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Posts Tagged ‘Bullying’

Dave Pigeon 3. Pigeon Racer by Swapna Haddow, illus. Sheena Dempsey.

November 10, 2018 Comments off

dave pigeon 2Dave Pigeon 3. Pigeon Racer by Swapna Haddow, illus. Sheena Dempsey. Pub. Faber & Faber, 2018.

As I read this new Dave Pigeon book I wondered if he had changed or learned something since his wing was ripped off by a mean cat. He is just as boastful and he and his friend Skipper are still living in the friendly human’s shed. But he is highly imaginative.

The friendly human takes Dave and Skipper to a vet where Dave is having a new wing fitted. There they meet a whole new set of animals including Jet, the wise cracking three legged dog. When they stay over night they are challenged by a former pirate’s parrot  Opprobrious Vastanavius. Dave as usual puts his beak in and ends up challenging the parrot to a race.

Ever the optimist Dave considers his new wing will be right and is confident his status as a racing pigeon will get him home. Then Dave’s missing father, a champion racing pigeon called Micky Lightning, shows up in the enemy camp giving racing tips to the parrot.

It’s all on. Full of bad jokes and madcap capers, this story is highly imaginative with lots of laughs for the newly confident reader.  Sheena Dempsey comes to the party with great illustrations of the new characters.

Worth getting this series.

White Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

July 11, 2018 Comments off

white rabbitWhite Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is a psychological thriller of the very highest order for your gifted young adult readers, about spies and mathematics . In 1991 I read a book about the philosophical concepts of Western Thought by Jostein Gaarder titled Sophies’ World which was absolutely brilliant. This novel ranks along side that novel.

I am not going to try to explain it to you I am just going to tell you what it is all about and you can work it out for yourselves.

Anibel and Peter are seventeen year old twins born 8 minutes apart. Their parents are separated and they don’t know their father. They are White Rabbit and Red Wolf in spy parlance. Their mother is strategically the most important mind in the UK since Turing and a target for spies. The British spy agency 57 fears she is open to the highest bidder and they watch her and her two children.

Ingrid or Ana is sent to infiltrate the twins life and she concentrates on Peter. If you have a deep dark desire that you don’t want anyone to know about and you are in the same room as Ana, she will get it out of you. The novel is in two time sequences, the present and 5 years earlier when Ingrid came into Peter’s life. Peter narrates the story.

Anibel has protected Peter all his life. She is savvy and ruthless and she precipitates much of the action in this story. Peter is obsessed with mathematics. He thinks mathematics can solve everything in life. He knows he is damaged because he has panic attacks that debilitate him, and he hopes to use mathematics to get closer to fixing himself. But he is going to make discoveries about his sister, mother and Ana that will shatter him.

When Peter and Anibel’s mother is attacked and stabbed with a knife on the eve of presenting  a ground breaking scientific paper all hell breaks loose, with Peter, Anibel and Ana on the run from spies and the police. The action is stunning.

The novel is in three parts – Encrypt, Invert and Recoil, the three steps in mathematics that prove everything is a lie. Work it out for yourself, it is superb.

The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams illus. Tony Ross.

June 20, 2018 Comments off

worst children3The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams illus. Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

I don’t really need to review this book because kids will already know about it, but I do so for all those kids who would rather make monkey noises than sing xmas carols(I.m one of those), or those who stick all their bogeys together so that they look like a huge green icicle, then eat them.

Yes it is ten more horrible children who throw tantrums, do pranks, are overly bossy, kung fu everything and generally make life intolerable for those around them. Sure it is well over the top but we all know the type.

My favourite is Walter the Wasp a short arsed bully with a sharp nose and a wit that cuts like a knife. He is out to win bully of the year trophy which is a gold statuette depicting a bully giving a smaller child a wedgie.

There is always a seriousness about David Walliam’s books, he hates cheats, bullies, public school twits and the gap between rich and poor.

I love his books and you will too. This man has done more to get reluctant kids to read than anybody since J.K. Rowling. Illustrated brilliantly once again in colour by Tony Ross.

I’m The Biggest by Stephanie Blake

March 25, 2018 Comments off

biggestI’m The Biggest by Stephanie Blake. Pub. Gecko press, June 2018

Poo Bum  set the bench mark for this series of picture books about Simon and later his little brother Casper. It is a hard act to follow but Stephanie Blake has managed to keep the momentum going  with slick prose, bold colourful illustrations and a storyline that always surprises.

