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Posts Tagged ‘families’

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

September 29, 2020 Comments off

Avery Kylie Grambs is 17 years old, she lives in her car, her mother is dead, she has nothing to do with her father and she has a sister who is in a dysfunctional relationship with her boyfriend. She is positive in her attitude to life but the future doesn’t look hopeful.

Then she is visited by a lawyer who tells her she is a beneficiary in a will left by an eccentric billionaire Tobias Hawthorne who has four sons of similar age to Avery. When the will is read Avery has inherited $46 billion and the rest of the Hawthorne family are left scraps. Why?

The terms of the will are iron tight and if the family challenge it, they get nothing. Avery is taken by the family lawyers to Hawthorne Mansion, a fabulous house with a theatre, bowling ally and a thousand rooms, plus staff. Avery is advised by a lawyer and has a bodyguard who was same for Tobias Hawthorne.

The family are hostile and the terms of the will mean she has to stay in the house for a year in order to inherit what has been left her. She fears for her life and rightly so.

The paparazzi are all over the place and everybody wants to know who this Avery is. She has to relate to the four sons two of which she is attracted to.

The old man Hawthorne was a game player. He liked mysteries and promoted competition and games amongst his sons. The biggest mystery is Why Avery? She doesn’t know herself. The rest of the novel is spent working out the mysteries that the Old Man has set.

This novel is written in 91 short chapters that will keep you in the book long after you want to stop reading. It is compelling and very clever. I loved it you will too.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illus by Dawud Anyabwile.

July 19, 2020 Comments off

crossoverThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illus by Dawud Anyabwile. Pub. Anderson Press, 2020.

This is the most powerful graphic novel  for high school students that I have ever read and it deservedly won the Newbery Medal. It is about basketball and it is about families and all the characters in this novel are black.

JB and Jordan are twins, they are 13 years old and a very gifted basketball players. They live and breathe basketball and they are fans of rap music. Their father was a pro baller and won a championship ring as “da man”, but he is not a well man. Their mother is Principal of the High School the boys attend and both parents are highly involved with boys lives.

The boys compete, the father coaches them and the mother ensures that the boys education takes priority. Then a girl comes on the scene. She is beautiful, wears pink gym shoes and she makes a play for Jordan and they become an item. This upsets JB and the closeness the brothers once had starts to deteriorate to the point that it erupts into a violent act in the middle of a basketball game.

The family is wracked with problems, the boys become enemies and then tragedy. The ending is stunning.

There is lots of basketball talk most of it in rap verse. The book is divided into four quarters and there is a competition going on.

Easy to read with the illustrations superb. I read the book in about an hour and got emotionally involved with what was happening, you will too.

Reluctant boy readers and readers who like sports stories particularly basketball will love this novel. The rap prose is inspiring to as is the relationship between Jordan and the girl. Black Lives matter is also a strong theme of this novel.

Help! I’m Moving to Mars by Lula Green.

November 18, 2019 Comments off

moving to MarsHelp! I’m Moving to Mars by Lula Green. Little And Lula Publishing, 2019.

Moving house  is always a traumatic experience for children and adults whether it be from one city to another, one country to another or in this case one Planet to another.

So it is with 10 year old Malia and her large family. Malia doesn’t want to go she will miss her friends, the things she does and places on Earth that she visits daily. Too bad she and her family are off.

The journey will take a couple of months and while there are no details of what awaits them at the other end it is adjustment to the change that is important in this short, large print, easy to read novel for primary and intermediate readers.

How would you like to be confined in a space ship with a snake and a tarantula? Fortunately for Malia she has a Z screen link with Tabitha who is the same age as Malia, and Tabitha would love to be in Malia’s position.

Drama is built up nicely as the landing on Mars is approaching but you will have to read that for yourself.

A self published work. Contact https://www.facebook.com/lulagreenbooks

Dreamweavers Bk1. Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie.

November 10, 2019 Comments off

awaDreamweavers Bk1. Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie. Pub.Te Ra Aroha Press, 2019.

After reading this fantasy with a realism twist for primary and intermediate school readers, I played the Gary Wright song Dreamweaver. Do this yourself and see why.

Awa is of oriental descent, she is sensitive, her parents have just split up, she has moved to a small Wellington flat with her mother and she has started at another school.

At night she has dreams that seem real and one evening she sees a light that turns out to be a Dreamcharmer named Veila. Veila teaches Awa to enter the Dreamrealm where unbeknown to her she has an important role to play as a Dreamweaver.

At school Awa is bullied by Felicity but meets a friend Ella who is also bullied by Felicity. The divorce of the parents, the bullying and the racism, provide the realism twist to the dream world fantasy that Awa enters but somehow there is a connection.

