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Posts Tagged ‘Difference’

Other Brother by Simon French

April 1, 2012 Comments off

Other Brother by Simon French. Pub. Walker Books, 2012.

Kieran meets his cousin on the day of his father’s birthday and it comes as a complete shock to him. He has never been forced to share before, and is not used to his parents, grandmother  and younger sister giving another person their attention.

His cousin’s name is Bon, he is not sporty like Kieran and he looks and acts differently. Kieran decides he doesn’t want him around.

Two years later Bon comes back for good and goes to Kieran’s school and meets all his friends. Worst of all a girl named Julia starts school on the same day as Bon and Bon gets on very well with her. The trouble is kieran really likes Julia and resentment builds.

When Kieran’s jock friends start bullying Bon, Kieran has some tough decisions to make.

There are a few surprises too.

Perceptively written by a new author to me. Good boy appeal this for intermediate students.

My Name is Mina by David Almond

October 9, 2010 Leave a comment

My Name is Mina by David Almond. Pub. Hodder Children’s Books, 2010.

This book is “bloody marvellous”. Better than a 4-4 draw between Newcastle and Sunderland.

I have read six David Almond books beginning with Skellig and they are works of art. This is a prequel to Skellig as it shows how Mina meets Michael before both of them meet Skellig.

Mina is a different girl. She questions everything in life, loves words and birds, but lacks an outlet for her individuality at the school she attends. “How can a bird that is born for joy, sit in a cage and sing?”

Her father died before she knew him, but she has memories and she misses his absence. Many of Almond’s characters have lost their father or are brought up by one parent.

Mina has a mother who is just brilliant. She sees that Mina is not right for the classroom and begins to home school her. The chapter where Mina writes a gibberish article for SATS day and leaves school, is hugely funny.

The real winner in this novel is the way David Almond’s uses words. He is creative and original and  by far the most lyrical  writer of children’s fiction I have read. There is not a word or a sentence out of place and everything seems so natural, like it is the way things are meant to be. You will be in awe at his brilliance which is told through an innocent yet worldly young girl called Mina who needs, by her own description  “destrangification”

This is for your gifted reader although anybody can read it. For me one of the best I have read this year.

Eating Things on Sticks by Anne Fine

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Eating things on Sticks by Anne Fine. Pub. Doubleday, 2009

Former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine has written some of the best stories for children and young Adults. This is not her best novel but it is still worth a read.

It is for younger readers from ages 9 to 12 years but her writing is so good it will appeal to older readers too. Take this line as an example as she describes a grumpy old man – “his face is miserable enough to make a funeral procession turn up a side street”. The whole book is scattered with descriptions and witticisms that leave you in awe of her writing talents.

Harry is a young lad with a sense of humour and a bit of nous, but through an oversight he has succeeded in burning down his mother’s kitchen. The family has to leave the house so repairs can be done and Harry goes to live with his uncle Tristram who is mother is not comfortable with even though he is her brother. Tristram fancies a hippy type girl, Morning Glory, who lives on an isolated island, but does she fancy Tristram?

Harry and Tristram go to visit Morning Glory and encounter a weird collection of characters who inhabit the island and take part in an annual competition from which the book gets it’s name.

The situations that arise are full of humour that will incite the most reluctant of readers to keep reading. Have a bit of fun and read it yourself.

The Nest by Paul Jennings

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

The Nest by Paul Jennings. Pub. Penguin Books,2008

I really looked forward to reading this book as Paul Jennings has essentially been a short story writer, par excellence, who has brought reading to 100,s of thousands of children.

Can he write a young adult novel? Well yes he can, and he does it by having his main character, Robin, as an aspiring short story writer writing a relevant short story between divisions in the book. So we get a novel and a few short stories as well.

Robin is a teenage boy living with his father  up in the Snowy Mountains area in Australia. Robin  never met his mother and he relies on his father for information about her. He does possess her wedding ring and a hairbrush that she owned much to the chagrin of his father who has a hostile view of his ex wife and tells Robin  him that his mother deserted them both because of him. This cuts Robin to the core and he is determined to find the truth.

Robin is haunted by dreams in which he is killing his father with an icepick and has other demons that he has to reconcile. He also has relationships with two girls, Charlie and Verushka which do not go well and he has some growing up to do.

Jennings is a master writer and he adds a mystery to the story which keeps you guessing till the end. Suitable for secondary school students especially boys.

Beetle Boy by Lawrence David

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a brilliant picture book based on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis but don’t let this put you off because it is related a an easily understood level.

Gregory Sampson wakes up one morning and finds he is changing into a beetle. The trouble is nobody notices and it really bugs him(excuse the pun). Firstly his family can’t be bothered, then his school mates treat him the same way.

After feeling down about it, Gregory discovers there can be advantages.

A great read-a-loud about difference and with a great ending.