This alternate history coming-of-age YA is the Winner of the 2018 Storylines Tessa Duder Award.
“An inferior people, that’s what the Director called us at the beginning of his reign, but still useful.”
There are two peoples living in the city of Ursa: the Cerels and the Travesters. Travesters move freely and enjoy a fine quality of life. Cerel men are kept in wild camps and the women are no longer allowed to have children. The Director presides over all with an iron fist. Fifteen-year-old Leho can’t remember a time when Cerels lived without fear in Ursa. His parents once tried to organise an uprising – his mother was blinded, and his father was taken away. But now his world is changing. Revolution is coming. People will die. Will Leho be able to save his family?
Tina Shaw has written several books for young people. In 2010, About Griffen’s Heart was a Storylines Notable Book and was short-listed for the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards. Her other publications for younger readers include the fantasy novels Into the Hinterland and its sequel Dogs of the Hinterland, and her most recent YA novel is Make a Hard Fist, to be followed by its companion novel, Gun-Metal Blue. Ursa, the winner of the 2018 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, is her first novel with Walker Books Australia.
A chilling exploration of totalitarianism, Ursa is also a salient warning about the consequences of segregating and demonising a whole section of society. Thought-provoking and disturbing, it challenges each of us to stand up for the protection of universal human rights.
Mandy Hager, author of the award-winning Singing Home the Whale and Dear Vincent
A masterfully crafted tale of resistance and rebellion, set against a hauntingly familiar political landscape. Shaw holds you spellbound as family, friendship and first love defy an oppressive regime. Ursa takes you gently, yet irresistibly, by the heart then squeezes until you are gasping for breath.
Rachael Craw, author of the award-winning Spark series and The Rift
Shaw has captured a teen’s desperation as he walks a sharp wire between taking action or protecting his family caught in a city undergoing ethnic cleansing. Leho’s trepidation, his love and his yearning are so intense you’ll be hooked. The strange setting contains references to our past and our future with the movement of people due to climate problems, the methods of dehumanisation used by the dictator and the way the dominant population stays oblivious to what is right under their noses as they sail about in airships and elaborate fashions.
Cally Black, author of the award-winning In the Dark Spaces
Tina Shaw deservingly won the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for Ursa in 2018. You can read Ursa as an allegorical glimpse into dark past times, a lens on current events, or an imagined frightening future. This scope gives Ursa the hallmarks of becoming an absolute classroom classic.
CBCA: Reading Time Blog
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