Premiers' Reading Challenge: Book review winners announced

Two secondary school students become the first ever Reader’s Review Competition winners.

Books take you there

Year 7 Grovedale College student Zoe, and Year 9 East Doncaster Secondary College student Ashnela, are the first winners of the Premiers’ Reading Challenge (PRC) Reader’s Review competition.

The competition for secondary students ran from April to July this year to encourage students to expand their literacy skills. Year 7 to 10 students were invited to read a book from the book list and write an original 400 to 500 word book review.

Young adult fiction writers, Anita Selzer, Emily Gale, Fleur Ferris, Gabrielle Wang and Robert Newton had the pleasure of selecting the winners. It was no easy task as there were many exemplary book reviews submitted by secondary school students from across Victoria.


Reader’s Review Competition winner — Zoe, Year 7
Reader’s Review Competition winner — Zoe, Year 7 student at Grovedale College

Zoe won the Year 7-8 category for her review of Lion: A Long Way Home (Young Readers’ Edition) by Saroo Brierly.

Her review explores the main themes of the book, which Zoe said ‘really allows the reader to fall into a lost Indian boy's shoes, which makes the book much more enjoyable'.

The judges praised Zoe for writing a review that ‘flowed beautifully’ and showcased good structure.

Author of The Other Side of Summer, Emily Gale thought it was an engaging review.

‘[Zoe] has fully engaged with the themes of the book and understands the power of stories like Lion: A Long Way Home to foster empathy,’ Emily said.

Gabrielle Wang, who wrote the recently published Ting Ting the Ghosthunter noted that the review gave the reader specific details about the chapters in the books and the number of pages in each chapter.

Anita Selzer, author of I Am Sasha, thought the review demonstrated good analytical ability.

To read Zoe’s review, see: Winning reviews.

Confronting real issues in books

Year 9 East Doncaster Secondary College student Ashnela won the Year 9-10 category for her review of Will Kostakis’s The Sidekicks.

Ashnela provided readers with an insightful and articulate analysis of The Sidekicks through the use of sophisticated language. The panel of judges commended her review for expertly addressing many important themes, while confronting the challenging concepts of the book.

In her review, Ashnela says she took the opportunity to have a conversation with her older brother about the issues raised in the book.

‘It really does show that perceptions can be deceiving,’ Ashnela said.

Judges Emily Gale and Gabrielle Wang observed that Ashnela’s review demonstrated a deep understanding of the text.

‘This review engages with the themes of the novel and its broad context with deep thought and a confident voice that made this an arresting piece,’ Emily said.

‘Ashnela’s own research and the many questions raised about the novel and the character shows that the reviewer has thought deeply about the book,’ Gabrielle said.

Judge, Robert Newton commended Ashnela’s observations of the book’s plot device and the structure, while applauding the maturity of her writing. ‘With her sophisticated and emotive language, she has pitched her review perfectly to the reading demographic most likely to read The Sidekicks,’ Robert says.

To read Ashnela’s review, see: Winning reviews.

Premiers' Reading Challenge

Literacy is important for all aspects of life, and all Victorian secondary school students are encouraged to take the next step in expanding their literacy skills.

To find out more or register, visit: Premiers' Reading Challenge.