Tag Archives: adventure

Ariki and the Giant Shark – Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Nicola Kinnear.

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ariki

Walker Books Australia

July 2018

ISBN: 9781406369793
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $12.99
New Zealand RRP: $14.99

It can be difficult to find fiction that focuses on the Pacific/Polynesian cultures particularly for younger readers but this first book in a new series promises to be rich material for this aspect of HASS as well as being an entertaining mystery/adventure.

Ariki was washed up on the shores of Turtle Island as a baby and has been raised by Arohaka, the village ‘Star Walker’ or wise man. One day Ariki hopes to be his apprentice but fears he is dismissive of her in part of course because she’s a girl.

The ocean is not just Ariki’s playground but also her spiritual home. It is where she feels most alive and is intuitive to the creatures that inhabit the tropical seas around her island home. Lack of rain has meant the island is suffering from a food shortage and when Ariki is out coaxing fish into her canoe one day she encounters a massive shark, one she has never seen before. Unlike the usual nihui sharks often encountered who were quite likely to eat a girl as much as a fish, this giant of the ocean seems to be bonded to Ariki.  But when a giant shark tooth washes up on the beach, the island people’s ineffectual but excitable young Queen rallies the people to kill the intruder, blaming it for the shortage of fish.

It is up to Ariki to save not only the beautiful giant shark but it’s babies and in turn her island people. This she does after uncovering long ago rock paintings which show that this event has happened in the past and persuading her guardian and friends to help her in the rescue.

This is a charming story with plenty of memorable characters, humour and adventure to keep readers entertained throughout. Additionally young people will gain a sense of the island life and culture which although it differs from one locale to another, still has many common threads.

I strongly recommend this either for independent reading or read-aloud for children from around seven years upwards.

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Wundersmith : The Calling of Morrigan Crow : Nevermoor 2– Jessica Townsend

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9780734418227

Hachette

OCT 30, 2018 | 9780734418227 | RRP $16.99

Imprint: Lothian Books

Morrigan is back! The eagerly anticipated second instalment of Nevermoor is no disappointment and the many readers who are bursting at the seams waiting to get their hands on a copy will be delighted.

Now that Morrigan has passed her trials she becomes part of Unit 919 with her fellow successful candidates and is admitted to WunSoc as a scholar. However, her personal troubles and doubts are far from removed as her unit for the most part are wary, if not hostile, about her Wundersmith status as are the very Elders who are in charge of the youngsters’ education.

Barred from participating in the fullest range of classes by the suspicious and stern Scholar Mistress, Morrigan’s misery deepens especially as Jupiter is so often away and she has no one in whom to confide, aside from her friend Hawthorne.

Things go from bad to worse when Unit 919 begins to receive blackmailing notes and everyone blames Morrigan as the target, Mog is bullied by some very nasty scholars and discovers a rather disturbing secret power, and Wuns are disappearing without a trace. Mog’s frustration and unhappiness are unwittingly the conduit for the dreaded and exiled Ezra Squall to manipulate her gathering Wunder. Will she be able to resist the temptation to accept help from unwanted and dangerous sources?

When Morrigan is finally able to attend at least one other class besides the dreaded `History of Heinous Wundrous Acts’ with Professor Onstald she is thrilled to be part of the ‘Decoding Nevermoor’ class with the rest of her unit and certainly their tutor Henry Mildmay is a vast improvement on the dreary Onstald. Mog’s connection with Nevermoor as a living organism is both intense and personal despite not having grown up in the city and she excels in the class, thriving on Mildmay’s praise.

But Nevermoor is not always the brilliant and exciting city that Morrigan has grown to love. It also hides dark and dangerous places, people and secrets – like the Ghastly Market and the Museum of Stolen Moments and Morrigan has to learn not only to navigate around the city but to resist and defeat the perpetrators of such evil as well as learning to summon and control her Wunder.

Despite her troubles and doubts about her place in the Society and the resistance she faces from others, Morrigan rises to the challenges with the support of her friends and proves herself equal if not more to the honour of being part of the Wundrous Society and at last a valued member of her Unit.

If anything I loved this more than the first as there is so much within the plot that is fresh and original. The characters continue to develop and grow along with new important secondary cast members strongly introduced. Significant themes carry over from the first volume especially self-belief, integrity, loyalty and compassion.

I really don’t need to endorse this one because the series has already garnered so many followers but I do thoroughly recommend it and I have many readers, young and old, who are literally gasping until they get their copy.