This first part of a trilogy has Awa learn to understand the power the powers she has and the enemies she faces in the Dreamrealm in the personna of The Politician and Judgement. I feel the best is yet to come.

Easy to read, short chapters and much to appeal to pre-teens. The fantasy is drawn from the Greek legend Narcissus and from Maori mythology especially the nature of dreams.

Avis and the Promise of Dragons by Heather McQuillan.

October 14, 2019 Comments off

avisAvis and the Promise of Dragons by Heather McQuillan. Pub. AHOY, imprint Cuba Press, 2019.

How do you weave an ex All Black star, a manipulative dragon, a kind hearted little girl with a slovenly father and brother, a mother who has left home, a bully, an endangered species smuggler and chocolate bars into a novel?

Check out this easy to read tale and find out. Of course it is an outrageous fantasy and tall story, but it is good fun and an easy read for primary and intermediate students.

Avis is the central character and she is a very likeable. Her father is in a slump because his wife and Avls’s mother has run off with an ex All Black. Bruno the 14 year old brother is in a grump as well. Avis does everything around the house.

Then Avis gets a job minding an eccentric scientists house while she attends to a screeching peacock, and discovers a giant lizard that loves chocolate which makes it shed it’s skin and grow quickly. Not only that it becomes a dragon and is able to manipulate Avis through thought control.

I can tell you no more but it is fun.

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday by Jo Simmons, illus. Nathan Reed.

September 1, 2019 Comments off

cancelledMy Parents Cancelled My Birthday by Jo Simmons, illus. Nathan Reed. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is an easy to read novel for primary and Intermediate readers who have a vivid sense of humour and imagination. It is what I call intelligent silliness and believe me  the weird things that go on will have you in stitches.

Tom is nearly eleven and he wants a birthday like one of his school mates had. Unfortunately things happen in his family that cause his parents to cancel his birthday.

It starts with the family pig named Tiny. He lives on the roof of the garage because there is no room elsewhere on their section. When Nana comes round with her chihuahua named Margherita, Tiny falls off the roof and squashes the dog flat. Tony puts it in a pizza box and buries it in the sandpit at the local nursery school.

There is uproar in Tom’s family. Nan is distraught, his younger sister Meg blames herself saying she is jinxed because the tooth fairy has neglected to leave money for her lost tooth. Father can’t finish the novel he has written and has a headache and mother is stressed by work. After Margherita got flattened Tom’s parents cancel his birthday.

Tom then goes into crazy overdrive to get his birthday back.

From the author of I Swapped my Brother on the Internet also reviewed on this blog. For reluctant readers.

You will laugh yourself silly. Nathan Reed’s illustrations enhance the humour and the characters superbly.

Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival

August 22, 2019 Comments off

ravis roarRavi’s Roar by Tom Percival. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Ravi is not happy being the youngest and smallest in his family even his dog biscuit is bigger than him.  He is always last in a race for anything, he is not allowed on the big slide and he can never find anyone during hide and seek.

When he is last to the ice cream cart and there is none left, Ravi sees red and turns into a tiger that scares everyone off. this loses him all his friends and he has to make a big decision. Read it and find out what it is.

Easy to read script and illustrations that enhance the plot and highlight personality differences. Tom Percival is good at this sort of thing and two others of his picture books are on this blog. Check them out.

Joy Cowley, Building Bridges

July 30, 2019 Comments off

bridgesJoy Cowley, Building Bridges. Pub. Clean Slate Press, 2019.

Five 32 page, easy to read books, designed for readers 8-12 years who have dyslexia or  readers who are struggling between junior material and chapter books.

And they are brilliant.

They are about modern family life in multi cultural New Zealand that have themes and plots that kids will go for.

Each book has three stories all with Dyslexia friendly text that has short simple sentence structure with generous spacing between lines and written on matt cream coloured background.

Each book has  a different illustrator all well known in the publishing industry.

Buster illustrated by Ali Teo is about a dog who is full of dogness but suffers from intestinal wind

Motor Sports illustrated by Richard Holt features kart racing, Formula 1 and rally cars and is full of motor racing information about cars.

Selena and Mia illustrated by Ant Sang features a friendly relationship between two street wise intermediate aged girls.

The Twins illustrated by Jenny Cooper features the relationship between twins and their loving and slightly weird and embarrassing parents.

Grandpa and Boy illustrated by Toby Morris features three hunting and fishing stories and a grandfather who swears a blinky lot.

All five books would be essential purchases for primary and intermediate schools at around 50 bucks for the lot. Contact at info@cleanslatepress.com

I loved all 15 stories and so will you and your students.

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.