YA Book Stack

YA Book Stack is an in-conversation series highlighting new and diverse voices and texts for students in the middle years.  In conversation with VATE’s Education Officer, Emma Jenkins, each author will discuss the application of their text in the middle years' classroom and the ways their text is reflective of the experiences of young adult readers and the world they engage with.  Through a focus on the text in the classroom, YA Book Stack aims to encourage educators to embrace the flexibility of the middle years and explore a broader range of texts in their curriculum.

Add it to YA book stack!

If you are interested in purchasing any of the titles from the YA Book Stack series, contact VATE’s partner bookseller, The Little Bookroom, and ask to be added to their schools and libraries database for a 15% discount.

VATE members have exclusive access to interview notes and the video footage of Emma's conversations after logging into their VATE account.  YA Book Stack is available to listen to on this page, or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Deezer.

Leanne Hall on her text The Gaps 
The first in the YA Book Stack series is an interview with Leanne Hall.  Leanne’s recent publication, The Gaps, pries into the vulnerability, strength, safety, danger and uncertainties that young women face in the world. When sixteen-year-old Yin is abducted, the news shocks the community of Balmoral Ladies College.  A gripping feminist novel about the racism, sexism and privilege that exists in the world of young adults, The Gaps is a perfect text for the middle years English classroom. In this conversation, Leanne will unpack her writing motivations and processes, as well as explore the text features that lend The Gaps to engaging and meaningful study.

Leanne Hall is an author of young adult and children’s fiction. Her debut novel, This Is Shyness, won the Text Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Writing, and was followed by a sequel, Queen of the Night. Her novel for younger readers, Iris and the Tiger, won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature at the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Her latest novel, The Gaps, was published in 2021. Leanne works as a children’s and YA specialist at an independent bookshop.

    Leanne Hall - The Gaps

Rawah Arja on her text The F Team
When ‘The Wolf Pack’s’ school is threatened with closure due to poor enrolment numbers and a declining reputation, Tariq Nader and his friends are required by their new school principal to assist with cleaning up the school’s image through the participation in a rugby tournament. But there’s a catch. They must cooperate and work in a team with boys from a school in Cronulla, their sworn enemies. From family, racism, prejudice and to the power of friendship and acceptance, The Wolf Pack navigate the pressures of the responsibility to keep their school open whilst learning about their place in the world as young men. In this episode of YA Book Stack, Rawah reveals her motivations, inspirations and impetus for writing The F Team and shares her key messages and takeaways for young adult readers.

Rawah Arja is a writer and teacher from Western Sydney. Her first novel The F Team has been shortlisted for numerous literary awards including the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Writing for Young Adults. Her writing has featured in Second City: Essays From Western Sydney (2021), Arab, Australian, Other (2019), SBS Voices and at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. She has received a fellowship from WestWords Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residential Program, is a member of the Finishing School collective of women writers, and teaches creative writing at schools and workshops.

    Rawah Arja - The F Team

Gary Lonesborough on his text The Boy from the Mish
On the Mish, Jackson’s Aunty and his annoying little cousins spend another hot Australian summer.  This time, his Aunty brings a mysterious boy with a troubled past, Tomas, to stay.  Jackson and Tomas’ friendship evolves over the summer as they spend time together, work on an art project and bond over their shared cultural history and connections.  For Jackson, spending time with Tomas forces him to confront the relationships he has with his friends and family, as well as his place in the community.  A novel about love, identity and acceptance, Jackson learns to accept and embrace the young man he is becoming.  In this YA Book Stack interview, Gary delves into the importance of the intersectionality of his text, of highlighting the experience of young, queer men and shares his insights on the way he sees his text being used for study in the English classroom.

Gary Lonesborough is a Yuin man, who grew up on the Far South Coast of NSW as part of a large and proud Aboriginal family. Growing up a massive Kylie Minogue and North Queensland Cowboys fan, Gary was always writing as a child, and continued his creative journey when he moved to Sydney to study at film school. Gary has experience working in Aboriginal health, the disability sector (including experience working in the Youth Justice System), and the film industry. He was Bega Valley Shire Council Young Citizen of the Year, won the Patrick White Young Indigenous Writers' Award, and has received a Copyright Agency First Nations Fellowship. The Boy from the Mish is Gary's debut YA novel.

    Gary Lonesborough - The Boy from the Mish

Anna Whateley on her text Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal
Peta Lyre is far from typical but she tries hard to appear so; following a series of well-crafted rules and routines dictated by her psychologist to assist with blending in.  Through Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal’s stream-of-consciousness narrative, we accompany Peta as she navigates life seeking to be ‘normal’.  As readers, we explore what it means to be normal, who and what is normal and ultimately, whether being normal is all that it is made out to be.  With empathy and compassion, Anna unveils what life is like for Peta who has multiple diagnoses and has undertaken years of therapy in order to assist with managing her triggers and we are asked to challenge the typical ‘rules’ of behaviour.  Why would we want to be ‘normal’ and at what cost?  In this interview for YA Book Stack, Anna elaborates on the anxieties and uncertainties of living in a world that doesn’t suit how Peta’s mind works and shares the reasons for her many inspirations – from Frankenstein, to Romantic poetry, and Icelandic instrumentalist music.

Anna Whateley’s debut #ownvoices novel Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal, Allen & Unwin, is shortlisted for the CBCA book awards. She also has an essay titled ‘Noisy Silence’ in Growing Up Disabled in Australia, Black Inc Books, edited by Carly Findlay. Her next novel, Tearing Myself Together will be released early 2022 with Allen & Unwin.  When coronavirus spread, Anna founded the bookish chat show #AusChat just to keep the community together, and the YouTube channel is now funded in part by the Australian Arts Council. She uses her YouTube and Twitch presence to collaborate and connect with the writing community and more broadly with composers, gamers, and interesting folk all around the world.  Anna has a PhD in young adult fiction (literary criticism) and has taught sociology and YA/children’s literature to preservice teachers. She loves to attend writer events, conferences, twitter storms, and book launches, and is also a strong advocate for the neurodivergent community.


Anna Whateley - Peta Lyre's Rating Normal


Thank you to the supporters of YA Book Stack, The Little Bookroom, Giramondo Publishing, Text Publishing and Allen & Unwin.