(The Globe and Mail).
Starred listing in the Canadian Children's Book Centre's "Best Books for Kids and Teens 2014"
"While it’s true that Austen has written books for specific audiences, what sets her work apart is its ability to resonate with any reader who appreciates strong characters, smart dialogue, and fast-paced, surprising plot lines. The title of 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 – a companion to 26 Tips for Surviving Grade Six, which was aimed at the female preteen market – identifies Austen’s targeted audience, but this slender tome packs enough laughs and overall good feelings to satisfy readers aged 11 to 111." - The Montreal Review of Books, Summer 2014.
"Austen's characters...are genuine and well developed. Fast-paced with snappy dialogue, and sprinkled with liberal amounts of humour, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 is sure to attract and engage both strong and reluctant readers. It may even sneak in a few valuable tips along the way." - Canadian Children's Book News, Summer 2014.
"Author Catherine Austen’s 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 has well-timed humour throughout and is guaranteed to make readers laugh out loud. It also has some unexpected and delightful plot twists as well as a subtly delivered positive message for today’s young people. Both boys and girls will be entertained by 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, a ‘companion book’ to Austen’s excellent 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6. Highly Recommended" - CM (Canadian Materials) Magazine.
"Through dialogue and humour, author, Catherine Austen, keeps the action moving in a way that will engage both expert and reluctant readers. At the same time, she painlessly slips in some useful tips and wise perspectives on life." - Readerly (The National Reading Campaign)
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"[An] outstanding debut novel....[Austen's] writing cuts straight to the heart. She delivers a wise, rich novel, wonderfully compelling for children and adults alike." - The Globe and Mail
"In this impressive debut novel, Josh keeps a journal to chart his feelings and thoughts, allowing readers to follow his journey from sadness to acceptance and the eventual return of cohesion in his family. Given the subject matter, the story is never maudlin, and Josh’s voice rings natural and true. An elegantly crafted volume of lasting power." - Kirkus Reviews
Austen's protagonist is an endearing blend of smart-aleck and lost boy. The story - recounted in journal entries - deftly tackles such weighty topics as atheism, grief, and the ties that bind a family together." - Montreal Review of Books
"This novel’s refusal to sentimentalize loss or to accept quick or predictable solutions in conjunction with its ability to create a realistic and complex protagonist allows for a refreshing perspective on the story of the loss of a parent." - Canadian Literature, Spring 2011
"Austen is both unsentimental and unapologetic in her employment of precise and elegant prose, and the complicated and often humorous reactions to grieving practices lend themselves to an enjoyable read." - School Library Journal, February 1, 2010
"While professionals may find this novel useful as bibliotherapy, Walking Backward is much more than a therapeutic tool. With its well-drawn characters and depth of understanding, this work of children's literature should withstand the test of time....Highly recommended." - CM Magazine
"Satisfying and realistic....Recommended." - Resource Links, October 1, 2009
"...perceptively gives weight to the....ways bereavement can change a family..." - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, October 2, 2009
"Austen breaks from the pack with this confident and peculiar debut....a refreshing change of pace." - Booklist, October 15, 2009
"...will admirably answer the call when young patrons ask for 'sad' books...." - NMRLS Youth Services Book Review, December 1, 2009
"A definite success. Recommended." - Library Media Connection, January 1, 2010
"[A] very powerful, moving and realistic portrait of grief." - VOYA, April 2010
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"Austen very aptly conveys both information about Egyptian mythology and a depiction of the simple but complete relationship between the boy and his pet... This book would be a particularly useful classroom resource for ancient civilizations units and is recommended for children aged five to eight." – Canadian Children’s Book News, Spring 2011.
"A boy’s clever comparison of the Egyptian goddess and his family cat who shares the same name comprises the narrative of a picture book full of laugh-out-loud humour and brimming with feeling." – Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin (Book of the Week, May 30, 2011)
"You’ll love the comparisons between the Egyptian Isis and Isis, the pet cat." – Portland Book Review, June 2011.
"Cat lovers and young Egyptologists will enjoy the offbeat parallels between Isis and her divine namesake as author Catherine Austen lists interesting facts about the Egyptian goddess (who began as a minor deity but grew more popular with every generation) and contrasts her with Isis the cat (who started out as the runt of her litter but grew bigger and stronger thanks to her owners)." - Suite 101.