Find some great resources here.

Other Worlds #3 & #4 – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Random House

RRP $14.99

gameworld

#3 Game World

9780143786238

May 28, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

George’s new series will be just as popular as his previous offerings I predict and this one particularly is clearly going to have huge appeal to the ‘gamers’ in your reading audience.

Hall is not very special in his own estimation – a little podgy and a little ordinary – but when he’s gaming he’s the ace HallsOfAwesome and hard to beat.  His ‘greatest online nemesis’ RandomizerBian he also somehow considers a friend, as he doesn’t really have many in real life and when his worthy opponent seemingly disappears from the game they play he starts to dig deeper.

Then very weirdly Hall finds a way into the game – or is it the game?

In a virtual reality that is in the midst of a ferocious battle between humans and computers Hall needs all his geekness to not only survive but to get home again. And when he comes face to face with his adversary the game really changes – for them both.

 

#4 Dark World

darkworld

9780143786252

May 28, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

In this volume George takes his readers into a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies –yep, got them right there! Newt (short for Newton) is a scientifically minded girl who really doesn’t care for Rowan (son of hippie health-freaks) but when they both end up facing the Dark World they are forced to work together to stop the evil that threatens all existence.

Newt and Rowan have to not only deal with some dire machinations but also reconcile their individual views on science and ‘magic’.  Giant hairy spiders that emerge from a body are not everybody’s idea of a mage’s familiar but then – neither are forces trying end the existence of every living thing.

This series is certainly going to keep readers on the edge of their seats. I would highly recommend them for kids from around ten years upwards. The manga style cover art will also appeal to many.

3rd August

An exciting and enjoyable morning spent listening to George’s energetic presentation hosted by Moreton Bay Libraries here in Redcliffe and then joining George, Penguin Random House publicist Talie, plus two lovely MBC library staff for coffee and chat.

George had children from two local schools thoroughly engaged as he spoke about his writing and his passions – science fiction, fantasy, computer gaming, Dr Who and Pokemon ;-). It was so interesting to hear how George has woven his enthusiasm for certain topics into his books such as the You Choose series (so hugely popular with  my readership!) and now the new Other World series.

And of course a real delight to be able to engage in some lively conversation with him and other library folk while we enjoyed some stunning Redcliffe winter weather and a view of the water.

digsdr

Thank you so much PRH and George – as well as MBC library service!

The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle

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Bloomsbury Australia

August 2018

ISBN: 9781408896884

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP :$14.99

What a simply sparkling debut novel! It did take me two nights rather than my usual one (but I confess a little tiredness even after a week of holidays) but it was simply page-turning and thoroughly engrossing.

Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara are going to Arranmore Island for the summer to stay with their paternal grandfather.  Tara, who is thirteen and has turned into a right little cow since her birthday, has been for a visit the previous summer but for Fionn it is his first experience of his ancestral home and his first encounter with his rather odd grandfather.  Fionn has plenty of time to become acquainted with his grandpa though as Tara has cut him right out while she aids and abets her ‘boyfriend’ Bartley (a thoroughly poisonous toad) in his quest to discover a long hidden secret.

That secret is to be a huge part of Fionn’s initiation into true island acceptance, and in fact his true inheritance, and that doesn’t just refer to the inhabitants. From the first day Fionn is bemused and intrigued by the overwhelming and obvious existence of magic running throughout almost every aspect of the island. He cannot ignore it as it keeps appearing in one form or another often when he least expects it.

Doyle’s plot has twists and turns a-plenty keeping the reader fully engaged with the very believable characters as they intertwine in past and present. In style and concept it reminds me of the masterful work of Alan Garner, blending mystical legend, magic and contemporary reality and, much like Garner, Doyle has taken a locale and its history well-known to her and woven a narrative that could well become a modern classic.

 

I really relished every word of this and look forward to reading her future work.

Very highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

 

Other Worlds 1: Perfect World – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Random House

9780143786191perfectworld

February 26, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

RRP: $14.99

George Ivanoff has well established his cred for providing exciting adventurous narratives for the middle school crowd. In Other Worlds and this particular first instalment he’s also giving them what I would describe as a taste of dystopian for younger readers.

