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Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2021.

March 16, 2021 Comments off

Neal Shusterman is one of my favourite authors with his Arc of the Scythe series being his outstanding work. This novel for senior students and Young Adults is a thought provoking novel, cleverly written with an outstanding imagination and wit. It could also be seen as a picture of Trump’s America but not everybody will see this.

Ash is in his High School football team. He is in the defensive unit and his job is to get the opposing quarter back and make his life a misery. He does it very well, but in the first game of the year he clashes heads with an opposing player and has a major shift in reality. It is a game changer.

In the real world Ash lives in he is from a poor family. His best friend is Leo who is in his football team and he is black. He is also friends with the star quarter back Layton a brute of a boy who dominates his girlfriend Kate who Ash quite likes. Ash takes Math lessons from a classmate Paul and his younger brother Hunter is a bit of a pain.

After the clash of heads Ash enters into a parallel reality and in this one he is a very rich boy. All the above mentioned friends are in the new reality but their relationships have changed. Another clash of heads in the next game pushes Ash into another reality in which he himself is still a football player but also a drug dealer. But the biggest change is that America is a segregated country. Black and white do not mix. This disturbs Ash and he goes looking for his black friend Leo.

The next clash of heads changes Ash completely. In the previously realities Ash has reflected often about who he is but in this next reality he is gay and is taunted by a gay friend to come out of the closet which he does in dramatic fashion. This new reality has Ash questioning his identity further and has one of the best lines in the novel. When he tells his parents that he is gay he looked at his mother ” all she could see were her unborn grandchildren dying before her eyes”.

Will Ash get back to his first reality? Are there other realities? Read this very clever novel and find out. The ending is outrageous.

MIHI by Gavin Bishop

August 6, 2020 Comments off

mihi imageMIHI by Gavin Bishop. Pub. Gecko press, 2020.

If you are in a group of people and you are introducing yourself in Maori culture that is a Mihi.

This is a board book  about you, it is your Mihi.

It begins with your canoe on top of a wave then your mountain, river, marae, tribe, family, Mother, father then you.

So simple yet so deep and it is for everybody. This is your place in the world.

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.

DUCK by Meg McKinlay and Nathaniel Eckstrom.

May 18, 2018 Comments off

duckDUCK by Meg McKinlay and Nathaniel Eckstrom. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

On a lazy Kansas summer afternoon Duck comes running over the hill yelling DUCK.

Pig, horse, cow and sheep misunderstand. They think that Duck thinks that they too are ducks. They all fob Duck off with answers that make it quite clear to Duck that they are nothing like a duck.

It is Kansas when all said and done and Dorothy Gale would have known what Duck meant. See if you can pick what is going to happen?

Duck understands that he yelled the wrong word.

The illustrations are great. Horse looks suitably long faced, cow looks bemused, sheep is suitably arrogant and pig is reconciled for what may happen while enjoying his mucky environment. Duck is full of concern, the caring little soul.

A good laugh and read-aloud for juniors. Adults will see the bigger picture although some may not.

Hannibal. The camel who longed to be special by Pauline Marshall. illus. Candice Haare-Smith.

February 1, 2018 Comments off

hannibalHannibal. The camel who longed to be special by Pauline Marshall. illus. Candice Haare-Smith. Pub. 2018

Good manners dictate that one eats with ones mouth closed. Hannibal the camel doesn’t do this, no camel does. Their flubbery lips flap, their jaws swing and whatever they are eating sprays around like a sandstorm. That’s what being a camel is all about.

Hannibal is not happy with this and he wants to impress the lovely Cleo. He consults a number of others including Dugg the dung beetle, Oz the ostrich and human beings. He just makes himself look silly but he has a lot of fun doing it.

Then he discovers something about Cleo that changes everything. Read it and see what it is.

First time illustrator Candice Haare-Smith does a splendid job with acrylic and watercolour illustrations that capture the camels image and manner. The eyes are particularly important because through the eyes you can see the soul.

Lovely story about identity and individuality for juniors either to read alone or for an adult to read aloud.

Purchase on Amazon.

What Makes me a Me? by Ben Faulks & David Tazzyman.

October 4, 2017 Comments off

what makes me meWhat Makes me a Me? by Ben Faulks & David Tazzyman. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

This is a picture book about identity. We all wonder who we are and our place in the World but for the little boy in this book,its a puzzle.

Is he slow like a snail, or like Alfie Wilkes next door who roars like a dinosaur and draws on the wall. Is he like a fast car, a tree or a computer you can turn off and on? Perhaps he is like his dad and mum–son I think your on to something.

Ben Faulks rhyming text tells a good easy to read story and shows the boys willingness  to question everything and David Tazzyman’s illustrations compliment the text perfectly and show the boy’s identity. His woolly hat and John Lennon glasses. Eventually he comes  to the conclusion that what makes me is ME.

Good stuff.

Categories: Junior Fiction, Picture book Tags:

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok.

September 11, 2017 Comments off

WonderlingThe Wonderling by Mira Bartok. Pub. Walker books, 2017.

