|Book of the Year: Younger Readers
The publisher says...
I can’t let go of them – the good, right things—because if I do I’ll turn into a cloud and I’ll float away,
and a storm will come and blow me to nothing."
Aster attends a school for gifted kids, but she doesn’t think she’s special at all. If she was, her mother wouldn’t have left. Each day Aster must do a good, right thing—a challenge she sets herself, to make someone else’s life better. Nobody can know about her ‘things’, because then they won’t count. And if she doesn’t do them, she's sure everything will go wrong. Then she meets Xavier. He has his own kind of special missions to make life better. When they do these missions together, Aster feels free, but if she stops doing her good, right things will everything fall apart?
The author says...
Aster's Good, Right Things is a deeply personal story to me. I lived through childhood anxiety and felt very alone, unheard and deeply "flawed". Now, as an adult with anxiety and on the spectrum, I wanted to write a story for all the kids like me, so they might feel less alone. In all my writing, I seek to destigmatise mental illness, to show the importance of kindness and compassion, and to let kids know that there is a path out. And that they are not flawed. They are perfect, just as they are.
The CBCA judges say...
Written with great insight and delight, Aster's voice is pitch perfect and the reader is treated to a view of the world seen through her eyes. Aster's 'good, right things' are sacrifices she makes in the service of others, as an atonement for her mother's departure which Aster blames on herself. Rich with imagery, flowers are used throughout to convey emotion. As the story progresses, Aster's sense of self-worth grows, and her need to make sacrifices diminishes – a very sophisticated plot and characterisation device. This change occurs when Aster is able to connect with Xavier who is challenged by depression and Indigo, a troubled child. The setting of a progressive school for the gifted is presented with gentle humour. Aunt Noni's efforts to make Aster enjoy life are misguided but well intentioned, while Aster's Mum's selfishness is breathtaking. A brilliant portrayal of mental health, which would appeal to the upper end of the YR category and could also resonate with YA readers.
The Reading Time reviewers say...
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Teaching Notes for this book...
The publisher has generously made teaching notes available for this book. Click on the icon below to view these resources.