Colin Thiele Joan Murphy - Essay

Joan Murphy

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Colin Thiele has written a carefully documented book [Albatross two] about the effects of an off-shore oil rig on a remote bay in south Australia. Everything is black and white and the oil men are condemned before they take to sea…. One knows the dangers of oil pollution but no-where in this book is there any attempt to evaluate. The characters are stereotypes—Tina is the girl who loves birds—one realises from the opening chapter the fate that lies in store for her tame penguin Piglet, and her brother Link who goes to work on the rig and has a secret sympathy for the oil men. Many of the characters have impossible nicknames and speak in almost unreadable dialect, both of which factors irritated me enormously. I am sure the technicalities are correct but the book lacked a soul and was therefore for me a failure.

Joan Murphy, "'Albatross Two'," in The School Librarian, Vol. 23, No. 3, September, 1975, p. 252.

What's really remarkable [in Fight Against Albatross Two] is Thiele's translation of an apparently clear-cut ecological moral into the subtleties of family conflict as Tina, just discovering a passion for ornithology in the process of easing her pet fairy penguin, Piglet, back to the wild, finds herself aligned against her fourteen-year-old brother Link, who has signed on the rig for a two week stint as cook's helper…. Thiele's knowledge of operations on the rig itself gives weight to those sequences and the physical action he narrates so well doesn't impose any facile answers on the problem which looms over the likably undemonstrative residents of Ripple Bay.

"Younger Fiction: 'Fight Against Albatross Two'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1976 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIV, No. 7, April 1, 1976, p. 393.