What Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford.

February 21, 2017 Comments off

turn-invisibleWhat Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the funniest and most interesting children’s novels I have read for some time. It is for pre – teens and teens and once you start you will not put it down.

Thirteen year old Ethel lives in the North of England with her Gram. Her mother died when she was three and her father left in mysterious circumstances and Gram has never talked to her about it. Ethel is going to find out who and what they were in bizarre circumstances that involve trying to find a cure for her facial acne.

The combination of an on-line purchase of a Chinese remedy and a sunbed cause Ethel to become invisible. She is however only invisible when naked. She panics of course and has various absurd situations that will crack you up.

Then on a visit to her 100 year old great grandmother the old dear calls her Tiger Pussy. Who or what is Tiger Pussy? Well you are going to find out if you read the book.The mystery deepens with the visit of a man who smells of cigarettes and the discovery of a tin box with newspaper articles about an Amy Winehouse type pop singer called Felina. This will rattle Ethel’s cage at a time when her invisibility is causing problems.

Brilliantly written in three parts with 96 short chapters, this novel goes along at a rate of knots that will thrill you. There are sub plots involving bullying from twin brother and sister Jarrow and Jesmond Knight that will make you angry and gleeful at the same time. Ethel’s friend Boydy a cockney living in geordie country is a revelation, but the character of the book is Gram who is full of old fashioned wisdom and says things like “it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”

A very satisfying read.

My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, 507 Days on Takaparawha by Tania Roxborogh.

February 18, 2017 Comments off

bastion-pointMy New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, 507 Days on Takaparawha by Tania Roxborogh. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

Imagine you are a young girl who has just been given a horse that she adores then  her dad and mum decide to go and live in a tent on a piece of land jutting out into Waitemata Harbour Auckland called Takaparawha or Bastion Point.

Erica Tito finds this is happening to her and she keeps a diary of what happened in the next 507 days during the Ngati Whatua occupation of Bastion Point that divided New Zealand under the Muldoon Government.

It is a stunning account of a confrontation between Government and Maori that set the pattern for the next 40 years and asked the crucial question of “Are we as New Zealanders a racist society”? and “have the Maori got a fair deal in their land deals with the Government?”.

Tania Roxborogh examines these questions through the eyes of Erica and her experiences  and her relationships with those on Bastion Point and the children at the school at which she attends during the occupation.

The burning question for Erica is – those that want to develop the land say the land is theirs but do they have a receipt to say that is so, and why do her tribe the Ngati Whatua say it is theirs? One thing is for sure ” no-one laughs at Maoritanga”

Conditions on Bastion point were primitive. No running water, no electricity, a long drop for a toilet and tent accommodation that was exposed to the elements. A child could be excused for hating this situation and wanting to be back home with the horse that she loved. But when mom and dad say we stay what can you do? Over the next 507 days Erica’s opinions and resolve change.

As time passes to over a year and nothing is resolved the eviction of the occupiers at the end,is a traumatic and moving occasion. Read this excellent account and find out why.

Another gem from the My New Zealand Story series many of which are reviewed on this blog.

For primary, Intermediate and junior secondary readers.

The Little Cloud by Beverley Burch & Elspeth Nicol

February 16, 2017 Comments off

little-cloudThe Little Cloud by Beverley Burch & Elspeth Nicol. Pub. Makaro Press, 2017.

A blast from the past in terms of style of writing, presentation and illustrations. It was written in 1959, forgotten, rediscovered in 2014 and revamped for today’s market. A jolly good job too.

It is very much a story book that you could read to a class of juniors or individually read by years 3 & 4.

It is a story of a little cloud who is part of a big storm cloud that is bringing wind and rain to Wellington. The little cloud longs to be on his own in fine weather and when he gets his chance and goes further up the North Island he finds a parched land in need of rain.

Little cloud learns to cry and bring rain, chases an aeroplane and falls on top of Mt Taranaki happy to know he has become a real cloud.

The illustrations are in both black and white and colour, presenting the New Zealand landscape as it was in 1959. The picture on the cover is  totally different from the others looking very much like something Bob Kerr might have done. The effect is extraordinary and enhances the book.

Check this little gem out you might never see another. A short history of the authors in the back makes for interesting reading.

Horizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld

February 14, 2017 Comments off

horizonHorizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

This can only be the beginning of a new series because the end is inconclusive and elusive to the reader who is kept guessing all the way through the novel.

It is a science fiction/adventure novel with survival a major theme and is aimed at intermediate, junior secondary readers.

The novel begins with an unusual airplane crash by an aircraft en route from USA to Japan. In mid flight over the Arctic the aircraft is sliced through from nose to tail by something weird and crashes in a lush and dangerous jungle. How could this be?

