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Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

The Memory Thief by Leonie Agnew. Pub Puffin, 2021

July 18, 2021 Comments off

Seth is a troll who lives in the gardens with an older troll Celeste. In the day he turns into a stone statue and at night he reverts to a human persona and feeds off the memories of those who pass by. His own memory is not so hot and he is confused by the mixing of others memories with his own. he wants to leave the park but is locked in by iron gates and we all know trolls are allergic to iron.

Next door lives a girl called Stella who has a younger brother. Stella spots Seth in his dirty condition and thinks he needs help but all he really wants is her memories. As Seth gets to know Stella he wants to get to know her as a person and avoids stealing her memories.

Stella however is onto him, she has researched google and knows Seth is a troll and that trolls eat humans. Seth is upset with this and has no intention of eating Stella or stealing her memories but Stella wants him to steal her memories.. Stella has a disturbing past that she would rather forget.

What will Celeste do? Can Seth break out of the park? What role will the little brother play?

Check this excellent fantasy and see what happens. Very imaginative and well written in a flowing style. Once you start reading you will not want to stop.

Elastic Island Adventures Bk5. Kingdom of Blong. Pub. Duckling, 2021. Lighthouse PR.

June 20, 2021 Comments off

An easy to read adventure series for primary and intermediate aged children. This is the latest and it is about the kingdom of blong whose king has gone missing.

Yes it is a cat and if you have a cat you will know that cats have staff, they are owned by no-one.

The four children from the first four books Kiri, Jed and twins Emma and Ethan are all in this adventure but it is Emma’s cat Blong that takes the headlines. Blong is the missing king of Blong an island on which inhabit cats and bilbies. If you don’t know what a bilby is look it up, but they are delightful little animal like a small kangaroo and cats love to hunt them.

The four children take the elastic Island route to Blong and Emma’s cat is lauded as the missing king. His sister Bella has held the fort while he has been gone but Blong himself is not keen in assuming the role of king.

When they arrive on the island Emma’s cat Blong and his sister Bella and an imposter usurps the throne and tears up the treaty that kept peace between cats and bilbies. Cats are now allowed to hunt bilbies and a slaughter is threatened.

What will the children do? Is there a way out? Check it and see and look at the others in the series too.

This series is a lot of fun, easy to read and brings up problems that we humans have in our own society. Reluctant readers will have no problem with these stories..

Partners in Slime by Belinda O’Keefe. Pub. Scholastic 2021.

May 25, 2021 Comments off

Thirteen year old Jake and his mate Cooper want to ride on a new roller coaster called the Steel Beast which is to open in 38 days time. Unfortunately they have no money and the beast is going to cost over $100.00 each to ride on.

Jake gets an idea to make money from his younger sister Paige who is a real handful for Jake to handle and she seems to have the ear of her parents. The idea is to make slime and sell it to the kids at school who Jake believes are gagging for it.

With the help of a web page and input from Coopers scientific uncle Ivor the boys make a very desirable product and it sells like hotcakes. The sister Paige and her girlie friends come up with a better product that smells of food product and the boys have been usurped.

What are they to do next? The answer is off this planet and the results hilarious. Will the boys get near the Steel Beast? Read it and see what happens.

The best part of this story is the business venture. How do you start a business from scratch? Once you have a product how do you market it? What do you do about competition?

A great read-a- loud for junior and intermediate readers with high boy appeal.

Space Detectives by Mark Powers, illus. Dapo Adeola. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021.

April 8, 2021 Comments off

This is a short easy to read chapter book for newly confidant readers and reluctant boy readers. It is introductory Sc/Fi with a load of laughs and lots of weird creatures.

Ten year old Ethan and Mark are good friends and they run an ice cream parlour on the manmade planet of Starville. It is a glass bubble in space with all the elements of Planet Earth except that it is populated by both humans and creatures from other planets.

Both boys are detectives and want to start an agency up on Starville but there is a lack of work. The boys witness a crime in which a Tufted Grotsnobbler from Venus steals the handbag off the daughter of the Supreme Governor of Starville. They attempt to get the handbag back and are invited to a party at the Governors house for their efforts.

Then things get worse as Starvillians learn that their planet is heading for a collision with the moon. Can Ethan and Mark find out who is behind this dastardly scheme? Read it and find out.

Cricket Crazy by Vivienne Bailey. Pub. Cuba Press 2021.

March 19, 2021 Comments off

Tom is 11 years old, at Rewa Intermediate school and is crazy about cricket. His father was a good cricketer and has an old bat with the autograph of some famous NZ cricketers including Martin Crowe. Tom’s best friend Fletcher plays cricket too and so does Izzy a girl that Tom likes but keeps it to himself. She is an all rounder and there is nothing worse for a boy than to be bowled out by a girl.

Tom is still missing his dead mother when dad turns up with a red headed lass called Tanya who has taken over all his dad’s attention. Worse thing of all is they are kissing and cuddling and Tanya doesn’t like his dog Archie who is moved from his home comforts to out of doors.

A cricket competition is to be played with the final to be played at the Basin Reserve. Tom wants to get there but things are not going well for him. Then his favourite bat is nicked at a cricket game and Fletcher gets glandular fever.

Will Tom make it? How about dad and Tanya? What has Izzy got to do with it all? Read it and find out.

Lots of cricket talk and a glossary of terms in the back of the book. Good advice for a young cricketer and for any sport in fact. practice, have confidence in yourself, concentrate and play for your team.

