The Raven Boys

Author – Maggie Stiefvater

Age – 12+

Blue lives in a house full of psychics, her mother being one of them. Blue doesn’t share her mother’s gifts but she has learnt early that she enhances other’s gifts, just by being in the room.

When she receives a warning that she will kill her true love with a kiss, she is intrigued but saddened at the same time. How can this be, and how is it fair? She’s never had a boyfriend, preferring to keep to herself and her family – especially avoiding the rich, loud, confident boys who attend the local private school. They are known as Raven Boys.

Despite the warning and her dislike of the rich kids, she is soon caught up with a group of them after getting to know a boy called Adam – a local trailer-park resident who works three jobs just to attend the school.

Adam’s friends – Roman (seeming angry and devastated at the same time), Noah (quiet and trusting) and his best friend Gansey (rich, handsome, driven), soon become her friends. Gansey is the leader, and he leads them on a quest to find a buried Welsh King’s bones, thought to be buried on an invisible, spiritual ley line. But someone else is looking too. Someone else is determined to receive the power the King will release when found.

(Told in third person but multiple viewpoints, the reader gets to know the characters well. The search for the elusive ley-line brings these unlikely characters together while weaving being the supernatural and realism. 1st in a series) 

(Magic, Spiritual, Secrets, Ley line, Quest, Determination, Abuse, Bully, Family, Friendship)

We’re All Wonders

Author/Illustrator – R J PalacioWe're All Wonders

Picture Book

This little boy knows he’s ‘no ordinary kid’. His face isn’t the same as the other children and sometimes he’s bullied for it. But his parents tell him he’s a wonder. He knows that the world is made up of all different kinds of people, even those that look different.

Maybe someone will see that and accept him for how he is too? A wonder.

Based on the mega-hit Wonder, this picture book tells the story in a simpler format.

(Bullies, Acceptance, Tolerance, Diversity, Difference, Self esteem)



Jack Scratch

Author/Illustrator – Craig Phillips           
Age – 8+

Jack Scratch is a young cat eager for adventure. Before he knows it he is caught up in a treasure hunt with his Uncle Silver and a famous ex-mariner Captain Catnip.

But right on their tails is a deadly pirate and his crew. Captain Catnip has stolen half of their treasure map and they are determined to get it and the treasure by any means.

Sunken treasure, long-lost love, a savvy ship’s cook and a crazy crew of evil pirates; this new, lushly illustrated Kiwi graphic novel is part Pirates of the Caribbean, part The Goonies (80’s movie), and a whole lot of adventure!

(Graphic Novel. Kiwi Author, New Zealand Author/Illustrator, Pirates, Cats)

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)

The Yark

Author – Bertrand Santini36820770

Illustrator – Laurent Gapaillard

Age – 8+ (Not for the squeamish or gentle)

The Yark loves to eat children. He loves the crunch of their finger bones, the sweetness of their livers and their marshmallow-flavoured brains. He is a Monster!

But this monster has a weakness – a weak stomach. He can only eat and enjoy good children. Nice children. Children who are innocent, lovely, thoughtful and kind. They used to be everywhere, but these days they are harder to find. Children of today are often bullies, spoiled, teasing, sneering, complaining, boasting or just plain awful. These types of children give the Snark a terrible stomach ache, diarrhea and a LOT of gas.

Starving and at his wits end, the Yark wracks his brains as to where he’d find good children. When all is lost he meets a young girl called Charlotte who turns his world upside down.

A simple but clever tale, The Yark is not for young children or those prone to nightmares. The Yark is truly a terrible monster, but underneath he may just have a soft spot.


Sing, Unburied, Sing

Author – Jesmyn WardSing Unburied Sing

Age – 15+

Jojo is 13 and lives with his grandparents, his drug addicted mother and his toddler sister, Kayla. Jojo’s father Michael is in prison for ‘cooking’ drug offences, so as Jojo’s grown, he has looked up to his steady, dependable, hardworking Pop on how to be a man.

Life is hard in their Deep South household, with Mam (Jojo’s grandmother) dying of cancer, his mother Leonie not being the mothering kind, and little Kayla dependent on him. Leonie is black, his father is white, and his father’s parents have never had anything to do with them.

When Leonie gets news that Jojo’s father has finished his sentence, she packs the kids in the car with her equally drug addicted friend Misty and they head to Parchment Farm – the state prison, to pick him up.

Jojo has heard tales of Parchment from his Pop. Tales of violence, death, working drudgery and a 12 year old boy called Richie. But Pop never finishes Richie’s story. It’s not until after their stressful, hot, uncomfortable journey to Parchment and back that Jojo learns the truth.

