Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow– Jessica Townsend

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nevermoor

Hachette

October 2017

9780734418074 | RRP $16.99

When you receive a proof copy of an upcoming debut novel about which the publisher says stuff like ‘sold by eight-way auction’ and ‘film rights pre-empted’ you can assume it’s going to be a cracker.

And it is that indeed. Written by Jessica Townsend (Sunshine Coast! Yay!) this is going to be a phenomenon and garner readers from young to old.

Morrigan is a cursed child. These children have been born on the Eventide of a new age and their curse is to die on the next Eventide of a new age.  For all her almost-eleven years Morrigan has lived with the cruel rejection of everyone around her including her family. But things are about to change for her in the most spectacular way. Finding herself at Bid Day where children who have completed prep school are sought after by education bidders, to be trained up in whatever calling, Morrigan is startled to receive bids of her own. Who on earth would bid on a cursed child?

Before this puzzle can progress further, Eventide is upon her and so is one of the bidders.  The flamboyant and charismatic Jupiter North appears at her home and after much debate with her family, whisks her away in the nick of time as they are chased by the Hunt of Dark and Shadow pursuing Morrigan, in expectation of her death.  Jupiter’s rescue takes Morrigan to Nevermoor where she is, for the first time in her life, made to feel welcome by many (but not all) and that she could have a purpose.

She is set to work to pass the trials required to become a member of the Wunder Society and this is a fraught experience for her in many ways, but always with the support of new friends.  Not all is well though. The mysterious Mr Jones (another of her initial bidders) keeps appearing at random, other trial contenders are contemptuous of her lack of skill and a nasty law enforcement agent is determined to oust her on grounds of being an illegal immigrant.

This is filled with humour, charm, love, despair, spookiness and good fun. Although it took me a week to get through it that was only because I was so tired each night I only managed a few chapters at a time. In holiday time it would have been consumed in one go.

 I have already been promoting it to my readers from around ten years up and even my big girls in Book Club are keen to get their hands on it.

Be warned – this is going to be a ‘must have’ and you would do well to make sure it’s on your shopping list.

Highly recommended for all readers from middle primary upwards!

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Alice-Miranda in Hollywood (#16) – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Random House

August 2017-09-03
ISBN 9780143780618

RRP $16.99

My girls are already super-excited awaiting this latest Alice-Miranda and well they should be because I think it is the most exciting thus far!

A-M and her pals are in the midst of being part of a real Hollywood movie – as child actors in A-M’s Uncle Lawrence’s latest film, a musical western – almost an anachronism. This in itself is thrilling but of course it would not be complete without mysteries and puzzlements and even a spot of very real danger. There seems to be just one thing after another with problems with the filming from strange reactive makeup to missing scripts to nasty accidents. Of course, A-M is far too sensible to believe in the old story of Nellie’s curse (the Nellie being the subject of the movie) but why do so many odd things keep happening? And why does it seem that this is not the first time an attempt to make this movie has happened?

Amid making new friends on the set and exploring the fascination of Hollywood the children are off to the desert near the Grand Canyon for location shooting where anything can and does happen, particularly when a paparazzo photographer, not particularly well-liked by A-M’s family, becomes the object of kidnapping and violent threats. A chance encounter with a reclusive old lady whose name seems vaguely familiar to A-M saves the day – and unravels the mystery of the cursed movie.

What a great adventure this is! As usual, Alice-Miranda acts with aplomb and generosity even towards the less than amiable Caprice. How can Jacqueline top this one? Although, I have no doubts given her talent that she can – she knows exactly what her readership loves and provides it time and time again.

Highly recommended for your readers aged around 8 upwards. I know mine will be tussling over this copy when I take it to school tomorrow!  Take a peek inside here.

Raymond – Yann & Gwendal Le Bec

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406362428
May 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

What an utterly charming debut to Walker Books from brothers Yann and Gwendal Le Bec!  The plethora dog lovers both young and old who have often wondered what their dog might be like as a ‘human’ will enjoy the gentle humour, others will ruminate on the all-too-often seen acceleration to celebrity status with which our media bombards us. Still others will see this as a perfect lead in to a philosophical discussion on what defines our happiness especially within a family circle.