A first novel for this author and I think she is on the right track with this novel about cricket and family and school life.

The cover looks very much like Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor batting together and they do get a mention in the novel.

The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021.

February 20, 2021 Comments off

This might possibly be the best novel dealing with the evacuation of children out into the countryside from London and other cities in WW2, that has been written. Comparisons can be made to Goodnight Mr Tom but that would be wrong because there is the added dimension of mystery and relations between Wales and England.

Twelve year old Jimmy and his younger 6 year old brother Ronnie are evacuated from their home in London to a small Welsh coal mining village. Jimmy is determined not to like it when him and Ronnie are billeted with the Thomas’s who not topic of the week in their community.

Ronnie while very emotional takes to the Thomas’s straight away and starts calling them uncle and Auntie which Jimmy finds difficult to accept. Jimmy has his own problems as his best mate in London Duffy is billeted with the vicar and his bad boy Jack and they cease to be friends. A girl of similar age Francis who was an object of fun and derision in London has found great confidence in the change to Wales.

On a walk up the hills Jimmy and Ronnie discover a skull hidden in the trunk of a tree and expose a decade old mystery that deeply involve the Thomas family.

Strong emotions are evoked and cultural differences are exposed as well as family secrets and community relations. This book was compelling reading and would make a good read aloud at middle school and intermediate level.

A stron part of the novel and a source of mystery are the tree illustrations that begin each chapter. You will have to find this out for yourself plus and additional mystery in the written text.

A superb novel about this era of the phoney war inWW2 and very good social values as well as historical perspective.

Old Truck and the Flood by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern. Pub. Tales from the Farm Publications 2021.

February 9, 2021 Comments off

This delightful and informative picture book is the third about the Old Truck – in reality a 1921 Model 10 Republic. All the books in this series by the two sisters are previewed elsewhere on this blog.

This story is based on the 2004 storm that caused the Tongariro River to break it’s banks and flood parts of the town of Turangi near Lake Taupo.

Old Truck is in the garage when it happened and the flood water got up to his, pretty high anyway, much to his discomfort. His engine is silted up from the volcanic soil and it looks like that is it for Old Truck. Fortunately there is some positive thinking in Old Truck’s family and perhaps his days are not over yet.

Check it out and see what happens. It is a well told story of a natural disaster.

Excellent illustrations which show a portrait of country life the highlight of which is the character of Old Truck. In the back are real life pictures of old truck plus the weather circumstances and results of the 2004 flood..

Locked Down by Jesse O. Illus. Toby Morris. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2021.

February 5, 2021 Comments off

This is a remarkable story because it was first written in 2011 when Bird flu was around and the author prophetically extrapolated what might happen if things got worse. Well things did get worse and it was called Covid 19 and the nation was in lockdown.

The title has been changed from Staying Home to Locked Down to reflect the modern situation. The interesting thing of course is to compare how the author saw things going in 2011 compared what actually happened in New Zealand under lockdown.

The story concentrates on the Flint family who live in the town of Hansen which is somewhere in the South Island. A virus XB276 has struck the North Island down and people have been told to stay home. The South Island has been relatively untouched but is radically effected by the situation in the North.

There are major differences and solutions to the problems created by lockdown and i will let you find out by reading the book. There is a complete shutdown of shops and supermarkets and there is a shutdown of power sources too which create different problems than in the current situation.

The strongest messages relate to families under stress and trying to survive. It hasn’t got that bad in todays crisis, see how the children and their neighbours get on in this crisis..

Toby Morris’s illustrations enhance the story and provide images to hang your thought s on. Well worth a read.

Pages & Co Bk. 3 Tilly and the Map Stories by Anna James. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

December 21, 2020 Comments off

The magic of reading is to the fore in this third part about Tilly and Oscar who are bookwanderers. That is the skill of being able to enter into a book and relate to the characters and the action that happens.

Librarians are a power crazy lot, at least in my experience, and the Underwood siblings are trying to squash bookwandering by binding source editions in the British Underlibrary. This has an effect in other countries like France and USA and stops book wandering unless the source edition of a novel is kept outside of Britain.

Tilly and Oscar have some clues to a theory that a supreme power called the Archivists, who are elusive, have the ability to halt the shenanigans of the Underwood’s. The clues lead them to a book in the Library of Congress in Washington so off they go in secrecy to meet Orlando and Jorge at the library. Adventure and treachery await them.

Well written with the characters of Oscar and Tilly having good values and personal character. My favourite part is when they bookwander into Midsummer Night’s Dream and meet Titania, Oberon, Puck and Bottom. Should they stop the love potion being given to Titania? Read it and see. We also meet Shakespeare himself. Where there’s a Will there’s a way.

Fans of the series will love it and it leaves a few plot lines open for another book.

Fantastic Mr Bean by Mary-Anne Scott, illus. Lisa Allen. Pub. OneTree House, 2020.

December 12, 2020 Comments off

A short, easy to read novel wrapped around a school production of Roals Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox.

Lachie and his class are puting on a production of Mr Fox and he desperately wants to play Mr Fox but he doesn’t want to have to say the smulchy terms that Mr Fox calls his wife. Result he gets the part but can’t go through with it.

When the play is being acted out an incident happens that turns lachie into a hero. Read it and see what it is.

Short 56 page novel in large print for the most reluctant of readers. There should be more of this type of novel for children. The story is terrific and lisa Allen’s illustrations enhance the story and the characters.