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Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

Pages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James.

November 14, 2019 Comments off

pagesPages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

A brilliantly conceived novel for primary and intermediate readers about fairy tales.

Tilly and Oskar are friends who belong to the British UnderLibrary which caters for those who have the power of bookwandering. It is a skill that allows children and adults to enter books and relate to the characters in them. I would love that.

Bookwandering is controlled by librarians and like all librarians I have associated with professionally they are ridden with ego and patch protection foibles. There is a power struggle going on in the underlibrary world, a new head, Melville Underwood, has been elected in dubious circumstances and he has put curbs on bookwandering.

A rebel bookwanderer named Enoch Chalk has created havoc in the fairy tale world with some fairy tales missing and others irrevocably altered. Chalk is hiding somewhere in fairy tale world and is a hunted man.

Tilly and Oskar go to Paris to visit Oskar’s mum and she has access to bookwandering through an uncontrolled book shop. Oskar and Tilly go wandering in fairy tale world and encounter strange goings on. Is it Enoch Chalk or are other factors at play?

Tilly and Oskar find that all the fairy tale characters know each other. They wander first with Little Red Riding hood who knows Jack, of Beanstalk fame, and he knows of Rapunzel and the Three Bears. Rapunzel doesn’t have long hair nor is she trapped in a tower by a witch. She in fact has a sharp bob with an angular fringe, is 17 years old and doesn’t want anything to do with a prince. She wants her own life. Goldilocks is a blonde of course who knows what she wants, preys on the three bears and gazes at her immaculately painted finger nails.

I could tell you more but find out for yourself. Superb intelligent fun. Older readers will have fun with it too. The questions are, will Tilly and Oskar meet Enoch Chalk?  what is Melville up to? and who are the Archivists?

 

 

The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

October 2, 2019 Comments off

fowl twinsThe Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

The Artemis Fowl novels are some of the most inventive fantasy/adventure novels ever written for children and now they are back with younger 11 year old twin brothers, Myles and Beckett.

Myles is ultra clever and the schemer of the two but Beckett has the capacity while seeming simple. to drive enemies to distraction.

Behind every Artemis Fowl novel is the Fairy world, with it’s gold and superior weaponry, living underground out of the ways of humans. Artemis shook this world to the core and now they are back but why?

When a troll burrows his way to the surface near the Fowl fortress on Dalkey Island he is followed by a fairy and shot by a scurrilous 150 year old rogue called Lord teddy Bleedham-Drye. Invisibility filaments were used in this escapade and detected by a fairy fearing group called ACRONYM led by a Spanish speaking nun called Sister Jeromina.

Sister Jeromina captures the Fowl twins for their own safety but wants to learn what if anything they know about how Dalkey Island suddenly became invisible. Is it the fairies?

Probably but you will have to read the book yourself to find out.

Ultra clever, hugely imaginative, highly inventive, totally tongue in cheek, with action and adventure in abundance. Don’t miss this one.

For primary intermediate and junior secondary readers. The font size is large and this is so essential when reading technical stuff that Eoin Colfer throws at you in a totally believeable way. Go on enjoy yourself.

Adventures of Anders by Gregory Mackay

September 25, 2019 Comments off

andersAdventures of Anders by Gregory Mackay. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2019.

This is a graphic novel structured in comic book fashion about an unusual  creature somewhat like a cross between a dog and a cat, called Anders.

He has a best friend called Eden who is just like him, and in the first novel of three in this compendium he meets an elephant like creature who becomes another friend called Bernie.

Anders, Bernie and Eden play together and have enviable imaginations and as such have adventures that just happen rather than are contrived. They are good to each other and to everyone around them. They have respect and deserve their good fortune.

In these three novels they find a comet, search an extinct volcano and find their way through a maze in a castle.

They meet an odd friend in Skip who is a beetle who lights up when he eats sweets, what kid doesn’t? he can fly Anders around. They also meet a mad scientist called Dr Larsen who provides all the interesting stuff in these stories.

Great for kids who are visual readers who will be able to read fast with simple text and good illustrations. A necessity in every school library. It meets a need.

Alex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz.

April 27, 2019 Comments off

alex riderAlex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

The problem I had with doing this review was how to write something unique that has not already been said of this action adventure series about boy spy 14 year old Alex Rider.

I could have said “it is bloody brilliant so just read it” or I could have waxed lyrical about the plot and the characters of the 7 stories that are told in this collection. But I am not. Instead I am going to tell you what appeals to me about Alex and about the style of writing.

