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Archive for the ‘Intermediate Fiction’ Category

The Rogues: Accidental Heroes by Lian Tanner.

October 17, 2017 Comments off

rogues accidentalThe Rogues: Accidental Heroes by Lian Tanner. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

From the pen of the author who wrote The Keepers and The Hidden series comes book one in a new fantasy series The Rogues. It is very good and you must read it.

Duckling is a young girl who has been used by her grandfather lord Rump to pull off many a fraudulent scheme to survive. Now they are at the city of Berren which surrounds a huge castle called The Stronghold. It was built on a magical  rock called the Grimstone and is inhabited by the rulers the Margrarve and Margravine of Neuhalt.

The Stronghold is protected by magic created by the Bayam of the magical people the Saaf, no-one can leave the Stronghold although people can get in.

The people of Berren have made magic illegal although evidence of it is all around them which they refuse to believe. They call it witchery and to believe it is considered disloyal and punishable by death.

Into the story come Duckling, her Grandfather and an ordinary farm boy called Pummel. Grandfather has heard of a plot to kill the Heir to the Margrave of the Stronghold and involves Duckling and Pummel to assist in stopping it. Or is he?

Duckling is quite devious herself and Pummel is as innocent as the day is long. They both discover they have magic powers but can they work together and prevent the assassination of the heir by a cruel and powerful baddie called the Harshman.

Read the novel and find out. Excellent characterisation by Lian Tanner, Pummel and Duckling will identify with a lot of children of primary and intermediate age, and of course this is only part one.

Night of the Riot by Matt Elliott.

October 11, 2017 Comments off

night riotNight of the Riot by Matt Elliott. Pub. Salisbury Books Birkenhead, 2017.

A well written novel about a true event in Whanganui just after the outbreak of World War 1, the catastrophe of Gallipoli and the sinking of the Lusitania. Told from the point of view of a 12 year old farm boy Snow Goodison who was working for a German immigrant named Konrad Schmidt during these events.

New Zealanders often say with confidence after an overseas tragedy that “it couldn’t happen here”. The people of Whanganui thought the same and young Snow thought the same. A riot in the main street in which several businesses where wrecked and looted including that NZ icon Hallensteins, destroyed all that.

Told in three parts in which Part 1 is a fascinating outline of life in small town New Zealand before and during WW1 when cars were rare, transport was on horseback or Shank’s pony and domestic life was physically hard work.

Snow is an admirable character, brave, loyal, hard working and most of all honest. He faces bullying behaviour with courage, but will everybody see it that way?

Read it and find out. For primary, intermediate and junior secondary students.

Birthday Boy. What if it was every Day? by Davis Baddiel.Illus. Jim Field

October 9, 2017 Comments off

birthday boyBirthday Boy. What if it was every Day? by Davis Baddiel. Illus. Jim Field. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

It is often said that if you see a shooting star you should make a wish and it will come true and wouldn’t it be great if it was your birthday every day. Combine these two ideas and you have an outline of the plot of this book.

This all happens to Sam Green and while he enjoys it for a while he soon learns that it is not all beer and skittles. It is all a bit selfish and imposes hardship on family and friends especially his younger sister Ruby who is the feel good character in this book.

Then Sam decides he doesn’t want his birthday every day and his Grandpa Sam who suffers from dementia goes missing. Is there a link? A gripping adventure follows as Sam and Ruby try to reverse the wish and find grandpa.

Very much written in the style of David Walliams and why not it is a winning formula.

Jim Field’s illustrations play a starring role in this novel but for me the best parts involved the four grandparents who squabbled and battled throughout.

This book will appeal to reluctant readers with great sense of humour and imagination and of primary and intermediate age. Get it it is a laugh.

The Thunderbolt Pony by Stacy Gregg.

September 21, 2017 Comments off

thunderbolt ponyThe Thunderbolt Pony by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

If you are a fan of Stacy Gregg’s horse and girl stories then I don’t need to tell you how good this latest novel is. If not read and learn.

Evie has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD as a result of severe trauma caused by the Canterbury and Kaikoura Earthquakes. She takes responsibility on board and feels responsible for the aftershocks unless she goes through a number of routines. Of course this is nonsense but the sense of anxiety for Evie is real.

