Shortlist year: 2010

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: Walker Books

A poignant verse novel depicting the joys and heartbreaks of a farming family as they struggle to cope with the devastating effects of long term drought.

Told through the eyes of Ruby, day to day farm life involves playing in grassy paddocks with siblings, doing jobs and helping out, and witnessing birth, death and sacrifice.

The family are devastated when they have to sell off some of their herd, but in the spirit of hope it is Ruby who tries in her own small way to help the family by making miniature bales of hay.

About the author

Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood is an award-winning poet who has been widely published in international literary magazines and has also published several children's books, including The Girl who Turned into Treacle and Rot Your Socks.

Lorraine is the Australian editor of the UK literary magazine Tears in the Fence and is a writer of poetry ideas and teaching plans for Literature Base. She also conducts workshops on poetry and story writing skills and is a judge for many writing competitions, including the Dorothea McKellar Poetry Awards.

Lorraine was also the recipient of a May Gibbs mentorship in

Judges’ comments

Lorraine Marwood's Star Jumps is a verse novel set on a dairy farm, and is a lyrical portrait of rural life seen vividly through the eyes of Ruby, the youngest of three siblings. Star Jumps is the favourite game of Keely, Connor and Ruby, a game they play among the marshmallow weed when their work is done; and is also a metaphor for the joy of life, for the here and now.

As prolonged drought threatens to take the farm and Dad has to sell many of the best stock, Ruby makes a list of the things they can do to help and comes up with mini hay bales made from the grass around the fences. Ruby tells the family's story in a voice which offers us a child's view of a changing world.

This is a moving evocation of home and family bonds, and the rhythms of farm life, and explores the effect of drought on all of these things. Star Jumps speaks with a natural poetry and unfussy richness, offering the reader evidence of the power of individual action and of hope in a small, perfectly inscribed way.

Star Jumps was selected as the winner of the 2010 Children's Fiction Award for it is a deceptively simple work with enormous resonance which, in the verse novel format, both evokes a place with warmth and great empathy, and enters into the world of the child with lucid charm and clarity. Star Jumps takes the reader into the lives of a family at a moment of change, sharing with the reader joy, fear and hope. It was the ‘surprise package’ in the list and the voice in which it is written is appealing, authentic and irresistible.