Penguin Random House
Imprint: Pushkin Press
This superb YA novel deals with some pretty gritty issues like bullying (cyber and real life), self image, identity and family relationships and is one of the most wickedly funny books you’ll read all year.
Mireille, Astrid and Hakima are three girls at the same school and recently voted as the first three place-winners in a Facebook ‘Pig Pageant’ for the ugliest girls by their schoolmates. This event was initiated by Mireille’s erstwhile childhood friend Malo, who is one of the most odious youths ever. Since they both started high school Malo has made it his mission in life to humiliate Mireille at every turn.
While the girls are all pretty crushed by this horrible bullying, they are not going to let it get the better of them and form a friendship that will fly them forever. Each has a particular reason for their proposed plan to cycle to Paris for the huge Bastille Day celebrations; Mireille, wants to confront her biological father, now married to the President, Astrid wants to meet her idols Indochine and Hakima wants to berate the commanding officer about to be awarded the Legion of Honour for the debacle that resulted in her brother Kader losing both his legs in battle.
Overcoming the opposition of parents, the girls set off on what must be the craziest road trip ever with Kader in his super wheel chair as their chaperone. Along the way they garner the respect and adulation of thousands via newspapers and social media and in real life.
Told through Mireille’s witty and philosophical voice, the reader is alongside the girls for the entire trip which is joyful, uplifting and totally hilarious.
Proving themselves as true Mighty Girls the trio triumph over the online bullies and even horrid Malo shows some indications of redemption, especially when the reason for his nastiness is revealed. Each girl learns valuable lessons about herself particularly when they finally attain their goals and find that something has changed about their motivations.
Definitely worthy of its achievement of winning France’s biggest award for YA/teen fiction I highly recommend this to you for your girls from around 14 years upwards.
Hachette Children’s Books
Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books
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.
Penguin Random House
July 31, 2017
Penguin (AU YR)
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.
Exquisitely poignant and so beautifully written this is a young adult book which will touch the hearts of every reader. There have been other books that look at the lives of young people with life-threatening or terminal illnesses but this is the first I’ve read that really offers the reader true insight from the point of view of the patient.
Three young adults have grown up together as the closest of friends. From their first meeting in Prep they have been inseparable. Adam, Ambrose (AJ) and Tess are the trio who form the centre of this novel. Their love for each other is deep and without reservation. They are more bonded than some siblings and even in high school when they are at different locations they still are as close as ever. Except for the all times that Adam is in hospital but even then AJ and Tess are by his side as often as they can be either in person or via technology.
Adam has grown up with a small benign brain tumour but over the years the tumour has started to become more troublesome often causing extensive hospital visits. He is quite the favourite there as he has developed close relationships with staff. Just as these young people are about to step over the threshold into their adult lives, Adam’s tumour becomes even more aggressive and ultimately serves him a life sentence.
In the final long months of his life, Adam has started to write down his story from the first beginnings of friendship with his two closest companions to his daily life in the hospital. It is this which we read giving us an intimate and warming insight into the care of patients for whom hospital is a second home. This is not only another ‘young cancer victim’ narrative but a deeply personal look at how unconditional love, support, patience and compassion can transform the unspeakable into something beautiful.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As we seek to model to our students the transformational effects of love and empathy, this is exactly the sort of book which can demonstrate this without preaching.
Highly recommended for readers from around 13 upwards.
July 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99
Nicola Morgan is a recognised expert on the teenage psyche and has already written successful and well received books. Now she turns her hand to dealing with the issue of friends and friendship.
Her engaging and conversational style will certainly appeal to the teenage readers for which this is intended but I can see it being an important resource for adults and teachers in those times of addressing this topic through the medium of personal development classes (whatever these are called in your school).
Divided into sections on; making friends, peer pressure, toxic friendships, social media, conflicts and personality types, there are quizzes and interactive exercises which would be perfect for either the individual or as discussion starters in classes and groups.
Being a teen has never been particularly easy and arguably it can be even more difficult in our contemporary society where pressures and stresses abound but a guide such as this can go a long way to helping young people examine and reflect upon their feelings and needs.
I highly recommend this for addition to your collection – perhaps several copies would be useful! – and certainly direct your staff towards it for use with those sometimes awkward or even hostile situations which can arise when friendship groups are forming.
May 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $14.99
New Zealand RRP: $16.99
I know that most folks will already know Raymie Nightingale but this paperback edition has been my ‘waiting for child pick up’ read for a few weeks so it did take me a while to get through in the short snatches. It comes as no surprise that this is another successful book for Kate DiCamillo bursting with warmth and love as well as poignancy. If you didn’t manage to catch Kate on her recent tour you certainly should put it on your bucket list as she is just a delightful, engaging and genuine speaker. Kate puts her heart into every book she writes and perhaps none more so than Raymie. The parallels between her own life and that of Raymie are open for all to see and certainly her conversations about the book confirm this.
Raymie is devastated when her father takes off with a dental hygienist. She devises a plan to get him back – or at least call her. So she enters the Little Miss Central Florida competition and upon advice from her father’s sympathetic ex-secretary takes up baton twirling as her ‘performance’. She doesn’t like the twirling lessons at all and at first she doesn’t like the other two girls with whom she is learning. Beverley is a very cynical and embittered little girl with a pushy bullying mother and Louisiana is an odd little girl living with her eccentric grandmother and in fear of being put in the state home. Despite all odds the threesome become the firmest of friends and with many interludes of comradeship of somewhat dubious nature goes on to create their own happy – or happier than before – endings.
