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Belief alone won’t beat All Blacks

Pass test ... the Wallabies captain's run at ANZ Stadium yesterday.THE Wallabies are buoyant after repeatedly peaking at the right time during the Wales Test series, but know they are still well short of what is required to be confident of beating the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium tonight.
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Wallabies captain David Pocock yesterday called on his teammates to lift their game and make full use of home-ground advantage.

The Australian Rugby Union has certainly applied the pressure on the Wallabies by focusing its marketing campaign around how it has been a barren decade since they last won the Bledisloe Cup, and that the task may be easier as they are playing two of the three Tests at home.

No wonder Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was provoked into commenting over whether it had been too long since the team had shown off the cup. ''Clearly it's time,'' Deans said.

At least the Wallabies head into the series with some of the attributes needed for trans-Tasman success. After the blip against Scotland in Newcastle, the Wallabies rebounded brilliantly against Wales, one of the best northern hemisphere teams to tour Australia in decades, winning the series 3-0. What was most encouraging was the team's ability to play at their best near the end of each Test and withstand pressure, showing the squad's level of conditioning had improved markedly.

The sign of a good side is that they consistently win the tight ones, and several close victories had the desired effect of boosting the Wallabies' spirits.

''We took confidence out of that series,'' Pocock said. ''As a team you want to win those arm-wrestles right at the end. In these Tests, we stayed in the contest and found a way to win.

''But the Rugby Championship is going to be a totally different beast, and we know those performances against Wales won't be anywhere near good enough.

''We just have to do everything better, and in particular we know we have to start better against the All Blacks. Our general intensity has to go up, because New Zealand tend to take their opportunities. Wales, in the first and second Tests, created a lot of opportunities and didn't take them. But the All Blacks do.''

As importantly, Pocock knows he will play a critical role in the outcome of this Test. The breakdown battle will be decisive, and with the All Blacks showing during the Ireland Test series that their intensity at the tackle is of the highest standard, Pocock's openside breakaway work will be important in providing a handbrake. As important will be how new Wallabies blindside breakaway Dave Dennis, and No.8 Scott Higginbotham, combine with Pocock.

But Deans also argued it is imperative Pocock gets a fair deal. The coach was irritated during the Wales series that Pocock was often held back by opponents after the breakdown so that he had no involvement in the next few phases. Deans called on the touch judges to properly adjudicate that area, as he believes the All Blacks, knowing how pivotal Pocock is to the Wallabies' plans, will try similar tactics.

''It's not so much at the breakdown, but what's happening long after the breakdown is over,'' Deans said. ''The ball is gone, the game is carrying on and players are being denied the ability to participate. It's the touch judges' responsibility because the referee, invariably, is watching the game, which is somewhere else.''

But one area where Deans is forever evasive revolves around his new opposing coach Steve Hansen. As expected, Hansen, in his first Bledisloe Cup battle as head All Blacks coach, has tried to provoke his old Canterbury playing and coaching partner with old-fashioned sledging.

The All Blacks coach this week had a dig at the Wallabies forward pack, and also suggested Deans made a succession of selection bungles during last year's World Cup. The inference was Deans no longer had confidence in World Cup five-eighth Quade Cooper, who has not been picked for this Test.

Asked about the comments yesterday, Deans laughed and said: ''Steve is a very good fisherman. He loves fishing.''

Hansen will keep tossing the burley in Deans's direction during the season. But the ever cautious Australian coach will keep spitting out those smelly bite-sized pieces of pilchard. He has been around too long to attack low-grade bait.

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Sitting pretty for the run home

Illustration: Jim PavlidisFINAL WORD
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THE Tigers, in my observation, have more supporters who go to the footy dressed up and in costume than any other club.

Last Sunday, as the Olympics were closing and the Brits were preparing to put on a show to dazzle the world, Richmond was playing the Bulldogs at the MCG.

The Tiger Army, full of ribald chants, was about a dozen rows behind us. Around us were middle-aged women in black and yellow outfits that made them look like semi-inflated wasps and the odd young man in a head-to-toe Tiger suit. In front of us were two demure young Asian women, both dressed in black, one wearing a head scarf which suggested she was a Muslim.

At half-time, unable to contain my curiosity, I leant forward and asked the young women where they were from. They were international students from Malaysia. Someone had given them free tickets to the match. They had cardboard sheets with autographed photos of all the Richmond players.

''The game,'' I told them, ''is crazy, but beautiful.''

They nodded and smiled as if to say that was as they had found it. The Tigers gave the Dogs a thumping. The Dogs played some pretty football but lacked the big, capable players who hold a football team together the way buttons hold a cardigan. It's hard for me to look at the Tigers and think they shouldn't have done better in 2012 but I think about Carlton, too. It's a bias I have towards teams with recognisably individual talent as opposed to teams like Sydney and North Melbourne that have a near-uniform identity.

In the case of the Tigers, I like watching Dustin Martin play.

He's the football equivalent of a four-wheel-drive with a tray full of work equipment and red dust on its sides.

He's quick, strong, reads the play and kicks the ball long. He slaughtered the Dogs. And I like watching Trent Cotchin play. A lot of people do - he's young and good-looking, a one-touch player with a quicksilver mind who is deceptively slow in his movements so that it constantly seems like he is performing tricks or acts of football magic.

A Brownlow for Cotchin would be like an Olympic gold for Tigerland and be received by the Tiger Army with that degree of reverence.

Another team I like watching is West Coast. Mick Malthouse was a mighty coach but I would argue that John Worsfold's Eagles teams have been better to watch than Malthouse's Eagles even though Malthouse's sides had more talent. The Eagles teams of the early 1990s were strewn with great names - Matera, Jakovich, Kemp, Lewis, Mainwaring, McKenna - but the captain of that formidable unit was John ''Woosha'' Worsfold.

A pharmacist by trade, he played with a lot of nous and had a small boy's smile when interviewed after games. On the field, if he got the chance, he'd hit you like a semi-trailer and leave you in a trance. Malthouse's teams were solid as cement. Woosha's teams, for one reason or another, have been more fragile but, again this year, the Eagles are in the finals mix.

The big controversy in Perth this week concerned Geelong coach Chris Scott saying the West Coast crowd was the worst in Australia. This followed Geelong's Tom Hawkins being booed by a small section of the Perth crowd last weekend as he was being carried off senseless.