Every now and then  there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young adult literature. This is such a book.

There is nothing new in  characters going through total misery in their quest to find out who they are or in the fact that the strong will dominate the weak. What is unique about this novel is in the superb way in which the story is told and in the richness of the language used.

The character who we learn later as the Wonderling was not always called this. He was abandoned at a young age with the number 13 on a metal disc around his neck which becomes his first name. He is a fox like creature with one ear and only 3 feet tall who is put in The Home for abandoned creatures run by a Dahlesque character Miss Clementine Carbunkle who feels hard done by.

The Home is a Dickensian type establishment where ill treatment of inmates is a daily occurrence. Number 13 barely survives until he saves a kiwi type bird creature named Trinket who masterminds his escape into the wild world to find out his identity.

His task is fraught with danger as he makes his way to Lumentown where danger lurks in every corner. He is driven by a love of music and knows that in music there is the answer to where he comes from. He is determined even when he is forced to hide in the underground city of Gloomintown from which there is no escape. See how he gets on.

Superbly written in three parts with maps and excellent sketches of all the characters. You will feel every emotion as you read this novel, you cannot help but become involved.

For fantasy/adventure readers from primary through to secondary. You will love it.

What Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford.

February 21, 2017 Comments off

turn-invisibleWhat Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the funniest and most interesting children’s novels I have read for some time. It is for pre – teens and teens and once you start you will not put it down.

Thirteen year old Ethel lives in the North of England with her Gram. Her mother died when she was three and her father left in mysterious circumstances and Gram has never talked to her about it. Ethel is going to find out who and what they were in bizarre circumstances that involve trying to find a cure for her facial acne.

The combination of an on-line purchase of a Chinese remedy and a sunbed cause Ethel to become invisible. She is however only invisible when naked. She panics of course and has various absurd situations that will crack you up.

Then on a visit to her 100 year old great grandmother the old dear calls her Tiger Pussy. Who or what is Tiger Pussy? Well you are going to find out if you read the book.The mystery deepens with the visit of a man who smells of cigarettes and the discovery of a tin box with newspaper articles about an Amy Winehouse type pop singer called Felina. This will rattle Ethel’s cage at a time when her invisibility is causing problems.

Brilliantly written in three parts with 96 short chapters, this novel goes along at a rate of knots that will thrill you. There are sub plots involving bullying from twin brother and sister Jarrow and Jesmond Knight that will make you angry and gleeful at the same time. Ethel’s friend Boydy a cockney living in geordie country is a revelation, but the character of the book is Gram who is full of old fashioned wisdom and says things like “it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”

A very satisfying read.

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel.

November 15, 2016 Comments off

animalcolmAniMalcolm by David Baddiel. Pub HarperCollins, 2016.

This quirky novel about identity for primary and intermediate students is absurdly clever. It combines the poo bum weez humour of writers like Paul Jennings and Andy Griffith but adds a satirical dimension that will make older readers smile too.

Malcolm lives in a home loaded with animals but he cares nothing for them and doesn’t know why. Everybody else in his family loves animals why not him? Was it the fact that the chimpanzees threw poo over him when he visited the zoo, or something else?

Malcolm goes to visit Orwell Farm with his class and encounters a goat with big eyes named  K-Pax. He stares into the eyes of the guru like goat, falls asleep and when he wakes he is a turtle lying on his back. Horrors.

In turn he changes into a cat, then a sheep and other animals before becoming a pigeon. He learns that every time he goes to sleep he wakes up as the last animal he saw.

How will he become a human again.? What will he learn about being an animal? Read it and find out.

Simple to read, clever illustrations and lots of laughs.

 

Lullaby by Bernard Beckett

June 20, 2016 Comments off

lullabyLullaby by Bernard Beckett. Pub. Text Publishing Melbourne, 2016.

I was having a lull with my reading but this latest novel from Bernard Beckett has whipped me back into shape. I am so glad that he is back and with a novel that will make you think.

Rene and Theo are identical twins. They sometimes swapped places although both have distinct characters. Rene is more academic and sensitive, Theo is confident brash and popular.

Their parents were killed in bizarre circumstances when they were 7 or 8 and they were brought up by a Mrs Struthers. The twins were close but things became divisive when they hit their teens and girls came on the scene. Harriet and Emily. Both boys were attracted to these girls but Theo had the style and confidence to strike.

When Theo has an accident that renders him brain dead, Rene is interviewed by a psychologist, Maggie, to see if he can make an “informed consent” as to whether a ground breaking surgical procedure can take place in which Rene’s thought patterns and memories will be transferred into Theo’s dead brain.

The interview of Rene is stunning and revealing. Dr Huxley is to conduct the brave new world operation and urges Maggie and Rene to come to a quick decision but it is Emily that delivers the critical statement. To Rene she says “if you do this, who will be there for me to love”?

Read it and find the stunning answer. And…. does Rene want his brother back as  a replica of himself and is he capable psychologically of making this decision?

High school, young adult and adult readers will find this novel fulfilling