Thursday, November 10th, 2011
It has been said that there are no new subjects and ideas in fiction, but author Elaine Ouston has proved that wrong. She has written and an entertaining and educational story about a subject never covered before in children’s fiction – Australia’s megafauna. The Mystery of Nida Valley is a fantasy story aimed at young people from nine to sixteen. Ouston told me she had come across the animals that roamed Australia before and just after human settlement - around 40 to 60 thousand years ago - while doing research for another animal story. “They fascinated me as I had never learnt about them at school. Who knew we had a marsupial lion, a tapir and the largest marsupial ever - one the size of a small van - called a diprotodon.” The author says the information on the animals was a result of extensive research.

When I asked how a book about a very real subject became a fantasy story, Ouston replied, “Most kids love fantasy stories, and I wanted to reach as many as I could with the information on the animals. I though that if I weaved the knowledge into a story they would enjoy, they would be more likely to read it. And from the feedback I have received it seems to be working.”

She said she believes that Australia’s megafauna era has sadly been neglected, with many children growing up with no knowledge of the giant marsupials. That is about to change however as The Mystery of Nida Valley is crawling with them. There is also magic, time travel, dinosaurs, a dragon, adventure, and intrigue. Add to that a life saving ticking clock and you have a well crafted story all fantasy lovers will enjoy. With the added bonus of the educational aspects, as the readers learn about the unique animals that once roamed Australia, this series it is a big hit with school teachers and librarians. The librarian of a private boy’s college commented after reading the book, ‘The boys are going to love this story and the best thing is they will be learning something new and not know it. I love it!’ Ouston told me that the feedback from the readers has been glowing. She has received many emails from her readers telling her how they loved the book and asking when the next one is being released.

This is Ouston’s first foray into the world of children’s fantasy fiction. And if the opinion of Michael Pryor, noted author of more than 25 fantasy books, including, the popular The Laws of Magic series, is anything to go by, it is a great start. He said in his review of the book:
‘The Mystery of Nida Valley joyfully brings us a classic situation – a secret place alongside our world but hidden, a place of magic, adventure and startling inhabitants, but it does so with a welcome twist. It’s pleasing to find such a fantasy grounded so well in an Australian context. No vague ‘otherworld’ here, The Mystery of Nida Valley is solidly set in Queensland. It is a magical fantasy adventure in a detailed and rich Australian context.’

Jimboomba, Queensland, artist, Aaron Pocock, illustrated the cover art and images of the animals. The drawings were used to produce a series of Collector Cards that show the animals and give more details than could be included in the book. More information on this book and the cards can be found at book’s website The book is available at your local bookstore, online bookstores, and through distributor, Dennis Jones and Associates.

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Morris Publishing Australia

Morris Publishing Australia is a new boutique publishing company, created to add another opportunity for Australian writers to achieve their dream of becoming a published author.

Lou Morris
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Children's fiction,Australian animals,children's books,children's stories,Australian author



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