Archive

Archive for the ‘Intermediate Fiction’ Category

My Old Man He played Rugby by Peter Millett, illus. Jenny Cooper, Sung by Jay Laga’aia.

August 11, 2018 Comments off

my old manMy Old Man He played Rugby by Peter Millett, illus. Jenny Cooper, Sung by Jay Laga’aia. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

This picture book come sing-a-long book celebrates New Zealand’s national game, Rugby.

Peter Millett’s clever witty text has been put to music by Jay Laga’aia in a rousing CD included with the picture book. My favourite line is “my old man was stretchered home”.

Jenny Coopers illustrations are the star of this show. She has portrayed a game with two teams in the colours of the All Blacks and the Wallabies. My old man is in both sides and the game has a woman referee who sends my old man off for a late tackle.

Jenny Copper has captured the culture and hairstyles of the modern player and even given one polka dot undies. It is heaps of fun with lots of nuances to savour.

The CD also has an all music track to which you can sing the lyrics of the song and book.

CHOICE eh!!

Boy Under Water by Adam Baron, illus. Benji Davies.

July 30, 2018 Comments off

boy under waterBoy Under Water by Adam Baron, illus. Benji Davies.. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This novel for intermediate and junior high school readers is about growing up and it addresses a massive question – “Do grown-ups tell you the real stuff or do they try to shove it aside like an old tent stuffed behind a sofa”?

Every family has secrets, secrets that affect other family members and friends  behaviour, and kids do not understand. Why don’t they know? and what will happen when they eventually find out?

Cymbeline Igloo is nine years old and he lives with his mother. He has artistic ability and his mother gives art lessons. Family history comes to a shattering crisis when Cymbelline has to go to the swimming pool with his class. His mother panics and Cymbelline wonders why his mother has never taken him to the pool or any body of water where he could learn to swim.

Cymbelline attends after a challenge from a class member and while waiting to commence a swimming lesson he is pushed into the deep end and sinks to the bottom. His mother erupts. The next morning when Cymbelline wakes up his mother is gone.

I am not going to tell you anymore you will have to read the novel and believe me I did not guess the ending, nor will you but it is brilliant.

Superbly told and explained by Adam Baron with an underlining dark and witty humour. He is talking to the kids and opening big secrets. Deftly illustrated by Benji Davies.

You will find out about the name when you read the book.

Don’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham.

July 24, 2018 Comments off

dont stopDon’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

I bet that somewhere in the World in this very moment in time, a refugee is wishing that things in their own country were safe and they could return. They will be thinking that people in the country they are in feel threatened by them and resent them being there. They will despair for the future of themselves and their families and friends

This is true of Hafiz a teenager from Syria whose escape to freedom you will read about in this novel. He is lucky to be alive and lucky that he has an aunt and uncle in the UK that can support him. He is a gifted footballer and has aspirations to join the best, but will he be given the opportunity to show his talents and develop the way a UK national would?  Read this novel and find out.

Stevie is a talented guitarist and singer, she is 14 years old and is living with her severely depressed mother who can’t get over the death by violent means of her husband and Stevie’s father. They are living on the breadline and things look hopeless. They have to move on and they need a break. Read it and see if this happens.

Stevie and Hafiz come together at school in a class that has some bullying and less understanding kids, but not all. Their relationship develops, they are good for each other but they are going to be sorely tested.

An excellent novel that examines modern day issues of refugees and mental depression and the effects it has on lives when attitudes of hatred and lack of understanding are to the fore.

This book could have drifted into  a state of sentimentality but it doesn’t. You feel for both Hafiz and Stevie and their chances in life in a hostile world. Their story is as common as life itself and the message is, things have got to change!!

Written in short chapters consecutively by Stevie and Hafiz which makes it very easy to read in short bursts but if you are like me you will keep reading long after your eyes are drooping onto the page.

A story for readers in the intermediate to young adult age group. Adults will get reward from it too. But be warned there will be tears.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

July 21, 2018 Comments off

front deskFront Desk by Kelly Yang. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

Migrating from one country to another to better your standard of living is as common as life itself. For 10 year old Mia Tang and her mother and father it becomes a hardship that tests their resilience to the core.

