Title: Red Sand, Blue Sky
Author: Cathy Applegate
Major Themes: Australia, Aboriginals, Mystery
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Amy lives in Melbourne, but has the adventure of her life when she goes to Central Australia to stay with her aunt, a nurse among the Aboriginals, for two weeks.
Red Sand, Blue Sky is not one of our favorite books, but the action toward the end did keep my boys at the edge of their seats, so to speak, as I was reading it aloud. They were supposed to be washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, but I had to stop and remind them often to get back to work—they were hanging on every word!
Twelve-year-old Amy lives with her father in Melbourne; her mother is not in the picture. She and her father have a comfortable routine for their lives, but then he has to go to Canada for a business trip. He doesn’t feel that he can take her along, so she has to go spend the two weeks with her aunt, a nurse, in an Aboriginal settlement in the Outback, some distance from Alice Springs. Amy has never met any Aboriginals before, so she is in for a lot of new experiences! Her new friend Lana helps her to understand the Aboriginal culture better, and the two girls have to work together to save a life.
The basic reason we didn’t rank Red Sand, Blue Sky story as highly as some is that it was published by The Feminist Press. That slant doesn’t come through too strongly in the story, though, so I did feel all right reading it aloud. The quality of writing isn’t quite as high as a lot of the books we read, either. However, for a picture of the Australian Outback, and the challenges faced by the Aboriginals, it’s a good choice.
WARNING: Chapter four portrays swimming at the local pool—without swimsuits—and page 112, the second paragraph from the bottom, mentions a man speaking obscenities.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12 (with parental censorship), 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15