When Evie’s house is destroyed by the Kaikoura earthquake and her mother is airlifted out with a broken leg and pelvis, Evie travels through the earthquake ravaged land between Parnassus and Kaikoura to meet the naval ship HMS Canterbury.

Her companions on this journey are her Arab pony Gus, her border collie Jock and her Cornish red cat Moxy. They are a tight group with the animals just as traumatised by the earthquakes and aftershocks as Evie is.

The journey is riveting, dramatic and accurately described by Stacy Gregg. I lived through the Canterbury earthquakes and aftershocks and remember the roar they gave and the shaking which will stay with me forever.

It is said that 4 out of every 5 children who experienced the quakes still have anxiety disorders and Stacy Gregg analyses this traumatic effect on children through Evie’s OCD. Evie has to understand that it is not her fault and with the help of a therapist and her animals she comes to terms with it.

References to the heroes of the Greek legends make for an interesting link up.

Stacy Gregg’s other titles are reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

Annual 2. A New Zealand Miscellany edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris.

September 18, 2017 Comments off

annual 2Annual 2. A New Zealand Miscellany edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris. Imprint Annual Ink. Distributed, Potton & Burton, 2017.

Reading this book made me very happy. I smiled all the way through it and in parts laughed out loud. What’s more it is totally New Zealand and although aimed at the 9-13 year olds, it really is for everybody.

It is loosely based on the annual type compilations that appeared through the 50’s and 60’s but it is better than that, there is a bit of depth about the subject matter and the means of delivery.

It has stories, essays, interviews, poems, comics, a song by Bic Runga, a recipe, a game and art works. Wait there is more, it is full of ideas for any young writer to get inspiration from and it is totally brilliant.

To give you an example one article looks at a community notice board that you will find in a supermarket or library. Folk offering services or requesting help. It then creates communication between the different players whether by design or accident, via email or texting by cell phone. The results are hilarious.

The article that really tickled me was titled Never say Goodbye: The Art of taxidermy. Tongue is firmly placed in the cheek.

Just loved it. You will too. Look at the part story of an old NZ classic, Barry Faville’s The Keeper – just superb.

 

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok.

September 11, 2017 Comments off

WonderlingThe Wonderling by Mira Bartok. Pub. Walker books, 2017.

Every now and then  there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young adult literature. This is such a book.

There is nothing new in  characters going through total misery in their quest to find out who they are or in the fact that the strong will dominate the weak. What is unique about this novel is in the superb way in which the story is told and in the richness of the language used.

The character who we learn later as the Wonderling was not always called this. He was abandoned at a young age with the number 13 on a metal disc around his neck which becomes his first name. He is a fox like creature with one ear and only 3 feet tall who is put in The Home for abandoned creatures run by a Dahlesque character Miss Clementine Carbunkle who feels hard done by.

The Home is a Dickensian type establishment where ill treatment of inmates is a daily occurrence. Number 13 barely survives until he saves a kiwi type bird creature named Trinket who masterminds his escape into the wild world to find out his identity.

His task is fraught with danger as he makes his way to Lumentown where danger lurks in every corner. He is driven by a love of music and knows that in music there is the answer to where he comes from. He is determined even when he is forced to hide in the underground city of Gloomintown from which there is no escape. See how he gets on.

Superbly written in three parts with maps and excellent sketches of all the characters. You will feel every emotion as you read this novel, you cannot help but become involved.

For fantasy/adventure readers from primary through to secondary. You will love it.

Emily, the Dreadfuls, and the Dead Skin Gang by Bill Nagelkerke.

September 6, 2017 Comments off

emily dreadfulEmily, the Dreadfuls, and the Dead Skin Gang by Bill Nagelkerke. Pub. 2017.

This is a crafty story and ‘Dreadful” in the nicest possible way. It is for primary school readers and it is concerned with burglars, gangs, dead skin and friendship.

Emily is learning to write with her uncle Raymond who is staying until his new house is finished. The crafty bit comes as Emily learns that writers can draw their ideas and inspiration from people and events that are around them.

When burglars make an impact around Emily’s neighbourhood by dumping dust down the chimney and stealing during the chaos, Emily gets an idea for a story. When school friendships get strained over the formation of two gangs, Emily writes a story concurrent with the plot, but you will have to read the book to find out what happens.

The two stories merge with each other and there is lots of dead skin and Dreadful happenings.

Available from online suppliers after 17 September 2017