Seeking to further plumb the West Coast psyche, I found a website for West Coast supporters.

The post I read alleged the Eagles were cheated of the 2005 premiership through the systematic intimidation of the umpires during the course of that season by Sydney coach Paul Roos. It included this view of Worsfold: ''One of the things I most like and respect about Worsfold is that he keeps his trap shut when things don't go our way - he simply has far too much class and fortitude to go all crying to the media when things go wrong.''

It made me realise something I had either forgotten or not properly processed: Woosha is a hero in the West. These are the passions beginning to stir as we close on September and the finals.

Sydney and Adelaide, sitting one and two on the ladder, are looking at home finals, but Malthouse said this week they aren't the two best teams in the competition which, if true, is a serious indictment of the AFL roster. Beneath Sydney and Adelaide sit Hawthorn, Collingwood and Geelong.

Collingwood was built during the terrible depression of the 1890s on the principle that no individual is bigger than the club. As the suspension of Dane Swan showed, Collingwood is still Collingwood. The Pies are a tough, attractive team but Hawthorn played the best footy I've seen this year when it defeated Collingwood in round 17.

Geelong, meanwhile, is defiant, like Nellie Melba being told the time has come to leave the stage when she can see further great performances ahead for herself.

I have no idea who will win. I don't know anyone who does - it's that sort of year. All I know is that on the last Saturday in September, the season will have a crazy but beautiful climax. People around Australia, and around the world, some in costumes and some with painted faces, will be gathered in groups, shouting at televisions.

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Old boys in awe of classy North

GREG Miller was one of the key architects of North Melbourne's dominance through the 1990s. As chief recruiter and later general manager, he helped build a side that featured in seven preliminary finals and claimed two premierships.
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Those North teams, led by the likes of Wayne Carey, Glenn Archer and Anthony Stevens, boasted skill and muscle, something the Kangaroos have not been able to replicate since those heady days - until now.

Miller has watched the Kangaroos intently in recent months and has marvelled at the development of a team that has won eight of its past nine matches heading into tonight's blockbuster against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.

''This current group are playing the best football since the late '90s - the style of footy and the precision,'' Miller said.

''It is the best assembled group and skill level that I have seen. Their skill level is fantastic. I have seen their sides that have made finals [in 2007 and 2008] - this side is better. Their football is better.

''I have seen the Kangaroos play all their games recently and I can't believe they are playing unbelievably good footy.

''They were just miles ahead of Essendon in their movement of the footy [last Sunday]. Everything they did was first class. They have come a long way.

''They are very fit, obviously. They are leading and moving at one end and moving at the other end. They put Essendon to shame in that regard.''

The victory over the Bombers was pivotal, for the Kangaroos dislodged a team that earlier this year was considered a premiership favourite, prompting Carey to declare his former team had now taken the ''next step''.

Now comes an even mightier step, against a Collingwood side that has embarrassed the Kangaroos by an average of 80.5 points in their past four meetings. The Magpies have won all 16 quarters.

''I think they [North] are one of the form sides of the competition,'' Carey said.

''Obviously, they have got their troubles now with injury, which they haven't had, but the way they played on the weekend, they have certainly proved they have improved as a side and winning games that are important to them.

''It feels like they have taken that next step, but once again it's another challenge this week against arguably the best side in the comp.''

Good management and luck had allowed the Kangaroos to avoid soft-tissue injuries until last weekend, but they have been forced to make three changes with Daniel Wells (calf), Leigh Adams (shoulder) and Nathan Grima (hamstring) out.

Carey said the move to three marking forwards - the developing Robbie Tarrant and Lachie Hansen working alongside veteran Drew Petrie - was working well.

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Acts of faith and doubt

EXILE: THE LIVES AND HOPES OF WERNER PELZBy Roger AverillTransit Lounge, $32.9
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WERNER Pelz, the son of a Jewish entertainment entrepreneur in Berlin impoverished by the Depression and Nazism, travelled twice to Australia. In 1940, aged 18, he was one of 2500 or so enemy aliens, most of them Jewish refugees, transported from Liverpool on the infamous Dunera. He returned to England in 1942.

In 1973, after living in England and Wales for 30 years, he sailed out in comfort to take up a lectureship at La Trobe University, where he taught for 13 years. He died in Melbourne in 2006, aged 84. From Pelz's voluminous writings, from the testimony of family, friends and colleagues, and from his own memories as pupil and close friend, Roger Averill has composed a loving but warts-and-all account of his professional and spiritual odyssey. In each chapter he interweaves the stories of Pelz's life, his relationship with the author, and his dying.

In the all-male world of camps at Hay and Tatura, Pelz had sexual experiences that he wrote about later with a candour unusual among the internees. Also in the camps he began a conversion to Christianity that was completed after he learnt his parents had been murdered in Auschwitz.

Back in England, married to a Viennese, Lotte Hensl, he became a Church of England clergyman - the only German Jew to do so? - and was appointed curate successively to two Lancashire parishes, resigning after conflicts over his commitment to anti-nuclear activism. In the 1960s, he and Lotte co-wrote books contributing to a surge of interest in radical theology, most notably God Is No More, and Werner contributed to The Guardian a regular column of autobiographical reflections and gave radio talks on religious subjects. From these pulpits, he signalled accumulating doubts about Christianity and increasing commitment to a world view in which Jesus was a latter-day Jewish prophet.

Lotte suffered severe neurosis, never fully recovering from the shock of bearing a son, Peter, whose arrival in 1945 had put an end to both parents' utopian hope of serving in the vanguard of a movement to transform postwar Europe. The marriage fell apart slowly, surviving only as an intellectual partnership until Werner and Lotte separated. Werner lived from 1970 with Mary Zobel, the English-born widow of a German Jew and owner of a cottage in Wales occupied by the Pelzes.

Averill writes that Pelz, at the age of 48, ''set about reinventing himself as a sociologist'', enrolling at the University of Bristol to write a PhD thesis revised and published as The Scope of Understanding in Sociology.

Mary and her three children accompanied him to Melbourne when La Trobe appointed him to a lectureship. She was unsettled in Australia, and would eventually be engulfed by depression, while Werner engaged in prolonged conflict with his youngest stepchild, Justin.

He did not talk much about his time as a Dunera boy, but he made a point of visiting Tatura and Hay. The desert-like landscape of Hay evoked, he wrote, powerful memories, which had left their mark on the subconscious.

