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Keyword: ‘Impossible boy’

The Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew

September 16, 2016 Comments off

impossible-boyThe Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew. Pub. Penguin Random house, 2016.

This novel for children and young adults is staggeringly good.It is multi level, thought provoking and ultimately hopeful  in spite of an endless war where there are no rules only winners and losers.

Every night on the TV News we see children hauled from the rubble of war torn cities in the Middle East, dirty, shaking, their faces carved masks of indifference and largely emotionless except for their eyes. It is gut wrenching.How do they cope with war? What do they feel? This novel directly confronts these questions.

Benjamin is 6 years old and he has an imaginary friend called Vincent Gum who looks after him after a train crash and delivers him to a children’s orphanage in the middle of a war torn city. Other children, who belong to no side, are in there, and Ben teams up with 14 year old girl Lucky, her brother Zaar and younger children Amos and Sofia.

Ben’s imagination is ultimately going to save all of these children who have turned the art of survival into a game. Each copes with war in a different way but their fears in this novel are personified in the form of the Hanger Man who hides in the closet. It is Ben’s imaginary friend Vincent who helps teach the children their fears cannot hurt them.

Vincent is a character in his own right with his own fears and he must learn how to cope too.

Leonie Agnew ‘s descriptions of the war situation are stunning. After an air attack she says even “the air seems to be crying’ and the journalists cameras “snap like a wild animal”

This book is unforgettable.

The Knot Impossible A Tale of Fontania by Barbara Else

October 22, 2015 Comments off

Knot ImpossibleThe Knot Impossible A Tale of Fontania by Barbara Else. Pub Gecko, 2015.

The fourth and final book in the Tales of Fontania series about a land of magic and all the other human qualities including good and evil. At the heart of it is the question “does the life of one small boy matter?” Of course it does.

The small boy is a lost Royal child, 4 year old Vosco. He is part of a bargain made by the rich and evil Lady Butterly with a higher being for control of all the minerals in the Earth and sea. Will she succeed?

Fontania is turned on its ear as communications break down  and everything mechanical stops working properly. Rufkin the youngest son of a family of actors, has stage fright and is left behind while his family go on tour.

Rufkin finds a barge that has lost control in the magic of Lady Butterly. He hears a call for help from the small boy Vosco and answers it. This is the beginning of a magical adventure that in all honesty takes some time to get going. But once it does you will be glad you persisted with the story as I did.

Some wonderful imagery and metaphor as Barbara El;se uses her considerable language skills to describe the magical world of Fontania with its Cave lizards and fire lizards. She also gets  fairly deep when the impoverished Nissy proclaims to the fortunate Rufkin “your rich only because of your parents…you can’t understanhow ordinary people have to live”. I think this is the catch phrase for the world we live in.

Aimed at primary and intermediate readers but has a depth that older readers will appreciate.

The Magic Desk by Aaron Moffat

April 8, 2019 Comments off

magic deskThe Magic Desk by Aaron Moffat. Pub Olympia Publishers 2018.\

This is the third book from this author, all are reviewed on this blog, and his main obsession is bullying in schools. He has others too and many are found in this recent novel.

Timothy is a WASP (white anglo saxon protestant), he is 12 years old and has just arrived in NZ with his born to rule mother. He looks like a studious boy but at heart is shiftless and lazy, and he is going to have to change.

Timothy is rescued from a beating by bullies by Aroha a Maori girl who fancies him and is the daughter of a reformed Gang leader. Their relationship is at the core of this novel.

Timothy’s mother buys a mahogany “escritoire”, (desk in more common language,) which has a portal into another world. Through traveling via the desk to different historical scenarios including pre European Maori, French revolution and others, Timothy learns that bullying is a human trait that is impossible to extinguish. Humans will take it to the grave.

Lots of race and immigrant talk, some of it will appall you, but mostly it is tongue in cheek and open to further discussion. The novel is well written, lofty writing in parts and the characters do change. Timothy learns that reading and writing are powerful and a petition over enviromental concerns changes everything. His mum will never change.

I laughed all the way through. For intermediate and high school students. Check it out.

Invisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman

March 13, 2019 Comments off

breathing invisibleInvisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman. Pub. PenguinRandom House, 2019.

When 16 year old Felix Catalan was in year 7 he realised he was different and he was going to be lonely for the rest of his life like a solitary moon orbiting a distant planet he’d never be able to call home. He probably has Asperger’s Syndrome although this is never stated, loves Green Day and lives with his mother and brother after his parents split up.

Then he meets Bailey.

Bailey is questioning his feelings too after a failed relationship with a girl. He has 3 siblings, an abusive father, he is good at judo and he has just moved to Wellington from Auckland. His first encounter with Felix is at school and they later attend a school party together and sparks fly.

Both boys feel it. When Bailey touches Felix’s arm it feels like all his atoms are spinning away from each other. They both feel like they never have before and they can’t get enough of each other. But it is a perilous world out there. Homophobia is rife and pretty soon life at school and at home becomes upsetting as the relationship between the two boys blossoms.

Conflict is inevitable and invisibly breathing becomes impossible.

Then Lucy comes along. Read it and find out what happens.

Eileen Merriman is at the top of her game as a writer. Her descriptive prose is a delight and the dialogue between the characters is totally believable. She deals with a sensitive subject with aplomb and knowledge. I couldn’t put it down and nor will you.

Definitely senior fiction but anybody out there agonising over their sexuality be assured this is the book for you.

Middle School Story: I Even Funnier by James Patterson

January 13, 2014 Comments off

even funnierMiddle School Story: I Even Funnier by James Patterson. Pub.Random House, 2013. 

My first children’s book of the New Year and it is great. Good characters, good story good values and it is very funny in places although not exactly PC. Why should it be?

As an example – A woman gets on a bus with her baby and the driver says to her “that is the ugliest baby I have ever seen”. The woman sits down next to a man and says the driver was very rude to me. The man says go up to him and tell him how you feel. I will hold your monkey.

Jamie Grimm loves comedy, it is his life. He wins a contest for child comedians and is to contest The Funniest kid on the Planet contest. He studies other comedians and analyses his own life, school life and things around him for jokes. There is much to laugh at and it is not offensive.

He wants to be a standup comedian but for him that is impossible because he has been crippled in an accident and is in a wheelchair. He sees life from belt buckle high or belly button jewelery high if you want another perspective.

He is interested in girls and is not left untouched by bullies. Lots of good laughs in all of this and Jamie’s attitude is admirable because of everything that has happened to him. Read it and find out.

Primary and intermediate but some junior secondary school students particularly boys will get off on this. Those that have read the Wimpy Kid series will also enjoy it.

What better way to start a year than with a comedy book that hits home?