Friday, November 4, 2011

The Gorgon in the Gully by Melina Marchetta + giveaway

Beyond the basketball courts and classrooms of St Raph's is a gully where everything disappears forever. Danny Griggs has heard stories about a creature that lives down there. So why does he volunteer to face the Gorgon when he's been petrified of everything all his life? 

A gentle story about overcoming fear and looking at things from all angles, from best-selling author Melina Marchetta.

The Gorgon in The Gully is Melina Marchetta's 2010 debut for middle readers. 

I bought this book for me my boys, Sam and Reuben.

Here they are ^ (taken down the road from our place): 
Sam on the left is 10 years (grade 4) and Reuben on the right is 9 (grade 3)

Danny Griggs, our protagonist, is in grade 4 and he's an Australian boy, so right from the start my boys related. Even though it is perfect independent reading level for both Sam and Reubs, this is one we saved for me reading out loud to them at bedtime. 

We read this a couple of months back (I am perpetually behind in talking about books ;)) but Reuben is currently rereading it in quiet reading time at school, which reminded me to come and chat on here about it.   

Reviews from my boys

Sam: The Gorgon in the Gully is awesome and funny. I hope a sequel comes out because I would like to read it. My favourite character was Jonah Griggs because he was a cool big brother and he buys Danny stuff off ebay. My favourite part was the end because I didn't know what was going to happen.

Reuben: I reckon it's pretty funny how it actually says what a Gorgon is on the internet. Even though they probably don't even exist. I like it how they thought it was a real Gorgon in the gully but ... [had to edit him out, a tiny bit spoilery!]. I like how they were always making strategies and planning things. Akbar was funny but my favourite character is Danny because he is the one who is brave enough to go down in the gully even though he is scared of a lot of stuff.

From me: The Gorgon in The Gully is classic Melina Marchetta. It's not only charming, funny and intriguing but it is full of of heart. I love how Marchetta brings a cast of characters together. She has a gift for taking random, at-odds characters and creating community. Not only community amongst her characters, but they come to life for me as a reader and I feel like I belong in the community too. I love her dialogue, which bounces off each character so well.  

Above all, the characters are so endearing.. It's a brave and smiley story, I think it would charm any child. It's especially perfect for boys, I am amazed (although I shouldn't be) just how Marchetta writes as if she is inside a ten year old boys head. Danny was captivating, what a charmer! (He is going to be a heart breaker when he grows up).

As for reading it to my kids: They loved it (one more chapter, Mum!). They laughed out loud. So. Much. (particularly Reuben, he kept laughing at lines that I didn't think were supposed to be funny, LOL.) They loved the culture references, from Indiana Jones to Beast Quest, and the inclusion of cricket and soccer and playground antics. It oozes Aussieness from the reference (meat pies) to the way the kids hack out on each other to show affection. The humour builds right through to the climax, with running jokes and clever motifs. It was fun to read out-loud (I owned Akbar's Mum;s Indian accent ;)) and it was so awesome to read word-for-word Aussie slang/terms the whole way through (often when I read imported MG, I switch words like cafeteria to canteen, etc).

For fans of On The Jellicoe Road: The Gorgon in the Gully takes place at the same time as On The Jellicoe Road. This is a story about Jonah Griggs little brother, Danny. Jonah appears in the story more than I had imagined (yay!)
Danny waited for his brother Jonah to ring. Jonah was at a camp out bush for the next six weeks. There wasn't much phone coverage where Jonah was, but Danny's brother managed to find a spot every night to call. No matter what. 
'What's up mate?' 
Danny loved it when his brother called him that because Jonah was his bestest friend in the world even though he was nine years older than Danny. (p 14)

LOL @ the phone coverage!  There's some gorgeous little snatches in there for Jellicoe fans (here's one teaser):
That night he (Danny) asked Jonah if he could take $9.49 out of Jonah's secret stash that only Danny and his mum and jack knew about. Jonah kept it in his sock drawer next to a photograph of Jonah and a girl with sad eyes, taken in one of those railway station booths. (p30)
Oh, I got very nostalgic for Jellicoe while reading this book. The above quote just about broke my heart (as I swooned a little) thinking about Jonah and Taylor again. As for Jonah as a big brother, he is fiercely protective towards Danny, cheering the little guy on. I loved seeing Jonah  from Danny's perspective, his hero, tough and smart and pretty much invincible. I was also very touched by the conversation  between Jonah and Danny on pages 97 - 100.

