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Koro's Star by Claire Aramakutu

It's the beginning of the summer holidays in 1967 when 10-year-old Atama moves with his family into a new army base. His father, Atama's hero, departs for Vietnam, asking Atama to look after his mum and younger sister while he's gone.

Atama is nervous about making friends at the new camp. But his father offers up his Koro's 1939-45 star medal. The talisman gives Atama the courage to make friends, but he's unprepared for what lies ahead.

Author Claire Aramakutu's characters are well-defined and realistic. She understands people have flaws, and her characters do too. They are vulnerable and real. Written for readers in middle-primary, she touches on some important themes that these readers will identify and empathise with. These include themes of bullying, friendship, family ties and acceptance. 

There's a hint of the unnatural in the book too but Aramakutu pitches it, again, in an age-appropriate way for her intended audience. Readers can follow Atama through his difficulties and, in turn, can practice their own empathy and problem-solving skills.

While the story is set in the 60s, Aramakutu keeps it fresh and relatable for today's generation. Her research of military elements is impeccable, and again, she keeps it relevant and educational for her readers.

With short, sharp chapters, it's the perfect book for a younger reader taking their next steps into independent reading. Aramakutu keeps a cracking pace throughout the book, urging readers on. 

The winner of the 2023 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award, Koro’s Star is a heart-warming tale with a touch of the supernatural woven throughout it that will captivate younger readers.


Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell



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