Tag Archives: Friendship

Love Lie Repeat – Catherine Greer

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loveliverepeat

Penguin

9780143791225

March 5, 2019

$19.99

I’ve mentioned before that I have in recent times been somewhat disenchanted with many of the YA novels that have come my way. There have been a few exceptions. This one, debut novel and all, is an absolute corker!

Annie and her ‘island girls’ (the kind you take with you to a desert island), Ashlin and Ruby have been a threesome forever. They are bonded so closely that nothing could ever tear them apart. While their family lives may be complex in one sense with divorces, absent fathers, family secrets they lead privileged lives with money, fashion and solid support.

When Ashlin’s hitherto unknown half-brother, Trip, arrives from Canada, asked to leave his school due to some unexplained arson attacks, the girls’ previously tight bonds of friendship begin to fray in varying degrees. Annie’s burgeoning relationship with Trip seems destined to follow some kind of roller-coaster experience as she repeatedly trusts him, rejects him, reconciles with him. Ashlin’s secret sexual identity begins to reveal itself while Ruby, ignoring Annie’s obvious interest in Trip, starts throwing herself at the boy with little regard for her friend.

Into this mix of emotional angst are the girls’ usual activities of sport, singing, holidays and fashion but all of these seem to be overcast by some sinister atmosphere and more frighteningly, inexplicable random fires.

Greer has put together an intense and gripping narrative with many twists and turns and the ending is not to be missed.

Given its fairly adult themes this is not a book I would recommend for your younger teens but I have no hesitation in promoting it to senior secondary students.

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47 Degrees – Justin D’Ath

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47

Penguin Australia

9780143789079

January 8, 2019

Puffin

RRP:  $16.99

Australia has more than its fair share of natural disasters. One only has to think about the events of the last week or so with the terrible floods in North Queensland and the raging fires in Tasmania. Arguably one of the very worst of these was the Black Saturday fires in Victoria. Ten years ago the country, and indeed the world, was rocked by the news of the ferociously devastating fires in Victoria which claimed 173 lives, cost millions in damage and untold mental anguish for so many.

Justin D’Ath has drawn on his own experience (losing his home for a start) to create a narrative in which readers can immerse themselves safely while relating and empathising with those caught up in the horror. Homes, possessions, pets….family…..so much at risk and so much loss by so many.

Keelie has not lived in the district long. She and her family re-located from New Zealand and are really still finding their way in their new community and environs. Her dad has done all the right things to safeguard their home but when Mum and little brother have to go to Melbourne on a medical emergency, Keelie is not feeling confident with Dad’s plans. She is quite naturally worried about their home and their safety but her horse is her biggest concern immediately.

When the worst happens and the winds change and the roaring dragon of fire encroaches, Keelie and her dad plus dogs must quickly abandon their home for safety.

This is a gripping tale of courage, friendship, compassion and loss to which young readers will readily connect. We all hope and pray to avoid such terrible and ravaging events but the knowledge that so many are ready to step up and take care of those who are at risk is a reassuring prospect. As Australians I believe we are particularly good at this. We may be offhand and blasé about much but when the worst happens, we rally and support and fight back.

What a fantastic read this is! I highly recommend it to you for readers from around ten years upwards.

 

*In memory of those who lost their lives and those who fought on to save those they could*

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The Whispers – Greg Howard

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Penguin

9780241367087

January 22, 2019

Puffin

$14.99

 

Riley has not been coping so well since his mother disappeared. Neither his father nor his brother seems as concerned as he is. Even his much loved grandparents appear to be disengaged from his urgency to solve the mystery. His seemingly never-ending meetings with the police going over and over the events of the last day he saw his mother are frustrating and useless.

When Riley recalls the legend of the Whispers, mysterious creatures who inhabit the woods near his house and rumoured to grant wishes, he determines to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve his dearest desire.

He engages assistance both intentionally and inadvertently from his best friend and his ‘crush’ and the resulting events are both filled with humour and poignancy.

Howard has produced a narrative which is in turn gripping, powerful, sorrowful and joyous. At times I found it difficult to continue as the clues unravelled to the conclusion – too close for comfort really – so I would be cautious about to whom I would give this book to read. That being said, it is masterfully and sensitively written and perfectly suited to able middle school readers from around 12 years upwards.

