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, Carpe Librum shares her heartfelt gratitude to the books she loves best: Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey by picture book author Alison Lester, The Everlasting Sunday by debut novelist Robert Lukins and The Nowhere Child by crime writer Christian White.
Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey, Alison Lester
Before I met you, Noni the Pony was just one of many Australian book characters on the periphery of my child-free life in the city. When I read Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey with my little nephew, the character came alive and somewhere between the pages Noni became a dear friend. Her adventures with her friends are entertaining whilst managing to educate readers about the habitat and activities of other Australian animals.
I was amazed to learn your author Alison Lester hailed not far from where I grew up, and I recognised the district in her illustrations. Now when I visit my nephew, I know we’re in Noni the Pony territory and look forward to our adventures together. This story gave me cause to smile and a connection with my nephew that I will always treasure. Thank you for making it all possible.
The Everlasting Sunday, Robert Lukins
You are a cold book. Set in winter, your snowy English landscape and chilly scenes made me shiver and snuggle down into my doona as I turned your pages. The swag of awards and citations did make me a little wary of you, but your skilled prose and boarding school setting at Goodwin Manor quickly put me at ease.
I worried for Radford as he was admitted to Goodwin Manor and unfortunately my curiosity surrounding what he did to deserve the posting was never satisfied. I was prepared and ready for a fierce bootcamp style campus novel for delinquents and troublemakers, or an inspiring novel about young boys reminiscent of Dead Poet’s Society. But you were neither.
You were just like the murmuration of starlings observed by our main character Radford. You were unpredictable, evocative and brief and you left me wanting to know so much more about you. Thank you for delivering the unexpected and highlighting just how many expectations and previously conceived ideas I had when I picked you up.
The Nowhere Child, Christian White
What an exciting debut you are. Your premise hooked me from the beginning. Kim is a photographer in Melbourne when a mysterious man approaches her with an unlikely story. The man is convinced Kim is actually Sammy Went; a young girl who was abducted from her home in Kentucky 28 years ago. We’re all haunted by tragic cases of missing children like Madeleine McCann and William Tyrrell and this was an opportunity to explore what might happen if a missing child was tracked down in early adulthood and the truth about their identity foisted upon them.
In Kim’s case, she decides to embark on a personal journey to get to the bottom of the mystery and I was with her every step of the way. Despite her mother having passed away four years previous, Kim travels to Kentucky in an effort to get to the truth. Cutting through the small town secrets, I wasn’t expecting to be taken into the heart of a Pentecostal church practicing the art of snake handling, that’s for sure. It was definitely a surprise and made you unique amongst the shelves of other bestselling thriller novels.
I enjoyed your dual timelines, your themes of family, identity, faith, love and memory and of course the twist at the end.
Tracey Allen is a Melbourne based book blogger and has been reviewing books on her blog Carpe Librum since 2005. Like most bookworms, she reads across a variety of genres and is especially enjoying historical fiction and true crime this year. She supports Australian authors wherever possible, and participates in the Australian Women Writers Challenge and Aussie Author reading challenges every year. Follow Carpe Librum on Twitter, Instagram and GoodReads.