Christopher is 12-thousand miles from home. The pub has a dirt floor, and the owner is rough as guts. The forest hides snakes, feral pigs, and a dark secret.
A twisting tale form Australia's master storyteller, A Different Land is Paul Jenning's at his finest.
With more than 100 books to his name, Jennings needs no introduction to readers. Known for his twists, turns, suspense, and surprise endings, with dashes of humour and strong morals, this book is no different. However, it is a slightly more subdued Jennings in this book. It isn't as far-out or zany as the likes of Unreal or Unbearable or any of the Un-series we grew up with. But that doesn't make it any less valuable than his other books.
A Different Land is the third in a loosely connected series of novellas by Jennings. This book continues to explore themes of family, grief, and displacement as Christopher tries to find a home.
The book features wonderful drawings by illustrator Geoff Kelly. The start of each chapter features the line drawings that add to reader's understandings.
The book is a relatively easy book to tackle for less confident readers. It features short chapters, a crisp and clear font and spacing, as well as being perfectly pitched to the reader's comprehension. It would also make a great book to read aloud for younger readers, around mid-primary aged. Jennings might be known for his more freaky stories, but A Different Land is not too scary that younger readers need to miss out on an engaging story. However, a little bit of maturity is needed to appreciate its nuances.
This book is a departure from Jenning's usual writing style but it is no less typical Jennings. Dark, emotional, gripping, and funny, A Different Land is a great introduction for younger readers to one of the best children's authors around.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Allen & Unwin, RRP $16.99