Raymond is pretty much an ordinary dog – well loved by his family and quite content.  Then one day he wonders what it would be like to sit at the table with his people and eat his dinner there. Thus starts a path to becoming more and more human – and along the way becoming a high profile ‘dog star’. His family becomes more distanced from him as his celebrity status explodes. Finally his family persuade him to join them on a holiday and Raymond remembers the simple joys of being a dog – and being true to oneself.

So much rich conversation will be had from this seemingly simple story with its cunning word play and vibrant illustrations.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards and for use with older children in philosophy circles.

Nanna’s Button Tin – Dianne Wolfer & Heather Potter

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buttons

Walker Books

ISBN: 9781922077677

June 1, 2017

Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
This is an absolutely charming story for young readers and a beautiful gentle lead in to the idea of memories, keepsakes and family story telling.  When a special little girl needs a very specific button to repair a much loved teddy, Nanna’s button tin is the perfect place in which to search.  As Nanna and the little one spread out the buttons and examine each carefully, they share the stories of the origin of each.

Such seemingly prosaic objects become a focus of special remembrances and happy loving thoughts. Finally exactly the right button is found and Teddy has a special operation to restore him to perfect health.

The illustrations in soft pastels with fabulous use of white space provide a soothing and peaceful feel to the story which will be felt by those who read it.

I wonder how many children have the joy of this special activity these days. I do hope some have grannies and great-grannies that keep those special buttons and are able to tell the old stories about them.

Highly recommended for little readers from around five years upwards.

Usborne Graphic Legends series

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Harper Collins Australia

August 2017

The Adventures of Robin Hood – Russell Punter/Matteo Pincelli

ISBN: 9781409596899

robin

The Adventures of King Arthur – Russell Punter/Andrea da Rold

ISBN: 9781474922029

arthur

RRP $27.99

If you have graphic novel devotees among your readers these will really grab them I have no doubt. They are beautifully presented both in format and illustrations with excellently done captions retelling these thrilling legends. It seems that traditional stories have slid down the reading preference ladder at times so these should go quite some way to restoring their appeal. I know I will be most interested to see what further epic tales will be in store for us.

Dare I say that particularly boys will probably be among the first to get hold of these and for those who love that stirring gung-ho adventure style will eagerly anticipate further instalments. I plan to showcase these to our 5/6/7 classes particularly where I think they will be well received.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Ava’s Big Move – Surf Riders Club #1 – Mary Van Reyk

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Hachette Children’s Books

Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books

September 2017

9780734417909

RRP $12.99

ava

First in a new series designed to encourage more girls into the sport of surfing this kicks off in a very promising manner. Ava’s parents have decided on a sea change which means that Ava is leaving behind her big city life, school, friends and her usual holiday sport of snow- boarding. She is definitely not a happy camper when she starts at her new high school but her interest is piqued when a new sport is added to the students’ choices. Though the other students are used to beach life learning from scratch basically puts Ava on a reasonably level par with many and perhaps her snow-boarding experience might just be helpful.

Along the way during their first term of surfing Ava and four other girls form some friendship bonds and create the Surf Riders Club to support each other in their progress.  Essentially this is not just a series for Mighty Girls to try out something new but also one that demonstrates how a circle of friendship can be something of critical importance for young girls (indeed any age girls!).

Endorsed by Surfing Australia and with a special message from Tyler Wright 2016 Women’s World Surfing Champion, this should prove to be a very popular read for your girls from around ten-fourteen years.

Highly recommended for upper primary/early secondary readers.

Crazy About Cats – Owen Davey

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Walker Books Australia

Imprint: Flying Eye Books

September 2017

ISBN: 9781911171164

RRP $27.99

This is the third in this stunning series – which as I’ve mentioned before completely and utterly captures my inner nerdy child. Davey explores the world of cats from big to small, weird to wonderful and sweet to savage with his own special brand of contemporary stylised art and quirky facts.

To find out who has the loudest roar, the longest tail, can jump the furthest or who has the strongest jaws, readers can dip and delve to their hearts’ content. The book also examines the evolution of cats as well as mythology surrounding these fascinating creatures.

Move over the pretty and cute books about kittens – I foresee this will be a highly sought after read on our shelves as our cat lovers relish a whole new look at their favourite animal.

