset – and for that, I’m forever indebted to you!

Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas

Beloved Barracuda, I must confess: had someone told me I’d fall for a book teeming with confronting topics and uncomfortable scenes before I dove into your brilliant pages, I would’ve undeniably had my reservations. But alas, it has been many years since we first met, and I’m still utterly spellbound by your heart-wrenching story of 14-year-old Daniel Kelly, the success hungry champion swimmer whose talents tragically failed him.

You see Barracuda, although I’ve always found your irresistible lure somewhat mysterious, I’m strangely captivated by your knack for utilising complex characters and a punchy writing voice to convey purposeful themes spanning family, identity and class to emotional repression, disillusionment and failure. There is no denying your gutsy exploration of sensitive issues isn’t impressive. You should be commended for the exquisite way your story illuminates the profoundly destructive power of shame – a message both frightful and enlightening that makes you all the more fascinating. In a world preoccupied with prestige, you have prompted me to question what it truly means to be a good person and more importantly, what it takes to become one. A refreshing wakeup call and fitting testament to your outstanding values – you really are a keeper!

The Trauma Cleaner, Sarah Krasnostein

Ah, The Trauma Cleaner. You’re a special one. In fact, I distinctly remember what first endeared me to you. You mustn’t take offence, but at first glance, I thought you’d be a one-trick pony. I was expecting your story to exclusively explore the wonders and woes of a woman running a trauma cleaning business – tidying the horrific aftermath of crime scenes, drug labs and hoarders’ homes. And whilst you described these experiences – sometimes so vividly I too felt as though I was engulfed in a world of filth and peril – you unexpectedly plunged into a much deeper story; one about Sandra, an extraordinary woman whose harrowing personal life was perhaps more traumatic than the horrors she cleaned.

From beginnings as an unwanted child, you exposed Sandra’s tumultuous background and invited me to witness the struggles faced by a woman navigating a life of abuse, prostitution, marital breakdown, gender transitioning and estrangement from her children. Your haunting pages have left me with a bruised heart, empty tissue box and renewed life perspective. How foolish of me to have judged you by your cover. Thank you for being everything I thought you weren’t. I’m honored to have read your touching words.

Forever and always,


Emily Waller is a book blogger, writer and avid reader from Perth, Western Australia. Since launching her book blog on Instagram in 2017, Emily has worked with a number of authors, publishers and companies to bring to life a vast array of bookish projects. Intrigued by the art of storytelling from a young age, Emily is also a passionate creative writer who spends the majority of her time pretending to listen to you whilst crafting fictional worlds in her head. She is currently working on her debut novel. You can follow Emily’s book blog on Instagram.