In his last years, as Averill tenderly records them, he endured professional disappointment and personal anguish. Unable to find a publisher for what he regarded as his magnum opus, The Curse of Abstraction, he wrote hundreds of haiku on the themes of life and death, such as:

''Age was to bring peace,wisdom, respect. Instead itbrought terminal doubt.''

La Trobe, though, brought profound satisfaction. His colleagues in the sociology department he found ''open, cosmopolitan, tolerant''; his course on reason and emotion in society attracted huge numbers, and in and out of class he stirred many students to think for themselves. Averill writes eloquently about his Socratic capacity as a teacher. He is a sure-footed guide to the intricacies of Pelz's thought and to its connections with his protean life. Like his subject, Averill is a truly creative writer.

■Ken Inglis is the author of many books, including Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, which won the 1999 Age Book of the Year Award.

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Bookmarks

Gongs in the north
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ON MONDAY, the shortlists will be announced for the new Queensland Literary Awards, which replace the premier's awards that were scrapped by new Premier Campbell Newman in April. The literary community reacted with more speed than a Lee Childs thriller to establish the new prizes. A public appeal to raise $20,000 has brought in close to $30,000. The winners of the 15 categories will be announced on September 4. Committee chairman Stuart Glover, who was the founding director of the Brisbane Writers Festival, says the future of the awards beyond this year depends on community, corporate and government support. ''There is a sense that there is support potentially from all those sources,'' he says, and adds that Arts Minister Ros Bates isn't averse to the idea of Queensland literary awards. Everyone is waiting to see what will be in next month's state budget to gauge the direction of the government's arts funding policy.

The storm continues

MANY of you will remember Dave Eggers' book Zeitoun, which told the bizarre and terrifying story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He is the Syrian-born American builder and decorator who helped people by paddling his canoe through the flooded city. The book focused on Zeitoun's wrongful arrest by the authorities, who not only kept him in detention for three weeks but also wouldn't inform his family of his whereabouts and inflicted on him a fair amount of physical and mental abuse. This week, Zeitoun was behind bars again, charged with trying to have his former wife, Kathy, her son and an unnamed man murdered. It's a sad fall from grace for a man who became a hero as a result of his behaviour in 2005 and subsequently set up a charitable foundation to which profits from the book go. Zeitoun and Kathy divorced last year. Last month, he was jailed for assaulting her and it is alleged he asked a fellow prisoner to commit the murders. An animated film based on Eggers' book is due for release in 2014.

A false climax

IT SEEMS as though the crowning of Fifty Shades of Grey as Britain's best-selling book ever has been a fraction premature. With e-books, it probably is, but Nielsen BookScan figures show that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code remains - for a while, at least - top of the pile (and also the reject pile, according to Oxfam op shops), having sold 5.1 million copies. Fifty Shades of Grey has sold 3.8 million copies (in book form), with the other places in the top 10 consisting of seven Harry Potter titles and another Brown book. The other two erotic books by E.L. James have each sold more than 2 million copies. Writers such as Stieg Larsson and Stephenie Meyer also feature strongly in the top 20, with the only ''literary title'', Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, featuring at No.19 with sales of slightly more than 2 million. The only Australian in the top 100 is Markus Zusak, whose The Book Thief has sold 800,000 copies since 2007.

Remembering Claire

IT WAS sad to hear that Claire Kearney died a couple of weeks ago at her home in Tewantin, Queensland. She was 79. Most people would know her from her many years at the Hill of Content bookshop. The formidable Kearney started there in 1966, became manager in the early '80s and retired in 1995. She was instrumental in making the Hill of Content one of Melbourne's finest bookshops.

When crime pays

THE next couple of weeks is awards season for Australia's crime writers. The Ned Kellys will be dished out on August 29 and a few days later the Davitt Awards for women crime writers will be presented at the Celtic Club by Swedish crime writer Asa Larsson (no relation of Stieg, before you ask). The shortlists for the Davitts are, for fiction: Jaye Ford (Beyond Fear), Sulari Gentill (A Decline in Prophets), Carolyn Morwood (Death and the Spanish Lady), Jennifer Rowe (Love, Honour & O'Brien), Kim Westwood (The Courier's New Bicycle) and Helene Young (Shattered Sky); children's/young adult: Ursula Dubosarsky (The Golden Day), Nansi Kunze (Dangerously Placed) and Meg McKinlay (Surface Tension); true crime: Wendy Lewis (The Australian Book of Family Murders) and Liz Porter (Cold Case Files). sistersincrime南京夜网.au

Getting Ziggy with it

DAVID Bowie didn't make it to the closing ceremony of the Olympics in London but he is coming to the Melbourne Writers Festival. Just kidding. He is, however, getting a tribute at Liner Notes, the annual session in which a motley crew of talent delivers spoken-word tributes to the tracks of a chosen album. Among the guests are former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery and Lebanese poet and journalist Joumana Haddad. This year, the album is Ziggy Stardust and will feature Five Years, Yana Alana; Soul Love, Omar Musa; Moonage Daydream, Sean M. Whelan; Starman, Flannery; It Ain't Easy, First Dog on the Moon; Lady Stardust, Benjamin Law; Star, Alicia Sometimes; Hang on to Yourself, Ben Pobjie; Ziggy Stardust, Deborah Conway; Suffragette City, Haddad; and Rock'n'Roll Suicide, Emilie Zoey Baker. It's at 8pm next Saturday at the Regal Ballroom. For bookings, see mwf南京夜网.au

The worst of times

POOR old Edward ''It was a dark and stormy night'' Bulwer-Lytton. He gets an awful lot of flak about that opening to his novel Paul Clifford. The annual competition named after him is for the worst piece of writing. Here's this year's winner, by Cathy Bryant from Britain: ''As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids [sic] burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.''

POETRY

Graphology Cambridge Psychedelia 3

How much space we can't fit in,

Curlicue into Simenon terror,

Ennui of garden restaurants

And garden paths, an error

Of judgment deciduous as sin.

And in the name of the heaven- sent,

And the bravado of capital, refuse

To name the name on everyone's lips.

Base stations styled into the ruse

Of old buildings, so intransigent.

Ice on the grass as everyone slips,

A gecko in the Mekong issues a warning:

Sparkling colours array an alert,

And play on our Mobius rambling.

The passion is a nativity of trips.