"A history lesson by default, a young boy reading about Egypt compares his cat, page by page, to its namesake, the goddess Isis.... No value judgment accompanies the young narrator's declarations, which adds to the book's gentle humor." - ForeWord Reviews.
"Cat lovers in particular should enjoy the humorous descriptions of the cat’s life. - Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz, Children’s Literature
"Kids intrigued by ancient Egypt and cats will appreciate the narrator’s evident love for both topics." - Booklist, April 2011.
"The book works as an introduction to characters in Egyptian mythology..." - School Library Journal
"Cat lovers will enjoy My Cat Isis [with] lavish illustrations by Montreal artist Virginie Egger." – Winnipeg Free Press, April 19 2011.
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26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 is a simply told yet fast-paced and colourful blend of humour and drama [with] well-rounded, credible characters....This book will certainly appeal to female readers. Highly recommended." (CM Magazine)
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"Austen writes with cinematic definition, driving the action with taut dialogue and unremitting menace. By alternating recognizable adolescent struggles with dystopian horrors, she makes the threat of totalitarian mind control all the more visceral.... Action packed, terrifying, and believable, this entertaining novel will provoke important discussions about subservience, resistance, and individual freedom." - Booklist, November 15, 2011.
"The writing is excellent, the story is fast-paced and believable, and the author does an excellent job of balancing the horror of the environment with normal teen angst. It's also a refreshing change to have central male characters with so much depth....[T]his highly enjoyable read will be devoured by both tween and teen readers." - Canadian Children's Booknews, Winter 2012.
"All Good Children is a smart, polished novel, peopled with realistic characters in a well-developed, futuristic world....a narrative that strikes the delicate balance between fantasy and plausibility. There are no superheroes here, no larger than life antics, just a slow-building tension that rewards the reader both rationally and emotionally." - Quill & Quire.
"Whether you need a rebuttal for someone who stubbornly insists on stigmatizing the YA genre, or you’re looking for a great read for yourself or a teenager you know, Catherine Austen’s novel All Good Children is an excellent choice....Strong characterization as well as a thrilling and horrifyingly plausible plot all combine to make All Good Children a wonderful read. Great literature is never limited by its genre." - The Montreal Review of Books.
"The strengths of this dystopian novel include a creepy premise and Max's strong first-person narrative voice pointing out wry humor in the most dire of situations." - The Horn Book Guide, July-December 2011.
"Austen uses Max as a prism in this novel of ideas....While he dabbles in juvenile delinquency on a personal level, when Max sees a larger picture he confronts it, standing up for what he thinks is right despite differing amounts of personal risk. Just trying to keep ownership of his mind, Max's actions send ripples of consequences farther than he could possibly imagine. A shaded morality tale about individuality." - Kirkus Reviews, September 2011.
"Fans of the dystopian genre will be very satisfied with Austen's take on a future gone awry....Highly recommended." - Canadian Materials.
"With...an amazing cast of characters, author Catherine Austen offers a look at man's resilience and desire to preserve what makes us unique, our spirit and free will....Her topic is not new, but her treatment of the topic is new, scary and inspirational." - Tri-State Young Adult Book Review Committee, January 2012
"In its use of race, gender, social class and technology, All Good Children can stand with the best of the [dystopian] genre." - Resource Links, October 1, 2011.
"Austen’s first novel for teens wears its influences proudly...while delivering an entertaining and creepy story....[T]he social commentary and character development make it a worthwhile journey. Publisher's Weekly.
"This edgy saga offers distant parallels to underground railways in other periods of history.... Some intriguing themes here, including a warning about the use of medication for behaviour control and a tribute to the power of art." - The Star Phoenix.
"The readership age here is intended to be young adult, but anyone who enjoys being taken out of their every day should find lots to recommend about All Good Children." - January Magazine
"The world that Austen has built is terrifying and chillingly easy to imagine, and she challenges her readers to think about issues of race, social class, gender and freedom." - Canadian Children's Book News, Summer 2012
"Kids with a grudge against authority will love every bit of this anti-establishment tale...The book's stark view of humanity is buoyed by Max's witty commentary and his warm relationships with both his best friend and his little sister... Given Max's knack for getting out of a tight spot, [the book offers] an organic and satisfying conclusion to a harrowing tale." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, January 2012.
"Austen's novel is engrossing and deeply funny, and simultaneously important and frightening." - The Niles Star, July 2012.
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