Keagan really has a bit on his plate. He and his mum are struggling on their own and his thoughts are overwhelmed with school, homework and bullies. That aside, an errand to go and buy pickles should be relatively simple if tedious. However, Keagan decides to ignore his mother’s advice about avoiding the local industrial estate and though he successfully avoids manic truck drivers, he does discover a weird shop with an even weirder old woman looking after it. When he riskily touches a key, he is transported to a strange world where perfection is the norm. By that I mean that everyone looks and acts almost identical and is instantly hostile to Keagan.  But then he’s shunted to the Dumping Ground and discovers that though people may be ‘perfect’ up above, the ‘rejects’ are discarded like refuse.

It does sound dark and in one way it is however it is written in far more of an adventurous way and really highlights the concept of acceptance despite differences.

I think for middle school readers this will be a fantastic and exciting new exploration. I would endorse it enthusiastically for year 4 upwards.

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle [movie tie-in edition]

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Penguin Australia

9780241331163

January 29, 2018

Puffin

 

$14.99

How old were you when you first read this iconic book? I believe I was in 6th class so around 11/12. After the legion readers the novel has attracted since its first publishing in 1962 it seems hard to believe that the author had faced numerous rejections in its journey.  Since it went on to win the Newbery Medal, Seqouyah Book Award and Lewis Caroll Shelf Award, as well as being runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award it would seem that those shortsighted publishers guilty of not realising its power lost out.

Although it has been adapted for screen and theatre previously, it is the forthcoming Disney production that has given this timeless novel a huge resurgence and this movie tie-in edition will be no doubt in high demand for young readers.

Just in case you’re completely in the dark the story tells of an extreme adventure undertaken by three children. Meg Murry is considered a bit of a problem child at school prone to emotional outbursts but quite bright. Not as bright however as her five year old brother Charles Wallace, generally regarded as a child genius and possibly also a little unevenly matched with their new friend Calvin. Meg and Charles Wallace come from a loving family with a brilliant and beautiful scientist mother, twin brothers who are athletic and popular and a scientist father who has been missing for over a year.  Three strange beings appear and instruct the trio of friends that they are to rescue Meg’s missing father who has been trapped on a remote planet by an evilness known as The Black Thing. The children soon learn about tessering – the ‘wrinkle in time’ of the title. That is, the ability to move through space at such a speed that time and equilibrium is not disturbed – too greatly. Though there is success in rescuing Mr Murry the children are faced with dreadful dangers as Charles Wallace is entrapped by The Dark Thing and Meg is almost destroyed.  Full of philosophy, belief, trust and loyalty and confidence this book has always been and will remain a rich source of endless debate and discussion.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Movie trailer here – due for Australian release at the end of March.

La Belle Sauvage : The Book of Dust #1 – Phillip Pullman

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Dust

Penguin Random House

9780857561084

October 19, 2017

David Fickling Books

 

RRP $32.99

 

Dear Philip Pullman

It is magnificent! How long must I wait for volume 2?

Yours Sincerely

Me

 

I don’t think I would have been alone when, upon finding out earlier this year that Philip Pullman was publishing a new ‘prequel’ trilogy, I wondered whether it could possibly match the beauty, skill and intensity of His Dark Materials.

Why worry? This is coming from one of the most masterful storytellers of our time and is every bit as fabulous as its counterpart. I should have known.

Young Malcolm Polstead (with his daemon Asta) appears an average boy living with his innkeeper parents at The Trout. Yet he is far more than that; an enquiring mind, a sharp eye for detail, a sensitivity and an uncanny intuition all combine to raise him above his peers. Living directly across the river from the Priory Malcolm is a regular visitor to the nuns where he helps with all manner of odd jobs and enjoys talking particularly with the ancient Sister who prepares the meals.  His other chief occupation is taking his canoe, Le Belle Sauvage, out and about on the waterways round Oxford where he quietly observes much, mostly nature.

One day however he observes something quite strange.  When an unknown man appears to have lost a small object and then is rudely apprehended by some sinister looking individuals Malcolm is intrigued. Strange things have been afoot. At schools, including Malcolm’s, a fanatical sect has turned children against teachers and even parents and most suspect it is the work of the feared CCD.  The boy has also learned that his loved nuns at Godstow Priory are taking care of a small and seemingly special baby, one Lyra Belacqua. Is it possible such things could be intertwined somehow?

A new friend comes about as a result of Malcolm’s observation, and retrieval, of the lost object. A young scholar with an extensive knowledge of the strange instruments called alethiometers.  Together with Dr Hannah, Malcolm begins to seek out and deliver important tidbits of information which they both store away like squirrels hoarding nuts.