God bless!

John Kinsella

EVENTS

TODAY

TRUDI Canavan signs copies of The Traitor Queen. 1.30pm. Dymocks Knox, 425 Burwood Highway, Wantirna South.

JOHN Jenkins launches Karen Throssell's Chain of Hearts. 2pm. Collected Works, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, city.

TODAY/ TOMORROW

CO-DIRECTOR of Dickens 2012, Adrian Wootton, discusses screen adaptations of Dickens' novels. 4.30pm. Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library, 328 Swanston Street, city. Tomorrow: Dickens and crime. Bookings: wheelercentre南京夜网

TOMORROW

FILMMAKER Paul Cox discusses Tales from the Cancer Ward. 11.15am. Emerald Hill Library, 195 Bank Street, South Melbourne. Info: 0417 556 143.

TUESDAY

ANDY Griffiths unveils The 26-Storey Treehouse. 4.30pm. Sun Theatre, 8 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Bookings: 9689 0661

WEDNESDAY

BARRY Jones launches David Day's Antarctica. 6.30pm. The Barn, Montsalvat, Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham. $10. Bookings: elthambook [email protected]南京夜网; 9439 8700

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A perfect protagonist

R.J. Ellory pips Mark Billingham to the post of better crime read, with A Dark and Broken Heart.RUSH OF BLOODBy Mark BillinghamLittle, Brown, $29.99
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A DARK AND BROKEN HEARTBy R.J. ElloryOrion, $29.99

IT BEGINS with a beating, escalates to armed robbery, climaxes in a massacre and then we get to page 24. British crime writer R.J. Ellory has never been one to shy away from fast and furious violence. If that sounds like too much excitement too soon, rest assured that once he has your attention, Ellory slows the pace to work through the moral consequences of these acts and their implications for the man responsible, Vincent Madigan.

Vincent is a typical Ellory hero, the contradictory man whom we have met before in a series of remarkable stand-alone novels set in various locations and epochs in the kind of US where people live lives of mostly quiet desperation.

''Things happen,'' Vincent tells us. ''Most of them bad.'' Despite his resignation, there comes a moment when Vincent wants to make them turn out right. Ellory's skill as a writer is to make us want this too, even when we know Vincent to be the cause of so many of those bad things in the first place.

This is what Ellory does so well: humanising the face of violence, taking us into the centre of the maelstrom where there is stillness and a kind of understanding. As usual, this process is cathartic and moving. Page 24 is also the location of a major revelation that curtails further analysis or commentary. This may be a reviewer-proof book. Just read it.

Fellow Brit Mark Billingham also begins in the US, in Florida at the Pelican Palms Motel, which offers ''paradise on a budget'' to sun-starved tourists.

Three British couples - Barry the builder and the overweight Angie, mixed-race Marina and the computer nerd Dave, would-be lothario Ed and long-suffering wife Sue - meet up on their sun-seeker holiday and are all present when an intellectually disabled teenager disappears. Back in Blighty, they exchange emails and meet for the first of three dinners that punctuate the book: ''I do a mean bread and butter pud!'' Angie promises in her invitation to the first.

The staging of these dinners is nicely done. What each couple chooses to cook and how their homes are organised and presented constitute an effective study in British manners, suburban aspiration and inevitable frustration.

Angie wants to cook something ''Floridian'' and almost chooses the organic chicken, opting instead for the cheaper version. Barry thinks it all sounds too ''poncey'' anyway and is embarrassed by her desire to impress these former ''best friends for six days'', including the elegant Sue, the kind of woman who puts a lot of effort into looking as if she made no effort whatsoever. Angie has even had table mats made featuring a holiday snap of them all on their last day in ''paradise''.

Needless to say, the topic of conversation returns to the missing girl. After her badly decayed body is found in a mangrove-choked inlet and another girl of similar age and handicap vanishes in England, trainee Detective Constable Quinlan pays each of the couples a visit before reporting back to the senior officer on the case in Florida. While necessary to the plot, these procedural sections receive short shrift and don't go anywhere useful.

The creator of Inspector Tom Thorne, most recently translated to television as actor David Morrissey, Mark Billingham's usual beat is the police procedural with detective hero. Rush of Blood is his first stand-alone thriller and not altogether successful.

Part of the problem has to do with voice and point of view. There are simply too many perspectives (including that of the killer). The main drawback has to do with affect, since there is not one character about whom we might care. Billingham's characters are closely observed, mercilessly dissected, but there is no emotional hook pulling us through to the final revelation.

And that's where Ellory has the edge. Even though his hero is a ''bad man'', it's impossible not to care what happens to Vincent Madigan.

While Billingham may have written a clever crime novel, it is Ellory who has written a great one.

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From a Freudian palette

NAKED CLAY: DRAWING FROM LUCIAN FREUDBy Barry HillShearsman Books, $25
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THE late Lucian Freud had a four-word manifesto, URGENT SUBTLE CONCISE ROBUST, scrawled upon his studio wall, but most people's impressions of him are less exact and combine a challenging stare, thickly painted, confronting nudes, and some vague gossip about how many children he may have fathered.

Not entirely the wrong impression, but not the whole picture, which as Barry Hill shows in this marvellous book, you won't see unless you look.

Naked Clay is art history, autobiography, existential struggle, all woven through 60 years of Freud's paintings from 1944 onwards. What does it mean to be naked, to look at, to be looked at, possessed? Can art justify the severity, or tenderness, of such a gaze? These are the questions Hill asks, as the paintings do.

Naked Clay is on one level a classically proportioned art book: a precise and perceptive examination of one man's oeuvre. The fact that it is conducted entirely through poetry almost escapes notice, even when Hill is working small lyrical wonders on almost every page.

And yet there is only one painting to be seen, on the cover of the book: Girl with White Dog from 1950. ''The girl with the white dog/as still as the door closed behind her/is daydreaming of mice/in a drawer of socks.'' Or is she? You can look at the image and decide - if you think it important.

Inside the book it's all text: readers well acquainted with Freud's work will read the poems in one way, as will those who choose to go and find the images for each poem on the way through. Reading the paintings as I did without seeing them, with only vague memories and a kind of texture in mind, the poems were nearly always enough.

