Illustrated by Shaun Tan
Fremantle Press (2013)
ISBN: 978 1 922089 45 8
Reviewed by Pearl Maya
Hatched is an anthology of 23 short stories, all winners of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers at some point in the last 20 years and is surely a must for any school or home library.
The stories are written from junior to senior school students in a range of genres from fantasy to urban realism. They include formats from the linear narrative to more quirky approaches to storytelling. Some of them are resolved, others leave the reader hanging to find out what happened next. They range in length from two to ten pages. The themes run an equally wide gamut.
The foreword by Tim Winton is a gem with the line “Many former young writers have gone on to completely unrelated fields. If this award does no more than help produce a few large-hearted accountants and the occasional astronaut with a taste for words as much as data then it will be a worthy contribution”, answering that incessant question by students, “Why do I have to learn this, I am never going to use it in real life.”
There is marginalia throughout my copy after just one reading. There are more pages corners turned down than not. I had hoped to be able to pick just one story to focus on to demonstrate the merit of this collection but every contribution was genuinely in contention.
Hatched is a great read, with the short story format making it easy to dip in and out of at will.
And Hatched is a great way to introduce short stories to readers of all ages, to demonstrate what is possible, with some of the best produced by Western Australian students as inspiration and example. I am not sure what the literary equivalent is, but to use the Molly Meldrum line, “Do yourself a favor”.