This is a teen/adult crossover, and winner of the US National Book Award 2017. The language is lyrical, almost literary, but it’s a gripping read about a black family in the deep south, set just after Hurricane Katrina. Prejudice and racism are still ruling and ruining lives, as families do their best to survive.

(Mississippi, Award Winner, Prejudice, Racism, Family, Neglect, Road Trip)

The Explorer

Author – Katherine Rundell35838089

Age – 7+

Fred, Con, Lila and her 5 yr old brother Max are all in a small plane together when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. They crash into the Amazon Jungle. Frightened but alive, they have to get to know each other and learn to work together.

They are quickly fascinated by the green world around them, teeming with birds, colour and wildlife, but they know they have to try and get home. On the way, they discover things they never imagined they would find on the journey, along with discoveries about themselves – courage, friendship and determination, and then finally a pact between them to keep their secret.

Pure adventure, The Explorer is yet another wonderful tale by award winning Katherine Rundell. Fans of Hatchet and Bear Gryls will love this tale of survival, learning to fish at night, catch tarantulas to cook, and making snares among the many lessons learnt by the characters.

(Jungle, Amazon, Courage, Siblings, Plane Crash, Secret, Environment, Friendship, Family)

Are we there yet?

Author /  Illustrator – Dan Santat30335562

Age – 6+

We all know these words either as grandparent, parent or child – spoken in frustration or boredom or both on a long road trip. This story has a boy and his parents on the way to grandma’s birthday and it seems like it’s taking forever. Along the way something happens. Is time dragging by or is it racing backwards?

Cowboys, pirates, knights, camels and… dinosaurs? And then just as quickly as their trip back in time, they are suddenly in the future. 2059. Are they late for grandma’s birthday?

Part picture book, part graphic novel, part past, part future – Are we there yet has tipped the picture book concept on its head. Fantastic!

Animal Inn (1) – A Furry Fiasco


Authors – Paul Dubois Jacobs/Jennifer Swender

Illustrator – Stephanie Laberis

Age – 6+

Animal Inn is where you take your pet when you go on holiday. The Tyler family of Mum, Dad, Jake, Ethan and 5 year old Cassie will welcome any animal to share their home with Leopold the Macaw (not to be confused for the Toucan thank you very much), Dash the Tibetan Terrier, Cat brothers Shadow and Whiskers, Coco the chocolate lab and last but by no means least, Fuzzy and Furry – Houdini-like Gerbils.

In each story, a different animal tells a tale. Leopold kicks off the series with a mystery to solve. A new animal is coming to stay, but what could it be? The fire chief has been to check out its new home in the basement and Cassie is asking when the wizard is coming?

Accompanied by black and white illustrations, young animal lovers will love this new series.

(Animals, Family, Series, Mystery)

Timmy Failure (5)

28686922Author – Stephan Pastis

Age – 7+

Timmy is in disguise at the start of this book. His mum has banned him from his detective business – shut it down – dead.

What’s even worse is his weird cousins Merry and Larry have come to stay, leaving him sleeping on the floor between their beds in his room.

Mum decides that since Timmy isn’t wasting his time being a detective he will have so much more time on his hands, signing him up for piano lessons and taking him to an orthodontist – neither of which go well.

But through all these obstacles, a teacher strike (leading to an extended school year into his summer holidays!), Timmy finds himself a new headquarters, a way to increase business, and a crime that must be solved. His best friend Rollo Tookus has gone missing. Can he solve his most important crime to date?

Bus Stop Baby


Author – Fleur Hitchcock

Age – 11+

Amy and Eden are on their way home one night when Amy hears a strange sound. She backtracks to find it and discovers a tiny day-old baby in a cardboard box in the bus stop. Shocked, she takes her home and shows her dad who calls the police. Who would desert their new born baby?

Thoughts of the baby fill Amy’s head in the coming days as well as trying to figure out if her best friend Isobel stole her new purse from school.
In the meantime, Amy’s grandmother (called Zelda by her granddaughters) has decided to tidy up all her old photos etc and create a bucket list, and she wants Amy to help her with it.

During their time together they discuss the baby Amy found and begin looking for the mother. They talk about why she might have left the baby – her reasons, her circumstances. Maybe she had no other choice?

With her anger at the mother of the abandoned baby, her confusion about her best friend and Zelda acting strangely, Amy has has a lot to deal with, but after a long ago secret is revealed, Amy comes to terms with issues about her own mother.

Great story for young teens.

(Abandonment, Foundling, Secret, School, Friendship)

Dark (Scared of)

(PB = picture book section)                  (K) = Which letter book can be found under)              

Title                                                                               Author / Illustrator

The Almost fearless Hamilton Squidlegger      PB (E) Timothy Ering

The Dark                                                                       PB (S) Lemony Snicket

Phoebe and the Night Creatures                           PB (H) Jenny Hessell / Donovan Bixley