But then there was Large Interior W9, with Freud's ailing, depressed mother in a chair, a woman naked in bed behind her: ''If one has been quietly weeping/the other will not have seen./The lover has made a grandmother/of Mother, and Mother might not know./And there, under the chair/is a pestle and mortar/its weight like the spirit of a woman/set down after pounding.'' Surely no painting could match that poem, but it did, even on a laptop.

True, Hill says, a little later, with the long central poem In Sight of Death but remember those questions. Have you really thought them through? And he then does exactly that, allowing neither Freud, nor himself, nor us, to avoid the issue or displace it with mere aesthetics.

Hill wrestles for 20 pages with the body, real and painted, with art and with poetry's presumption to interrogate and explain it, and with his mortal self. There's a kind of exhaustion at the end, and while the answers aren't any closer, the parties somehow agree to differ.

After this the book relents, seems almost to sigh, ending with a tribute to the poet's parents that is half mea culpa, half love song. After a long journey to London and back and through the years, the poetry settles, is somehow more accepting and resigned: ''the body becomes subject to fact/or settles into being/a constellation of resentment, grief, memories struck dumb … The best a poem can do/is keep scrubbing itself clean/withstand the furnace, refuse the insipid.''

Hill has honoured Freud's scrawled manifesto to the letter in this urgent, subtle, concise and robust book.

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Ladies and gentlemen, polish your poodles

No ruff stuff ... groomer Kazoo Hirae prepares three-year-old white poodle Remi for Purina groomQuest 2012. The competition is held at Castle Hill Showground.AXL ROSE is swaddled in blankets and shivering damply. It's a big week for this poodle.
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He is one of 120 dogs competing in today's Purina groomQuest 2012, Australia's biggest and richest dog grooming championships.The groomers will fight for glory, $40,000 in prizes and a spot on Groom Team Australia for the 2013 world championships in Barcelona. Judges are from Japan, Serbia and America.

''It's just like the Olympic Games,'' says Jenny Kent, the owner of Pet Design, a salon with six groomers in this weekend's championship.

For the past two months, Mrs Kent's Lane Cove grooming salon has been busy after hours with preparations for groomQuest 2012 - the room is lined with bins brimming with poodle curls.

''We have over 40 entries in the poodle category,'' says Les Speerin, the contest organiser. ''It's the outstanding look and polish you can put on a poodle.''

Mrs Kent praises the championships for giving professional groomers an ambition to aspire to.

Kazoo Hirae studied for three years at Sunshine Dog Grooming in Fukuoka before taking a job at Mrs Kent's salon. This year he is entering Remi, a gargantuan three-year-old white poodle.

Remi is being groomed in the famous continental style, in which the back half of the dog is shaved in strips. Remi submits to this with dignity.

The groomer's job, Mr Hirae says, while plucking at Remi's considerable mane, is to shape over nature's irregularities and present a dog that lives up to an ideal shape.

Groomers have been known to compete like terriers. ''Very nasty,'' Mrs Kent says of the competitive atmosphere at its worst. ''I personally haven't seen any sabotage … ''

But they are driven by a deep affection for their animals.

''That's my foundation bitch,'' Mrs Kent says, tapping a portrait of the 13-year-old black poodle she bought around the time she quit her job as a primary school teacher to turn pro.

Joelene Turnbull, 30, is one of Mrs Kent's most promising young groomers and is entering Axl and three other dogs.

She will rise at four this morning in a bid to improve upon last year's second placing: ''I'm having lots of dreams about poodles.''

Purina groomQuest 2012 is at Castle Hill Showground.

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It’s easy being with Greene

THE MAN WITHIN MY HEADBy Pico IyerBloomsbury, $35
Nanjing Night Net

THERE has been a recent growth in books about writers that are neither criticism nor biography but, rather, use both to deal with the writer and their works as some kind of shadow self, or even role model. There's Janet Malcolm reading Chekhov and Robert Dessaix's books about Turgenev and Gide. Geoff Dyer turned the form into comedy with Out of Sheer Rage, a book about not writing a book about D.H. Lawrence; and in equally downbeat mode, there is Malcolm Knox's On Obsession, about how reading Proust may not necessarily do your life much good at all.

These are books about the relationship between readers and writers, and what reading can do to a person. They are often books that challenge received ideas about form as they also ignore the demand that criticism - writing about writing - try to reduce the merely subjective or personal.

Having a man inside your head is about as personal as it gets - it's how one might describe a lover - and the man in Pico Iyer's head is Graham Greene. Iyer starts out by wondering why he should have lit on someone as unheroic, as interested in compromised and damaged humanity as Greene: why choose as an ideal self someone as distrustful of ideals as Greene?

As the book proceeds though, the portrait he paints of Greene makes it more obvious that for Iyer, this is exactly where Greene's attraction lies. The interest in doubleness and divided characters, the ambiguity, the self-doubt and self-criticism: it's Greene's lack of moralising that attracts Iyer.

It's also Iyer's own background that sharpens his appreciation of Greene, the novelist who spent his career writing about displaced persons. Iyer's parents were Indian and he spent his childhood between England, where he went to public school, and California, where his father was an admired college teacher. His girlfriend is Japanese, which makes him rather defensive about the criticisms levelled at Greene for the depiction of Phuong in The Quiet American.

Iyer, of course, has made a living as a journalist and travel writer, and the reflections on Greene here come interspersed with his own travels, from Bolivia and Mexico to Saigon, places where Greene has preceded him or where he finds people like the characters from Greene's books: an Indian shopkeeper in the middle of nowhere in Mexico; a Vietnamese girl in an internet cafe writing to her Western lover.

The memoir and travel sections curiously come punctuated by disaster: there are two car accidents - one in Ethiopia and one in Bolivia - and Iyer returns to the time when his parents' house was destroyed by bushfires. Iyer finds a way to approach Greene's Catholicism through his own friendship with Louis, from his old school, who lives a life of Christian compassion, one considerably more cheerful-seeming than Greene's own rather dark faith.

''I couldn't quite explain to Hiroko, as I finished this book, which man within my head I was addressing.''

The other figure inhabiting the book is Iyer's father, R.J. Iyer, the distinguished scholar of Plato. Born in a poor family, he was a brilliant young man, who, by 18, was teaching at the University of Bombay and later benefiting from the colonial system of scholarships that sought either to improve the lot of the colonised or remake them in their colonisers' image, depending on how you look at it.

If a comparison between the two men is meant, it's not so easy to know what conclusions to draw: Greene gets much more attention and there is not much sense that Iyer's own father was lacking.

