Wednesday, May 27, 2009


The Goanna Island Mystery
written by Dale Harcombe, illustrated by Dillon Naylor, published by Aussie School Books Pty Ltd 2008

Across the sandbar from the mainland lies Goanna Island. Legend has it that the ghost of a pirate haunts this tiny island. But Leo, new boy to the area, doesn’t really believe in ghosts, that is, until he is challenged by Mark, the local school bully, to visit the place alone. A pale face peering at him from a window of the old house with a tin roof, piques Leo’s curiosity. The bully is forgotten as Leo musters all his cunning and courage to uncover the truth of the mystery of the island - and the even more important truth that the Marks of his world have forever lost their power over him.

Good Morning Dale!
Welcome to this third stopover on your blog tour of ‘The Goanna Island Mystery’
Thank you Mabel, I am delighted to be here.

When I read 'The Goanna Island Mystery' it occurred to me themes play an important role in holding a story together … so today I'd like to focus on the themes that filter through your stories. But let me begin with the more general question: How would you describe a theme and what role do themes play in a story.

Dale: The theme is the underlying idea behind the book.

Tell me about the themes in 'The Goanna Island Mystery'.

Dale: There are several themes in 'The Goanna Island Mystery'. One of them was fear and overcoming fear. One is bullying and the loneliness some kids feel without friends or because of changed family circumstances. Another is dealing with loss.

For you, is the choice of theme/s apparent from the moment you begin to think about the story or do theme emerge from the writing process itself.

Dale: I don't know that I'd thought about the themes when I started to write the story. Sometimes they only become apparent afterwards or as the story unfolds and I see where it takes me.

You have written a number of books. To what extent can you identify recurring themes that run through much of your writing?

Dale: As I think about what I've written, both published and unpublished to this point, I think I tend to see the recurring themes of the child or adult who doesn't fit in - or is a bit different in some way. I find I tend to use creative people like artists and musicians etc a lot in my work , perhaps for that reason. Dealing with loss comes in quite a bit and also dealing with fear is another theme as it is something we all have in various forms whether that fear is of the water, the unknown as in 'The Goanna Island Mystery', of spiders and things that creep and crawl as in 'Red Alert'! or fear of rejection and ridicule.

Mm! I noted Ebenezer who becomes a kind of mentor or substitute parent to Leo (your main character) is an artist. Describe, if you can, an ‘aha’ moment you've experienced as you reread a published book and uncovered a theme OR had a reader/reviewer reveal something you had not previously noticed was there.

Dale: In 'Pick Me', a story I wrote that was published in School Magazine, a fellow writer commented on how clever and appropriate the name of the character was because all his life the boy wanted a dog. But then he had to find exactly the right one. The boy’s name was Hunter. I didn't think about it as wrote it. Only that it felt like the right name. In ‘The Goanna Island Mystery’ Leo was the perfect name for brave boy overcoming his fear. It brings images of Leo the lion. And lions are strong and the kings of the jungle. Of course, knowing me, I probably also had images of the courage of Leo who took the pack mark and helped Sydney Swans win the 2005 Grand final as well.

Is there a question you wished I’d asked but didn’t?

Dale: Can't think of one, Mabel, Thanks for asking the questions you did. It made me think about some things I hadn't thought about before - like theme.

It's been good to have you here, Dale. I hope you will drop in again for a chat. I'll look forward to following you on the rest of your blog tour.

I now invite you to join children's author, Dale Harcombe in her journey and discussions of her book: 'The Goanna Island Mystery' on other blog sites. Don't forget to leave a comment on each site. Bloggers like to know you've visited their site.

Here is Dale's itinerary:
Mon 25 Dee White at
Tue 26 Sally Murphy at
Wed 27 Mabel Kaplan at[That’s right here!]
Thu 28 Claire Saxby at
Fri 29 Sandy Fussell at
Mon 1 June Sally Odgers

You can also catch up with Dale on her own sites:
Write and read with Dale

Thank you all for checking in!


  1. Thanks for having me here. I enjoyed answering your questions Mabel. It's fun doing a blog tour. On my blog I've made a comment on how the personality of the indivudual blogger comes out in the questions asked and way they write.

  2. Obviously the above comment was from me, Dale.

  3. Thanks Mabel and Dale for an interesting insight into themes and also how Dale comes up with names for her characters.

  4. nice posting. very good work. thank you. :)