"Andrej remembered something Uncle Marin once said: Animals know things you can't imagine. And they know how to keep a secret. Talking must be one of the things that animals knew, but kept secret. To make a fuss would be impolite, but Andrej couldn't help it. 'You're talking!' he said."
Andrej and Tomas are two gypsy boys fleeing through war-ravaged countryside, carrying a special secret bundle. Dirty, hungry and cold they stumble across a town that has been reduced to smoking rubble, and bizarrely, a zoo that is perfectly intact.
When the boys take shelter in the zoo they discover a menagerie of talking animals; including a wolf, bear, monkeys, a kangaroo and even a chamois. Everyone from the wise wolf to the cheek chamois has a tale to tell as they share their desire for freedom and the impact the horrific war has had on each of their lives.
The Midnight Zoo is a moving and ageless fable about freedom, war and childhood from one of Australia's most prestigious authors.
Like Sonya Hartnett's previous books The Silver Donkey and The Ghost's Child, this hauntingly beautiful tale will stay with you long after you have put it down.
Sonya Hartnett is the internationally acclaimed author of several novels, including Thursday's Child, winner of the 2002 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and Forest, winner of the 2002 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year: Older Readers. In 2003, her adult novel, Of a Boy, won The Age Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.
In 2000 and again in 2003, Sonya Hartnett has been named one of The Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelists of the Year. Her work has been published internationally with editions available in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway and Denmark.
In 2004, The Silver Donkey was published to great critical acclaim. It has won the 2005 Brisbane Courier Mail award for young readers and was CBC Book of the Year (Young readers) in 2005.
Surrender was published in 2005. It was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year Award and the Aurealis Award - Fantasy Division in 2005.
In 2008 Sonya was the recipient of The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The prize is awarded to authors, illustrators, narrators and/or promoters of reading whose work reflects the spirit of Astrid Lindgren. It is the first time this award has gone to an Australian.
Sonya's debut picture book, The Boy and the Toy, is being published in 2010. Her latest novel for younger readers, The Midnight Zoo, will be published in August 2010.
Sonya lives in Melbourne. She has a dog named Shilo and cat named Marcus.
The Midnight Zoo
Author: Sonya Hartnett