Alex is not pretentious, he is not a braggart or a smart arse. He is skilled at martial arts, he thinks in split seconds but his main weapon is his superb observation skills. He watches people and analyses situations and acts instinctively. He never kills anyone and he does what he has to to win. He is always polite, understates his achievements and if you wanted someone to go into bat for your life then Alex Rider is the boy you would choose.

See how Alex gets on penetrating a crazy man’s castle hideout in Afghanistan, see how he deals with a crazy escaped prisoner who wants to kill Alex in an act of revenge, see how he escapes from a hospital prison over an electric fence using fishing rods and a coat hanger, see how he escapes death while paragliding off a runaway motor boat in the South of France. And more.

Superbly written by master writer Anthony Horowitz in a straight forward action style that keeps you reading long after you want to stop and do something else. The characters are incredible, the action spellbinding. I can’t do better than that.

For intermediate and high school students especially reluctant readers.

The Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins.

October 2, 2018 Comments off

world on fireThe Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins. Pub. Franchise Publishing Vancouver, 2017.

After reading literally hundreds of fantasy novels it is refreshing to read a really good one. For fantasy to be successful with me it must have  a number of things -firstly mythical dragon like creature or a unicorn. This novel has both. A half lion half dragon beast called a langara which is the guardian of the Forest of Morais and two unicorns one white one black.

Secondly it must have magic. There must be magicians who can do wonderous things, and thirdly there has to be bad things and bad people that need to be overcome to return a troubled land or society to peace and harmony.

This novel has them all, and there is the sage mirror. Find out what it is.

Kase wants to be a warrior and him and his elder sister Cali, who is a scholar, go to a school called the Academy. The Academy caters for warriors, scholars and wizards but never the twain shall meet until now.

Every year the Academy has the Quest for older students before they leave school and teams of all scholars, all warriors, all wizards are the norm. This year is different. Kase Cali, Lena and Talen are not in their final year, not all from one class and they form a team called Liberati to contest the Q. Their first task is to bring hot lava back in it’s natural condition without it solidifying. Tough stuff.

How will they do against older teams? What about school bad boy Niveous? What about the unicorns and the langara? I am not going to tell you any more, you will have to read it yourself. And it is very good.

Great introduction to fantasy for kids from 8-15 years. Good values too. Friendship, families, teamwork, leadership and selflessness are themes. Lots of science and problem solving.

The second book in the series Money Jane is already out.

Jacob’s Toys. The BIG Backyard Adventure by Claudia Woods.

September 22, 2018 Comments off

jacobs toysJacob’s Toys. The BIG Backyard Adventure by Claudia Woods. Pub. Harbour Publishing House, 2018.

This picture book for juniors was a real surprise with beautifully constructed rhyming text and illustrations that bring out the nature of the characters and the drama they are going through.

Jacob decides that he is BIG now and doesn’t need his soft toys anymore but is he really ready to discard them and what about the toys themselves?

Mum puts them in the washing machine, onto the line, hit by a storm, chased by a cat, washed down a drain, blown into the air and then guess where?

The repeated text containing the toys names makes for great reading aloud. Children can join in too.

The illustrations  are mixed media eg drawing, painting, natural materials, clay, felt etc They are made on large boards and layered with all the items and then photographed. Some of the photos are taken from different angles to create a 3D effect. They cover a whole page sometimes more and really compliment the text beautifully and add a dimension in themselves. At the end is a big surprise as the illustrations contain more than you think.

Check this beauty out.

The Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter.

May 6, 2018 Comments off

mapmakerThe Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018

The best thing I liked about this novel for primary and intermediate school children is that characters have to get off their bottoms and do something. They have to contribute and work for the group otherwise they will not survive. There is no sitting around on their chrome books and moaning that there is nothing to do. The children are challenged.

The novel is about a race to map a route for a railway  from Grand Prospect to the coast across a mountainous landscape. Five teams take part with four of them being adult teams of various skills and ethics.

Then there is the Santanders, Sal age 14, twins Joe and Francie aged eleven, Humphrey who is just walking and talking and their talking parrot called Carrot whose one liners add humour and reality to the story. Add older boy Beckett who provides the donkeys and cooking skills and we have a team to be reckoned with.

The Santanders father has disappeared on a previous adventure and their mother missed the train and there isn’t another for a week. The race to map the rail route is on and waiting for mother is not an option.

The children have some advantages. Firstly no-one gives them a dog show of winning and secondly they are in survival mode and have skills that no other team has. They were well taught by their parents and Francie who can fly mentally. She never talks and her brain can see the landscape from above. She is the mapmaker.

The drawings at the head of each chapter keep the reader up with the pace and the plot advances in rollicking fashion. It reminds me of a cross between the family in Lemony Snicket and The Road to Ratenburg by Joy Cowley.

