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Posts Tagged ‘families’

Watch Me! by Jenni Francis.

April 7, 2018 Comments off

watch meWatch Me! by Jenni Francis. Pub. jennifrancis.com  2018

The most recent short novel for intermediate and junior secondary girls from the Keri series about Keri and her friend Mereana who are now 13 years old.

The girls go to visit cousin Claire on a farm that runs horse trekking holidays as well as stocking sheep and cattle. Someone is stealing horses sheep and cattle from Claire’s farm and from surrounding farms and the girls are going to become involved.

It is not the only drama in the book as Claire has found lumps under her arm and has bad sweats in bed at night but this is not going to hold her back.

As usual this short novel is tightly written with realistic dialogue between the girls and other characters. It has great family values and is written at a pace that keeps you in the book.

Who would have thought that Morse Code would be still useful in these days of cell phones. Read it and find out why. Lots of horse talk.

Cold as Ice. Always in Control by Jenni Francis

March 9, 2018 Comments off

cold as iceCold as Ice. Always in Control by Jenni Francis. Pub. Jenni Francis, 2016.

This is the fourth novel about Keri who is now in High school and dealing with a host of problems resulting from a new relationship between her mother and a man called Rob.

Rob has a daughter Keri’s age and a younger son who are having difficulties with the split of their parents and with the new relationship. Sara is having a lot of problems with anorexia and is taking it out on Keri using her brother Thomas as a foil.

The parents try as hard as they can to blend their two families but the troubles run deep and it ain’t going to be easy. Things come to a head on a skiing trip and it is a gripping ending.

Jenni Francis is a no nonsense writer. The story is told in a clipped but detailed fashion. I could have learned to ski from the detail prescribed in this novel. The dialogue is strong and the perceptions on marriage breakups and new relationships show some experience.

Essentially aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls but by no means exclusively. Boys could learn a lot from this. Short chapters and only 120 odd pages this is a fascinating read about a girl who tackles life full on and is very likeable.

Check out the other Keri books on this blog and at http://www.jennifrancis.com

Radio Boy and the Revenge of Grandad by Christian O’Connell

March 5, 2018 Comments off

radio boyRadio Boy and the Revenge of Grandad by Christian O’Connell. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is a sequel to Radio Boy in which middle schooler Spike Hughes took on his spiteful headmaster and won by setting up his own radio station in his garden shed.

This story has him competing with his granddad a former cruise ship entertainer with a Pepe Le Pew hairstyle who goes by the name Toni Fandango, has been kicked out of the house by Spike’s grandma, and now shares Spike’s bedroom.

After taking over Spike’s Radio show and being sacked by his grandson it is all on when the local DJ on Kool FM runs a competition to hire a replacement while he goes on holiday.

All is fair in love and war and radio competitions but who will win? In the final Spike has to interview the winner of the best dog competition and grandad has to interview the cow of the year. In between time it is mayhem.

Easy to read with large font, short chapters and illustrations. In recent weeks I have talked to many middle and lower school children and this type of story is very popular indeed. Some great writers like James Patterson, Matt Stanton, David Baddiel and others are writing in similar style and reluctant boys and girls love them. Many are reviewed on this blog so check them out they are a good laugh and have good values.

Missing by Sue Whiting

January 31, 2018 Comments off

MissingMissing by Sue Whiting. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

People go missing all the time. Some mysteriously, some by design, some by accident. This is a story of how 13 year old Mackenzie deals with the disappearance of her mother in the jungle of Panama.

The novel starts 114 days after Mackenzie’s mother disappears when her father wakes her in the middle of the night with the news that they are going to Panama to search for her right now. They go to the place where Mackenzie’s mother was last seen and start their own search. Things do not go well.

The story then backtracks to the day the mother went missing and works up to the day they leave for Panama. In that time we learn something of what has gone before. There is a wiped out file titled Panama written by her mother to consider, a postcard received from UK and some erratic behaviour from Mackenzie’s  mother and father. Is there deception?

In the meantime Mackenzie’s imagination runs wild and her school life is in chaos. The answer will be found but you will have to read the novel to find out.

Well structured and written and a profile of what can happen to families in a crisis. The setting of Panama is a character on it’s own. Will appeal to middle school readers and pre-teens.

Catch me When You fall by Eileen Merriman

December 15, 2017 Comments off

catch me when i fallCatch me When You fall by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This tear jerker of a novel for teenagers and young adults is set in my home town of Christchurch and will be released for publication on 3 January 2018. I have the privilege of reading it early and know I shouldn’t write an early review but I can’t hold it in, so here goes.

Alex went into remission for Leukemia when she was thirteen and now on the eve of a check up when she is sixteen she meets Jamie. He is an extrovert, an actor, takes lithium every day and is bipolar.

They fall in love in four days as Alex finds her leukemia has come back with a vengeance and goes through the tortuous treatment to rid her body of this cruel disease. In between time Alex and Jamie fall in love and all those around them including the brilliant parents and sister go through the daily agonies of Alex’s treatment.

I learnt more about leukemia from this novel than I could have from a medical journal. This is the power of fiction. Personalising this condition has for the want of better words given leukemia life.

Very well written and structured and will appeal to all those that like Fault in the Stars by John Green and similar novels. Give yourself plenty of space when reading this novel, it is powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

The Longest Breakfast by Jenny Bornholdt, Illus. Sarah Wilkins.

August 28, 2017 Comments off

long breakfastThe Longest Breakfast by Jenny Bornholdt, Illus. Sarah Wilkins. Pub. gecko press, 2017.

More often than not the written text plays second fiddle to the illustrations but not in this picture book where they are of equal importance. Try to understand this book while blocking out the written text. No way. This is a test I do with all picture books.

It is a busy and confusing morning in Malcolm’s household. He is the father and responsible for breakfast. But baby says ‘toot”. It could mean anything, baby knows and you the reader can work it out with the visual clues in the illustrations.

All the other children plus the mother and a couple of friends from next door want something different for breakfast, father is in controlled turmoil. Then baby says “toot and buzzzzzz” It’s a clue, see if you can work it out.

The illustrations are big bright water colours,  and there is much in them that reflects family life in the household plus holding visual clues. I love the father, he is cool.

Illustrations and written text working in harmony like a family.

So Special by David Hill, Illus. Nikki Slade Robinson

August 6, 2017 Comments off

so specialSo Special by David Hill, Illus. Nikki Slade Robinson. Pub. Duck Creek Press, 2017.

Picture books can be used to highlight topics, feelings and personal situations so that the reader can see that they are not alone. The pen is still mightier than the sword although when applied to this book, there is something ironic about that statement as the topic is the families of the armed forces who are serving overseas and the problems they have.

Oscar and his sister Laila miss their dad who is with the army overseas. Laila sucks her thumb and Oscar sometimes gets angry when other kids ask about the whereabouts of his father. Mother copes as well as she can and supports her children with skill and attention.

But they still miss their dad. Both children learn to live with the fact that their dad is special and is serving his country oversea.

Nikkii Slade Robinson’s illustrations are perceptive, large and colourful. They show the joy and the sadness. The use of the family dog is powerful and the mother is always in control. The aircraft, tank and battleship shadows throughout the book remind readers of who we are talking about.

David Hill’s text is simple, straight to the point and sensitive. Also available in Maori language under the title He Tino Taonga.

This picture book fulfills a need in a most positive way.