Tag Archives: Identity

100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze – Clayton Zane Comber

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Harper Collins Australia

June 2021

  • ISBN: 9781460759455
  • ISBN 10: 1460759451
  • Imprint: HarperCollins AU
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD
  • Age: From 14 years

Believe me when I tell you that you will fall in love with Xander, and be sad to leave him at the end of this beautiful feel-good coming-of-age novel.

Xander loves to make lists and #1 on his list of People I Love Most in the World is his Nanna, who has lived with him and his mum since Xander’s dad died. Nanna has been Xander’s ally, confidante, support team and his very best friend and now that she has stage 4 cancer, Xander is determined to do whatever it takes to save her. Nanna wants him to make a list of 100 remarkable feats that he will hope to achieve by the end of the school year. It’s going to be a very tricky mission especially with feats like:

#2 Make a friend

#10 Kiss a girl (preferably Ally Collins)

#28 Go to a party

#58 Get a job (any job)

#87 Learn to keep secrets

#100 Save Nanna

As we read Xander’s list we get a very clear insight into his quirky personality and a poignant understanding of why his Nanna has encouraged him to both create and fulfil the remarkable feats. For someone who knows her time is short ,and who has been this beautiful boy’s stalwart support, the greatest gift she can give him is the confidence and skills to step out on his own.

When Xander’s 100 remarkable feats list unintentionally becomes a matter of public record, he is surprised to find that he has help from unexpected quarters and many of his feats are accomplished almost before he realises. Xander’s journey into friendships, new situations and stepping well outside his very narrow comfort zone is both hilarious and moving, with one of the most genuinely likeable cast of characters I have encountered in a long time.

I will certainly be giving it my best and biggest promotion at our final ChocLit meeting for this term during the coming week and I highly recommend it for your readers from around Year 7 upwards. The themes of grief/loss, resilience, identity, belonging, mental health in particular will resonate with many teens, and for your classroom program you will find the teaching guide a great resource.

The Fire Never Goes Out: a memoir in pictures – Noelle Stevenson

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Harper Collins Australia

April 2020

  • ISBN: 9780062278272
  • ISBN 10: 0062278274
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – US
  • List Price: 34.99 AUD

I have to be quite frank here. I’d never heard of Noelle nor her best-selling graphic novel Nimona which as attracted a legion fans around the world. My bad :'(.

This is an insight into Noelle’s life between teen and now with the highs and lows of her personal and professional life. Her struggle, punctuated with mental health issues, body image anxiety, sexuality, vulnerability and failed relationships over a period of eight years is both poignant and joyful.

A combination of mini-essays (mostly a short recap of each year she composed in New Year’s Eve relfections) along with mini-comics, cartoons and photographs this is a very beautiful revelation for readers into the ‘making’ of one hailed as a creative genius.

Coincidentally I have been searching out relevant, contemporary and inspirational memoirs and biographies for my library collection (to oust the dreary, dated and totally unappealing ones that took up valuable shelf real estate!) and this is going to be such a beautiful addition to that newly rejuvenated collection.

As there are some potentially contentious themes I would suggest this for your middle to senior secondary students and I highly recommend it for astute and sensitive readers from around 14 years upwards.

When Rain Turns to Snow – Jane Godwin

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Hachette Australia

JUN 30, 2020 | 9780734420053 | RRP $16.99

If you are looking for something new in your ‘identity’ collection this beautiful coming-of-age narrative will be a perfect fit.

The recent months have been a revelation in how some humans handle a crisis situation and for teens this can be a real challenge. Lissa is no different. Home alone one afternoon a strange boy turns up on her doorstep with a small baby in his arms. Reed has recently found out that he’s adopted and believes that Lissa’s mother might also be his but more than that, his older and troubled brother has handed over the baby, his tiny daughter, for safekeeping. Being on the run is hard enough but having a tiny human to care for makes it almost impossible. Lissa finds herself caught up in Reed’s dilemma while, at the same time, trying to help her older brother who has been blamed for a social media debacle with huge ramifications.

In the process of trying to unravel Reed’s history as well as helping him care for tiny Mercy, Lissa uncovers a secret about her own birth which causes her real anguish and questioning around her own identity.

Jane Godwin has written a beautiful story with compelling characters for whom the reader really feels as they navigate their various ways through their complex predicaments. This is a story of inner strength, family solidarity and an expression of the true meaning of family – it’s not about blood, it is in fact about love.

I highly recommend this for your readers from around 12 years upwards. I can’t wait to ‘book talk’ it tomorrow to my student book group.

Jump – Andrew Plant

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Jump HB Cov PRINT.indd

Ford St Publishing

March 2020

ISBN: 9781925804461

RRP: $16.99

Andrew’s books are always such a joy and this one is no exception. For everyone who has felt as though they didn’t ‘quite fit’ in with everyone else here is the entree to embracing that difference.

Stumpy is not like the other Quigs. While they  are all adept at jumping, Stumpy just can’t manage it – no matter how hard he tries. He is particularly afraid of the wide open spaces. Naturally his peers take great delight in pointing out his perceived shortcomings and continually mock him for those.

But Stumpy’s determination to succeed is his saving because his attempts to jump lead him to a marvellous discovery about himself. Having raised a child who is ‘different’ and my own personal joy and pride in her struggle to capitalise on her strengths whilst overcoming her difficulties, this book resonates with me largely. And for many of us in a teaching situation we will have children like these in our care who are likewise – and this provides them with a validation that their individual differences are more than just okay – they are to be embraced.

If you have little readers with the usual differences in abilities this is a perfect book to share and from which many rich and valuable discussions will evolve. Both text and illustrations are superb – as one has come to expect from this talented creator.

Highly recommended for readers from around Prep upwards.

You will find the teaching notes particularly useful.

 

Click to access Jump-Teachers-Notes.pdf