Posts Tagged ‘Short stories’

Great Grandma’s Shed. Marcum Road Follies by Helen Nickolson, illus. Tanya Maneki.

January 7, 2020 Comments off

Grandmas shedGreat Grandma’s Shed. Marcum Road Follies by Helen Nickolson, illus. Tanya Maneki. Pub. Adelaide books New York, 2019.

This is a collection of old time shaggy dog type stories for juniors, the sort of story that only a grandparent can tell their grand child.

Essential to the story is for the child to believe that a car-Old Red, can be a human like being that can share their lives and do things that adults can do. Once that is accepted the car becomes a friend and a person like anyone else. Indeed he is. He takes them to the movies, he gets sad, the children play tricks on him but he becomes an essential part of the community in the farming area of north California.

Old fashioned story telling in short stories. My favourite is the unruly cows who can do Irish dancing and pester grandma by dirtying up her yard.

There are also other characters like Cutie pie the dog and Teepo the duck. I found it a good laugh. Great illustrations especially those at the end of each story.

The End and Other Beginnings. Stories from the future by Veronica Roth.

October 22, 2019 Comments off

end beginningsThe End and Other Beginnings. Stories from the future by Veronica Roth. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

There are 6 stories in this collection, all are set in the future, all are about survival in which the characters come to a crisis or turning point in their lives akin to death, then have a renewed assurance and confidence about continuing their lives.

In all stories which are set on an Earth like setting there are alien cultures living in with the native population and the characters have a skill or a talent that can help them in their plight.

They are not simple stories. All have strong development of plot and character from which further stories can be made from the reader thus they are very useful at encouraging writing.

INERTIA has a dying teenage boy linking mentally by medical science with a girl with whom he had a past relationship. They share memories of the earlier relationship of which the other was not fully aware as a way of saying goodbye before death. With a twist.

THE SPINNERS. Has a bounty hunter chasing the killer of her mother. The killer is an alien symbiotic leech that attaches itself to the neck of a human and takes over their mind and body. Stunning ending with a twist.

HEARKEN. A girl with a strong musical talent is to become a Hearker who is able to read the life and death songs of humans based on String Theory. Everybody is living and dying at the same time. A lovely twist to this story too.

VIM AND VIGOR. Is a story of girls who are mad about super heroes. read it to find out what happens.

ARMOURED ONES. is a story of a boy who is considered week by his peers and choses to take on an Armoured beast that is feared by all in order to prove his worth.

THE TRANSFORMATIONIST. looks at religious belief and refusal to defend oneself in an alien culture.

Check these superior stories out, the human problems are so real yet so different. Senior secondary and young adult in appeal.




Alex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz.

April 27, 2019 Comments off

alex riderAlex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

The problem I had with doing this review was how to write something unique that has not already been said of this action adventure series about boy spy 14 year old Alex Rider.

I could have said “it is bloody brilliant so just read it” or I could have waxed lyrical about the plot and the characters of the 7 stories that are told in this collection. But I am not. Instead I am going to tell you what appeals to me about Alex and about the style of writing.

Alex is not pretentious, he is not a braggart or a smart arse. He is skilled at martial arts, he thinks in split seconds but his main weapon is his superb observation skills. He watches people and analyses situations and acts instinctively. He never kills anyone and he does what he has to to win. He is always polite, understates his achievements and if you wanted someone to go into bat for your life then Alex Rider is the boy you would choose.

See how Alex gets on penetrating a crazy man’s castle hideout in Afghanistan, see how he deals with a crazy escaped prisoner who wants to kill Alex in an act of revenge, see how he escapes from a hospital prison over an electric fence using fishing rods and a coat hanger, see how he escapes death while paragliding off a runaway motor boat in the South of France. And more.

Superbly written by master writer Anthony Horowitz in a straight forward action style that keeps you reading long after you want to stop and do something else. The characters are incredible, the action spellbinding. I can’t do better than that.

For intermediate and high school students especially reluctant readers.

Scared to Death by Anthony Horowitz

September 28, 2018 Comments off

scared to deathScared to Death by Anthony Horowitz Pub. Walker books, 2018.

This book came to me on a day in which I received 14 other books to read. I checked them all out but there was no doubt that this was the one I would read first and I was not disappointed.

The cover boasts “read this at your peril” and it was not wrong. Ten stunning short stories, eleven really if you read the Note from the Chairman of Walker Books at the end. Each of the stories pushes boundaries and the endings of all of them are particularly satisfying.

Bet your life pushes the TV quiz show to deadly heights. You Have Arrived is what you wish would happen to those thugs out there. The Cobra challenges the cynic in the lovely city of Marrakech. Robo Nanny takes child care to a new level. My Bloody French Exchange brings the vampire into reckoning.

If you want to know about any of the other five you will have to read it yourself but Power was most satisfying and the J Train awoke my new York experience.

Each story is wonderfully constructed and told. Every story will surprise you. Anthony Horowitz is a master story teller.

Short stories evoke the imagination and will attract the most reluctant of readers. One of the best collections I have read and apart from Juniors they are for all reading levels.

Flying Free Stories and Where they come from by Adrienne M Frater.

May 25, 2015 Comments off

flying freeFlying Free Stories and Where they come from by Adrienne M Frater. Atawhai Press, 2015.

This book of just over 200 pages is not just a good collection of short stories it is an insight into how one writer goes about getting her ideas to write about. Before each short story Adrienne Frater addresses the reader with how the story grew from her own experience with the world.

Often she proffers very good advice to a budding writer such as ” stories are rather like a patchwork quilt – a little from here a little from there. Some of it is true and some of it not” and in each new story I live in my character’s skin for a while….and “when I read other people’s stories I become their main character too”.

The 25 short stories are very good too. I read the book in one sitting it was such compelling reading with  a strong New Zealand flavour. The characters and the circumstances they get into are as Kiwi as Richie McCaw.

There are stories about sailing, a soap box derby, Opo the friendly dolphin, a whale stranding in Golden Bay, getting pierced ears and my favourite about Lulu a confident girl who goes to a new school.

Many of these stories have been road tested  on Radio NZ and in the old School Journal. Well worth a read for 7-14 year olds.

A self published work. Adrienne can be contacted at

Losing it edited by Keith Gray

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Losing it edited by Keith Gray. Pub. Anderson Press, 2010.

This is an excellent collection of short stories for teenagers from eight of Britain’s best authors of children and Young Adult books.

It covers the topic of losing your virginity, not so much the act itself, but the circumstances leading up to it. Believe me the diversity of stories from these great writers will leave you spellbound and teenagers will just be clambouring to read them.

Keith Gray tells a football story. A story of a boy who has to choose between a cup final game and a promise from the hottest chick in town.

Jenny Valentine tells a hugely funny story of a grandmother who brings up the subject of sex at a family Sunday dinner for her granddaughter’s 16th birthday.

Melvin Burgess again breaks all the taboos with a racey story of a young year 10 student who chats up a year 13 girl by wooing her with poetry and then has the time of his life.

Patrick Ness talks about latent homosexuality in a story where all the bad words are blacked out.

Mary Hooper tells the saddest story of a young girl forced into losing it through economiuc circumstances in a past era.

Sophie McKenzie looks at a boy and girl who have made their minds up to do it but things change as the act and situation evolve.

Bali Rai gives a different cultural perspective where a mistake and misunderstanding can end in the loss of a girl’s life.

Anne Fine finishes the collection with a comparison of todays kids who know everything and nothing and the way things were in her day when the only contraceptive was fear.

Obviously secondary level but something here for everybody.