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Sunday, April 08, 2018

A To Z Blogging Challenge 2018: H Is For Steven Herrick!

Today’s fabulous Aussie children’s and YA author is  performance poet Steven Herrick! He has been shortlisted several times for a CBCA award. 

Steven Herrick does verse novels. Some of his more recent books are in prose, but the verse ones are much better known - and generally better, in my opinion. He also performs his poetry in schools. I recall his visit to my school once, years ago, when he did a poem using the names of students in the audience. Of course, it was pre-prepared but I bet the kids were thrilled.

His verse novel The Simple Gift was the only one my Year 11 students didn’t complain about - and believe me, they complained loudly and bitterly about everything else we had to read that year! Some time later, he kindly agreed to an interview by some of my younger students who had read it for Literature Circles, published on this blog, here. It is a YA novel, but my twelve and thirteen year old readers also enjoyed it. Actually, they loved it!

His stories for teens are gentle and sweet. The Simple Gift is a sweet story about the friendship between a boy, Billy, who has run away from home, and an older man, Old Bill, who has lost his family. They live in outdated train carriages somewhere in regional Victoria(the place is called Bendarat, a cross between Bendigo and Ballarat) and find temporary fruit picking work to keep them going. Billy finds a lovely, kindhearted girlfriend while there, a girl working evenings at MacDonald’s. The thing about verse novels is that you can do your story from different viewpoints and it works, in a way it might not in prose books. And usually, reluctant readers can handle them. That’s important for us teachers and librarians! 

The first of his books I read was Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair. The boy is mourning a lost mother and speaking to her ghost, as well as experiencing first love. His father, too, is mourning. Both get their viewpoint poems. Another sweet and gentle story. 

And in case you think sweet and gentle is all he can do, another verse book, Cold Skin, is a murder mystery set in a small town - all in verse! 

There is plenty for younger children. Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend is a children’s verse novel, very funny! 

 Bleakboy And Hunter Stand Out In The Rain is a prose novel that keeps his method of showing different characters’ viewpoints from the verse novels. It involves arriving vintage at a new school, working to save the whales and finding out that the school bully has his own problems to cope with. 

For adults, there are now some Steven Herrick travelogues on Amazon, possibly self published. They sound like fun, but I don’t know if they are in verse!  

His web site is here. It has, a o g the rest, links for purchasing his books and a Youtube video of him performing. 

You can buy his books at all the usual online sites: 

And yes, they are available outside of Australia, in print and ebook. Or try your local good bookshop or library!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - he sounds like he's developed a really clever style for his audience - must be fun to read too ... I'll keep him in mind - thanks for highlighting his books - poetry, verse et al ... cheers Hilary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Hilary! Yes, it’s all part of being a performance poet. And is very enjoyable to read, yes!

Deepa said...

I have read Bleak boy and the hunter...thats it

Tongue Twister for H

Sue Bursztynski said...

Then you have a treat in store, Bleak Boy is good, but not really typical of his work.

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

A murder mystery in verse - heavens, that sounds amazing.
Tasha's Thinkings - Movie Monsters

Sue Bursztynski said...

It’s amazing what you can do in verse, isn’t it?

Anonymous said...

Quite the all-rounder, in style, content and presentation. Interesting.

A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Indeed, very much an all-rounder!

AJ Blythe said...

I love finding other Aussie A-Zers. And your H topic is perfect as I have two high school aged Barbarians who are avid bookworms - another author to add to the list.

Visiting from AJ Blythe

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi, AJ, and welcome to my blog! If you live in Oz your kids shouldn’t have much trouble finding Steven Herrick’s books in their school library. For one thing, he keeps being shortlisted for the CBCA Awards. Any library teacher worth her salt will be buying them. In fact, maybe they know about him already.

AJ Blythe said...

I've not seen the books in the house, or heard them mention him, but I will be asking in the morning =) I'm making a list of authors to look for in the local library for school holidays which start at the end of the week.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Ah, holiday reading! I live in Melbourne where the holidays are nearly over. Hope your kids enjoy! By the way, I have visited your blog, and see you’re doing a crime-themed A to Z, just what I enjoy, so have subscribed to your blog. I did an unofficial A to Z about Aussie crime the other year, to go with my children’s book on the subject.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Never heard of a verse novel before. How interesting!

The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

Sue Bursztynski said...

I’ve seen plenty, but this guy does them best!