Boy 87

Author – Ele Fountain36204556

Age – 10 +

Shif and his best friend Bini are smart. Smart enough to be put up a class in school. Bini wants to be a doctor and Shif an engineer. They enjoy maths and chess and trying to outdo each other in everything. Life is good.

But life around them is changing. Bini suddenly stops coming to school. Government soldiers are appearing more often in their town, looking for children avoiding compulsory military service. Shif’s mum tells him the truth about his father, who he always thought was dead. The unthinkable happens and Shif and Bini are arrested.

The friends soon see another side of life in their country. One of soldiers, cells, mistreatment and force. Will they ever achieve their mother’s dreams of escaping their corrupt country for England?

The cover does not do this book justice. Boy 87 is set in an un-named Middle Eastern Country, where many people are doing what they can just to survive, and/or planning their escape. They can’t trust anyone, always watching out for soldiers, slave traders or those who wish to trick them out of their hard-earned savings to enable fleeing from their homeland. A great read to kick off class discussion about the courageousness of refugees in our world.

(Refugee, Middle East, Courage, Conscription, Military Service, Family, Friendship)

 

 

 

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The List of Real Things

Author – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald36562488

Age – 10+

Grace and her little sister Bee became orphans 5 years ago, losing their mother to an illness and their father two days later. Their sun-loving, travelling Uncle Freddy returned immediately to become their guardian. Soon after their grandfather moved in too.

Five years on and they’ve done ok. Uncle Freddy forgets to pay the bills sometimes and housework isn’t his top priority, but the girls feel loved and cared for. If only they could talk about the not-to-be-mentioned subject. The loss of their parents and in turn, their grief.

Now Grace is older, she’s become embarrassed by her little sister’s quirkyness and insistence on imaginary things being real. According to Bee, their parents are still around, their dog talks to her, and there is a magical hotel at the top of tall cliffs nearby.

When Grace wants to be part of the ‘top group’ at school, she fears Bee will spoil it for her, and she does everything she can to prevent that – with terrible consequences.

Another wonderful story by this author. This is a tale of a blended family all dealing with a great loss all in their own way, and a special little girl who sees things differently. Beautiful.

(School, Popularity, Blended Family, Family, Grief, Love)

Sticking with Pigs

Author – Mary-anne Scott39299858

Age – 10+

Wolf (Wolfgang – named after Amadeus by his musician mum) hasn’t been very focused lately. His marks at school have declined and he’s dropped out of his sports and activities. Wolf’s worried about his brother Davey. Davey has been diagnosed with the rare Addison’s disease, requiring injections, hospital visits and rest.

When Wolf gets the chance to go hunting with an experienced uncle, his parents are dubious, but with Davey’s help he soon earns the right (and fitness) to go.

Excited, Wolf can’t wait to get out there among the action of a pig-hunt. He’s not disappointed, but by the end of his adventure he’s been scared, exhausted, embarrassed, angry, thrilled, and just plain terrified. It wasn’t what he expected and just about everything that can go wrong – does.

I loved the character of Wolf. He was very believable as he tried to shake the ‘townie’ label, impress a girl and his uncle, all with the thought of Davey stuck at home and unable to experience what he was doing. This story had no ‘boring bits’ as Wolf came across one challenge after another. Great kiwi lingo and reluctant reader heaven.

(Hunting, Siblings, Brothers, Courage, Pig, Boar, Tramping, Family)

My Brigadista Year

Author – Katherine PatersonMy Brigadista Year
Age – 9+

Lora lives in Havana, Cuba, and she has just shocked her parents into tears and anger. It is 1961 and Lori wants to join Fidel Castro’s army of teachers to go and live in the rural areas to teach literacy. She will become a Brigadista.

Lora is excited to be joining 1000’s of others in the quest to make Cuba a illiteracy free nation. She is to live with a rural family and after working alongside them in their fields each day, she is to teach them at night. At first she has to overcome the men’s feeling of losing their status in their homes, but when they realise their children and wives will be able to read and write and they not, they soon join in the lessons at night.

All is going well until they learn of armed rebels in the jungles around them. Brigadistas are their target. Should she go home?

This was a simple story about the 250,000 volunteers who left their homes of comfort to help their fellow citizens to read and write. 100,000 were between the ages of 10 and 19. The rear of the book has a timeline of Cuban history which taught me much about this nation.

The Red Ribbon

Author – Lucy Adlington35681404

Age – 12+

Ella is a designer. She loves clothes and fashion, after being taught everything she knows by her no-nonsense but loving grandmother. She is hurrying to the nearby Upper Tailoring Studio who are looking for a new seamstress.

But this is no normal sewing shop. There is no pay, no breaks, and an armed guard by the door who can shoot you at any disturbance. This is Birchwood – better known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Ella makes a friend at the Studio in funny, book-loving Rose whose mother is a Countess. Together the girls bond over their sewing skills as they work for the camp commandant’s wife and female guards. They learn to barter, steal, and fight to keep themselves alive while Rose tells stories and they both dream of opening a dress shop together – the hope helping to keep them going.

A hidden red ribbon, although causing a vicious beating, helps keep that dream alive, even when they’re separated.

When a human has hope, it can keep them alive, filling their thoughts with wonderful things as they are starved, beaten, humiliated, terrified and shocked to their core. The Upper Tailoring Studio was real at Auschwitz and this story shares another side of this terrible time in history.

Truthers

Author – Geoffrey Girard28486039

Age – 14+

Katie Wallace’s dad isn’t much of a dad these days. As she has grown she has watched him get high, drunk and unconscious. When official looking people arrive on her doorstep she’s not surprised.

But it’s not what she expected. Her dad has been hospitalised for random threats against the vice president and he’s telling lies about the government. She is swept quickly into foster care.

When she finally gets to see her dad he is heavily drugged in a guarded hospital room. But he fights through his haze to tell her something. Something she never expected and cannot ignore. This is where her fight to free her father begins.

This novel has received some negative feedback because of its main topic – 9/11 conspiracy theories. The people who believe these theories and/or others call themselves Truthers. I for one, much enjoyed the story and the way it was written. Although in third person I was reading other character’s point of view without knowing who they were yet. Very intriguing! The author specifically states he means no disrespect to anyone with this novel and I appreciated that. I liked the characters who drew me in and had me wondering who telling the truth. Great read.

(Twin Towers, Conspiracy, 9/11, Lies, Truth, Mental Illness, PTSD, Soldier, Government, Mystery, Murder, Family, Trust)

Anzac Animals

Author – Maria Gill39668161
Illustrator – Marco Ivancic
Age – 7+

Hundreds of thousands of animals were part of WWI and WWII. Horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, a tortoise, donkeys and pigeons all helped with the war effort, either with carrying goods and the injured, sending messages, finding the injured, boosting morale or even saving thousands of lives.

Anzac Animals is a celebration of all those animals with 20 of them showcased and displayed under sections WWI and WWII. Helpful extras to aid understanding of the information include easy-to-read fact boxes on each page, timelines for both wars with the animals as their focus, maps of Europe showing the conflict directions and separate sections on veterinary care and animal welfare, awards, and a glossary to pull everything together.

Creative Non-Fiction. Stunning full colour illustrations and captivating text, not only animal lovers will enjoy this one!