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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky.

March 18, 2017 Comments off

blue catThe Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017

This novel for Intermediate and junior secondary readers is set in Sydney after the fall of Singapore in 1942 to the Japanese when great grey warships sat in the harbour like a herd of tired elephants.

It is an absorbing and lyrically novel with a sense of dread about it and ends in a surrealistic way. It recreates Australian life before World War 2 that prompted the then Prime Minister of Australia to observe “Australia is a British land of one race and one tongue”

Columba and her best friend Hilda are about 11 years old and they live on the North Shore of Sydney. Their neighbours are two elderly sisters Miss Hazel and the harp playing Miss Marguerite who say things like “people are ignorant they don’t know any better”.

Daylight saving has been introduced and it is lights out after dark to stop the enemy seeing in the dark. Darwin is bombed in the middle of the story.

Ellery a young boy from You-rope comes to town with a watch on his wrist, a bearded father and without a word of English.

At the same time an archangel blue cat wonders into the lives of Columba and her neighbours. This cat sees all and is important in providing the serendipitous ending to this story.

Easy to read with primary sources of literature, advertisements and Government directives of WW2 Australia spread throughout the novel that will intrigue the reader and provide an insight into life at that time.

I have never read a children’s novel like this before.

 

 

Too Right Boy by M.O. Chamberlain.

March 6, 2017 Comments off

too-right-boyToo Right Boy by M.O. Chamberlain. Pub. SHIHvillage publications. raewyn@247PR.co.nz. 2016

A self published novel about a road trip by grandfather Harry aged 80’s and his grandson Brad aged 12 years. A road trip that is life changing for both grandfather and grandson.

Harry is a retired journalist with plenty of life experience, a risk taker and a man who deeply loved his deceased wife. He misses her and still talks to her but he kept a secret from her and the road trip is going to out this secret and others.

Brad has a bit of baggage too. His mother is over protective and considers Harry to be irresponsible and an earlier day trip on horseback just strengthened her beliefs.

Harry decides on a road trip in a camper van and Brad is forbidden to go, but he stows away when granddad leaves and circumstances at home ensure that Brad remains with his granddad for the trip at least.

On the trip many subjects are discussed between the two from sex to God and drugs. Brad is a surfer and this stimulates his writing as Harry encourages him to write the events of each day down. There is also a Harley Davidson and a violent confrontation to surprise readers. Rule nothing out on this trip.Things get testy on the road as Harry relives his life and Brad soaks up the experience.

Well told in journalistic style with plenty to interest boy readers in a sort of Barry Crump way. It is positive in spite of the family demons that need to be worked through. I found it very easy to relate to Harry.

My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, 507 Days on Takaparawha by Tania Roxborogh.

February 18, 2017 Comments off

bastion-pointMy New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, 507 Days on Takaparawha by Tania Roxborogh. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

Imagine you are a young girl who has just been given a horse that she adores then  her dad and mum decide to go and live in a tent on a piece of land jutting out into Waitemata Harbour Auckland called Takaparawha or Bastion Point.

Erica Tito finds this is happening to her and she keeps a diary of what happened in the next 507 days during the Ngati Whatua occupation of Bastion Point that divided New Zealand under the Muldoon Government.

It is a stunning account of a confrontation between Government and Maori that set the pattern for the next 40 years and asked the crucial question of “Are we as New Zealanders a racist society”? and “have the Maori got a fair deal in their land deals with the Government?”.

Tania Roxborogh examines these questions through the eyes of Erica and her experiences  and her relationships with those on Bastion Point and the children at the school at which she attends during the occupation.

The burning question for Erica is – those that want to develop the land say the land is theirs but do they have a receipt to say that is so, and why do her tribe the Ngati Whatua say it is theirs? One thing is for sure ” no-one laughs at Maoritanga”

Conditions on Bastion point were primitive. No running water, no electricity, a long drop for a toilet and tent accommodation that was exposed to the elements. A child could be excused for hating this situation and wanting to be back home with the horse that she loved. But when mom and dad say we stay what can you do? Over the next 507 days Erica’s opinions and resolve change.

As time passes to over a year and nothing is resolved the eviction of the occupiers at the end,is a traumatic and moving occasion. Read this excellent account and find out why.

Another gem from the My New Zealand Story series many of which are reviewed on this blog.

For primary, Intermediate and junior secondary readers.

Horizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld

February 14, 2017 Comments off

horizonHorizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

This can only be the beginning of a new series because the end is inconclusive and elusive to the reader who is kept guessing all the way through the novel.

It is a science fiction/adventure novel with survival a major theme and is aimed at intermediate, junior secondary readers.

The novel begins with an unusual airplane crash by an aircraft en route from USA to Japan. In mid flight over the Arctic the aircraft is sliced through from nose to tail by something weird and crashes in a lush and dangerous jungle. How could this be?

