Monthly Archives: May 2017

Never Say Die – Alex Rider

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alexrider

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406377040
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

How absolutely apt that as we mourn the loss of the suavest Bond of them all – vale Sir Roger Moore – the new Alex Rider explodes into our reading lives with every bit of excitement that we have come to anticipate from the teenage spy.

When Anthony said that Alex’ career had come to an end we were all pretty sad. But unexpectedly, three years after what we thought was the last book in the series, the youthful hero is back. Following on from Scorpia Rising and the defeat of the international crime ring, Alex is living in America pretty unhappily, especially as he is still grieving for Jack Starbright, believed killed.

But the world has never had a shortage of villains (as we see so clearly in the news) and from Scorpia’s ashes have risen the Grimaldi brothers – eccentric and evil identical twins every bit worthy of being in an Ian Fleming book. When Alex receives a cryptic line of email he is positive that Jack is still alive and abandons America, his host family and school to find her.

From Egypt to Saint Tropez to a lonely corner of Wales, the action is super-charged and electrifying. Twists and turns abound as we know they will from such a master crime storyteller as the Grimaldis’ ingenious plot is revealed.

While some things have changed  – Mrs Jones is now head of MI6 replacing Alan Blunt – familiar faces are back, like Ben Daniels, Alex’ especial side-kick.

Alex Rider is back: back home, back in MI6 and the thick of espionage, back with his loyal Jack Starbright and back in our reading lists. Bring on some more please Anthony! This is a dose of adrenaline that we all love!

As you are aware there is quite a bit of violence in these but it’s not horribly graphic. I recommend them to my older primary students and upwards.

By the way, the whole series has been re-issued with some very spiffy new ‘dinner jackets’ – you can predict that they are already on my ‘to order’ list!

This one comes with my highest recommendation for thrill-seekers and I eagerly await more from Anthony’s fertile imagination.

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The Adventures of Miss Petitfour –    Anne Michaels. With illustrations by Emma Block

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petitfour

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781408868058

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens

May 2017-05-20

RRP $14.99

The second delicious instalment of Miss Petitfour’s adventures has arrived and is every bit as delightful as the first. Who could possibly resist this unique individual and her ‘furry rope’ of cats?

With first an introduction to Miss P and her numerous feline companions, this contains five more slightly silly but very much ‘fun’ stories revolving around everyday life for the elegant but eccentric Miss Petitfour. Whether it’s causing unintentional chaos at the village jumble sale or investigating a mysterious ‘OOM’ noise, Miss P and her band of assistants can fix every problem – even if they accidentally cause it.

One of the absolute delights of these books is Anne Michael’s introduction of sophisticated vocabulary with an explanation of each word. Talking directly to the reader takes the child right into the world that has been created and enables them to feel every bit as exhilarated as the cats having their daily airing.

The first book has been hugely popular in our library so I know this one will also be.

Highly recommended for capable readers from around eight years upwards.

 

The Fall – Tristan Bancks

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thefall

9780143783053

May 29, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $16.99

 

Well, after much impatient anticipation I could just say ‘WOW’! But that’s hardly the review this new action-packed novel deserves so I shall continue.

Tristan has a superlative ability to write everyday all-too-human imperfect characters and transform them into inspirational heroes.

Sam has never known his father. He knows he has one, he knows his name and his occupation and sometimes a vague idea of where he is. He lives with his mum in the beautiful Blue Mountains and as an almost teenager who has faced some physical difficulties, he’s becoming a little hard to handle at times.  Following some serious surgery to correct a scoliosis issue, Sam is finally going to stay with his dad in Sydney for some recuperation for himself and some respite for his mum.

In his mind, he has created his crime reporter father into a kind of super-hero, even writing his own comics about Harry Garner: Crime Reporter where his James Bond-like father is a legend.

The reality falls far short when Sam finds himself sleeping on an uncomfortable couch in a dingy apartment and a father who insists on being called Harry not Dad. Harry is not the tall handsome action hero of Sam’s dreams but an old tired-looking man with the same twisted body that Sam himself would have been destined for without the painful surgery. Instead of bonding time with his father, Sam is left alone day and night with Magic, a rather drooly but affectionate dog and leftover take-away pizza for rations.

From the outset the reader is plunged into Sam’s nightmare experience in the big city. Alone as usual and fitfully awake during the night, Sam overhears an altercation on the balcony above his father’s apartment. Cautiously watching through the window, Sam is shocked to see a man fall down to the ground where it crumples into an unquestionably very dead body. He knows instantly that the man has been pushed – and that falling six floors is a very effective way to silence an enemy.

Racing to tell Harry he realises that his dad is gone – again – and in a quandary goes downstairs to check on the man and realises all too late that he has been seen.  He knows enough about major crime to conclude that this is not a healthy situation for him to be in.

With unremitting drama, pace and suspense the next twenty four hours becomes a cat-and-mouse game of desperation as Sam tries to piece together the crime, aided in part by a new friend Scarlet from the floor above.

Perhaps the worst part for Sam is wondering if and how his father could be involved with this dreadful circumstance.

The climax of this adventure story will have readers on the edge of their seats, with palms sweating as Sam and his father literally dodge bullets and escape their own deaths.

With themes of trust, family/male relationships, resilience and courage this is another fine coming-of-age novel from a master storyteller.

Watch Tristan’s book trailer and find out some more of the back story here.

My highest recommendation for this especially for readers from around ten years upwards.  Your readers who seek the adventure/mystery genre will be completely gripped by this.

 

 

 

Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer

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letters

Allen & Unwin

ISBN:9781408883525

Publisher:

Bloomsbury UK

Imprint :Bloomsbury Child

March 2017

RRP $16.99

Juliet’s mother died in a terrible hit-and-run accident. On her way home from yet another international photography mission documenting the heartbreak of war zones and disasters, she returned early at Juliet’s request and on her way from the airport was suddenly and terribly gone forever. Like so many of us who have lost someone so dear, Juliet cannot let go, especially of rituals, like writing letters to her mother as she has done all her life. Only now she leaves them at the cemetery.

Declan Murphy is known by his ‘reputation’. He’s tough looking and constantly confrontational, he’s spent time in jail, he’s doing community service and he spends most of his time skulking around trying to be invisible. Nobody knows the truth behind his attitude, not even his best friend realises the full depths of Declan’s story.

When Declan, as part of his mowing community service at the cemetery, reads one of Juliet’s letters, he is so overcome with empathy that he responds with his own comment.  Outraged beyond belief at the invasion of her privacy, Juliet responds to him with undisguised contempt and rage. And thus a strange correspondence begins.

Along with that, a close and trusting relationship between two dreadfully despairing young people who do not know each other slowly builds. Or are they strangers?

Slowly but surely each is unravelling the real identity of the other and along with that an antipathy which belies the honesty and trust of their anonymous letter exchanges.

For both the healing process and the road to hope is their unfailing support for each other as their separate tragedies unfold and their defences are lowered.

The characterisation in this is excellent – even relatively minor characters bristle with life and emotion.  I particularly like the ‘voice’ of both Juliet and Declan – though Declan’s intellect has been shrouded by other details this as well as his inherent compassion shines through. There is, as one might expect, from seventeen year old protagonists some low level swearing but it is all totally in context and expressive in itself.

There is a real twist in the tale which avoids cliché or triteness and is exactly the kind of ‘messiness’ that might happen in families. All in all it’s a terrifically engaging read and the reader develops a real affection for these characters.

Highly recommended for readers from around 14 upwards.