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Provence (The Girl, the Dog and the Writer, Book 2) – Katrina Nannestad

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provence

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780733338182

ISBN 10: 0733338186

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

October 2018

RRP: 16.99 AUD

Young Freja, sensitive and intelligent, along with the hairy hound Finnegan and eccentric crime writer Tobby have left Rome to go to the picturesque village of Claviers in Provence, where it just happens their beautiful friend Vivi has also moved to further her pastry-making career.

Freja discovers that not only can she make friends of the grown-up variety but that she can also have the happy companionship of other children – precocious little Pippin, the twins Cossette and Edith and Christophe, the perpetually hungry would-be priest.  Altogether it is an idyllic time, although Freja still misses her mother Clementine so much, until that is a spate of nasty crimes begins to cause grief for many of the villagers.  As Freja determines to uncover the villain of the piece, she not only longs to see her mother but also begins to seriously wonder about her relationship to Tobby. Is her uncle? Could he be her father? It is all quite a muddle and though there are some clues (as Freja perceives them) not quite enough to draw a conclusion.

I just love this series. It is so fresh and original and feel-good. Of course visiting such beautiful places vicariously is also a plus! But reading these reminds me of my favourite chai from my lovely coffee shop. First there is the delicious light froth, both sweet and spicy simultaneously followed by the warmth of the milk, satisfying and leaving one with a feeling of well-being. The stories are funny and often ridiculous with Tobby’s antics but permeating them is the wonder of love, friendship, trust, discovery and happiness.

No wonder the first was a best-seller! Readers will eagerly pounce on this one as well and will all, as I will, be waiting for the next episode in Lucerne, where we will learn more about Clementine’s illness and perhaps the kinship between Freja, her mother and Tobby.

In the meantime I highly recommend a sojourn in beautiful Provence for readers from around eight years upwards.

Pippa’s Island #5: Puppy Pandemonium – Belinda Murrell

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pippa

Penguin Random House

9780143793267

December 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

RRP: $14.99

The many young fans who have embraced this series with much enthusiasm will be delighted with the latest – and it’s just in time for Christmas too!

It’s been almost a year since Pippa and her mum, Jenna, and brother and sister – Harry and Bella – relocated from London to Kirra Island and their Beach Shack Café has become an established meeting place for many island regulars. Slowly their apartment above the café has been taking shape and they will be able to move out of their cramped caravan, unpack forgotten treasures from their old life and really begin their new one.

Not surprisingly money has been tight with every spare cent going to the apartment’s refurbishment and Pippa has been feeling some twinges of envy as she observes her Sassy Sister friends with their pretty swimsuits, bikes and lovely homes. When the local surf shop puts some super cute bikinis on sale Pippa is determined to buy one and comes up with her best plan ever. Pippa’s Perfect Pooch Pampering is born and soon Pippa has as many dog walking/caring jobs as she can handle – and more! Lucky she has such a great group of friends to help out and a lot of kind customers.

There is something completely joyous about these stories. Each resonates with themes of friendship, kindness, positivity and simple pleasures. No wonder they have been such a hit with readers. Let’s hope we see many more in the series!

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

The Adventures of Catvinkle – Elliot Perlman

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catvinkle

Penguin Random House

9780143786368

October 1, 2018

Puffin

RRP $19.99

 

Well regarded author of adult books Elliot Perlman has ably proven that he can turn his hand just as easily to writing for children with this first book for younger readers. It is delightfully whimsical and carries a literary flavour of its Amsterdam setting within its text with an enviable ease (very reminiscent of Annie M. G. Schmidt’s beautiful classics).

 

Catvinkle is a much pampered only pet of a charming barber in Amsterdam. She is exceedingly beautiful and certainly talented in some ways but also very definitely selfish and rather casual with the truth. When her owner Mr Sabatini brings home a rather forlorn and neglected Dalmation named Ula, Catvinkle is extremely unimpressed to say the least. An intruder into her cosy parlour and water bowl and a dog to boot is the last thing with which she wants to contend. It will completely ruin her social standing in Kittens Anonymous for one thing!

 

Ula’s sweet nature and compliant personality win Catvinkle over slowly (of course her delicious musky smell which acts intoxicatingly on the cat helps) but it also endears her to others as she breaks down barriers between not only cats and dogs but dogs and dogs!

 

The subtle themes of anti-racism, anti-bullying, acceptance, tolerance, friendship and loyalty are delivered in a wonderfully funny story where cats who baby-shoe dance, fly with tail propellers and llamas who play backgammon are quite the norm.