Any fan of Melina Marchetta (or Jonah Griggs) would love this book. 

Read Chapter One
The Gorgon in the Gully @ goodreads

My local didn't have it (we have the tiniest book shop here), I purchased my copy from The Nile  ($7.99 + free shipping) or see a full list of where to buy online @ Booko

Giveaway: This one is a little hard to get internationally (sorry, guys) so I would love to give away a copy. I know Marchetta fans will be dying to get their hands on this charming little Aussie book.

Giveaway open internationally
Fill out the form (embedded in this post)
Ends Nov 25


  1. Thanks for hosting the giveaway :)

  2. I probably shouldn't enter this one since I (lovelovelove) won Raw Blue from you recently. BUT I just wanted to tell you that I loved reading what your boys thought of the book. I have Arlene's copy at the moment and I'm definitely looking forward to reading it:)

    You should definitely include your kids' thoughts more often<3

  3. Loved hearing all of your thoughts! Aww this sounds so lovely... I knew it featured Jonah's brother, but I wasn't really sure what kind of story it was. It sounds adorable and wonderful and well worth reading.

    Thanks for the giveaway! =)

  4. *jumps up and down*
    This is awesome!!!!
    I so want to get my paws on this book, I've tried but it's hard to get outside Australia.

    I loved reading your boy's thoughts on it, they made me smile.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. This was such an adorable post! I love children's books because if done right, they give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and that's what this post did for me :P
    Thanks for the giveaway

  6. sounds charming :) i'll be recommending it in dymocks if they've got it in stock for sure.
    i searched the whole school library with the help of the librarian to find the piper's son, which had mysteriously dissapeared, luckily we found it! so i can now finally read it, having reread saving francesca specially last week.
    yay for the magic of melina marchetta! (and alliteration)

  7. My grandson's would love this book (as would most of my middle school students. Thanks for the giveaway. Loved the pic of your boys and the scenery is to die for!

  8. I've had my eye on this one ever since I found out Jonah makes an appearance. I just swooned whilst reading those lines. Nomes, this sucks. Will there ever be another YA character that even comes close to this man. I smile every time I think of him *sighs*. And it was so lovely seeing your sons reviews (they are adorable btw.) Thanks for the giveaway! *fingers crossed*

  9. You're a doll to offer this up to those of us who can't get it locally.


  10. Jonah Griggs is mentioned in this book?

    I have to get it.

  11. I have to get this for my son (and I think I'll probably be reading it myself to get some more Jonah). haha... so if I don't win I'll be ordering it soon!

    lovely review as always and thanks for the giveaway. :)

  12. "My brother is my god."

    That line from Jonah from JR killed me. I loved him so much more after that. And the fact that he finds a way to call Danny ever night, only adds to my complete adoration for him. This book probably would have made me very nostalgic for Jellicoe too!

    Love the review from your minis. So cute :)

  13. This sounds so wonderful and thank you so much for making it international - yay!

    Your boys are so cute and I loved hearing what they though. And I am so jealous of where you live - the beach! And a beach that makes me want to go swimming too - lucky thing!

  14. Oh. My. Gosh. I didn't even know this book existed! I waaaaaaant it! Jellicoe Road is my absolute favorite! Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  15. Oh thank you so much Nomes! That's very sweet of you!

  16. This review is lovely, Nomes!
    I'm so glad your boys loved it :)

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway!
    Fingers crossed. :)

  17. Awesome review from your boys ... totally loved it.

    My boys would have loved this but I think my 9 year old niece would too, she's a real tomboy :)


Thanks for the commenty love :)