Furthermore during the ripping of the fuselage all 500 adults disappeared leaving behind 8 teenagers and there seemed to have been some sort of electric selection system that decided who survived. Could this be true?

The teenagers wonder where they are. The plants and animals seem to indicate they are on Earth but two moon like lights in the sky suggest another planet. As the teenagers face what has happened to them they find an anti gravity device which allows them to explore the surroundings and they encounter a flesh eating vine and birds with razor sharp beaks that hunt in a flock.

Cool heads are needed to get out of this because if they got there, there has to be a way back. Read it and find out.

Imaginatively written by Scott Westerfeld, this series will be a winner.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

February 9, 2017 Comments off

tragic-wonderfulA Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom.  Imprint HarperCollins, 2017.

This is a senior Young Adult novel from a brilliant writer who knows how to unlock and discuss serious emotional and mental conditions in young people. It is positive.

When Mel was thirteen her older brother who lit up her life died. The family shifted house, the parents separated and Mel never told any of her friends that she had had a brother.

Mel had a breakdown and now takes a whole lot of drugs including ritalin to level her out. Now she is sixteen in a new school with new friends and working in an old peoples home called Silver Sands.

Every chapter is headed by the same four headings of animals beginning with H. Hamster describes her head condition, Hummingbird her heart, Hammerhead her physical condition and Hannigananimal whether she is up or down.

Mel sees herself as an antisocial underachiever, but she is not. Her manner at the Silver Sands retirement home is outstanding. She is caring and perceptive and she is going to get better.

Mel narrates the story of her life at school and with her friends and family and between these chapters there are chapters written in italics that tell about her brother and her arguements with friends that get to the heart of her mental state.

Battles are never won. Only survived. The dialogue between characters and the relationships between teenagers and adults are excellently handled.

Beautifully written in short sharp chapters that will keep you in the book. I couldn’t put it down. Eric Lindstrom also has Not If I See You First reviewed on this blog.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

February 3, 2017 Comments off

allegedAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Pub. Katherine Tegen Books, imprint HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the most powerfully written novels for Senior students and young adults that I have ever read. It is an emotional roller coaster ride concerning events that people just don’t want to believe or face. It addresses the question of justice. Can there ever be true justice for those who are helpless to defend themselves?

Mary B. Addison was 9 years old when the 6 month old baby, Alyssa, whom her mother was babysitting, was killed violently by Mary – allegedly. Too horrific to think that a child could kill another child. That’s what the justice system, the media and the populace at large thought. Get it over with, put her inside and forget about her? Throw away the key.

Mary spends years in baby prison as she calls it and now on the eve of her 16th birthday she is put in a group home with other girls who are also deeply disturbed. Mary has been abused to the level where she says nothing, beaten black and blue and has no hope for herself in this world. She is lead to believe by her mother that the devil is inside her and there is no hope for her. But Mary loved Alyssa and not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of her.

Then several things happen at the new Group home. Mary meets Ted a 19 year old boy who works at the old peoples home where Mary is allowed to work. Mary becomes pregnant with a child she calls Bean. Ted is good for her and opens her up. Then a new girl comes to the home and shows Mary computer access to the World and introduces Mary to a lawyer Ms. Cora who interviews Mary and decides to make an appeal to have her case reopened.

I can tell you no more. It is a compelling read and if you don’t get emotionally involved with this story then you are heartless. You will be full of hope and gutted at the same time.

This is a special book. Read it, savour it, ask questions. Mary loves a mother who doesn’t deserve her love. The ending thankfully is hopeful.

Bruno by Catharina Valckx illus. Nicolas Hubesch

February 1, 2017 Comments off

bruno-daysBruno by Catharina Valckx illus. Nicolas Hubesch. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

This brilliant piece of work is subtitled Some of the more interesting days in my life so far and that is exactly what it is. For Bruno every day above ground is a good day and if it is not, then there is always another day.

Six days in Bruno’s life with his friends Ringo the old pony, Gloria the dairy owner, Bup the fish, Georgette the turtledove, Gerard the wolf and my favourite, Tweety the canary. There are other characters and they are all superbly developed with their own mannerisms and language.

The six days are not all good but they are very interesting. Included are a peculiar day, a day when the power went off and an almost perfect day. These days spent by Bruno with his blue cloth cap and his friends are all connected. They will make you laugh and recognise human foibles.

The illustrations show a French urban setting in which the detail is absorbing and has a strong sense of accuracy. The characters are brilliantly drawn but my favourite is the elegant giraffe in white skirt and top, with sunglasses and a bag over her shoulder at the escalator.

If you get bored with this book you have no soul.

A book for everybody but the writing is for primary and intermediate students. The cover makes you want to pick it up. This is a beauty.

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