This is a warm and inspiring story for girls who may be having some difficulties in their own lives, showing them that though life may throw curve balls, friends can bring you just the support you need to get through it all.
Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards. Find activity notes here.
Harper Collins Australia
ISBN 10: 0008132496
Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
List Price: 4.99 AUD
Girl detectives seem to be quite the popular trend of late and you will perhaps have some younger readers who want to get in on this but are not quite ready for some of the books on offer.
This new series will be just perfect for them as Dorothy Constance Mae Louise, known as Dot, is a younger girl as well. Written in diary style Dot gives the reader the low down on her situation. She’s just moved to a new house with her mum and little twins, Alf and Maisie, and of course is starting a new school. She’s pretty excited about all this but also a wee bit nervous. Not to worry, she makes two great new friends, Beans and Amy. As it happens Beans is also a fan of TV super sleuth Fred Fantastic – Ace Detective. Dot is very good at puzzles and codes and Beans is a good foil for her investigating as he is good at making gadgets.
When the teacher announces a school talent quest Amy, who is rather shy but a really good singer, is keen to perform but classmate Laura who thinks she is the superstar plans to sabotage her. Will Dot and Beans be able to help Amy overcome her nerves and thwart Laura’s sneaky plan?
This is a really cute story and already three more to come so a great little series to start off some independent readers. Girls will enjoy seeing Dot’s new bedroom become her own special place and also getting to know her family.
Lots to explore around friendship, adjusting to new situations and of course, codes, puzzles and mysteries!
Highly recommended for readers from around 7 upwards.
By the way, the author Clara Vulliamy is the daughter of Shirley Hughes!
Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Imprint: BLM Children’s USA
What’s not to love about a cute little pig who loves to read so much that he’s never made any friends? Piggy has always been so immersed in his books and the library that it is almost a disaster when he comes to the last book and realises that he is actually quite lonely.
The little cutie goes looking for something to amuse himself and spies a sweet cat reading her book. Perhaps this could be a friend? Piggy tries everything he can think of to get the little cat’s attention including some spectacular moves but nothing works. Then he figures he should try sharing the happy ending of his last book with her – and of course that works! The two become special friends who read AND play together.
The illustrations are every bit as charming as the text – as one might expect from an animator – very much in the cartoon style but with real appeal for little ones.
This is a really sweet book about forming friendships and would be perfect for little ones from around kindy age upwards.
Ford St Publishing
Author: Michelle Worthington
Illustrator: Andrew Plant
Here is a really lovely picture book about friendship, self confidence, and persistence, upcycling, overcoming anxiety and being positive.
Glitch is a twitchy little bug who lives in the dump and just loves recycling junk into useful things especially billy carts. Every year he builds a billy cart and his best friend, calm and kind June is the driver. They never win because in Glitch’s twitchiness he has usually mucked up something.
This year they have their fastest billy cart ever but in a practice run that goes awry, June’s antenna get bent. She won’t be able to drive like that but she insists that Glitch can. His nervousness almost gets the better of him but June, like a true friend, supports him and gives him just the boost of confidence he needs.
Andrew’s illustrations as always are so striking in each double page spread and Michelle’s text combines some lovely techniques like alliteration and assonance to make a really readable and rhythmic piece.
As well as all the above it’s a fabulous story that underlines that winning isn’t everything!
Highly recommended for your little readers from around 5 upwards.
I said earlier today that I’m not that across kids’ TV but this is one show I’ve watched with Miss K and we both think it is very funny. She, like other kids, because she thinks the antics of the kids and their interactions a real hoot and me, because I reckon over my years of teaching I’ve had all of those kids in my class at one time or another. I think the children’s acting is superb and poor Mrs Gonsha as she swings between kind and caring and completely frazzled is just hilarious.
So just to extend the fun, Danny Katz and Mitch Vane have transformed the episodes into these great books each containing three stories and illustrations. A lot can happen in just fifteen minutes! Read and find out now!
Triple the Trouble
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $12.99
New Zealand RRP: $14.99
Why is Debra-Jo so stressed out about a mysterious truck in the school grounds? Is it because she has to hide something small and crawly? And who on earth would imagine that Rory of all people would be put in charge of the class during a wet break? And then there’s Tamara starting a game of kiss-chasey just so she can kiss Battie? What the…?
Triple the Laughs
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $12.99
New Zealand RRP: $14.99
Atticus is always so sweet and so nerdy and also really, really smart so why is throwing away his playlunch every day? It must have something to do with those weird smelly green things his YaYa is putting in his lunchbox. Battie, being batty as usual, is running around finding superhero things to do while dressed as his imaginary hero Stretcho (that is the weirdest superpower outfit I’ve ever seen and always makes me laugh!). Then Melanie, who never does anything wrong seemingly, is suddenly ‘Germblocked’ for no apparent reason.
These playlunch sized stories are perfect for kids wanting an engaging and amusing read in short bursts. The series is now up to fifteen so if you haven’t started collecting them yet, you should. They will fly off the shelves for your readers from around 8 upwards.