The Yark by Bertrand Santini, Illus. Laurent Gapaillard

February 19, 2018 Comments off

yarkThe Yark by Bertrand Santini, Illus. Laurent Gapaillard. Pub. Gecko press, 2018.

I have always believed that a little fear in children’s lives is not a bad thing as long as it is done in areas like literature, in cinema or the Arts. This brilliant short novel fits the bill like no other.

Of all the various Monsters that teem upon the face of the earth, the Human species is the most widespread. There is another, though, more rare, less known. It is the Yark” This is the first paragraph of the novel and it whets the appetite.

We learn that the Yark loves eating children but only good children. He has a delicate stomach and cannot eat bad children who lie, bully or are spoilt. They taste foul and give him indigestion. Unfortunately the World is full of such children and it is hard to find a delicious good child.

The Yark goes hunting for one using Father Xmas’s list of good children. Through this he meets Madeleine and the meeting will change him for ever. Aww!

Easy to read and a great read-a-loud for juniors and middle school readers.

The story is brilliantly supported by Laurent Gapaillard’s pen and ink Victorian-gothic illustrations. The Yark is a superb creation.

This is a five star work, don’t miss it. Adults will smile knowingly.

The Holidays by Blexbolex.

February 17, 2018 Comments off

holidaysThe Holidays by Blexbolex. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

This is a wordless picture book of novel size that tells a story of a little girl spending the end of the holidays with her grandfather. The girl likes her own space, does not like to share with others and dreams.

Then grandfather tells her to get ready because they are going to the station to meet a friend. She reluctantly goes and the gets a surprise at the friend. It is a baby elephant who is very playful and can do things that other elephants can’t do, like play tennis.

The girl resents the elephant but he really is good company and other children like him. The two fight and the elephant takes off on a stormy night putting himself in danger. The girl has cause for regret.

There is more to the story than this and each reader can read their own version into it. That is what makes it so good. Imagination!!

It is however the artwork which gives this book it’s class. It recreates the french countryside and the moods and desires of the little girl, grandfather and the elephant. Each double page is like a painting and there is a mystery. A clock appears at times showing the time but it has an extra red hand. What does this mean?

It is a superb creation from a french artist who is known throughout the world and says this a story about experience. It sure is. If it is possible to put mime on paper then this is it.

Grandma’s Special Birthday Party by Sue Kim & Veronica Yang

February 16, 2018 Comments off

grandmas birthdayGrandma’s Special Birthday Party by Sue Kim & Veronica Yang. Pub. Second Avenue Publishing, 2017.

An International picture book about traditional clothing from a number of countries and International food dishes from the same countries as a side salad.

Picture books are about pictures, mostly, and the pictures in this beautiful publication are works of art. They are almost film sets such is the detail put into them. Into these sets are put doll characters whose moods are portrayed by adjustments to the dolls eyes. Their place in the settings is almost collage like and the dresses are magnificent.

Twins Abby and Ally are in every set as are their dogs Jerry and Harry but for me Grandma with her “I’ve been here before look” takes the biscuit.

The story is about grandma’s birthday and how she always had an International day featuring dresses from a range of countries when the twins mother and aunty were little girls. Abby and Ally decide to have one on grandma’s birthday.

Good read-a-loud story for juniors but something to look at and savour for much older readers. In the back is a glossary of all the dresses from other cultures and a message that we are all starting to learn from each other and wear similar clothes. My international picture book of the year.

Check it out at http://www.secondavenue.pub

Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz

February 14, 2018 Comments off

last chanceLast Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Rains reviewed earlier on this blog is thrilling action writing at its best from an author who has written for Marvel and DC comics and the Orphan X novels amongst others.

After every adult over 18 years was infected by pollen from seeds spread about the Earth by asteroids, they turned into zombie like creatures called Hosts whose function was to capture all the children and to map the Earth for the alien invaders. Now these Hosts are rotting away and been replaced by a more daunting enemy the Hatchlings.

The children were collected to have eggs implanted inside them and give rise to the alien invaders who have been bred to survive in Earth’s conditions. They are flesh eating and are designed to finish humans off and prepare the planet for what? Read it and find out’

Once again the novel is narrated in diary form by 15 year old Chance Rains who with his 18 year old brother Patrick and Alex a 17 year old girl who provides the romantic conflict in this novel, basically fight the enemy single handedly.

