First published in 1981 this classic bit of Kiwiana is back again with some small alterations but the story still the same. Terry while skateboarding down the private driveway of businessman/villain Ray Vegas comes a cropper, head through the hedge and witnesses something dodgy. Vegas sends his two clownish henchmen to capture Terry and a whole battle with gunrunners begins.
The action takes place in the small coastal town of Kaupati where the local copper keeps chickens, is socially responsible but not a lot going on upstairs. Vegas is your obnoxious rich thug who thinks he can do anything at all and the two henchmen are dumb and dumber. Plenty of appeal there.
Bob Kerr’s cartoons are terrific as always and there are lots of little in-house jokes and Kiwi things going on that are smilers when you see one.
Stephen Ballantyne’s written text is to the point and captures the whole Kiwi attitude. The highlight for me was the written dialogue of the gunrunners in an Aussie accent. Priceless.
At the back of the picture book is a section by Adrian Kinnaird on the making of Terry Teo as a NZ icon and the history of the book, TV series and film.
This book has high boy appeal for reluctant readers and is certain to win fans at primary and intermediate schools all over again.
I have always found James Bond to be irresistable and read most of the Young Bond series when it was written by Charlie Higson. Now Steve Cole has taken over and there has been no loss in excitement, plot or action about the man who has everything or should I say the boy who is well on the way to being the man.
James Bond has been dismissed from Eton and now attends an open privileged but progressive school called Dartington Hall. He immediately meets the nasty Beatrice Judge and the dwarf with charisma, sense of humour and a number of defensive skills called Hugo.
Soon he is watching a film in which real people are being hurt in a brutal manner. A film that is sought by a Nazi type group. There is a murder in the local cinema before James is away at the expense of a powerful film magnate, to Hollywood. The magnate says he has a great interest in education and is comparing school achievement standards on pupils from different education systems. James is one of the chosen pupils along with a very canny, attractive, yet aloof girl called Boody short for Boudicca. James surely should be trying to make it with Boody. But will he, there is competition.
They travel by zeppelin to America, a beautifully described trip, and rapidly get involved with gangsters who are muscling in on Hollywood film makers. Lots of nasty villains in this book and filmmakers for that matter.
Set in the 1930,s when Bond is 16years old.
Great action, brilliantly told and James Bond is growing into the man he is to become. The ending is gripping as James and his friends become the hunted in the ultimate reality movie. Look forward to others from the same series.
For anyone who likes action heroes and novels from Intermediate school upwards
Peoples Republic by Robert Muchamore. Pub. Hodder Children’s Books, 2011.
Robert Muchamore is simply the best writer of action novels for Intermediate to Junior High students that there is. The twelve novels in the CHERUB series captured a loyal following not only of boys but girls as well.
The CHERUB organisation employs children usually orphans whom they educate to be spies on the premise that children can go unseen where adults cannot. This makes them very useful agents and very useful they are.
CHERUB2 has a new series of characters and this opening novel introduces them in a realistic actio novel about smuggling people particularly young girls, from Eastern Europe and the East into Britain and other European countries.
Links are made to a Russian Mafia group run by the Aramov family who are based in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan and deal in drugs, arms and people smuggling and a tough ruthless bunch they are.
Ryan is the twelve year old CHERUB agent who is new to everything but has to learn fast. Ethan the son of the sister in the Aramov family, is Ryan’s target. He must get to know this chess playing aloof boy and milk him for information.
The girl hero is eleven year old kick boxer Ning, whose father is a dubious Chinese business man. When Ning’s father is arrested Ning and her scouse mother flee to Kyrygzstan and Ning enters the people smuggling process with all it’s sinister characters and situations.
A great start to a new series.
At The Lake by Jill Harris. Pub. HarperCollins, 2011.
But this year things are different. There is a big wire fence surrounding re-locatable houses, that is patrolled by a mean man called Squint Lewis and his dog Ace who Lewis says is a man killer. Keep out or else.
Simon tries to get in to see what is going on, is caught by Lewis and is roughed up badly. He tells no-one but is this a mistake?
