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 They live in outdated train carriages somewhere in regional Victoria(the place is called Bendarat, a cross between Bendigo and Ballarat) and find temporary fruit picking work to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!