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Posts Tagged ‘Schools’

Maudlin Towers: Attack of the Meteor Monsters by Chris Priestley.

December 2, 2019 Comments off

attack meteorMaudlin Towers: Attack of the Meteor Monsters by Chris Priestley. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Maudlin Towers School is for not particularly bright sons of the not especially wealthy. Two of these are friends Mildew and Sponge, a couple of nerdy boys who get into some wonderful adventures involving time travel.

When a meteor crashes into Pugs Peak above Maudlin Towers, followed by a herd of girls joining the boys at school chaos is about to reign supreme. To Sponge and Mildew girls are a fathomless mystery so they consult the librarian Miss Foxing about books on girls. She shows the boys and they are bewildered, nobody had ever looked at these books.

The boys trek up Pugs Peak and are confronted by Zigg and Tarduz and the Spiders from Marzz (don’t make me explain). They are aliens who threaten the World with vaporising unless the boys turn over the escaped criminals. Who are the escaped criminals? Why has old teacher who is supposed to be dead Mr Particle suddenly shown up in his time machine.

Lots of fun and lunacy in this third book about maudlin Towers. Will greatly appeal to reluctant boy readers and me of course

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.

Only Freaks Turn Things Into Bones by Steff Green, illus. Bree Roldan

August 7, 2019 Comments off

freaksOnly Freaks Turn Things Into Bones by Steff Green, illus. Bree Roldan. Pub. Obscura, 2019.

Little Grim is a freak and he knows it. His dad is the Grim reaper and he wants little Grim to go to school but little Grim is going to face rejection and hostility because of how he looks, and what happens when he touches things.

He runs to the graveyard where he feels at home and he meets Suzie who introduces him to others who have been rejected and bullied. Together they work on a mural about their lives.

Beautifully illustrated with a great last line “When “freaks” become friends we have way more fun”.

A sophisticated picture book with the theme of difference for everybody  especially those who are bored with reading.

The Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, Illus. Rob Jones.

July 31, 2019 Comments off

teachersThe Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, Illus. Rob Jones. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is the sort of book that you need in a library because the cover says to the reluctant reader “pick me up and have a look”.

It is the sort of book that you don’t have to read at the start and go through to the finish, you can pick it up and read from anywhere. It is a collection of short ditties about every aspect of school life with emphasis on the teachers.

It describes teachers in the classroom, in the staff room whether they are nice, good, bad, or evil with an emphasis on the ridiculous and the funny. It describes the library and the librarian, the school secretary how to give an excuse for being late and how to do a fart without pooing yourself.

The illustrations enhance the silliness and describe aspects of British schools that are not common to New Zealand like school lunches and the infamous dinner lady.

All in all a good laugh especially for reluctant readers.

Harriet and the eye of the bird by Julie Lamb.

May 26, 2019 Comments off

harrietHarriet and the eye of the bird by Julie Lamb. Pub. The Cuba Press wellington, 2019.

This novel for primary and intermediate girls could well have been sub titled “the secret life of girls” because that is what it comes down to.

Harriet loves her dad and can see no wrong in him, but after staying out all night with a mate he leaves after a torrid argument with Harriet’s mum. He stays away, phones once and misses Harriet’s birthday. Her mum tells her to get used to it but Harriet sees only herself.

Her life is coming apart and she has a lot of learning to do. The family move to a house they can afford and the mother and big sister Claire accept the circumstances. Harriet misses her friends but is shunned when she goes back for a birthday party.

Harriet tries to make friends with a girl who is under the control of a very nasty girl. Why? A shy girl Alice comes into her life through school and Harriet treats her the same way she is treated by the girl she wants so much to befriend. She has to learn the true meaning of friendship. Read it and find out how. There is a tree and birds to help her.

Great conversation between characters who are nearly all female but there is a lovely granddad. As a granddad of two girls this book spoke to me and I read it in two sittings. You will too.

Julie lamb paces the novel perfectly and builds on her success  with The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain, also reviewed on this blog. A writer to watch.

 

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

May 11, 2019 Comments off

I ClaudiaI, Claudia by Mary McCoy. Pub. carolehoda Lab, 2019. Imprint Walker Books.

Sometimes there comes a novel that you don’t want to ever finish and this political thriller about a student council in a Los Angeles high school is one of them.

I savoured this novel over 10 days and was not disappointed by a thing. Yes I was. I was disappointed that the Head and Board of Governors of the school did not step in earlier in spite of ample evidence to do so, but then that would have ruined the story

The Imperial Day Academy is a prestigious school that is run by a student body titled the Honour Council which is structured somewhat like the Roman Senate with representatives from each class level and a President and vice President. The candidates are elected annually and have as many qualities as everyday American politics – liars, cheats, bullies, power freaks and idealists. . The aim is to destroy your opponents character and intentions and make you seem like the only wise choice. Whether it is true or not.

The novel is told by Claudia McCarthy in the form of a testimony and you the reader will find out why this is when you finish the book. The aim is to work out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and it is not easy. Claudia’s approach is this “I make a habit of identifying the psychopaths in my environment as quickly as possible”. But is she right? Claudia’s character is charismatic. She appears to be a nobody and describes herself as an historian and is ultimately totally brave.

The characters are stunningly conceived from the ruthless, manipulative Livia, to the power crazy Cal and the heroic Claudia. There are deaths, there are inhuman episodes, there is corruption, there is sexual violation and there is love albeit misused.

The tactics used by Nixon during the Watergate scandal are a blueprint for the political drama at Imperial Day school and there is a lot of Trump’s America in there too.

This is a novel of today’s America and if you miss this one you will kick yourself. The ending provides all the answers but leaving some doubt as well. In politics do we ever learn the truth?

For High school students and Young Adults. Just superb. Stunning cover.

Bloom by Nicola Skinner.

April 1, 2019 Comments off

bloomBloom by Nicola Skinner. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is the most bizarre children’s book for primary and intermediate children that I have read for a long time.

It is set in an old town called Little Sterilis that has now been concreted over throughout the centuries by a ruthless family called the Valentinis. It once was a settlement around  a lovely cottage called Little Cherrybliss now resided by the hero and narrator of this novel Sorrel Coriander Fallowfield. Yes it is a garden herbal name and that is the point of the story.

Sorrel is the perfect student, doesn’t cause trouble and goes to Grittysnit School run by a crazy headmaster with a control freak mentality Mr Grittysnit. The two are going to clash.

The novel rolics along at a rate of knots as Sorrel is one of those gushy, enthusiastic girls who has a good heart and amplifies everything.

When Sorrel’s cottage suddenly erupts and discards a packet of Surprising Seeds, the whole world of Little Sterilis changes and so does Sorrel. Bizarrely Sorrel her friend Neena and her mother scatter the seeds on their heads and they begin to grow. This starts a sequence of events that are over the top but have a conservation and environmental message  underneath.

History comes back to haunt the present.Read it and see what happens