In this latest edition sibling rivalry becomes a feature of Simon and Casper’s relationship when their mother discovers that Casper has grown 3 centimeters and Simon only one.

Simon says No Way and becomes jealous. An incident in the park makes Simon realise he is still the BIG brother even though the size difference is getting smaller.

Casper of course sees things differently.

Great read-a-loud for juniors and will help littlies to view their own role in the family. Good laugh for adults too.

NB Not released until June 2018.

Time Twins by Sally Astridge & Arne Norlin.

January 23, 2018 Comments off

time twinsTime Twins by Sally Astridge & Arne Norlin. Pub. Makaro Press, 2017.

Astrid and Tamati are 11 years old. They were born at exactly the same time except Astrid was born in Sweden and Tamati in New Zealand, countries that are exactly 12 hours apart. They are Time Twins.

Tamati with help from his koro or grandfather learns about time twins and through relaxation is able to travel directly to his time twin in Sweden. They get on well but Astrid has to learn the techniques of relaxation so that she can travel to New Zealand.

Sounds like science fiction doesn’t it? but it is not. The Time twin concept is just a mechanism to compare life styles, schooling, attitudes, parenting, puberty and friendship in Sweden and New Zealand. They are remarkably similar yet different at the same time.

The issue that stood out for me was bullying. Both Astrid and Tamati have bullying episodes in their lives and there are different ways to bully and to handle bullying.

The stories are excellent with Tamati and Astrid having consecutive chapters. I was particularly intrigued by the Swedish scenario and I guess Swedes will be intrigued by the New Zealand one.

It is a good read for middle school and pre-teen readers.

How To Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.

January 18, 2018 Comments off

hang witchHow To Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

The Salem witch trials of 1691 make some of the most sordid reading in American history. Cotton Mather was a leading instigator in these trials, this novel is written by a descendant Adriana Mather and the main character in the novel is teenage girl Samantha Mather. It’s a family affair.

Samantha and her step mother Vivian sell their New York apartment to pay the medical expenses of Samantha’s father who has mysteriously gone into a coma. They move to Salem and stay in a house once owned by Samantha’s grandma that she didn’t know about.

Samantha is a difficult girl she has an affinity for sarcasm and doesn’t have any friends. Why is this? Her first day in the old house results in mysterious happenings, secret rooms, things that go bump in the night.

Her first day at Salem high school is no better, she makes enemies of a group of black clad girls called the Descendants who are related to the witches of 1691. They threaten her and say she is cursed. Then Samantha meets handsome boy Elijah who is a ghost and only she can see and hear him. He tells her to leave or else, but Samantha is built of sterner stuff and is not intimidated by the threats. She should be. Elijah tells her that when one of each of the main families involved in the original trials is in Salem a curse is invoked and the death rate mounts. Can the curse be broken?

A fascinating read that sheds light on the Salem trials and likens them to modern day bullying. Not a lot of laughs in this novel that has the power to scare the s**t out of you but fortunately there is a touch of romance to lighten the mood.

Superbly written and structured in 47 short sharp chapters so that you can read it in short bursts like I did. Senior secondary but I suspect younger readers will clamber to read it as well. It will do them no harm.

Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman.

December 4, 2017 Comments off

lucky buttonLucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman. pub. walker books, 2017.

There is always something gentle yet powerful about a Michael Morpurgo novel and so it is with this one. Similarly he often uses a story within a story to link a past event with a present day situation and he does it again in this novel.

Jonah looks after his mother who is house bound and has stopped playing music that Jonah loved so much. Jonah gives up much of his school life to look after his mother and is bullied at school.

After an attack he retreats to the school chapel where he finds a brass button that brought the original owner a lot of luck. The owner called Nathaniel Hogarth was a foundling at an orphanage with connections to the composer Handel.  Nathaniel appears before Jonah as a ghost and tells him an amazing story about becoming friends with Mozart and his sister.

Will the lucky button give some badly needed luck to Jonah and his mum? Read it and find out. It is fascinating and based on true events although this is not a true story.

Superbly illustrated by Michael Foreman’s colour illustrations as always.

Primary and middle school readers will devour it.