 

Readers from around eight years upwards will delight in this magical story of animals whose lives seem to mirror those of humans.

 

 

 

Maya & Cat – Caroline Magerl

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maya

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781921977282
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
Throughout our college and certainly in my library at present we are having a great focus on kindness and empathy. With my little people I am using a range of picture books which offer this theme that also feature animals as this meshes with their classroom unit.

Author/illustrator Caroline Magerl’s new picture book, launched this week, is a perfect fit for this very unit with its themes of resilience and friendship along with the very essence of kindness.

Maya follows her empathic instincts to coax Cat down from on high and thereafter tries to find her rightful home. When she does so, her sadness at leaving Cat with her own family is assuaged by an unexpected surprise, one which fills her with absolute delight.

This text features some absolutely scrumptious figurative language which would be inspirational for encouraging children to attempt their own evocative writing.

“On a roof, wet as a seal, grey as a puddle, Cat was rumbling a rumbly purr.” 

The stunning artwork perfectly captures the mood of the text and the endpapers are just sensational! (My kidlets all know about my predilection for gorgeous endpapers!)

If you are searching for more wonderful books that will assist with growing empathy in children, this will make a super addition to your collection.

I highly recommend it to you for readers from around Prep upwards.

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.

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

Natural Born Loser – Oliver Phommavanh

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loser

Penguin Random House

9780143505730

July 30, 2018

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $16.99

I just have to say straight up – it was really great to read a truly ‘feel good’ book. This is a perfect read-aloud for kids in around Year 3-6 to generate some inspiration and discussion on school cultures in a humorous but meaningful way.

Raymond is, in his own mind, a bit of a loser. He’s a follower not a leader, he’s not the smartest in his class, he can’t even score a goal in soccer but he does care about his school. He cares that the school his mum also went to has degenerated into a dodgy ‘joke’ that everyone including his almost perfect cousin speak of with scorn. When the school gets a new principal (after several who left in despair in rapid succession) there might be some hope. Mr Humble wants to reinstate prefects – not captains but a team who will work together for the school. Raymond has no confidence in his own chances but goes along with his friend Zain, super soccer star, for an interview with the principal and his simple comment that he wants the school to be better and like it was when his mum went there impresses Mr Humble enough to include him in the team.

A team of four with very divergent personalities and skills has a rocky start but it is Raymond’s good sense and ability to communicate honestly that begins to make a difference. Of course, his bold statement that air conditioning for the lower classrooms (which will cost $20 000!) at the first prefects’ assembly could possibly have been his ruin.  However, Raymond’s hitherto unsuspected ability to rally people together even the die-hard bullies of the school proves that he is really a leader not a loser.

The themes of friendship, teamwork, compassion, understanding and loyalty run through this narrative which happily has a great outcome. If you are looking to give your kids a bit of a pep up for this second half of the year this would be the perfect choice.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Surf Riders Club 2: Bronte’s Big Sister Problem – Mary Van Reyk

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surf

Hachette Australia

FEB 27, 2018 | 9780734417923 | RRP $12.99

 

As I predicted the first in this series has been very popular in our library – after all we are in the beautiful Sunshine Coast and surfing is a prime pastime! So I have no doubt at all that this second in the series will be just as eagerly pounced upon by our girls.

While the first book centred on Ava’s move to her new community this one moves focus to another member of the Surf Riders Club, Bronte. The club is going strongly with the girls all continuing to help each other improve their surfing skills and encouraging one another in all efforts. They are very excited about their upcoming first competition but Bronte is having some difficulties. Ever since her older brother Oscar went away to uni the dynamic between Bronte and her older sister Carrie has changed – and not for the better.

Carrie no longer wants to share in Bronte’s interests but instead wants, even insists that Bronte should tag along with her and ignore the ‘stupid’ Surf Riders Club. Bronte faces real dilemmas as Carrie urges her to ‘cover up’ to their parents – because ‘sisters stick together’.  Bronte has to really wrestle with her conscience as well have the confidence to stand up for herself and her friends and risk losing her sister’s trust.

The surf competition is pretty intense and the girls do themselves proud.  Even more importantly as Carrie’s importunate and deceitful behaviour unravels in front of everybody including their parents the sisterly relationship begins to heal and Bronte gains a deeper understanding of both her sister and her own need to be true to herself.

Another great read for young girls from around ten years upwards. This is exciting and dramatic and touches on many issues with which tweens can easily relate.

Highly recommended for girls – around Year 4 to Year 7.