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Asian-Australian Children's Literature: A Twitter Theme Day Round-up

Did you miss AustLit's sampling (on Twitter last week) of Asian-Australian children's literature? Never fear: you can check out the list below.

The Garden of Empress Cassia (2002)

The Garden of Empress Cassia is the first book from the subsequently highly prolific Gabrielle Wang, and won the writer her first Aurealis Award (children's division). In The Garden of Empress Cassia, protagonist Mimi discovers that her magic pastels can create 'a drawing so beautiful and real that people are transported inside it'. But that way lies danger as well as beauty.

Spellbinder II (1997)

Following on from the highly successfully 1995 Polish-Australian co-production Spellbinder, Spellbinder II added China to the list of co-operating countries to make Spellbinder II: Land of the Dragon Lord. Protagonist Kathy is pulled into an alternate China where the empire is ruled by advanced technology.


The Plum Rain Scroll (1978)

Not an alternate China for this work, but an alternate Japan: Idzumo, a Japan of folklore and mythology, of fox-women, ghosts who haunt umbrellas, plum-tree bonsai, and unexpected explosions. Queensland-born Ruth Manley was educated first in German and then, later in life, in Japanese, which led to this novel and its sequels: The Dragon Stone and The Peony Lantern. Unfortunately, Manley died before The Peony Lantern was entirely complete: Lord Marishoten never did seize the Chrysanthemum Throne, but neither did we learn the mystery of Taro's birth.

Kumiko and the Dragon (2007)

The first of three books in Briony Stewart's Kumiko series, Kumiko and the Dragon introduces us to Kumiko and the reason she can't sleep: the giant dragon who sits outside her window night after night. Kumiko's adventures continue in Kumiko and the Dragon's Secret and Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers.

Master Raindrop (2008)

An animated television series, Master Raindrop follows the adventures of an anthropomorphic raindrop who is also a martial arts student. When his school is broken up and his master kidnapped, he must find a way to defeat the evil General Bu and restore order to the land. The program was an Australia-Singapore-New Zealand co-production.

In Between (1987)

In 1987, SBS aired this four-part mini-series about Australian children from various ethnic backgrounds and soci-economic positions (including Turkish and Cambodian families: hence its inclusion in this list). The series was written by Maureen McCarthy and Shane Brennan (the latter now the American-based showrunner for NCIS and its spin-off). The series won an AFI Award for Best Mini-series Screenplay.

Mr Mystery (2006-present)

James Lee's Mr Mystery series has run to twenty individual novels and two special issues since 2006, and Alvin Soh and his team of investigators show no signs of slowing down. Lee was born in Australia but has been based in Singapore for many decades--where he also writes the Mr Midnight series, starring Tasha Tan and friends.

Sin Can Can (1987)

Sin Can Can was published in the same year in which In Between was broadcast, but here, rather than gritty inner-city suburbia, we have teenager Ashley Fallowfield, on holiday with her parents in Bali. While her parents work on saving their marriage, Ashely works on attracting the attentions of the spunky Rai--but also manages to attract the attention of some Balinese spirits and their magic.

This is the merest taste of the type of material available in our AACLAP (Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing) dataset. This spectacular project is the result of many many months of fine scholarship.

To see the full range of AACLAP material, click here.

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