''You're writing about your father?'' Iyer's girlfriend asks him at one point. ''Well, not exactly. There's too much I don't know or couldn't say about him.'' That ''couldn't say'' is tantalising.

If Greene is a father substitute for Iyer, this book leaves undone the psychological work of showing just how the substitution worked and bringing Iyer's relationship with his real father into the light. But then one of the things Iyer seems to have learnt from Greene is not to judge too dogmatically or too soon; not to try to be too neat.

■Pico Iyer is a guest at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

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Hope springs eternal

Morris Gleitzman concludes his series about a young boy during the Holocaust with After.AFTERBy Morris GleitzmanPenguin, $19.95
Nanjing Night Net

THIS extraordinary novel brings to a conclusion the series in which Morris Gleitzman has taken the Holocaust as his subject and told its story through the life of a small boy, Felix. It began with Once, moved through Then, took a leap to Now and has returned to After.

This fourth book draws Felix's story to its end by filling in the space between Then and Now. Even so, all four novels in the series can be read as individual works and not necessarily in sequence.

To say After is one of the finest children's novels written in the past 25 years or so is no idle statement. It is narrative at its gripping best - nail-biting excitement, tears and affirmation of all that is good, noble and dignified about childhood. Out of the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust, After offers a celebration of life and survival.

The opening is assured and exquisitely paced. It is 1945 and Felix, now 13, has been in hiding for two years in a barn on the farm belonging to his friend, Gabriek. He mistakes a party of men who arrive at the farm for Nazis. Polish partisans are fighting the retreating Germans and unbeknown to Felix, Gabriek is an explosives expert and a partisan.

Gabriek is taken away. Felix pursues him and the two join up with a partisan group in a forest. Here he meets Yuli, a fearless young woman who realises that Felix needs protection not from the suspicious partisans but from his desire to stay with Gabriek.

There are many poignant moments, handled with great poise by Gleitzman. Felix's parents have disappeared in the round-ups of Jews and he has kept a faint flicker of hope that they will have survived. Gabriek is wounded and sent away.

In counterpoint, Gleitzman does not resile from portraying the Holocaust in all its savagery. People are shot, farms are burnt and many people sent on forced marches starve to death.

Yet he never allows the candle of hope to be extinguished. As a partisan recruit, Felix helps a doctor tend the wounded. And the maternal Yuli shows him the kind of tactile affection, restrained as it is, that he has longed for from his mother.

It is a measure of Gleitzman's awareness of his audience that he brings the context of family life into sharp relief. There is much for readers to identify with. The action of the novel is unwavering. The setting changes frequently as Felix, Yuli and the partisans attack or escape the Nazis, search for food and encounter Hitler Youth fanatics and hiding Jewish children.

But nothing can prepare readers for one of the most moving and unexpected conclusions. That we do not see it coming makes it all the more powerful.

There are no weaknesses in this brilliantly imagined and unforgettable story. At its heart, After is about love and we are edified by reading it.

■Morris Gleitzman is conducting a workshop in writing for children and young adults at the Melbourne Writers Festival. mwf南京夜网.au

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Different shades

Chloe Hooper found returning to fiction liberating.''I HAD a dark night of the soul after this book went to the printer,'' Chloe Hooper confesses. ''I thought, 'Don't tell me I've just done a literary Fifty Shades of Grey'.''
Nanjing Night Net

Let's be clear about this. Hooper's second novel, The Engagement, is not a sadomasochistic romp designed to titillate millions of women readers. It's a sophisticated, many-layered work that combines the headlong appeal of a thriller with a nuanced mystery about our darker sexual and romantic desires.

What it does do, however, is pose much the same questions as everyone is asking about the extraordinary Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon: what is it that women fantasise about, and why? Do they want to be their dream man's bride, or sex slave?

Hooper, a tall, slim woman with clear pale eyes, is best known in Australia for her acclaimed 2008 non-fiction book, The Tall Man, but started as a novelist (her first novel, A Child's Book of True Crime, came out in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for women's fiction). She did her homework after she finished The Engagement and read Fifty Shades of Grey, which she found very formulaic.

''I don't think it's that different from what's been out there as erotic romance for some time,'' she says. ''But there's something interesting to be said about the nature of fantasy. Are most fantasies inherently conservative? Do they spring from some deep well? Is it like myth - are there a limited number we're calling on or find ourselves lost in?''

We wonder if it's possible for a woman to have a progressive-feminist fantasy, and we burst out laughing at the idea.

''I'll have to get back to you on that,'' Hooper says. ''Fantasy can take you to places that aren't politically correct. And I'm not talking about a cheesy, 'Bring on the manacles, Christian Grey'.''

The Engagement is about an affair between Liese, a young Englishwoman visiting Australia, and Alexander, the blandly handsome scion of a family that made its fortune off the sheep's back.

At the start of the novel, they are driving to Alexander's ancestral pile in the Western District of Victoria for a naughty weekend. The reader senses at once there's something odd about this couple. Alexander pays Liese for sex, Liese takes his money and encourages him to believe she's a professional.

In the grand tradition of the Gothic novel, Liese gradually finds herself trapped in the spooky family mansion and also in Alexander's fantasy. Or is it her fantasy? The borders ripple and blur. ''It's a story where two fantasies collide and it's difficult to know who's in charge,'' Hooper says.

''I do love all those Gothic classics - Jane Eyre, Rebecca, The Castle of Otranto, those stories of women trapped in big houses.''

The cover design suggests a period setting and there's a forced betrothal, anonymous letters, knives, guns, gutted animals and a vicar who comes to dinner, but it's a contemporary tale and Hooper has been at pains to make it seem authentic. Alexander's house is based on real homesteads: ''I was lucky enough to enjoy some old-fashioned Western District hospitality. It's fairly Gothic around that area.''

She plays with two classic fantasies: the whore and the bride. ''I like the idea of a fantasy that seems harmless but is actually dangerous. Marriage is one of the last fantasy rituals: you put on a white dress and hire a vintage car and get a cake, and there are reasons to be quite frightened of doing that when a third of marriages end in divorce.

''Even though we talk about people marrying less, and more children are born out of marriage, there still seems to be such a lot of pressure on women to formalise things. Girls grow up with a picture … do you ever get over reading Cinderella?

