Libby Hathorn is an award-winning Australian author of more than forty books for children. Her stories have been translated into several languages and adapted for stage and screen. Her work has won honours in Australia as well as in the United States, United Kingdom and Holland. Libby is currently working on a poetry collection, as well as a special arts project entitled 100 VIEWS in several schools, both here and internationally. She teaches Creative Writing part-time at Sydney University. For more information, you can visit her at www.libbyhathorn.com. Greg Rogers was born in 1957 in Brisbane, Australia. He studied Fine Art at the Queensland College of Art, and had his first major exhibition in 1983, the year in which he won the SGIO Art Award for photography. He illustrated his first book in 1988. He has won a number of awards for his pencil work, but likes to work with pastels, ink and watercolour too. In 1995 Greg won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations in WAY HOME. He is the first Australian illustrator ever to have won this prestigious British award.
Gr 3-8-In this distressing look at life on the streets of a big city, Shane, a preteen boy, heads home past broken windows, graffiti-scribbled walls, dilapidated fences, and alleys strewn with trash. On the way, he avoids a group of tough boys and encounters a fierce dog, talking all the while to the stray kitten snuggled safely inside his jacket. Finally he crawls through a jagged hole in a chainlink fence and into the cozy, sheltered corner of an alley that he calls home. A toy robot is the only sign of childhood amid a bed of newspapers, blanket, pictures torn from magazines, and empty milk cartons. Soft, double-page, charcoal-pencil drawings in muted shades of blue, brown, gray, and terra cotta on black backgrounds sharply contrast the brightness of signs, buildings, and rush-hour traffic with the secluded loneliness of dark alleys. Rogers has created a feeling of drama and harshness by placing white text on black backgrounds that appear to have a large piece of each page torn away to reveal a glimpse of the city underneath. Gentle closeups of Shane show a handsome boy with slicked-back hair; tidy baseball jacket; and t-shirt and jeans sans worn spots or patches. He's a healthy, cool-looking kid, seemingly well fed and neat, so his situation seems somewhat at odds with his appearance. Only one split-heeled sneaker and his grimy hands hint at what his home will look like. There is no explanation of his plight in either text or illustrations. Although this story is disturbing, it lacks credibility and thus the pathos that might be evoked by such powerful artwork. Keith Greenberg's Erik Is Homeless (Lerner, 1992) presents a realistic picture of the life of a homeless boy and his mom in a factual format that children can understand.- Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
A boy named Shane is heading home through the city one night when he meets a stray kitten in an alley. Tucking it inside his jacket, Shane maneuvers past a variety of dangers-bullies, traffic, a snarling dog-until they at last reach his home, itself no more than a corner in another alley. Hathorn's gritty evocation of life on the streets is matched by Rogers's darkly realistic visuals, in which the lights of cars or the glitter of showroom windows serve only to emphasize the shadows and grime of the pathways Shane and his kitten must traverse. An air of menace prevails throughout, conveyed through both large and small details, and reinforced by the placement of the text on a black background with a jagged, torn edge. In this honest, unsparing collaboration, an import from Australia, Shane's world is harsh, sometimes frightening, but not entirely hopeless: his hip, affectionate patter (``Whadda you reckon, Catlegs? Shane's taking you home right now'') cuts through the darkness like a redemptive beacon, tenuous yet bright. Ages 6-10. (Aug.)