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Posts Tagged ‘families’

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

June 25, 2019 Comments off

sistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier. Pub. Scholastic, NY,  2014.

This graphic novel for Intermediate and High school students is as the title suggests about the relationship between two sisters, Raina who is the eldest and Amara who is a feisty anatagonist.

Raina always wanted a sister and she pestered her parents to get one. There is an old saying that goes “don’t wish too hard for something or you might get it”.

Raina is delighted when Amara is born but her delight is short lived. Amara is not a shrinking violet and the two clash over everything until Raina is a teenager and Amara is knocking on the door. They have different tastes, behaviours, sense of humour and aspirations.

Then an incident happens that you will have to find out for yourself and it is always there between them. Then father loses his job and things become strained in the family. He finally gets a job and the family set off in the car to a family reunion in Colorado and everything changes.

Good family relationship stuff which the graphic illustrations highlight beautifully.

Visual readers and reluctant girl readers will find this easy to read. I read it in half an hour but you can take your time, if you want.

Speechless by Adam. P. Schmitt.

June 21, 2019 Comments off

speechlessSpeechless by Adam. P. Schmitt. Pub. Candlewick Press, 2019.

This superbly paced young adult novel kept me on tenterhooks from beginning to end.

It is said that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, this is teenager Jimmy’s problem and has been for the whole of his life.

Jimmy’s mum has a twin sister who is needy. She has a son called Patrick who is the same age as Jimmy and they have been around every important occasion in Jimmy’s life and much of other times too. Jimmy can’t stand Patrick because he ruins every event and prevents Jimmy enjoying any occasion and having friends of his own. Patrick is unpredictable and volatile and Jimmy is nearly always the victim.

Now Patrick is dead and Jimmy is told by his mother that he has to make a speech at Patrick’s funeral. He doesn’t want to, he feels even in death Patrick is beating him.

The action opens at the wake before the funeral and many people from Patrick and Jimmy’s life show up. Jimmy recounts some of the episodes that happened and he can’t for the life of him think of anything positive about Patrick to say.

Throughout this novel I was desperate to learn two things. Firstly how Patrick died and secondly what and if Jimmy would say anything.  Adam Schmitt draws you in and strings you out magnificently.

One of the best novels of late. You will feel the same as me, I bet. The ending will move you to tears.

 

Louisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo

May 29, 2019 Comments off

louisianaLouisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Oh to be able to write as well as this!

Twelve year old Louisiana believes that her parents were part of a circus acrobatic team named Elefante who were killed in an accident and that the family is cursed because of an incident in Elf Ear Missouri. She believes that her Granny taught her everything she knows and has looked after her for the whole of her life.

All these beliefs are going to come under question in this superb novel of growing up and the amazing resilience of Louisiana. She is truly a character to be admired.

At 3.00am one morning Granny gets Louisiana out of bed to pack her suitcase and announces that the day of reckoning had arrived. The pair drive north out of Florida across that imaginary Georgia State line. They run out of gas and Granny becomes bedridden with tooth ache.

Louisiana has to drive the car off the motorway to a small town and seek dental treatment for her Granny. This will lead to all secrets being told and for Louisiana to show her incredible character when faced with a crisis that would floor most people.

Beautifully told with great wisdom, common sense and perception. You are with Louisiana all the way and once you start the novel the most difficult part will be putting it down.

Total class writing for intermediate and secondary school students. For me the best junior fiction title of the year.

To Trap a Thief by Des Hunt

April 16, 2019 Comments off

trap thiefTo Trap a Thief by Des Hunt. Pub Scholastic, 2019.

Another exciting adventure novel from a master children’s writer. Once again it is kids verses the adults and the kids are going to win but not before they are put through their paces and a lot of things have changed.

Set in the top half of the South Island from Nelson across to Motueka, Takaka and the Abel Tasman National Park, the backdrop of all the action is melded into the magnificence of this part of new Zealand.

Connors dad died in a plane crash and his mother has taken up with a good man called Morgan. Unfortunately Morgan’s mum and dad don’t like the relationship. To give things a trial Connor and his friend Harvey go on a camping trip in a motorised caravan with Rosen and Denzel, his possible future step grandparents. There is friction. But before all is worked out there are codes to break and a thief to catch.

Before the trip Denzel and Rosen won Lotto and others feel that it was from a ticket that they lost. Is it true? On the trip the boys are roped into a Quest via cell phone and a smooth operator called Frank has a mission of his own.

Easy to read in short chapters with plenty of excitement to lure in the most reluctant readers. Intermediate and Junior secondary.

Home Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles.

April 9, 2019 Comments off

home childHome Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles. Pub. Oratia Books, 2019.

This is the picture book story of Pat Brown, one of the children that Britain gave away in the 1950,s because of poverty or because they were orphans.

Many of these children had sad lives, sometimes abused and often unloved. Several hundred came to New Zealand and while Pat Brown had many sad moments  she was one of the lucky ones who had a happy life.

Dawn McMillan enhances Pat’s story of how she and her two brothers and sisters caught the boat from England, through the Panama Canal to the strange wooded hillsides of Wellington. Then a trip across Cook Strait and bus ride to Nelson. There Pat and Sheila were separated from Bill and Alma who were fostered elsewhere.

Pat tells the story to her granddaughter and there is a big surprise at the end. Read it and see what it is.

Trish Bowles captures every emotion in her illustrations. The sadness and tears of leaving home, the ship voyage out to NZ, the fun on board ship, the tragic separation of the children, the first day at school and the surprise ending.

A classy publication for everybody. Very moving.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

Bullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie

March 11, 2019 Comments off

bullseyeBullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

I have never read a children’s book about darts before and this is double tops. It is three in the bed for 180 and a nine dart finish. No mention of a Shanghai but I guess a 12 year old girl cannot do everything.

Yes Bella is 12 years old and is a superb darts player. Her maths is a bit dodgy at times but she can throw a straight arrow and learns with experience to ignore the often barbed comments coming from other competitors. I mean who wants to lose to a 12 year old girl?

Well the boys have to get used to it, some graciously some not so well.

Bella comes from a split family and she has an Asperger’s syndrome brother called Max who goes by the name Blackbeard. Max is 9 years old, adores his sister and needs the care of a special school. Bella’s mom doesn’t have the money and Bella tries her luck at the local pub darts competition.

Success does not come swiftly or easily but she does get the chance to play for the National Title. See how she gets on and what will Social services do when they find out Bella has been playing in the pub without her mothers knowledge.

Well written in an easy style, with good values and plenty of drama. For primary and intermediate students.

The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, Illus. P,J. Lynch.

October 28, 2018 Comments off

lost barkThe Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, Illus. P,J. Lynch. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

Many people would be glad to have a dog that didn’t bark but not the dog in this story. This dog has been badly mistreated as a puppy and has lost his confidence in humans and in life, so much so that he cannot bark.

Then he is saved by Patrick a boy who calls the dog Oz. Patrick is a boy who has problems of his own. Patrick and his mom go to stay with his granddad while his father is touring Australia with a band. But is this the only reason he is away?

Patrick is going to find out soon enough that parents are not always honest with their children and Oz is going to learn that not all humans are bad. Will he get his bark back? There is a music connection in the story that is just wonderful.

Great read-a-loud for children 5-10 years and a good read for newly confident readers.

The illustrations are superb brilliantly capturing the predicament of the dog and the emotional problems of Patrick and his mom. The granddad is excellent. You will love it.