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Archive for the ‘Intermediate Fiction’ Category

Five Go Gluten Free by Enid Blyton, Text by Bruno Vincent

August 20, 2019 Comments off

glutinFive Go Gluten Free by Enid Blyton, Text by Bruno Vincent. Pub. Quercus, 2016.

Satire can be wonderfully entertaining especially when applying modern day ethics and habits to the Famous Five. The Five are now in their 20’s with University degrees and careers ahead of them.

Anne, George, Julian and Dick plus dog Timmy are housemates and on Anne’s birthday she gets a book by a woman called Portia who opens her eyes to the toxic nature of the modern western diet.

Turns out Portia is a friend of Cousin Rupert whom he met at a party by Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert convinces Anne to go on a wellness gluten free diet.

Anne in turn convinces the others to go on the diet and calls it their new adventure. They are extremely reluctant and fight it all the way until Anne decides they should go back to Dorset to consolidate the new diet which will make them energised and happy.

No more cakes and lashings of ginger beer. It does not go down well even with Timmy whose whatsits once could be collected in a bag but would now need a hoover to mop them all up.

Will the Dorset trip /come adventure help with the diet? Read it and find out.

Very funny and totally true to the original stories. For everybody. The front cover is perfect with original drawings throughout the text.

Ringlet and the day the oceans stopped by Felicity Williams.

August 17, 2019 Comments off

RingletRinglet and the day the oceans stopped by Felicity Williams.Pub. AHOY, Imprint Cuba Press, 2019.

One of the most unusual fantasy novels for primary and intermediate students that I have ever read. It is set under the sea and brings a whole new range of terminology and characters with it.

The novel begins with a legend -“when the world began there was water everywhere”, but things have changed and the oceans are in danger. Land has risen, animals have evolved and the seas have formed different currents which go everywhere.

Into the story comes a mermaid named Ringlet and her merdog Iskee. The story stands or falls on how the reader gets on with Ringlet (most readers will). She is a jolly hockey sticks, innocent sort of lass that most fathers would like for a daughter. She is good natured, caring and above all brave.

When Ringlet breaks the baton of a high placed mermaid she is sent away to get another and rapidly finds she is on a quest that can save the oceans. I can tell you no more, read it and find out.

Written with some enthusiasm that at first is hard to get your head around but persistence is worth it. The world of Merfolk is here.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell.

August 4, 2019 Comments off

good thievesThe Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is children’s story telling at it’s very best. I am pleased to discover Katherine Rundell.

Set in New York probably in the 1920’s it is a battle for social and legal justice in which the poor and downtrodden take on a rich villain and win.

Vita is a girl of 11 or 12 years old with reddish brown hair of a freshly washed fox. She goes with her mother to New York to help her grandpa who has been swindled out of his castle by a ruthless conman called Sorrotore. Not only is he a thug but he is of a class that is trained not to see the poor and the poverty around them. He doesn’t care.

Vita confronts him in his own apartment in the Dakota building on 72nd street where John Lennon would later be killed. In the process she meets an Irish girl called Silk who is an accomplished pickpocket and safe breaker and seeks her assistance to break into her grandpas castle and find a hidden emerald necklace. She declines at first.

Vita also meets two boys  from a circus playing at Carnegie Hall, Arkady and Samuel, who have trapeze skills and are clever with animals. They too are seconded to help Vita get the castle back for grandpa.

The adventure is gripping and the plot has a weasel like quality to it – cunning. Katherine Rundell has great descriptive ability in her writing and you will not put this novel down willingly.

For primary, intermediate and junior high school readers. The find of the year so far.

The Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, Illus. Rob Jones.

July 31, 2019 Comments off

teachersThe Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, Illus. Rob Jones. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is the sort of book that you need in a library because the cover says to the reluctant reader “pick me up and have a look”.

It is the sort of book that you don’t have to read at the start and go through to the finish, you can pick it up and read from anywhere. It is a collection of short ditties about every aspect of school life with emphasis on the teachers.

It describes teachers in the classroom, in the staff room whether they are nice, good, bad, or evil with an emphasis on the ridiculous and the funny. It describes the library and the librarian, the school secretary how to give an excuse for being late and how to do a fart without pooing yourself.

The illustrations enhance the silliness and describe aspects of British schools that are not common to New Zealand like school lunches and the infamous dinner lady.

All in all a good laugh especially for reluctant readers.

Joy Cowley, Building Bridges

July 30, 2019 Comments off

bridgesJoy Cowley, Building Bridges. Pub. Clean Slate Press, 2019.

Five 32 page, easy to read books, designed for readers 8-12 years who have dyslexia or  readers who are struggling between junior material and chapter books.

And they are brilliant.

They are about modern family life in multi cultural New Zealand that have themes and plots that kids will go for.

Each book has three stories all with Dyslexia friendly text that has short simple sentence structure with generous spacing between lines and written on matt cream coloured background.

Each book has  a different illustrator all well known in the publishing industry.

Buster illustrated by Ali Teo is about a dog who is full of dogness but suffers from intestinal wind

Motor Sports illustrated by Richard Holt features kart racing, Formula 1 and rally cars and is full of motor racing information about cars.

Selena and Mia illustrated by Ant Sang features a friendly relationship between two street wise intermediate aged girls.

The Twins illustrated by Jenny Cooper features the relationship between twins and their loving and slightly weird and embarrassing parents.

Grandpa and Boy illustrated by Toby Morris features three hunting and fishing stories and a grandfather who swears a blinky lot.

All five books would be essential purchases for primary and intermediate schools at around 50 bucks for the lot. Contact at info@cleanslatepress.com

I loved all 15 stories and so will you and your students.

The Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward

July 29, 2019 Comments off

clockillThe Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker books, 2019.

Steam punk action /adventure with an historical bent and a sequel to The traitor and the Thief also reviewed on this blog.

Sin is the Thief and he works for an anti war agency called COG. His father is a slightly bonkers scientist called Nimrod and his mother was also a scientist. In fact Sin is a child born out of the quest for knowledge and now he has blue blood and is in danger of dying unless he gets an anti dote.

Sin and fellow COG Zonda with whom he is getting a bit silly on, are put on a mission to find escaped prisoner Eldritch. Velvet von Darque returns to confuse the issue and play hardball with the other COGs.

The main action surrounds Airships which are the new transport and are being attacked by air pirates. The main enemy are the Clockill who are flesh and blood except that their brians and hearts have been replaced by clockwork. They feel no pain, have no fear, have blue blood and will remove your heart and brain with surgical precision.

Read it and find out what happens.

Gareth Ward has an excellent turn of phrase that will tickle your fancy and his sense of humour is dark and often very funny. This will also be in the running for Literary Awards later in the year. I loved it.

Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx

July 25, 2019 Comments off

zanzibarZanzibar by Catharina Valckx. Pub. Gecko Press, 2019.

Wonderful story about the quest for fame. Is it worth it?

Zanzibar crow is at home doing what he is good at and what he enjoys – cooking omelets and eating them. I could live with that. Achille LeBlab a journalist with the local paper knocks on his door and asks if he can do anything exceptional.

When told he is ordinary Zanzibar sets out to do something exceptional to prove  Achille wrong and to find fame. He choses to show a rare feat of strength by lifting up a camel with one wing although a skinny dromedary will do.

See how he gets on in this very entertaining and readible short novel for junior readers although older readers will get a kick out of this too. Beautifully illustrated with the characters of Zanzibar and his friends outstanding.