RED SAND, BLUE SKY

Cathy Applegate, Author . Feminist Press $13.50 (142p) ISBN 978-1-55861-278-5

One of two titles (along with Barbara Wilson's A Clear Spring-277-7) launching the Girls First! mystery/adventure series, Applegate's (Rain Dance) thin novel takes place in the author's native Australia. While her father attends a conference in Canada, 12-year-old Amy leaves her Melbourne home to stay with her eccentric aunt on the Australian outback, where her aunt works in a health clinic. Initially feeling very much an outsider among the residents, Amy eventually becomes friends with Lana, an Aborigine who, like Amy, has fairly recently lost her mother. The author stiffly incorporates bits of the country's history and Aboriginal lore and tradition into a plot in which the girls take on criminals stealing Aboriginal sacred objects. Many passages are either forced ("Amy felt hurt and lonely. She was different from all these other children and felt left out of all the fun and excitement") or awkward ("It was hard for the two girls to remain glum when they were surrounded by so many smiling children who laughed at each other, sucking up the spaghetti like long worms"). Unfortunately, Applegate's attempts at suspense and her dialogue also fall flat, making this a slow and unconvincing read. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-5394-9
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