A first class read-a-loud for primary children and for individual reading. It’s all about survival and having fun at the same time.

Supersaurs 1: The Raptors of Paradise by Jay Jay Burridge.

November 13, 2017 Comments off

supersaursSupersaurs 1: The Raptors of Paradise by Jay Jay Burridge. Pub Allen&Unwin, 2017.

The first part of a new adventure series for pre-teens and teens set in a world in which dinosaurs still exist but in a time zone that is pre world War 2.

13 year old Bea sets off with her well bred grandmother Bunty and her square jawed manservant Theodore for the Spice islands to seek the whereabouts of Bea’s parents who disappeared on the Island of Aru 11 years previously. They also hoped to see the elusive Raptors of Paradise who live in the interior of the island.

Things are not going to go well as there is a super bad guy called Christian Hayter on the island who is killing and smuggling raptors and other dinosaurs off the island to foreign buyers. Bea and her troop are going to upset Hayter who is hated by the local people and the raptors alike.

Will he come to a sticky end? Are Bea’s parents still alive? What are the Raptors of Paradise like? and who is the savage little boy who appears at times of crisis in Bea’s life?

There is an absolutely superb scene when Bea and her troop are surrounded by shadow raptors who appear to be dancing. Square jawed Theodore gets the troop to sing knees up mother Brown and loe and behold the raptors mimic them and even learn the whole song.

One might say it is old fashioned writing with a jolly hockeysticks manner and to a certain extent it is, but how refreshing it all is.

Don’t miss this one. Less than $20.00 in book shops now.

South Sea Vagabonds by J.W. Wray.

August 24, 2017 Comments off

south sea vagabondsSouth Sea Vagabonds by J.W. Wray. Pub. HarperCollins, 2014.

This remarkable story is a New Zealand classic that was first published in 1939. Every sailor worth his weight in salt water would have read this story and I guess every Aucklander with a boat will have heard of the yacht Ngataki and the legends that went with it.

Johnny Wray lost his job in the Depression because he was a day dreamer. He dreamt of palm-clad atolls with white sand and sailing in the warm trade winds.

He decided to pursue his dream and scrounged around the beaches in the Auckland area for logs of kauri to build a yacht. How he does this in his own backyard with little money and no training in boat building, makes fascinating reading. He does it somehow with friends and an insight possessed by few people. The result was the very sturdy Ngataki a 35 ft sloop with a 12 ft beam. The launch is hilarious.

The first voyage with a dunger of an engine called Methuselah, a chronometer and compass that didn’t work, and a sextant that took some working out, is astonishing, but they found Sunday Island where the best oranges in the world grow. A race across the Tasman to Melbourne followed and Johnny Wray was hooked for life.

Told in laconic style, with a good deal of understatement and self deprecation and the number 8 fencing wire theory as a guide, Johnny Wray travels the South Sea Islands from Tonga to Tahiti. The environment is pristine, you could see the bottom of the ocean from 20 fathoms and there were fish galore. It’s all gone now of course as man has plundered the planet.

You can read about the ship board rat Herbert, hear told of a fight between a giant squid and a whale and first hand account of sailing through a hurricane. You will be spellbound.

Johnny Wray trusted the Ngataki he built and approached sailing with this philosophy -“there is something exhilarating in a clean fight with the elements – as long as you win”

I would have trusted the man with my life. I hope you can still get a copy.

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson.

June 22, 2017 Comments off

ice piratesThe Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson. Imprint Gecko Press, 2017.

Pirate Whitehead is the coldest, most evil man on the Ice Sea. He wears his hair in a bun and treats children like animals by capturing them and making them work in his diamond mine on a secret island somewhere in the Ice Sea.

What is worse is that he has stolen Miki, the sister of the heroine of this story, Siri who sets out to rescue Miki, unarmed but with a determination that could beat the All Blacks.

On her journey across the Ice Sea which freezes over in winter and crushes ships caught in the ice, Siri meets some amazing people and creatures that all assist her in her mission to free Miki. Some of the creatures are bogle birds, sea parrots which are very tasty when cooked with snowberries, and a baby merman.

The smell of fish is ever present in the written text and the coldness seeps through so make sure you read it in front of the fire.

Siri is a brilliant character, good and sincere to the core and brave and resilient beyond belief. Love does that to people and Siri loves her sister Miki. But will Siri find Miki alive and well, and defeat Whitehead? Read it and find out.

This is a translation of a highly acclaimed Swedish writer which lacks nothing in power and the illustrations by David Barrow enhance the mood and illustrate the plot.

This novel really is a saga and cries out to be read aloud to children of ages 8-12 years but older kids will love it too. If you miss this you will kick yourself.