Then an unexpected weather event creates a huge flood across the whole of the countryside causing houses, bridges and the priory to collapse. Malcolm and his acquaintance Alice, a kitchen maid, take charge of the baby Lyra and an adventure like no other follows.

This is a gripping tale of courage and selflessness. Pullman’s ability to paint pictures with his words pulls the reader right into the book so that one feels one is in Le Belle Sauvage, along with the children,  battling the elements and desperately avoiding the pursuers who want baby Lyra for their own nefarious ends. The main characters become our allies and we fear for them and rejoice in their triumphs.  For those who have often wondered about Lyra’s history before the prophecy was revealed and the narrative that followed her throughout His Dark Materials this is a must read.

I’ve read some wonderful books this year but this has to be the best yet. I cannot wait for the next volume to be ready so we can continue the saga.

Find some input from the master himself here.

 

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

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AM

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.

The Shop at Hoopers Bend – Emily Rodda

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Harper Collins

      ISBN: 9781460753668

      ISBN 10: 1460753666

      Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

     On Sale: 24/07/201

     List Price: 16.99 AUD

When you go to bed feeling a little tired and start reading a new book and then just keep reading it until you’re finished, you know it’s a terrific piece of writing.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Emily Rodda books but this is a pearler!

Jonquil Medway (known as Quil) is an orphan who lives with her very top executive high-flying childless aunt – who is kind but not exactly a kindred spirit. Quil is generally either at boarding school or at holiday camps since her aunt is always globe-trotting and she’s pretty fed up with it all.

On this occasion as her aunt has flown off to Germany, Quil has been left overnight with Aunty Pam’s PA (even less a kindred spirit) and is being delivered to the railway station to go to yet another month long camp. To kill time before the train Quil is trailing behind PA Maggie at a very dingy flea market when she comes upon something astonishing. A beautiful cup with her name and her flower hand painted on it. Quil tingles with the magic of finally finding something with her own unusual name and wonders who made it and where the Hoopers Bend Gallery might be when she discovers that title on the underside.

To her great surprise as the train chugs up to the Mountains, Quil is suddenly staring at a platform sign bearing the legend Hoopers Bend. Impulsively she disembarks and thus begins a marvellous and almost mystical time of self-discovery.

An old and dilapidated village shop, an amusing little black and white dog and a rather bitter woman named Bailey are the catalysts for Quil finding her own true self and her life history. As if the stars align everything begins to change for this lonely little girl.

Emily Rodda has skilfully woven tiny threads one after the other to complete this masterful tapestry of ordinary people uncovering extraordinary events. Her characterisations are superb and her setting so powerful the readers can imagine them inside the story along with Quil.

This is going to be a huge winner with readers I predict and quite easily the kind of book that will sit well with teachers for use in Readers Circles and the like.  Themes of trust, honesty, inclusivity, friendship and simple pleasures will lend themselves well to discussions. Beautifully written and accessible to readers from around nine years upwards this is likely to be a title of note in the next twelve months.

Find teaching notes here.

Highly recommended for your collection – order it now!

 

The Eureka Key (Secrets of the Seven) – Sarah L. Thomson

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Bloomsbury

Published: 04-04-2017

ISBN: 9781681190617

Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Series: Secrets of the Seven

If you’ve ever watched Nic Cage in the National Treasure movies (and who hasn’t?) I would liken this to those – except for youngsters.

While I think our Australian readers will be at a slight disadvantage not knowing a great deal if anything about the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin or Benedict Arnold, I think they will still enjoy the adventure and the tricky puzzles.

Sam Solomon is a clever boy with a penchant for all things cryptic. He also has a real talent for mischief which does not endear him to his middle school teachers. When Sam unexpectedly wins a trip exploring the breadth of the United States, including national landmarks and amazing natural wonders, he is wildly excited.

From the outset Sam is truly baffled by the experience when it turns out that it is just Sam and a very nerdy girl of the same age who were the winners. Accompanied by a strange woman, Evangeline, and an almost silent boy named Theo, the American Dream Contest seems more like a nightmare.  It turns out Sam and Martina were the only contestants capable of solving the complex puzzles of the competition and this is exactly what is required to track down the hidden historical artefacts, concealed by the Founding Fathers to protect Benjamin Franklin’s greatest invention – a powerful weapon.

Naturally it is not just the ‘good guys’ trying to locate the ‘keys’ and the children soon themselves embroiled in a dangerous treasure hunt caught between opposite ideologies.

This is an exciting read with a great pace – creative thinkers will particularly enjoy it.

Recommended for readers from around 10 upwards.