These three have a special status within the young survivors of the Dusting and are going to find out that they have a bigger role than they could ever have conceived. They meet with one of the aliens who tells them a story that will blow their minds. .

Meanwhile the action continues as they fight tthe Hosts and Hatchlings to protect their commune set up inside a fenced off high school which has internal power struggles of it’s own. Can the enemy be defeated and the World saved? It’s the stuff of heroes. To tell you any more would ruin the novel for you.

The science is mind boggling and the ending may owe something to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids.

Compulsive reading for lovers of zombie books and of science fiction. Not unlike the 5th Wave novels also reviewed on this blog. Check it out, your mad if you don’t.

Danny Best, Bk3. Me first by Jen Storer, illus. Mitch Vane.

February 12, 2018 Comments off

danny bestDanny Best, Bk3. Me first by Jen Storer, illus. Mitch Vane. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

Danny Best is in middle school, he is very competitive and wants to have fun. Sounds like a lot of boys and this book is written with them in mind particularly if they are reluctant readers.

Take the first story in this novel as Danny decides to go for the World record for sticking your tongue out. Try saying red leather, yellow leather, with your tongue out. At the same time he has to look after his full on dog Pugsley and help his friend Fab earn money by washing his father’s car. You have to read it to believe it.

The third story shows how this type of book stimulates imagination and helps with ideas for writing. Danny’s teacher sets them a writing assignment in which no mention is to be made of bums, bottoms, burping, poos or farting. A big challenge for a boy. The story must be about a family. Read what happens.

The illustrations are excellent and contribute to the fun of the story. For middle school and confident junior readers.

Categories: Uncategorized

Moneyland by Michael Botur

February 9, 2018 Comments off

MoneylandMoneyland by Michael Botur. Pub. 2017. 

This book for high school students and young adults will give you a bit of a jolt. The language is choice in places and it is about some of the most loathsome teenagers I have ever read about.

The scenario is a good one though. Take a group of teenagers, give them a million dollars each and put them under a glass dome world for a year to fend for themselves. Can they do it without imploding?

The novel starts with the words being spat out like the author was in a fit of pique and it keeps up a torrid pace. Eden is a teenager who wants to lose her virginity and get the million bucks and have a cushy life. She may very well get the first option but the cushy life is way off the mark.

All the characters are shockers. They bully, talk badly to each other, have no sense of direction, have no clues of how to organise themselves, have no loyalty and basically deserve what is coming to them. Did they have a choice? Well it is set in 2037 in a World dominated by robots and mechanical Artificial Intelligence beings. Most humans have no work and no future and divided into two camps – Mech lovers or luddites. Perhaps this is a dystopian future.

Ideas in this novel seem to be drawn from Stephen kings TV series The Dome and William Goldings Lord of the Flies with the language spoken by the characters much like Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.

I did like the novel but English teachers are probably going to throw their arms in the air in horror. Check it out some will love it. It is totally irreverent.

http://www.michaelboturwriter.com.

The 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford.

February 4, 2018 Comments off

1000 year boyThe 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is storytelling of the highest order. It is the sort of story that keeps me reading children and young adult literature. To be able to write like this is a gift to behold.

Alfie is more than a 1000 years old and he was 11 years old when the Vikings attacked northern England. In fleeing them his father is killed.  His father had acquired magical pills called life-pearls which had the power to stop the aging process but not to stop death by accident or by killing.

Alfie and his mother mix the life-pearl oil with their own blood in the traditional way of slashing two stripes across the upper arm and rubbing the oil in. They are now Neverdeads. For more than a 1000 years they  wander Britain, never aging and keeping to themselves. It is a stressful life and not wise to be discovered.

The only way to stop the aging process is to use another life-pearl and administer it the same way, then the aging process will start again with the finality of death. There is only one life-pearl left which they hide in the event that one of them is killed. They don’t want to leave the other alone.

A tragic fire leaves Alfie alone and taken into care by the authorities, but before he is taken away he sees a bearded man who has the same two scars that he has.  The man yells at Alfie in old Norse “keep your mouth shut”. The tension builds.

Alfie wants to find the remaining Life-pearl so he can age and live a normal life and you guessed it, so does the bearded man, but to find it Alfie is going to need a boat.

Superbly written in 105 short chapters with hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you keen. Alfie is a marvelous character who doesn’t want to live for ever. Who does?

Good readers at primary level, intermediate school readers, and junior high school readers will devour this highly imaginative and thought provoking novel. What not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford is also reviewed on this blog.