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Posts Tagged ‘Difference’

This is where the World Ends by Amy Zhang.

April 19, 2016 Comments off

world endsThis is where the World Ends by Amy Zhang. Pub. Greenwillow Books imprint HarperCollins, 2016.

If you like tragic young adult stories this is about as tragic as it gets, but so wonderfully told.

Janie and her secret boyfriend Micah share the same birthday. They call it Metaphor Day after a pile of rocks that stands near a deep quarry full of water near both their houses. They are different yet together. Micah likes Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor, Janie is Let it Be by the Beatles. Janie carries rocks from the Metaphor around in her pocket.

They tell no-one of their relationship because Janie wants it that way, meanwhile she has a relationship with a jock called Ander from school. He is repulsive and his actions ultimately lead to Janie’s collapse.

Lewis Carroll once said “all the best people are crazy” and I think this sums up the characters in the book well, but then aren’t we all. This is a school story about growing up.

The novel is structured in two parts, Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After and within each part their are three narratives – a Before narrative by Janie, an After narrative by Micah and a Journal kept by Janie which provides a fairytale dimension to Janie’s life and to the story.

It took me a while to get into this novel but once in there I dwelt for long periods digesting every word, action, emotion and fantasy. You will too. It is not unlike All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It is very deep and not for everybody but those that like it will remember it forever.

The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain by Julie Lamb.

April 11, 2016 Comments off

summer rainThe Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain by Julie Lamb. Pub Makaro press, 2016.

Summer Rain is 12 years old and in year 8 at a country school. She is a bit of a tomboy, likes to make the boys laugh and struggles with having girl friends. She is worldly wise, has a terrific but bizarre sense of humour and is very self sufficient. She has to be.

Her mother ran off when she was very young, her father was unable to cope so she has been brought up by her grandfather, Pop. He is a stingy old codger with some very blokish habits and attitudes, hence Summer is a Tom Boy.

Summer is changing from girlhood into womanhood and she is a bit uncomfortable about it all, but in the course of the novel this changes.

There are a host of strange yet appealing characters that Summer relates to especially Juanita a girl Summer regards as up herself, then there is Apple who is as close to a witch as you can get, in the best possible taste of course. But the character that really gets up Summer’s nose is Mrs Macy. She is an old flirt who is after her Pop because she thinks he has money. You will have to read the book to find out what happens.

Told with some relish and enthusiasm by Julie Lamb. Her language is vibrant with imagery that is original and witty. I think she has read Margaret Mahy and the book has this feel about it. The word discombobulated has that Mahy essence about it. This is not a criticism as I am glad that the Mahy mantle has been taken up. I may be wrong.

Will have wide appeal to girls in particular but boys would be silly not to try this book out too. Female relationships have always fascinated me and this book will fascinate you.

Primary and intermediate readers but adults who read this novel will get some of the more earthy humour.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo.

March 26, 2016 Comments off

raymieRaymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2016.

This is a novel for primary/intermediate students that will draw you in once you have read one page. It begins on a day when the sun is in a cloudless sky “it seemed like someone had put it up there and then walked away and left it”.

The style of writing with short sharp sentences makes for easy and compulsive reading. Kate Di Camillo draws the imagination out of the reader with her descriptions – “she looked like a mermaid in a bad mood” and when describing one of the characters grandmother it was “like looking at Louisiana in a fun house mirror”

The story is about three girls who are all broken hearted.  Raymie’s father has run away with a dental hygienist and she wants him back. Louisiana’s parents have been killed and she lives with her grandma who has put her cat in a home, and Beverley has a father who is a cop and has left home.

They meet at Baton twerling lessons and each has a motive for being there and all three want to enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition which involves doing good deeds. The three become friends and as the plot progresses their priorities change.

Set in Florida in 1975 it tells of an innocent age long since passed. It is refreshing reading from the same writer that gave us Because of Winn-Dixie and the Tale of Despereaux,

You have to read this beauty, a smile will rarely leave your face.

Adventures of a Bowling Shoe by Tom Rozek

December 4, 2015 Comments off

bowling shoeAdventures of a Bowling Shoe by Tom Rozek. author@bowlingshoebook.com

This short novel for middle school children is a hoot. I had a smile on my face through all 85 pages and you will too.

The novel is zany, perceptive about the human condition and funny. It is written to be read. 32 short chapters with an illustration by Zach Wideman at the head of each chapter.

It is the story of Jim a piece of cow skin that is cured and made into a size 12 left bowling shoe. He deals with smelly feet, having food and bowling balls dropped on him and the taunts of other bowling shoes.

