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Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

Valensteins by Ethan Long.

December 24, 2017 Comments off

valensteinsValensteins by Ethan Long. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Fran the ogre is making pink hearts on Valentines Day, but who are they for and why is he doing it? Could it be love? What is love anyway?

When Fran is caught making the pink hearts Vladimir the vampire speculates that they are pink butts much to the hilarity of the other ghouls. Then a witch surmises that Fran is in love. Eewww! cry all his friends.

An embarrassed Fran¬† puts up with their taunts of feeling Mushy Mushy and kissing on the lips but who is the recipient of Fran’s feelings?

Read the rest and find out who and learn that love is a feeling in the heart. Awww!

Great illustrations especially the eyes of the characters that show where their feelings and motives are.

Viola Vincent reporting…Underdog by Anna Kenna

December 13, 2017 Comments off

UnderdogViola Vincent reporting…Underdog by Anna Kenna. Pub. Tiromoana Publishing, 2017.

If you are an animal lover this novel is heart rending stuff but even if you are not the treatment of dogs in puppy rearing farms will stir your stomach. It is a world wide problem and is alive and well in New Zealand too.

A string of sausages around a boy’s neck for a wearable arts school competition leads to an attack by a gentle labrador seeking food and brings 13 year old Caitlin alias Viola Vincent in contact with the puppy rearing industry.

With the help of a journalist friend Megan, Caitlin first helps with the labrador and then discovers the horror of the puppy farm in her area.

The plight of Sissy, a young dog who is held captive in appalling conditions with the sole purpose of producing puppies for sale, comes to Caitlin’s notice and she goes on the prowl to expose the ratbags who are mistreating dogs so badly.

Easy to read with alternate chapters in the puppy factory showing the horror of it all. Fortunately there is a happy ending.

For primary and intermediate readers. A worthwhile read from a former 20/20 TV journalist.

Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman.

December 4, 2017 Comments off

lucky buttonLucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman. pub. walker books, 2017.

There is always something gentle yet powerful about a Michael Morpurgo novel and so it is with this one. Similarly he often uses a story within a story to link a past event with a present day situation and he does it again in this novel.

Jonah looks after his mother who is house bound and has stopped playing music that Jonah loved so much. Jonah gives up much of his school life to look after his mother and is bullied at school.

After an attack he retreats to the school chapel where he finds a brass button that brought the original owner a lot of luck. The owner called Nathaniel Hogarth was a foundling at an orphanage with connections to the composer Handel.  Nathaniel appears before Jonah as a ghost and tells him an amazing story about becoming friends with Mozart and his sister.

Will the lucky button give some badly needed luck to Jonah and his mum? Read it and find out. It is fascinating and based on true events although this is not a true story.

Superbly illustrated by Michael Foreman’s colour illustrations as always.

Primary and middle school readers will devour it.

Bad Dad by David Walliams. Illus. Tony Ross

December 2, 2017 Comments off

bad dadBad Dad by David Walliams. Illus. Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

You don’t need to advertise these novels kids all know about them as soon as they are out.

The usual smattering of silliness which you wish was true, with goodies taking on baddies and winning. This time we have a bad dad who isn’t bad, a vicar without a congregation, a mini called Queenie, an aunt who can’t write poetry and three villains-Mr Big, Fingers and Thumbs who are just classic and right out of a Jimmy Cagney movie.

The down trodden are 11 year old Frank and his stockcar driving father Gilbert who losses a leg, a wife and his self respect but not the love of his son.

The minor characters are a treat especially the local copper Sergeant Scoff and perennial newsagent and all round good guy if a little mingy, Raj.

Great for anyone with a silly sense of humour and especially for reluctant readers. As usual Tony Ross’s illustrations are superb.

I loved it. But wait there’s more. We have a gay relationship to ponder and it will make you happy.

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

November 24, 2017 Comments off

here we areHere We Are by Oliver Jeffers Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

If you had to explain what planet earth was and what went on here to a newcomer, how would you do it?

Well Oliver Jeffers has a new son and in the most simplest of terms tells his son all about Earth, how it looks, where it is in relation to the Universe, what life there is on Earth and what we do here.

That is a massive effort and in doing so he gets us, the reader, to assess or reassess what we are doing here. “there are lots of us here so be kind.There is enough for everyone”

He describes the land, the sea and the sky, what a human looks like, how different we all are but how similar we are too. All the animals that are here their diversity and where everybody lives including the city and country. Mr Jeffers comes from Brooklyn so the bridge gets in there.

His advice to his son is to be kind and when he is not around to answer questions you can always ask someone else.

A beautiful message. And there’s more. The illustrations are spectacular. If you don’t read this book you have missed one of the choices of the year.

For everybody.

Brotherband Bk 7: The Caldera by John Flanagan.

November 17, 2017 Comments off

calderaBrotherband Bk 7: The Caldera by John Flanagan. Pub.Penguin Random House, 2017.

Hal, Stig, Ulf and Wulf, Lydia, Thorn and dog Kloof are a Brotherband in the Skandian culture and they sail a technically superior viking ship, the Heron, due to a movable boom sail rig invented by Hal the Skirl or captain. They take on dangerous missions all over the Skandian world and such is their team work and skill that they are always successful.

When Stig’s father Olaf turns up after deserting his family and crew 20 years previously a new adventure begins. Olaf has work as chief palace guard for the Empress of Constanta a city identical to the modern day Istanbul. The Empress is Regent to her young son who has been kidnapped by to true baddy with the name Myrgos.

Myrgos has a fortress in a caldera of a volcano which has opened to the sea and his fortress is at the top of a cliff overlooking the caldera.

Hal and his crew are asked by Olaf to rescue the Empress’s son and clear his name at the same time. But all is not as it seems. Read it and enjoy the action, it is outstanding and compulsive reading.

Told in the same easy style of previous Brotherband books and you do not have to have read the earlier novels to know what is going on. John Flanagan neatly brings you up to scratch in Part 1 of the novel and then you are straight into the action against the villain Myrgos and the river pirates of the Dan river.

Lots of sailing talk and sea and river battles that are brilliantly described. I was disturbed when Lydia the only female member of Hal’s crew was wounded in the first battle of the novel but I knew she would get up again.

For intermediate and junior secondary readers but I am sure older and younger confident readers will easily cope with this novel. Leadership is a constant theme of this series, what does it take to be a leader?

Reluctant boys – this is for you.

The Untold Story of Father Christmas by Alison Battle & Mike Battle.

November 10, 2017 Comments off

untold christmasThe Untold Story of Father Christmas by Alison Battle & Mike Battle. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

To wish is to believe in magic, in hopes and dreams that know no boundaries.

Father Christmas is one of those things but what if he was a toy maker with a wife who supported him and both had a dream to have children but it never happened.

What if he and his wife made toys for the children of the village whose parents were hard working but poor, and what if this task became so big that elves from the north pole had to help them out. And what if this became popular and spread throughout the World.

Sounds like a good story to me with ideals and values that all should behold.

Get a hold of this story and fill in the parts that I have missed out. Beautifully told and illustrated by I assume a husband and wife. I hope they have children.