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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A To Z Blogging Challenge: O is for Wendy Orr

Today's Aussie children's writer is the wonderful Wendy Orr!

Okay, Wendy Orr is Canadian. However, she has lived here for a very long time, since she was twenty-one, and long enough to have spent twenty years raising dairy cattle with her husband here, so I’m going to consider her an Aussie. 

Wendy Orr has written a lot of books for children, but is probably best known for her middle grade Nim novels, two of which have been made into Hollywood movies. 

In Nim’s Island, the heroine is a girl who lives on a peaceful island with her scientist father and some animal friends, using a satellite dish for her internet connection. When her father disappears on his boat, Nim must get help. She contacts her friend Alex Rover, a travel writer. In the next book, Nim At Sea, the problems begin with a tourist ship... The two films were not quite like the books,  but were good fun anyway. The travel writer, played by Jodie Foster,  became the author of Indiana Jones-style adventures, in which the hero was played by the same actor who played as Nim’s father. And she was agoraphobic, so travelling to help Nim was terrifying to her. 

Read the books or watch the films - you’ll enjoy both. Or buy them for your middle grade children. They will certainly enjoy them! 

I remember finding the Nim books quite a change from her first book, a YA novel called Peeling The Onion, which was published in 1996. I think I read that when it came out because it was on the CBCA shortlist in the Older Readers category. It was about a girl who had been an athlete and found herself badly crippled after an accident, learning to deal with the fact that she would never walk again, let alone compete in athletics. I liked Peeling The Onion, but have liked her later books better. However, I see it has won or been shortlisted for quite a few awards. 

And just as I was getting used to her quirky stuff, she went and wrote Dragonfly Song, a beautiful novel set in the Minoan era, in which a girl who is suffering from elective mutism becomes a bull dancer in Crete. It moves between prose and verse, strange but beautiful anyway. I won’t go into too much detail now, because I have interviewed the author. Check it out here

However, it was an Honour Book in the CBCA shortlist(Younger Readers) and won the Prime Minister’s Award for Literature, plus being shortlisted for several other awards - deservedly so. 

I’ve only recently discovered something else while rereading Trust Me Too!, a Ford Street anthology in which I too had a story: there was a story in it, “The Snake Singer”, which must have been the basis for this one. It has a heroine, Aysha ,who, like Aissa of Dragonfly Song, doesn’t realise she can “sing” snakes until she has to do it. There are other bits of this story that make it feel like a basic outline for the novel. 

Wendy Orr returns to the Minoan era - post Thera explosion - in her next book, Swallow’s Dance, but it won’t be out till June, dammit! 

I’m keeping an eye out for it - what about you? 


Seema Misra said...

I have hardly any YA novels and all the books you have described are new to me! I like the sound of the Nim series and Dragonfly Song book. Loved the book covers :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - I'll have to check out her books at the library - they sound interesting and I'm sure the library will have them - as she was/is Canadian ... even though living down under - cheers Hilary

Jui said...

I would love to read Nim's stories. Thank you for sharing. :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Seema, Jui, hope you get to read the books and enjoy them as much as I do.

Hilary, her books are published in 27 countries - I am sure Canada will be one of thrm.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

OMG THANK YOU! The King Must Die has been one of my favorite books for a long, long time. I am so happy you mentioned these other Minoan novels! I'm definitely buying both of them asap!!! :)

The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

Sue Bursztynski said...

I love The King Must Die too, I’ve read it many times. Just be aware that Wendy Orr’s bull dancers work differently from Mary Renault’s - and Wendy Orr knows a LOT about bulls after 20 years raising cattle! You mY have to wait a while for the second book, which is out in June, but yo7 shouldn have trouble getting Dragonfly Song.

Shalzmojo said...

I am salivating yet again; this author sounds really yummy and I need to get my hands on her books esp since I loved the movie Nim's Island. Havent seen the other one; actually didnt even know there were two of them. I will look up the Dragonfly song for now. Wish me luck!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Her books are available in 27 countries, so you should be able to get it quite easily. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.