Highly recommended for your primary shelves.

The Build-Up Season – Megan Jacobson

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Penguin Random House

9780143573388

July 31, 2017

Penguin (AU YR)

 

RRP $19.99

What a fantastic and gripping read this is! This one had to be read over two nights but it was a wrench to leave it halfway!

Ily (Iliad) Piper is a young woman who has had to face many emotional upheavals in her life and now as a young woman is dealing with the backlash of them. Her father is in jail after years of physical and mental abuse of her mother, Eve, and indeed Ily herself. Ily is living in Darwin now with her mother and her Nan but is sullen and resentful of the past few years when she has been sent away to boarding schools.  She doesn’t realise that this was a safety precaution on the part of her mum and nan, she is just pissed off with them both.  The only thing she enjoys at her new school is her rather quirky friend Mia and her Art which she hopes to turn into a career. Then she hooks up with Jared – self-obsessed, angry and a control freak, just like her father.  Despite all advice from friends including the annoying next door neighbour, Indigenous boy Max, Ily pursues the relationship with Jared and falls into the same trap as her mother had done before her.

This is a brilliant and insightful exploration of the nature of domestic abuse of women and how behaviours become patterns. Fortunately for Ily she has ‘look outs’ on her side. Her mum, her nan, Max, Mia and more are there at exactly the right moments to protect her both from Jared and from her father, recently released from jail.

There are some sensitive aspects to this which may preclude it from your secondary collection such as sexual activity, violence and profanity but truly it is such an exceptional book that examines such a topical issue I would still urge you to consider it, even with provisos.

Highly recommended for mature readers from around sixteen years upwards.

The Snow Angel – Lauren St John

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snowangel

Harper Collins

Zephyr Books/Head of Zeus

ISBN  9781786695895

October 2017

RRP $19.99

 

It’s a long way from the wide blue skies and shimmering heat haze of Kenya to the bleak snow covered moors of Inverness and for 12 year old Makena the journey is not just a geographical one.

Much loved only child of a science teacher mother and a mountain guide father, Makena burns with passion for the mountains and climbing reckoning them her friends. When her parents are caught up in the Ebola outbreak on a mercy mission to Sierra Leone and die there, Makena’s world implodes into grief, loss of identity and homelessness. A spectacularly unsuccessful relocation to her paternal uncle’s poor home where his wife treats Makena as an unpaid servant ends abruptly and Makena finds herself fending for herself in the slums of Nairobi. Surviving like a gutter rat for a month or more, she is then swept up in a redevelopment which ruthlessly bulldozes the slums and she then finds herself rescued by a charitable organisation for girls and meets Helen. Just as Makena is recuperating from her trauma and a case of cholera, Helen has disappeared back to her parents’ home in Scotland and once again Makena feels herself abandoned.  But unexpectedly, arrangements are made for the young girl to spend a month over Christmas in the wilds of Scotland.  No spoilers here but suffice to say there is a happy ending for all.

This is just beautiful. It is warm and moving and oozes love despite the sadness threading throughout it. It is also somewhat mystical with the recurring motif of a special fox that seems to be akin to a guardian angel. There are lots of points of discussion; forgotten/orphaned children, civil war, rich vs poor, healing and the power of nature and love.

I read this in one sitting (well, lying down last night in bed) as I couldn’t put it down.  Lauren St John’s books about Africa have been wildly popular in my library for the past year or so and my prediction is that this will be just as enthusiastically received.

Check out Lauren’s website here and the book trailer here.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Magic Faraway Tree

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The upcoming anniversary of Enid Blyton’s birth prompted me to start preparing a display for the occasion – particularly as I thought the Faraway Tree also fitted so well with this year’s Book Week theme of Escape to Everywhere.  The tree is pretty much ready as well as some Enid Blyton bunting, some vintage and new books, a vintage Famous Five card game (as it’s also the 70th anniversary of the FF) and even some Enid Blyton earrings 🙂 as well as my ‘dress up’. Pretty excited that after arriving at my new school I discover that this will be the theme for a very special Year 2 morning tea this term! Huzzah!!!!

Would love to hear what other people might be doing as well!

 

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