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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker.

February 15, 2020 Comments off

real worldHere in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

This easy to read novel with short chapters for primary and Intermediate students, is a delight from beginning to end. It is set in Florida and Sara Pennypacker’s style reminds me of Kate Di Camillo.

Over protection is one of many disadvantages of being an only child. Ware is eleven and a half years old and is a disappointment to his hard working parents. He knows they are disappointed and he would like to change completely.

I think he is a fabulous person. He is a dreamer, a thinker and above all an artist. He struggles to meet and mix with people and prefers to be with his own fantasies. He is the type of boy who when he closes the door to his room, every cell in his body breaths a sigh of relief.

He is put in a childminding school during the summer holidays after his grandmother who he calls Big-deal, and he hates it. Over the fence from the play centre is an old churchyard and he goes in there to play. It reminds him of a medieval castle and his great love is the code of a knight which concentrates on fairness.

Ware meets Jolene in the yard and she is a die hard realist but the two get on with lots of disagreement and banter. Jolene plants a garden in the old churchyard and Ware builds a moat around the old church tower.

Then an older girl Ashley tells Jolene and Ware that the bank is going to sell the church site and destroy the work they are doing.

Read it and find out what happens. Brilliant ending. One of the best of the year.

Rocking Horse Road by Carl Nixon

December 20, 2019 Comments off

rockinghorseRocking Horse Road by Carl Nixon. Pub. Random House, 2007.

I missed this excellent novel about teenagers growing up in Christchurch New Zealand in the 1980’s.

It attracted my attention because I live on the coastal East side of Christchurch and I intimately know the Rocking Horse Road area of South New Brighton. It is a long beach finger, between the ocean and the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote rivers.

One morning in the hot summer of 1980 the body of 16 year old Lucy Asher is found at the high tide area of South Brighton beach. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered. She is found by Pete Marshall who is a year younger than Lucy and the consequences of Lucy’s death will affect him and his mates for the rest of their lives.

The police investigation into Lucy’s murder does not result in a culprit being caught so the boys(one of them narrates the story), conduct their own investigation until well into their 40’s. It dominates their lives, but will they solve the case?

At the same time the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour of New Zealand takes place, a tour that divided the country and resulted in some appalling behaviour from both sides of the argument. The boys are caught up in this as well.

It is a loss of innocence story both for the teenage boys and the country. Neither will be the same again. The environment of the estuary and beach is a huge part of the appeal of this novel. If you live in New Brighton you will love it.

Powerfully written by Carl Nixon. Once you start you won’t put it down. For young adult and adult readers.

 

 

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.

 

Lola Dutch. When I Grow Up by Kenneth & Sarah Jane Wright

January 25, 2019 Comments off

lola dutchLola Dutch. When I Grow Up by Kenneth & Sarah Jane Wright. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Lola Dutch is inventive, she is imaginative and best of all she is confident. She puts her mind to the task of deciding what she is going to do when she grows up.

She tests her ideas out on her animal friends – Bear, crocodile, pig and crane. They of course let her run with her ideas and help her in every way possible as she imagines being on the stage, an inventor, a botanist an Egyptologist and many other things.

Bear puts his finger on the pulse “Lola what do you want to be right now?” Lola’s answer is the key to the whole story. Check it and find out why.

Simple text, complimentary water colour illustrations and a heroine to be admired.

Whispers by Greg Howard.

January 11, 2019 Comments off

9780241367087-1-edition.default.original-1 webWhispers by Greg Howard. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

This novel for gifted intermediate readers and secondary school students, is a slow burner. It takes a while to get into it, but once it takes off, you will be hooked.

Eleven year old Riley James lives with his father and older brother in a deeply religious country community in South Carolina. There is no room to be different in this community and Riley knows that he is. He has the same feeling for boys that most boys have for girls. He is by his own admission a mummy’s boy and he clashes with his gun-toting elder brother Danny and with his father.

Crisis comes when his mother disappears and the police are constantly questioning Riley about it. He says he can remember nothing but events in this story, particularly a Stand By Me type camping trip into the woods with some other boys, jog his memory.

At the beginning of the novel is a story about Whispers told to Riley by his mother. When she disappears he retreats into his imagination and creates a bizarre fantasy explanation about things in life based on the whispers story, but reality is close at hand.

Where has his mother gone? Is she still alive? and what about his awakening sexuality? Read this intense novel and find out.

Our Superbaby by Maris O’Rourke, illus. Helen Bell.

November 25, 2018 Comments off

superbabyOur Superbaby by Maris O’Rourke, illus. Helen Bell. Pub. GTM Press 

This is a sophisticated picture book for everybody and it is poetic, profound and imaginative.

When a child is born it is a wondrous thing. It’s every day events like eating and sleeping are magical and it’s behaviours like screaming, crying and smiling can evoke a million reactions.

Maris O’Rourkes text is poetic -“ When you cry -eagles shriek, angels weep” and Helen Bell responds with an illustration that is imaginative, surreal and thought provoking.

There is a space at the beginning of the book for a photograph of the baby and a space at the end for a family photograph.

For me this is a book I would give to my child or grandchild when it is grown to show what you felt when it was born and growing up. The final page is beautiful.

A special book. Contact at  greg_mace@me.com

Jacob’s Toys. The BIG Backyard Adventure by Claudia Woods.

September 22, 2018 Comments off

jacobs toysJacob’s Toys. The BIG Backyard Adventure by Claudia Woods. Pub. Harbour Publishing House, 2018.

This picture book for juniors was a real surprise with beautifully constructed rhyming text and illustrations that bring out the nature of the characters and the drama they are going through.

Jacob decides that he is BIG now and doesn’t need his soft toys anymore but is he really ready to discard them and what about the toys themselves?

Mum puts them in the washing machine, onto the line, hit by a storm, chased by a cat, washed down a drain, blown into the air and then guess where?

The repeated text containing the toys names makes for great reading aloud. Children can join in too.

The illustrations  are mixed media eg drawing, painting, natural materials, clay, felt etc They are made on large boards and layered with all the items and then photographed. Some of the photos are taken from different angles to create a 3D effect. They cover a whole page sometimes more and really compliment the text beautifully and add a dimension in themselves. At the end is a big surprise as the illustrations contain more than you think.

Check this beauty out.