When younger brother Jem finds another way into the fenced off property and the brothers meet Squint Lewis’s children Rose and Tom things start to happen and the action is thrilling. I can tell you no more except to say crimes involving children are always the most sinister.
This is NZ writer Jill Harris’s third bookj and she links it beautifully with a sound plot, realistic dialogue and a song by a local singer. A very good children’s adventure story with many family issues highlighted as well.
Middle primary and Intermediate children will love this story or children with reading ages 9-12 years.
Almost True by Keren David. Pub. Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, 2010.
It centres on the murder of a young black lad in London that was witnessed by the main character, Ty aka Joe aka Jake and now Ty again. Ty agrees to testify in court against his old friend Aaron and his gangster associates and along with his mother Nikki and gran are put on the witness protection scheme. Changing lives proves too much for any of them and the first book ends in tragedy.
The relationships that Ty made as Joe in When I was Joe still dominate his thinking especially that with Claire to whom he sent an email confessing that he had lied in his statement to the police. What is the nature of the lie?
To complicate matters and to set the scene on the nature of Ty’s upbringing, Keren David brings in Ty’s father Danny and his whole family and Ty finds out things that he never thought possible.
For most of the book Ty is suffering from Traumatic stress disorder and suffers from fits of hallucination and violence. He is an intelligent lad but the whole scenario has made him angry, uncooperative and anti social, his health deteriorates and he makes some very unwise decisions. This of course brings him into severe danger from the thugs who are looking for him.
Keren David once again exposes the social deterioration of urban areas in Britain and the effect that it has on children and the general population. The drugs, the knives , the violence and the feelings of hopelessness and dispair that nothing can be done to stop it.
A high interest book that is long but reluctant readers once they start will not be able to put it down. Easy to read short chapters with hooks to keep you going, mean this will be a popular novel for young men in particular.
Organ Music by Margaret Mahy. Pub. Gecko Press, 2010.
When I saw this title I assumed that it was a new book and looked forward to seeing if Margaret Mahy still produced the goods. Alas I was misled. It turns out to be a novel she wrote in 1997 for the Surfers series called Operation Terror.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good high interest story with all the brilliance with words and plot that Margaret Mahy can muster. But it is not a new novel and I think the reader should have been told.
To cut a short story long, Harley and David, two teenage boys are walking through a rough area of town when they come upon a car with keys in the ignition. They nick the car only to find that it has in fact nicked them.
They are taken to a research institute in the middle of a forest where an unscrupulous Doctor wants to remove their body organs for use by more deserving citizens. Much to talk about here.
Margaret Mahy combines science fiction with fantasy in a situation that probably happens in places like India, and tells an exciting yarn in less than a 100 pages.
Still worth purchasing if you don’t have it already and will be eagerly read by middle and intermediate school students.
iBoy by Kevin Brooks. Pub. Penguin Books, 2010.
Tom Harvey lives in a tower block in South London where crime and gangs rule the world. Nobody’s life is untouched by this criminal world. One afternoon as he is walking home somebody throws an iPhone from the top of the tower block and it hits Tom in the head.
The iPhone was thrown at the same time Tom’s teenage friend Lucy was being beaten and raped by members of a local gang, in her own apartment. Tom is unconscious for 17 days and when he awakes he feels different, like a billion bees buzzing around in his brain.
The surgeon tells Tom that pieces of the iPhone had buried themselves deep in his brain and couldn’t be surgically removed and when these pieces start to react with his brain Tom becomes iBoy.
iBoy can do everything an iPhone can do but inside his brain and he can turn it off and on at will. Powerful stuff. He can tune in to any cell phone message he wants, he can film an event and send it wherever he wants. The scope for corruption is open to him, but Tom wants revenge for those who raped Lucy. He is an avenging angel and boy does he make hay while the sun shines.
I can tell you no more except that you will stay reading this book until the end, it is gripping.
Kevin Brooks is one of my favourite authors. He has great ideas and he writes them well. The ending is stunning. How about this for a line “if I ever catch you even thinking about killing yourself, i’ll make sure its the last thing you ever do”.
Weep with desire.