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Archive for the ‘Junior 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.

First Day at Skeleton School by Sam Lloyd.

October 10, 2017 Comments off

skeleton schoolFirst Day at Skeleton School by Sam Lloyd. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2017.

Deep in the dark forest, lurking amongst the trees there is a creepy night-time school for  spooky girls and boys. Are you one of them?

It is a school like the one you go to, except it is for ghouls, monsters, skeletons, werewolves and other spooky creatures. There is a sign in the boys toilet saying No Wee Wees out the Window, and you are not allowed to do daredevil stunts in the library.

If this is the type of school you would like to go to then read this book or contact the headmaster Mr Bones and you might just get in.

A fun picture book with big colourful illustrations of monstrous things going on and rhyming text. There is even a pair of frilly knickers and a plan of the school for first day pupils.

Check it out.

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.

What Makes me a Me? by Ben Faulks & David Tazzyman.

October 4, 2017 Comments off

what makes me meWhat Makes me a Me? by Ben Faulks & David Tazzyman. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

This is a picture book about identity. We all wonder who we are and our place in the World but for the little boy in this book,its a puzzle.

Is he slow like a snail, or like Alfie Wilkes next door who roars like a dinosaur and draws on the wall. Is he like a fast car, a tree or a computer you can turn off and on? Perhaps he is like his dad and mum–son I think your on to something.

Ben Faulks rhyming text tells a good easy to read story and shows the boys willingness  to question everything and David Tazzyman’s illustrations compliment the text perfectly and show the boy’s identity. His woolly hat and John Lennon glasses. Eventually he comes  to the conclusion that what makes me is ME.

Good stuff.

Categories: Junior Fiction, Picture book Tags:

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.