- The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky
For eleven little girls in Sydney, Australia in 1967, disobeying the teacher is almost unthinkable. Charismatic and opinionated Miss Renshaw, a latter-day Jean Brodie if ever there was one, takes her class on an excursion to a nearby garden, ostensibly to reflect on the execution of a criminal in Melbourne, but more probably to spend time with the gentle gardener, Morgan, whom Miss Renshaw acclaims as a gifted poet. Morgan offers the group a special treat—a walk to a seaside cave with aboriginal paintings. The entire group goes into the cave, the girls grow skittish and leave the cave, but Morgan and Miss Renshaw never come out. Long since sworn to secrecy by Miss Renshaw concerning their discussions and outings, the girls instinctively adhere to a code of silence when questioned by school authorities, but an investigation is launched, revealing Morgan's past and presuming Miss Renshaw murdered. Eight years later, however, as a tight little knot of four friends reach graduation, Miss Renshaw's reappearance forces them to reevaluate what each has thought to be true. Delicate, atmospheric, and provocative, this bijou tale stirs young adult readers to remember vividly the beguilement in which teachers can hold their little charges, and to consider with mature vision the complex meanings of adult actions that are only half understood by child observers. With secrecy, elegant language, crime, a short page count, and a touch of the supernatural, here's a teen book-club selection that everyone is likely to finish.