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  • Published: 2 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143791799
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $16.99


A daring escape. A school lockdown. A thrilling chase. What would you risk to save a life?

"Australian author Tristan Bancks has created a fictional but thoroughly researched, fast paced, suspenseful and ultimately hopeful story." Better Reading

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one.

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents.

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block.

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She's breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?


*CBCA Book of the Year Awards - Notable Book 2020*
*NSW Premier's Literary Awards - Shortlisted 2020*
*ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children - Shortlisted 2020*
*YABBA Children's Choice Awards Fiction for Years 7-9 - Shortlisted 2020*
*Queensland Literary Awards Griffith University Children's Book Award - Shortlisted 2020*

"A raw and authentic exploration of human connection ... gripping, insightful and compassionate." Megan Daley, Children's Books Daily

"This is a little book that packs a big punch!" Bronwyn Eley, Booktopia

"As a piece of literature, this is exceptional. As a narrative about the hearts and minds of Australians in 2019, it is a masterpiece." Others Magazine
________________________________Also by Tristan Bancks:

Scar Town
Two Wolves
The Fall
Cop and Robber
Ginger Meggs
Nit Boy

Mac Slater 1: Coolhunter
Mac Slater 2: Imaginator

Tom Weekly 1: My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up
Tom Weekly 2: My Life and Other Stuff That Went Wrong
Tom Weekly 3: My Life and Other Massive Mistakes
Tom Weekly 4: My Life and Other Exploding Chickens
Tom Weekly 5: My Life and Other Weaponised Muffins
Tom Weekly 6: My Life and Other Failed Experiments

  • Published: 2 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143791799
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $16.99

About the author

Tristan Bancks

Tristan Bancks tells stories for the page and screen. His books for kids and teens include Two Wolves, The Fall, Detention, the Tom Weekly series, Nit Boy and Ginger Meggs, a 100th anniversary book of short stories based on characters created by his great-great uncle, Jimmy Bancks, in 1921. Tristan's books have won and been shortlisted for many awards, including a Children's Book Council of Australia Honour Book, the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, ABIA, YABBA, KOALA, NSW Premier's Literary Awards and Queensland Literary Awards. His latest book is Cop and Robber, a tense, fast-paced crime novel with lots of laughs for age 10+.

Tristan is a writer-ambassador for literacy non-profit Room to Read. He is currently working with producers to develop a number of his books for the screen. He's excited by the future of storytelling and inspiring others to create. You can find out more about Tristan’s books, play games, watch videos, join his Young Writer's StorySchool and help him try to change the world at tristanbancks.com.

Also by Tristan Bancks

See all

Praise for Detention

Tense and taut, Detention will have you on the run, minute by minute, with Sima and Dan, making you ask: What would I do if this were me?

Clare Atkins, author of BETWEEN US

Utterly believable. Felt like I was holding my breath from start to finish. Bancks champions the strength and decency of young people caught up in a harsh world not of their making.

Mark Smith, author of THE ROAD TO WINTER

Young readers will enjoy the swiftness and urgency of the storytelling, and it's also a high-stakes introduction to questions of what to do when morality and the law diverge.

Cameron Woodhead, Sydney Morning Herald

A thrilling, heartfelt page-turner enriched by probing social commentary, Detention is essential for opening and fuelling dialogue about the asylum seeker and refugee situation in Australia . . . Detention tackles big, important issues without lecturing or talking down to [the] reader. In a world filled with toxic ideologies and divisions, Tristan Bancks shows young people have the courage to rise up and demand equality for all; to fight for human rights and ignore the banal politicising. And its breakneck pace means it’s almost impossible to put down.

Simon McDonald, writtenbysime.com

Detention is a raw and authentic exploration of human connection. An unlikely union, Dan and Sima are confronted with some life-altering decisions as they are thrown into a very dangerous situation. The novel challenges readers to think about the complexities of a world that deems what is ‘moral’ and what is ‘legal’ as being polar opposites. It is affirming in its representation of a younger generation able to grapple with such contradiction and to stand up for what is right, and leaves readers with a sense of optimism that things might one day change. Tristan’s writing is gripping, his characters are all-too real and his symbolic use of the Australian landscape is a powerful weapon he wields to make his readers look more closely at the world around them.

Megan Daley, author of RAISING READERS

Just wow! Once again Tristan has crafted a sensational narrative with high-impact tension and thought-provoking themes which will keep readers eagerly turning pages . . . As the plot unfolds the reader becomes completely invested in the characters that are realised with a deft portraiture which is compelling and emotional without becoming cloying or stereotyped . . . It's never been difficult to 'sell' Tristan's books to my students and now the ripple effect is evident as more and more share their recommendation with peers but this one will be a block-buster I foresee.

Sue Warren, losangzopa.wordpress.com

Detention was a privilege to read. It was confronting, powerful, emotion filled and an important story to tell. It reminded me that not all Australians live equally, and some people will do all that they can to be 'free' from the constraints of what one part of society accepts as OK . . . Tristan Bancks has tackled some big issues in a sensitive and respectful way . . . This would be a perfect book for a class read-aloud book because I believe it will provoke thoughtful conversation and open discussion.


This is a well-written, well-researched thriller from the author of Two Wolves and The Fall that will appeal to lovers of suspenseful stories aged 11+.

Angela Crocombe, readings.com.au

Superb . . . Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get.

Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, thebottomshelf.edublogs.org

It is a thought-provoking story, really well written, with a satisfying and realistic conclusion.

Helen Eddy, ReadPlus

A sensitively written story that shows the humanity behind topics such as human rights and freedom.

Vicki Thornton, Magpies

I hardly know where to begin with this utterly splendid book...I felt bereft once it ended...because the glorious experience of reading such a beautifully told and finely nuanced story was over. The tension in this book is so palpable. The plot just races along and the individual voices of both characters demand to be heard. For me this is certainly a five star book.

Momo celebrating time to read

Detention is a heart-breaking, thought-provoking junior novel about courage, fear, friendship and empathy . . . The novel is action packed and fast-paced, but teamed with brilliant and authentic characters, the story is deep and real. It’s a story that won’t be easily forgotten.

Shaye Wardrop, Kids' Book Review

Australian author Tristan Bancks has created a fictional but thoroughly researched, fast paced, suspenseful and ultimately hopeful story . . . With this powerful story, Bancks has definitely achieved his goal of telling a human story rather than a political one and we expect to see this book on school reading lists across the country.


I cannot stop showing this book to my students, it is so good . . . Tristan Bancks has produced a novel for our times.

Liz Derouet, lizderouet.wordpress.com

The richness of Sima’s Afghan culture and her backstory of flight from the Taliban is told with colour yet enough restraint to keep young readers’ interest. The writing is tight, with exciting plotting and even humour. Ultimately, we learn to empathise with the characters of Dan and Sima. Detention is about individuals, about knowing their stories. It outlines the anguish of refugees detained in or near Australia with understanding and compassion.

Joy Lawn, The Australian

Written with compassion and empathy, this is an important book which exposes readers to the plight of asylum seekers in an age-appropriate manner. Highly recommended.

Sunday Telegraph

Awards & recognition


Shortlisted  •  2020  •  Book of the Year for Older Children

NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Shortlisted  •  2020  •  Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature

Queensland Literary Awards

Shortlisted  •  2020  •  Griffith University Children's Book Award

CBCA Book of the Year Awards

Notable Book  •  2020  •  Younger Readers

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Detention by Tristan Bancks

A daring escape. A school lockdown. A thrilling chase. What would you risk to save a life? Learn more: https://www.penguin.com.au/books/detention-9780143791799