The West

Bright young things set for a great read
Mystery at Riddle Gully by Jen Banyard, Chapter 4. Illustration: Tracey Gibbs

When Awesome Festival artistic director Jenny Simpson reviewed West Australian author Jen Banyard's book Mystery at Riddle Gully earlier this year, she knew it was something special.

With the book's themes of caring for the environment, alienation and the power of the community, Simpson believed it would be the perfect choice for the festival's first ever Awesome Kids' Book Club.

Mystery at Riddle Gully tells the story of Pollo di Nozi, a girl on a mission with her woolly sidekick Shorn Connery (see today's ED!).

Pollo and Shorn are out to expose a vampire that seems to be living in their town but have they bitten off more than they dare when

they come across the greedy town


Banyard is looking forward to meeting and chatting to her readers during the festival.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Banyard says. "I was told that I could also play my ukulele. But be warned, I don't play that well!"

The author will lead storytelling activities and talk about Mystery at Riddle Gully and other writing projects.

The Awesome Festival began in December 1996 with a week-long program catering for five to 12-year-olds. Activities included international, national and local theatre, music, dance, visual arts and film components. Today the Awesome International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things showcases the best and latest contemporary art from around the world for young people.

With 2012 being the National Year of Reading, Jenny Simpson says it's a great time to be introducing a children's literature program into the line-up.

"In programming Awesome I think that it is important that we provide quality arts experiences for children and whilst I want everyone to have fun, I think it is

important that we do more than that," she explains.

"Mystery at Riddle Gully is layered and provides a variety of entry points for deeper thinking and exploration without beating people over the head."

The Awesome Kids' Book Club will run on Tuesday, October 9, at 11am at the State Library of Western Australia Pond. Suitable for children aged 9 to 14 years, the event is free. For more information on Awesome visit

The West Australian

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