Furthermore during the ripping of the fuselage all 500 adults disappeared leaving behind 8 teenagers and there seemed to have been some sort of electric selection system that decided who survived. Could this be true?

The teenagers wonder where they are. The plants and animals seem to indicate they are on Earth but two moon like lights in the sky suggest another planet. As the teenagers face what has happened to them they find an anti gravity device which allows them to explore the surroundings and they encounter a flesh eating vine and birds with razor sharp beaks that hunt in a flock.

Cool heads are needed to get out of this because if they got there, there has to be a way back. Read it and find out.

Imaginatively written by Scott Westerfeld, this series will be a winner.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

February 9, 2017 Comments off

tragic-wonderfulA Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom.  Imprint HarperCollins, 2017.

This is a senior Young Adult novel from a brilliant writer who knows how to unlock and discuss serious emotional and mental conditions in young people. It is positive.

When Mel was thirteen her older brother who lit up her life died. The family shifted house, the parents separated and Mel never told any of her friends that she had had a brother.

Mel had a breakdown and now takes a whole lot of drugs including ritalin to level her out. Now she is sixteen in a new school with new friends and working in an old peoples home called Silver Sands.

Every chapter is headed by the same four headings of animals beginning with H. Hamster describes her head condition, Hummingbird her heart, Hammerhead her physical condition and Hannigananimal whether she is up or down.

Mel sees herself as an antisocial underachiever, but she is not. Her manner at the Silver Sands retirement home is outstanding. She is caring and perceptive and she is going to get better.

Mel narrates the story of her life at school and with her friends and family and between these chapters there are chapters written in italics that tell about her brother and her arguements with friends that get to the heart of her mental state.

Battles are never won. Only survived. The dialogue between characters and the relationships between teenagers and adults are excellently handled.

Beautifully written in short sharp chapters that will keep you in the book. I couldn’t put it down. Eric Lindstrom also has Not If I See You First reviewed on this blog.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

February 3, 2017 Comments off

allegedAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Pub. Katherine Tegen Books, imprint HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the most powerfully written novels for Senior students and young adults that I have ever read. It is an emotional roller coaster ride concerning events that people just don’t want to believe or face. It addresses the question of justice. Can there ever be true justice for those who are helpless to defend themselves?

Mary B. Addison was 9 years old when the 6 month old baby, Alyssa, whom her mother was babysitting, was killed violently by Mary – allegedly. Too horrific to think that a child could kill another child. That’s what the justice system, the media and the populace at large thought. Get it over with, put her inside and forget about her? Throw away the key.

Mary spends years in baby prison as she calls it and now on the eve of her 16th birthday she is put in a group home with other girls who are also deeply disturbed. Mary has been abused to the level where she says nothing, beaten black and blue and has no hope for herself in this world. She is lead to believe by her mother that the devil is inside her and there is no hope for her. But Mary loved Alyssa and not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of her.

Then several things happen at the new Group home. Mary meets Ted a 19 year old boy who works at the old peoples home where Mary is allowed to work. Mary becomes pregnant with a child she calls Bean. Ted is good for her and opens her up. Then a new girl comes to the home and shows Mary computer access to the World and introduces Mary to a lawyer Ms. Cora who interviews Mary and decides to make an appeal to have her case reopened.

I can tell you no more. It is a compelling read and if you don’t get emotionally involved with this story then you are heartless. You will be full of hope and gutted at the same time.

This is a special book. Read it, savour it, ask questions. Mary loves a mother who doesn’t deserve her love. The ending thankfully is hopeful.

Trouble Tomorrow by Terry Whitebeach & Sarafino Enadio

January 24, 2017 Comments off

trouble-tomorrowTrouble Tomorrow by Terry Whitebeach & Sarafino Enadio. Pub.Allen&Unwin, 2017.

This is the harrowing story of 15 year old Obulejo and his 5 year journey from his homeland in South Sudan to Australia. It is based on a true story and will give the reader an understanding of the hardship, violence and mistreatment that many refugees go through to arrive in the safety of our country.

Obulejo is a beautiful person whose name means Trouble Tomorrow the title of this book but I think he has had his fair share of trouble already and deserves better. If you met Obulejo in the circumstances in which he finds himself in, then you would be a lucky person indeed.

Born in a South Sudan village that had English as it’s educational language and christianity as it’s belief. The South had rich agricultural land and oil. This was desired by the largely Muslim North with it’s Sharia Law and war broke out. There were two wars the first ended in 1972 when I traveled south from Egypt to Juba and Malakal into Zaire. The people were lovely and it surprised me that the second war from 1983 to 2005 was such a brutal barbaric affair. It’s still going on.

Obulejo’s flight in the face of rebel advancement mirrors 100’s of thousands of others who did not survive. The wars cost over 2 million lives with thousands more in refugee camps. Life in a refugee camp is also a feature of this book.

For high school students and young adults but prepare for some harrowing brutality and some numbing humanity. The treatment of children will make you weep.