"We live in times where we think we're very progressive about sex and everybody's reading Shades of Grey

and what's meant to be a whole lot of gymnastics. But, actually, we're mediaeval in our attitudes to female desire and sexuality."

She also liked the idea of writing a thriller. ''When you read a good thriller, you feel a surfeit of emotions. Your shoulders tense up and your hairs are meant to stand on end. But you enjoy feeling anxious. It's almost an S&M experience. That's what gives the genre its spark - and it's also a very good medium to look at the ambivalence about marriage.''

Does this ambivalence extend to Hooper's personal life? Her partner is writer Don Watson, and they have a baby son, Tobias.

''Marriage is not out of the question, but there do seem always to be other things to deal with,'' she says.

They manage parenthood in Fitzroy with help from Hooper's mother and father and a part-time nanny. Do they help each other with their work? ''He reads my work more than I'm allowed to read his. I guess that's just the way it is.''

Her best-known work, The Tall Man, has the narrative pull and urgency of a thriller, but it's a non-fiction account of the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island, and the subsequent trial of Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley. It won the Western Australian Premier's Book Award and the respective New South Wales and Victorian premiers' literary awards for non-fiction, and had glowing reviews here and overseas. Robert Drewe called it ''the country's finest work of literature so far this century''.

Hooper had started work on The Engagement when she became involved with the case, following Brisbane criminal lawyer Andrew Boe and writing a Walkley-winning report for The Monthly magazine. Then she decided so much compelling material should go in a book, which meant putting her novel aside.

Returning to fiction was ''a terrific freedom … One of the first days I was back, I closed the door on my study and nobody could get me. This character wouldn't hop off the page, there wouldn't be a lawsuit, nobody would ring me and abuse me. It had been so long since my first novel, I almost had to learn how to write a novel again … but writing The Tall Man probably made me a better writer. I've used different muscles.''

There was, however, an interruption - although a very welcome one. Ten months ago, Hooper gave birth to Tobias. She had hoped to get the novel done by then, but it didn't work out that way. ''The book was hopelessly overdue; I had to finish it. In the beginning, I would write when Tobias was asleep. When he was awake more of the time, we needed help in the house. I was lucky that this book was at a place where it was kind of writing itself, so I would … know what to do.''

Hooper's career to date sounds like a dream run for a young writer. She had short stories published while at the University of Melbourne, then at 23 she won a Fulbright scholarship to Columbia University in New York, where she studied creative writing. Her first novel was written as part of the course.

But there was a dark afternoon of the soul. She couldn't find an agent for A Child's Book of True Crime and was running out of money. Philip Roth suggested she show it to his agent, the famed Andrew ''the Jackal'' Wylie, and she sent the manuscript as a last resort. Convinced he wouldn't want it, she spent the afternoon weeping and making plans to fly home. ''I was calling up friends and offering them my sleeping bag. And then he rang that night.''

Wylie sold the novel to 13 countries, including Australia, and did a double book deal for The Tall Man and The Engagement for a reported $300,000 advance in Australia (a figure Hooper's publisher, Ben Ball, has since said is wrong). Hooper doesn't offer a comment on the money, but she's wry about the gossip the deal sparked: ''One of the reasons I wrote this novel was I was interested in writing about women and money and their price. It got me thinking a little about this world we're in, where everything is commodified.

''I've been very fortunate that the stars aligned and I was able to make a career out of writing. It keeps the baby in Huggies. Just.''

Hooper is keen to keep working, although she also loves being a mother: ''It's terribly tempting just to play with blocks and crawl around on the floor.'' She would like to write another non-fiction book, though learning about indigenous lives in the far north of Australia was often a harrowing experience.

''You forget the pain of a book, like childbirth. What's left in terms of pain is the inequities that book details. I think of my son: he's had the best prenatal and antenatal care, he has clean clothes and a safe place to sleep, and that's not the case for a lot of kids I know.''

So what to write next? ''For me, the new challenge is I can't just get on a plane - with a small child, that kind of travel is far more difficult. I have lots of ideas, but they're in far-flung places. I need a non-fiction story in Melbourne CBD between the hours of 10am and 11.30am and 2pm and 3.30pm.'' She laughs. ''That's when he sleeps.''

■The Engagement is published by Hamish Hamilton on Wednesday. Chloe Hooper is a guest at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

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Unmatched terror in the children’s crusade

BENEATH THE DARKENING SKYBy Majok TulbaHamish Hamilton, $29.95
Nanjing Night Net

READERS of Beneath the Darkening Sky, Majok Tulba's graphic and gruesome depiction of the enlistment of child soldiers in Sudan's civil war, will sup a book full of horrors. Tulba begins with the sacking of the village of young Obinna. Shock forces clarity of observation from the boy: ''The only things moving slowly are the soldiers.'' Their faces are shiny with sweat and ash - ''it looks like face paint for the village dances''. A boy decapitates an old man. From his temporary vantage in a tree, Obinna can only think of how ''the old man knew so many songs''.

Obinna's role as spectator is wrenched to an end. Lined up with other boys from the village, his height is macabrely measured against an AK-47 rifle. Just tall enough, he is impressed into the rebel army.

Tulba draws on his own terrible story, save that he was just short of the rifle's height. His brother was not. Their village was destroyed by forces of what would become the army of South Sudan when that country achieved a fragile independence in July last year. Both sides in the war used child soldiers. Free for the time being, Tulba joined tens of thousands of refugees in camps along the border of Uganda and Sudan.

In 2001, when he was 16, Tulba was granted refugee status in Australia. Settled in Sydney, almost unimaginably far from the land of his childhood, he is now chief executive of LifeCare Sudan, a writer and filmmaker. Beneath the Darkening Sky, his first novel, has a dedication that explains his cause: ''For the children who died in battle, the villages that were burned, the rights that were lost, the lives not lived, and the voiceless everywhere.''

''Soldiers are dreamers,'' Great War poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote. As often as he can, Obinna (renamed Baboon's Ass as part of abusive and demeaning induction rituals) conjures the future as a doctor for which he had wished, as well as returning to memories of the ''gunless'' life he had known, with its hallowed and now forever-lost patterns of work and of ceremony.

As he says, haltingly, ''the village can just be in my head and I can visit it at any time''. Gradually, though, he is deadened by, and towards, his experiences: ''I've been a soldier for years. Countless first days.'' He has seen deaths from shooting and cholera, his brother's castration so that he can join the rebel commander's eunuch bodyguard, death from mines: ''The boy is covered in cloud. The pebbles fly so fast they gouge into his skin, then exit the other side.''

