See, I associate Charlie Higson’s name with Young Bond, thrilling spy adventures, evil villains – you know the sort of thing so this absolutely hilarious book took me completely by surprise.
Stan is the only child of pretty ordinary parents and lives in a pretty ordinary suburban house and, in fact, lives a pretty ordinary life. He’s not what you would call an extrovert – or confident – or actually, not very interesting and certainly not brave, but he is a nice kid. So when he is invited to go with a school friend, Felix and his family on a holiday to Italy, he finds himself packed and at the airport with Felix’ uncle and aunt, whom he’s never met, going to a foreign country to stay with an entire villa full of strangers with only Felix – and a very tenuous friendship to bolster himself.
Stan’s list of things that could go wrong on the holiday is even funnier than the one his mum gives him ‘in case of emergency’ and readers will be continually amused throughout as Stan’s lists are added to – but also subtracted from – as he encounters new experiences from food to girls, from moody or just downright batty adults to haughty Italians.
While he is away Stan’s dad takes ill, which causes him great anxiety, but at the same time, as he observes the interactions of the families in the villa with acute perception, he develops a greater understanding of what he’s always taken to be his father’s dissatisfaction with his only son. As the holiday progresses and Stan’s small steps towards confidence increase, so does his insight into what family means and that sometimes, being anxious is OK and being even just a little brave can take you a long way.
I find it quite difficult at times to find humorous novels that will be enjoyed by lower secondary as much as primary children but I think this one might just fit the bill. I’m certainly going to give it a red-hot go with some of my Year 7s – especially some of the more reluctant readers.
Highly recommended for kiddos from around 10 years upwards – especially those who like a good laugh-out-loud read.
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.
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.
In another break-through move in her mission to change the global body-hating plague that is such a curse of modern life, Taryn Brumfitt has turned her sights to empowering children to be happy and confident in themselves – inside and out.
The Embrace Kids documentary, follow up to the hugely successful Embrace film, is underway with its aim to educate our youngsters to be positive, self-confident and resistant to the insidious pressures of the media and screens.
Brumfitt’s work in this ground-breaking crusade has garnered her accolades around the world as she continues to campaign vigorously for a shift in the body image mentality that besets so many with self-loathing, doubt and dissatisfaction.
A cast of lively children of all shapes and sizes, colour and culture happily charge through the book accompanied by the positive messages that embody this movement: my body is unique, everybody’s different…listen to your strong heartbeat… my beauty is inside me, my body is my kindness…embrace your body.
Taryn’s determination to ‘inspire everyBODY to celebrate their body, regardless of size, colour, ethnicity, gender or ability’ is something to which we should all aspire as we grow our children to become happy and confident adults.
Current studies suggest that body image is the #1 issue affecting our children and while many of us have recognised this in our tweens and teens for a long time, the age at which this begins is creeping lower and lower. Many of us will know even little Prep children who are already stressed out in this regard.
With no hesitation I highly recommend this book to you – be it for your library, classroom or home – as its powerful message is badly needed. Check out the Embrace Kids site to learn more.