They came to America, California to be exact, with $250 and the hope of freedom. What they got was exploitation, racism and bigotry but still they got through. This book takes the American dream to pieces.

They answer a promising advert to be managers of a motel in Anaheim for the king of exploiters, Mr Yao. He promises them the earth, but knows they have no choice and treats them like slaves. As you read you hate Mr Yao to the core.

My Yao has a son of Mia’s age and they go to the same school. A respectful but often confrontational relationship builds up between the two Chinese children.

Mia has the job of looking after the front desk of the motel while her parents slave away at maintaining and running the 30 room business often encountering the rough side of American culture. It is sad, soul destroying and uplifting. It often makes you angry but Mia and her parents stick to it.

“Why is everything in America about money? questions Mia and “None of us knew it was going to be like this” rues her father.

Mia’s optimism is never daunted and she makes friends with a Mexican girl Lupe and with the regular tenants of the motel. I thought if Mia can get through this then so can I and I did not regret it. Nor will you.

This is one of the most readable novels I have read this year and it is for everybody from Intermediate age through to young adult

Moth. An evolution Story by Isabel Thomas illus. Daniel Egneus.

July 18, 2018 Comments off

mothMoth. An evolution Story by Isabel Thomas illus. Daniel Egneus. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

The theory of Evolution and Natural selection has so often been tagged with the catch phrase “survival of the fittest”. This sophisticated picture book brilliantly illustrates that those that survive are those that have the ability to adapt. Adaptation is the key to evolution.

This picture book concentrates on the history of the peppered moth as it changed through the Industrial Revolution and into the modern world where humankind has started to clean up the environment.

At first the salt and pepper winged moths survived because they could disguise themselves from predators, then the black winged moths thrived during the dark days of the industrial Revolution. Now as humankind cleans up the environment, both coloured moths are able to flourish.

Brilliantly illustrated by Daniel Egneus who captures the natural world of the moths as they relate to the changing environment. The Industrial Revolution has never been portrayed better than this.

Isabel Thomas’s text is superb, simple yet telling. A perfect introduction to Natural Selection for children, and a timely reminder to adults on the effects humankind has on the environment of all the species that inhabit our planet.

The best sophisticated picture book of the year in my opinion.

Funny Kid: prank wars by Matt Stanton.

July 17, 2018 Comments off

PRANK WARSFunny Kid: prank wars by Matt Stanton. Pub. ABC Books, 2018.

It had to happen to funny kid Max even though he has always thought that girls are gross. Yes he is 11 years old and he has started to notice the girls, well one girl in particular – Pip.

He has always had a tussle with Abbey and that still goes on, but Pip makes him feel like no girl ever has. Yes he is falling in lurv. The trouble is new girl Pip has a twin brother Tyson who is a prankster and he is going to ruffle Max’s feathers while Max is trying to get Pip to notice him.

Things get quite lively as Max and Tyson play tricks on each other on a school camp to Lake Quiet where it is rumoured  an extinct dragon has been spotted. The girls think it exists but the boys are nah.

Read it and find out what happens. Max’s best friend Hugo is back, Abbey is back as is duck. It all makes for great fun especially for reluctant boy readers of primary and intermediate age.

Selma by Jutta Bauer

June 28, 2018 Comments off

SelmaSelma by Jutta Bauer, pub.Gecko press, 2018

What is it like to be truly content? So content in fact that not even a million dollars would make any difference. Well Selma the sheep has the answer.

Selma gets up at sunrise, eats a little grass, plays with her children, exercises, eats more grass, has a chat with Mrs Miller in the evening, then falls fast asleep.

What a perfect day. There is comfort in routine, at least I have always felt so and Selma thinks so too and I love her to bits. But what if she had more time? read it and find out.

Simplicity itself in both text and illustrations, and so deep. This is for everybody.

It is one of the best books you will ever read.