Tulba's novel is in crucial formal respects a version, or maybe a ghastly parody, of one of the most familiar kinds of war narrative: the initiation of a recruit, a litany of first things. To begin with, he joins the unit (but by violent coercion), then he meets his comrades. Some are children like him. Others are seasoned adult fighters - Parasite, Priest, Mouse and the malevolent Captain, who ''looks like he's been made in the wild, out of earth and darkness''.

Obinna has already seen his first bodies - in his own village. He undergoes training (with wooden guns, then the AK-47). Not long after his initial sexual encounter, he takes his first life. Baboon's Ass has been transformed, for the sake of the unit's morale, into People's Fire. Now he helps to inflict the terrors that had been visited upon him and his family: ''Once this village had a name. Not any more, not since we came. Now it's just chaos.''

The title of the novel comes from the wishful words of a song that the young soldier sings (and, for doing so, is tortured): ''The world will carry us home beneath the darkening sky.'' Tulba's is a blackly eloquent tale, one that seems altogether without consolation. Perhaps its most terrible element is the loss of childhood for so many, Obinna the emblem for them. The storytelling is not without awkwardness, as unfailingly sharp as its images. Tulba's materials are not easily subdued to anything ordered or - from this distance - comprehensible. Nonetheless, he has written a war novel of an originality and fidelity that has scarcely been matched in Australia.

■Majok Tulba is a guest at the Melbourne Writers Festival. mwf南京夜网.au

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Small eyes, big prize

An illustration taken from The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood.THE winners of the 67th annual Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards were announced yesterday. The results are unlikely to cause controversy, although a dominance of heavy themes may raise the familiar debate about whether the awards reflect - or should reflect - what resonates with young readers.
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That said, the CBCA has always maintained that the intention of the awards is to recognise literary merit, not popularity. In any case, the titles selected this year might just tick all the boxes.

OLDER READERS

OF THE 77 books nominated for this category, The Dead I Know by Victorian writer Scot Gardener came out on top. The compelling story focuses on teenager Aaron Rowe, a sleepwalker with a lot of instability at home, as he starts a new job at a funeral parlour.

It's a memorable read that manages to be understated while tackling heavy subject matter and delivering believably complex characters.

The judges called Gardner's book ''a confronting story'', praising it for balancing ''the violence and desolation of Aaron's life in the caravan park with the routine and studied peacefulness of the funeral parlour in exquisite counterpoint''.

Bill Condon's A Straight Line to My Heart and Robert Newton's When We Were Two were named Honour Books (the latter, a 1916-set road-trip story about two brothers - with shades of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men - won the Prime Minister's Literary Award this year). Michael Gerard Bauer's Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan and my personal favourite, The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky, rounded out the shortlist.

An additional 16 titles were listed as Notable Books, including works by previous CBCA award-winning authors Steven Herrick, J.C. Burke and Barry Jonsberg.

YOUNGER READERS

KATE Constable, another Victorian writer, took out top honours in this category with her time-slip story Crow Country, about a young girl, Sadie, trying to right the wrongs of generations past in a small country town where indigenous and white Australians fail to understand one another.

The judges said Constable's work was ''strongly Australian'', and ''sensitively handles difficult subject matter in a narrative that is engaging and powerful''.

The similarly themed Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French was named an Honour Book alongside the more light-hearted, London-set mystery, The Truth about Verity Sparks by Susan Green.

The wonderfully versatile Emily Rodda took two of the remaining three shortlist spots, one with the utterly Australian Bungawitta (a fun-filled, uplifting story of a drought-stricken rural town) and another with The Golden Door, the start of a new fantasy adventure series. John Flanagan's Brotherband: The Outcasts - another ripping adventure - was also shortlisted.

EARLY READERS

PICTURE-book masters Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood joined forces to win this category with The Runaway Hug, which turns an unremarkable domestic scene into a story that's fun, wonderfully warm and perfect for bedtime reading.

''It is a picture book to ponder and appreciate, being deceptively simple, yet marvellously harmonious in concept,'' the judges said. ''The lively detailed illustrations and lyrical text work closely together to add humour and pathos.''

Sonya Hartnett's Come Down, Cat!, with illustrations by Lucia Masciullo, and Elizabeth Honey's That's Not a Daffodil! were named Honour Books, while No Bears by Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge, The Last Viking by Norman Jorgensen and James Foley, and Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay were shortlisted. Winner of the Prime Minister's award, Goodnight, Mice! by Frances Watts and Judy Watson, wasn't shortlisted but featured on the list of 23 Notable Books.

PICTURE BOOK

BOB Graham's picture books are award magnets and he's done it again, winning this category with A Bus Called Heaven.

Graham's books always imbue a wonderful sense of community and validation of the role of young people in society. This one is no exception, seeing a young girl gather support and rally to save an abandoned bus called Heaven.

''This is a heart-warming and inspiring work that amply demonstrates the expertise of its creator, his capacity for subtle inclusion and his strong affection for ordinary people,'' the judges said.

The author-illustrator partnerships of Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks, and Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, have proven successful once again, with the duos receiving Honour Book status thanks to The Dream of the Thylacine and Flood, respectively.

McKinlay and Rudge's No Bears was shortlisted in this as well as the Early Childhood category, this time alongside For All Creatures by Glenda Millard and Rebecca Cool, and Look, a Book! by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood.

THE EVE POWNALL AWARD FOR INFORMATION BOOKS

ONE Small Island: The Story of Macquarie Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch is the winner of this non-fiction category.

This insightful picture book tells the story of the tragic degradation of a natural marvel, bringing together historic documents with detailed illustrations and simple, straightforward text.

''The stunning illustrations reinforce the unique characteristics, the isolation and the beauty of this small island,'' the judges said. ''The final landscape that we view is Macquarie Island's sunrise, accompanied by words of environmental hope.''

The Little Refugee by Anh and Suzanne Do, with illustrations by Bruce Whatley, was the sole Honour Book selected.

The shortlist included Surrealism for Kids from the Queensland Art Gallery, Playground by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle, Bilby Secrets by Edel Wignell and Mark Jackson, and Carole Wilkinson's Fromelles: Australia's Bloodiest Day at War.

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