Life is not great but he sticks with it. He befriends the cockroaches that live in the bowling alley where he works and they give him a lifeline to fulfill his one dream. On the way from the cow to being a shoe he met another piece of cow skin named Sally and wants to meet her again. Read this novel to see if he does.

Two additional chapters can be found at http://www.bowlingshoebook.com/bonus

From The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

October 29, 2015 Comments off

barney kettleFrom The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi. Pub Penguin Random House, 2015.

I always vowed that I would never write a bad review about any novel and I hope people do not conclude that this is a bad review. But in all honesty this is not my kind of novel. I love De Goldi’s Clubs and Honoria Lee was diffident on The 10PM Question but this novel was too busy for me. I found the plot was cluttered with trivia that prevented me getting at the story.

It took me five weeks to read the novel and one week of thinking what and if I was going to review it.

The story is a good idea. Barney is an aspiring film maker who has a filmic view of the world. He is looking back at the world of central High Street Christchurch before a 32 second shake killed it for everyone. Its the way he goes about telling it that gets me. I wish his more level headed sister Ren had been the narrator I probably would have liked the novel better.

Nonetheless people will love this book and Kate De Goldi is too dominant a literary figure to be ignored or dismissed just as this novel is.

Not my cup of tea but few who know me will not be surprised by this.

I think this is an adult book but senior students, young adults and readers with that theatric flair will like this novel.

Molly and Pim and the Million Stars by Martine Murray.

August 12, 2015 Comments off

molly & PimMolly and Pim and the Million Stars by Martine Murray. Pub.Text Publishing, 2015.

A novel for primary/intermediate students that is very different indeed. I suppose the correct word is alternative as Molly’s mother is into herbs and potions and gathering plants in the woods. She has a herbal remedy for everything but one day she gets it terribly wrong.

Molly and her mum have neighbours from hell who clearly misunderstand Molly and her mother. They are called Grimshaw and we first meet him thundering down the hill to complain about their rooster like a boulder rolling downhill. The rooster know as the Gentleman celebrates every dawn and the Grimshaw’s are driven to distraction. How Molly and her mother solve this problem is extraordinary.

Molly has a friend named Ellen who has a mum who gives her apricot bars wrapped in plastic for her lunch. Molly wishes she had an ordinary life too. Then Molly meets Pim, a different boy who has quirky but positive behaviour.

It is Pim that Molly turns to after her mother inadvertently changes into a tree while trying to block the Grimshaws out of their sight. Can they get mother back?

Molly has an obedient dog and a cat who should have staff named Martine. When things go wrong they are there but are they helpful?

Lovely language, short easy to read chapters and a great theme of difference.

The Rest of us just live Here by Patrick Ness.

June 22, 2015 Comments off

rest live hereThe Rest of us just live Here by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books, 2015.

Since his Chaos Walking series, every book by Patrick Ness has been a major event in the world of Young Adult literature. Indeed it is a major literary event for all literature. So it is with this novel.

It took me three days to read this novel because I wanted it to. In the words of Winston Churchill it is a “mystery inside an enigma’ and I am not sure I fully understand it yet but over the next few months I will probably get there.

Patrick Ness  supplies a message with the book that probably provides the answer when he says  “this book is for all the Unchosen Ones” but of course he has to provide a Chosen One so we can distinguish between the two. I will let you the reader work out who the Chosen One is and why the rest of us just live here.

The novel is centred in a small American town, in a typical American family or is it? – a typical family?

Mike is approaching Graduation and the end of year Prom at the local high school. His sister Mel is to graduate too, she had a year off due to a problem with anorexia. Mike suffers from OCD and has two friends, a girl called Henna who he is infatuated with and a big boy with healing powers named Jared. Mike’s father is an alcoholic with a past, his mother is a politician and his younger sister Meredith loves a 1D type boy band called Bolt of Fire. The plot is about all the interaction between this group and it is simply written and compulsive reading.

I thought Ness may be taking the water out of the American way of life, maybe yes maybe no, you decide. I will say “is there a nation on earth that puts therapy on a pedestal the way Americans do?”

The structure of the novel is unique as there are two stories going on that are linked and touch each other and bring a science fiction feel to the novel. Before each chapter begins there are a couple of paragraphs about the Immortals breaking through to create havoc and the impact they have on “indie kids”, life’s people that no-one wants to see. The link between the two is the Chosen One. Fascinating.

A very entertaining and thought provoking novel. I loved it. I will leave you with a quote from the novel “why does everything have to mean something”. Brilliant!