Posts Tagged ‘Animal stories’

Stay With Me by Paul Griffin

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Stay With Me by Paul Griffin. Pub.Text Publishing Melbourne, 2011.

Fifteen year old Cece, pronounced Cheechee, meets Mack while working in a restaurant. There is electricity between them and they start a relationship that lasts 102 days.

The relationship develops slowly and awkwardly, but when together at a party the girls start giving Cece that “you bitch look” it is time to take the relationship further.

It is a beautiful young love relationship with Cece and Mack talking of living together for ever. They share their most intimate thoughts and you want them to stay together, but you know from the beginning that they will not.

Mack has a past and he confides to Cece that he is scared of doing something bad. When a nutter kills his beautiful dog,  Boo, Mack explodes and the relationship with Cece is blown out of the water.

Superbly written in quick one-line sentences, this novel will get you involved like no other. Consecutive chapters are narrated firstly by Mack then by Cece so that you get both sides of the story.

It is hard-nosed and sentimental but you wouldn’t want it any other way. The ending will bring a tear to your eye.

Definitely for high school students and young adults.

Emma Dilemma, the Nanny and the Secret Ferret by Patricia Hermes

Emma Dilemma, the Nanny, and the Secret Ferret by Patricia Hermes. Pub.Marshall Cavendish, 2010.

Children who have read and loved the Judy Moody series by Megan MacDonald will love these novels of a young girl who is full of adventure and whose stories all have a family setting. The adults are always understanding and good role models and in Emma’s situation the nanny, Annie provides further adult support.

This novel is really about trust. Can children trust adults? Well Patricia Hermes says they can but that responsibility is at the heart of it. Nothing wrong with that.

So where do the ferrets get in on the act? Interesting animal the ferret, very distructive to the bird life of New Zealand but in this novel loyal and needy animal friends. Emma has two ferrets, Marshmallow and Marmaduke, and cannot take them on the family holiday to Maine. She farms out one to her best friend and smuggles the second to the holiday home. Havoc eventuates but sympathetic and astute Nanny helps save the day.

Other adventures happen on holiday when a neighbour wishes to cut down some trees, but it is all wholesome stuff.

Recommended for children in years 3-5 at school.

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo. Pub.HarperCollins, 2010.

A lovely story this but then all Michael Morpurgo novels are lovely. This one is very current as it concerns the conflict in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

As always there is an animal in the story playing a crucial role. This time it is a Springer Spaniel named Shadow but as we find out later in the story, her real name is Polly.

Matt is a young English boy who has a friend from Afghanistan called Aman. When Aman and his mother are taken to Yarls Wood detention Centre with a view to being deported back to Afghanistan, Matt enlists the help of his ex journalist grandfather to help out.

What evolves is a story that can apply to many of the world’s refugees who have been through extreme hardship, will be killed if they return to their home country and who are not wanted by the country they seek refugee status in.

Set in Bamiyan Province where the Taliban destroyed those magnificient statues of Bubbha, thankfully I saw them in the 1970’s and they were incredible. The New Zealand contingent in Afghanistan are working in Bamiyan.

Add in a dog who Aman and his family befriend, a dog not found normally in Afghanistan and one who the locals condemn as a “foreign dog”. This dog has a history and becomes crucial to the outcome of this story.

Great story that will help children get an insight to a world wide problem of refugees. We are all human beings aren’t we?

Suitable middle to Intermediate school, but it is such a good yarn older kids would love it too.

Poppy and Ereth by Avi

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Poppy and Ereth by Avi, Illus. by Brian Floca. Pub. HarperCollins, 2009

Avi is one of my favourite children’s writers so to find the sixth and final book  about the mice and other animals that inhabit Dimwood Forest was a treat.

Poppy was the start of the series written in 1995 and I still regard it as one of the best read-a-loud stories for Junior Primary school students along with Ereth’s Birthday.

In this novel the aging Poppy suffers a shock loss and starts to contemplate the rest of her life and decides to take the advice of her first love Ragweed, now deceased who said “a mouse has to do what a mouse has to do”. This homespun philosophy is what gives Avi’s stories their teeth.

Ereth,  the porupine and self acclaimed best friend of Poppy, is his irascible self, who wonders why he is lonely and decides he needs a change of image.

Fate takes a hand in the story and Ragweed’s earring is the cause of it all. Dimwood forest is threatened. Will all the animals survive and how will Avi end it all? Well in my opinion Avi does it well with Bilbo’s fate in Lord of the Rings springing to mind.

Avi has written a very accessible story for children, short chapters, paragraphs and sentences. Easy to read-a-loud and adventure enough to keep children interested.

Brian Floca’s illustrations are again a feature especially of Bounder the Fox.

This is not the best book in the series but it is a satisfying ending. Suitable Junior primary school.