Red Sand, Blue Sky
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CATHY APPLEGATE grew up in Melbourne, Australia. After earning a medical degree, she established a general practice in Darwin, where she now lives with her husband and three children. Her books for young readers include Where's Itchy? and Rain Dance. Applegate also composes music and is currently working on a piece for guitar quartet, cello, and piano.

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Red Sand, Blue Sky

Cathy Applegate

At the center of Australia is a vast red desert known as the Outback. For twelve-year-old Amy from Melbourne who arrives to visit her aunt, it is a world unlike anything she's ever seen before. But then she meets Lana, a local Aboriginal girl who, like Amy, has recently lost her mother, and the two girls overcome differences to form a surprising bond.

With warmth and humor, Red Sand, Blue Sky charts the encounter between Amy and Lana and their deepening friendship. Through Lana, Amy learns about the harsh treatment suffered by the Aboriginal people at the hands of the white settlers who were her ancestors, while Lana comes to appreciate Amy's and her aunt's commitment to protect the sacredness of the land.

Their quest will challenge their own courage and ingenuity and test the bonds of the new friendship. Red Sand, Blue Sky offers a model of girlhood that includes adventuring out in the world, where one discovers not only present-day conflicts, but the realities of history, geography, and cultural difference. The book handles difficult historical issues, as well as current-day racial tension, with frankness and careful balance. Its primary strength is the leavening power of its humor: “‘Do you know how you light a fire with two sticks?’ asked Lana. ‘No, how?’ asked Amy. She had heard that Aboriginal people could light a fire this way. Lana replied, ‘Make sure one of the sticks is a match.’”

For ages 9-12.

"An engaging and entertaining novel for young readers about a chance meeting and friendship between two girls . . . is highly recommended reading and would make an excellent addition to school and community library collections."

Midwest Book Review