A Different Dog by Paul Jennings. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.
Fans of Paul Jennings will not be disappointed in this long short story. Just over 80 pages of writing that will keep you on edge and keep you guessing to the end.
The boy who narrates the story is known only as the boy. He never speaks but once owned a dog called Deefer whose fate is crucial to the story. The boy lives with his mother and they are very poor but both want to break that poverty thing.
Although the boy never talks you know what he is thinking. He has no friends and is harangued at school but an adventure in which a vehicle leaves the road and kills the owner leaving another dog, is to change the boy’s life. Read it and see how.
The illustrations by Geoff Kelly in black and white pen are a critical part of this story
Superbly constructed by a master storyteller for reluctant readers of intermediate and secondary school age.
Rangers Apprentice. The Early Years. The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.
John Flanagan has a winning formula with this second part about the early years of those superb, morally correct and fearless Rangers from the kingdom of Araluen. Halt and Crowley are great warriors, superb bowmen in the mould of Legolas from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and they are loyal, trustworthy and sort out any trouble.This is the start of the legend of Halt.
This novel begins with two of the best Rangers crawling down narrow tunnels to undermine the walls of Gorlan Castle the former stronghold of Morgarath the Black Lord who tried to usurp the throne of Araluen held by Duncan and his beautiful and now pregnant wife Isobella.
Morgarath has fled to the misty world of the Mountains of rain and night and has enlisted the help of giant bear like creatures called the Wargals. They are fierce brutal fighters but have a fear of horses. See their picture on the cover.
The action is superb, the creation of the landscape of Araluen and neighbouring Kingdoms is vivid and the novel culminates in the battle of Hackham Heath. An easy and compulsive read for middle school and junior high school readers.
Johnny Danger Bk 3. Spyborg by Peter Millett. Pub. Puffin Books, 2016.
Yes book three is out at last and it is full of the same intelligent silliness that made the other two books so popular. Perennial villain Dr Disastrous is joined by new villain Yuri Boom-Boom-ovic who has invented a cyborg that can be replicated to look and act like anybody.
The two villains retreat to Happy World island formerly known as Ikki Ikki Bunga, Dr Disastrous’s hideaway, and plot to get Johnny Danger and conquer the World at the same time. Mwahahaha.
Not only that Johnny Dangers older brother Evil Ian has gone to the darkside and Penelope Pounds and Johnny’s father are acting very strangely, could they be one of Boo Boom’s new cyborgs or Yuri-nators as he calls them?
Read this action packed spoof on James Bond and have fun. Lots of action and toilet humour, there is even a lego car. Adults will love it too as Peter Millett spoofs film classics Dirty Harry, the Terminator and others.
The best compliment I can give this novel is to tell you I read it in one sitting. It made me smile on a miserable day. It will do that to you too.
For middle school and older students who have furtive imaginations. All the Johnny Danger books are at this link
After a tentative start this novel for middle school children develops an original idea into a rollicking double plot story involving pirates, smuggling of endangered species and a pig.
Malachi is 11 years old and he and his father miss his mother who has died. Malachi’s mother always encouraged him to be adventurous and inquisitive and she gave him a magnifying glass and says look for me after I have gone.
Malachi finds a ship in a bottle which has a life of it’s own which parallels the adventure that is to happen in his own life. He becomes aware of a dodgy deal that is going to take place in Waipoua Forest where protestors are trying to stop a road going through which threatens many species.
Read the rest and find out the adventure that malachi gets into and how a piglet helps and hinders his progress. All the strings to the plot are tied up nicely at the end but will Malachi find evidence of his mother in the action?
Short chapters and a large font plus a rapidly changing plot make this novel an excellent read-a-loud for primary students.
An excellent read-a-loud novel for primary school children from one of the craftiest writers New Zealand has ever produced. I have just been listening to the Bee Gees singing “nobody gets too much heaven no more” and this book just slotted in so well.
Ratenburg is the rats Shangri la, their brigadoon and a place all rats want to go to. Spinnaker a Ship rat, his wife Retsina, a Greek restaurant rat, their four children Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta and an alleged pirate rat Jolly Roger, make the journey to find Ratenburg.
The journey is fraught with danger as they meet rataphobia from humming beans (human beings) and have to conquer the Sunsweep Lake full of rat eating eels, the Bottomless bog, the Forest of Perilous Pines and the swing bridge. But will they find Ratenburg?
The group of rats set off with enthusiasm but sometimes enthusiasm can make creatures careless.
Wonderfully told by Joy Cowley who has the narrator address the reader as “Dear Friend”. I loved being a dear friend and you and your children and students will too.
Gavin Bishop, who is well acquainted with rats, illustrates superbly, capturing important moments and characters, with his black and white pen and ink drawings.
An easy to read rollicking adventure of a family of four who are seeking the treasure of King Solomon’s mines as well as trying to find their mother and the death or otherwise of their father.
Narrated by Bick one of twins, her brothers Beck and tailspin Tommy and the brains of the group Storm with the photographic memory. They are brave fearless risk takers and have a false uncle after their fortune and the ruthless Guy Dubonnet Merck, a classic villain, chasing them.
Lots of adventure on the Nile and sharp witted conversation. Well written in short chapters with Chris Grabenstein’s illustrations providing great characterisation and enhancing the plot.
Reluctant boy and girl readers will love this novel, it is madcap. Primary, intermediate and some high school students.