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  • Published: 1 August 2016
  • ISBN: 9780143780557
  • Imprint: Random House Australia Children's
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $17.99

The Shark Caller

Only a twin from a shark calling family can appease the ancestors and bring a community back together in this powerful and haunting story.

Isabel is on a plane heading back to her island birthplace in Papua New Guinea. Izzy is looking forward to seeing her family again, but there’s another tragic reason for the trip. Izzy’s twin brother, Ray, died in a freak diving accident, and Izzy and her mum are taking his ashes home for traditional death ceremonies.

After they arrive, Izzy realises things have changed since their last visit. Logging threatens the community’s way of life and sharks no longer answer the song of the shark callers.

Izzy’s cousin Noah explains that the clan needs someone to undertake a traditional diving ritual. The person must be a twin from the shark calling lineage. The dive will be perilous.

And Izzy is the last twin.

Will she have the courage to attempt the dive? And what deep, dark secrets will the ocean reveal if she does?

  • Published: 1 August 2016
  • ISBN: 9780143780557
  • Imprint: Random House Australia Children's
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $17.99

About the author

Dianne Wolfer

Dianne Wolfer is an award-winning author. Her book Lighthouse Girl served as inspiration for PIAF’s The Giants and was adapted into a stage production by Black Swan State Theatre Company. One of Dianne’s picture books, Photographs in the Mud (set along the Kokoda Track), is used as an international peace reference and has been published in Japanese; it is also a recommended resource for the National History Curriculum.

Also by Dianne Wolfer

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Praise for The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller breaks new ground in junior YA fiction. Dianne Wolfer blends a mystical tale about legends and traditions in Papua New Guinea with issues such as saving a coral reef . . . The underwater scenes are a highlight of the novel, with myriad nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, anglerfish and cuttlefish showcasing the abundant sea-life. These scenes also reveal the effects of chemical runoff from logging, which contaminate the water and destroy the coral. These issues of conservation and identity, as told from Izzy’s dual-cultural perspective, with a scattering of creole Tok Pisin words, will intrigue readers aged 11 and up.

Joy Lawn, Bookseller + Publisher

This is a book that deals with a lot of different situations and relationships. Death, separation, grief, courage, friendship, responsibility and danger; set against the impacts of logging in a part of the world reliant on keeping the balance of nature intact. Every element of The Shark Caller works together to stress the complexity of the relationships between the protagonist and those around her, the rituals and beliefs of the local people and the natural environment . . . The Shark Caller is an adventurous undertaking. Wolfer does not shy away from confronting the emotional and physical roller-coaster of life for this early-teen.

Jennifer Mors, CBCA Reading Time

Dianne Wolfer’s love of the sea and its creatures is evident in her novel Shark Caller. Set in the fictional Finsch Island in Papua New Guinea’s New Ireland Province, Shark Caller combines traditional stories and modern environmental concerns with a fictional family drama. . . The Shark Caller is imaginative and fantastical and full of drama. Phrases of Tok Pisin (a creole language of PNG) are scattered throughout, giving the reader a sense of immersion in the culture and traditions of the island. A glossary is included to help with interpretation. Recommended for middle-school students.

Jane Smith, Magpies

This is a lyrical, evocative story of a very different world. The traditions and customs of Izzy's family are beautifully described, and the use of Tok Pisin phrases throughout adds to the novel's authenticity. But this book provides much more than an insight into another culture. It's also the story of a young girl learning about her history and claiming her rightful place in the family. Along the way, she has to face her fears and survive an edge-of-the-seat adventure that will keep readers glued to the page.

Anouska Jones - Kids' Book Reveiw, http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2016/08/review-shark-caller.html

[Izzy's] family, and particularly male twins, are known to be the shark callers. They communicate with sharks and other callers telepathically underwater and form a bond that brings harmony and balance to their tribe. But this balance has been skewed recently with local tribes selling off their land for logging and their reef is dying. Izzy isn’t male so how is it her uncle and cousin believe she is the one who can save them? And will she survive the deep dive into a treacherous cave system to restore this balance? Is it even worth the risk for this half Australian girl? This is a terrific discussion starter for lower secondary students with themes of tradition, community, family responsibility and eco-tourism highlighted.

Rob, Lamont Books

This marvellous book has opened my eyes to a completely new culture and spirituality. The writing is evocative and transformative – for the duration I was in the Islander culture . . . For Izzy, her return to New Ireland truly is ‘coming home’ and as the full implications of being a twin in the shark calling tradition unravel Izzy is pulled into the mysterious world of her ancestors. The results are courageous and frightening, inspiring and full of despair and utterly mesmerising. This is a powerful book both in its own narrative right but also a hugely beneficial adjunct to curriculum studies of our near neighbours and creating a greater cultural understanding.

Sue Warren, losangzopa.wordpress.com

This is one of those novels that literally transport you into a different world where you have such a surreal yet complete experience that it’s a bit hard coming back to reality . . . What boggled my mind was how closely and believably fact and fantasy were woven together . . . Congratulations to Dianne Wolfer on publishing a richly fantastical novel for young adults! I can’t wait for more!

Stacey Kym, staceykym.wixsite.com/twinreads

An intriguing anthropomorphic fantasy steeped in cultural beliefs and the mystique of the sea.

The Book Curator

The author comments on the clash of cultures through actions such as logging and how this has damaged the Papua New Guinean reef. Wolfer has shown how the two cultures can support each other by prefacing every chapter with quotes from significant authors such as J. K. Rowling. This novel could work well for students studying the English textual concepts of Authority, Context, Point of View, Representation and Intertextuality. It also supports the cross curriculum priority of Sustainability, and the general capability of Ethical understanding.

J. Duvall, Scan, Vol 36

Awards & recognition

CBCA Book of the Year Awards

Notable Book  •  2017  •  Younger Readers

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Teachers' notes