Author – Jess Butterworth
Age – 9+
Ruby knows there is something wrong as soon as she gets home one night. But she never imagined the changes that are about to happen in her life.
Within hours she is escaping Australia and travelling to India with her father, grandmother, family dog and a smuggled baby kangaroo.
How can they do this to her? She is angry at her father for making this choice for her, but soon learns to love the mountain they are to live on. She makes a friend, photographs the wildlife and helps refurbish a run-down hotel with her family.
But strange things are happening on the mountain, and the local townspeople claim that it is haunted by an angry goddess. Will anyone ever want to work in their hotel, let alone guests come to stay?
Ruby becomes protective of the mountain, particularly the leopards that prowl the undergrowth. When she sees men behaving suspiciously she wants to know what’s going on.
Much of this story was written based on the author’s own experiences as a child in India. Ruby is a well-drawn character still dealing with the loss of her mother in a car accident, which has triggered other fears she must overcome. Her friend Praveen gives a young, girl-boy friendship and an environmental theme builds around the endangered leopards.
(Leopards, Endangered animals, India, Grief, Friendship, Courage, Family, Poaching)
Author – Tim Miller
Age – 6+
Ben Dugan is excited when something green crash lands in his back yard the day before they are moving house. It’s a creature from outer space that has farted so hard, it left its planet and landed on Earth.
It eats everything Ben can think of to make it ‘blast’ off again, but no matter how many cabbages, baked beans or eggs it eats, it cannot get enough gas. Ben doesn’t want to leave it behind on its own, so takes it with him to their new house at Stone Beach.
It’s good that the creature is invisible to anyone but Ben, except for the fact that every time it blows off, Ben is blamed.
In No. 2 in this series, Ben goes to his new school and as he tries to make friends, they all make fun of him for the smell that comes with him.
Great for any reluctant readers who love toilet humour.
(Alien, Fart, Trumpet, Blow-off, New School, Invisible, Humour, Funny, Series)
Author – Mark Lowery
Age – 10+
Martin is taking his younger brother on a journey, by train, foot, taxi – in fact any way possible, as long as they get there before dusk. The only problem is that they have crept out of the house before their parents have woken, taken something precious from the house and left Martin’s cellphone behind – on purpose.
Martin knows there will be challenges. Charlie is excitable, intelligent, unpredictable and according to Martin, his best friend. It’s a long way and he has to look out for Charlie even more than usual. He feels under scrutiny from train conductors, police on platforms and other passengers. Do they know they shouldn’t really be there?
Interspersed between their journey chapters, are chapters about the previous summer in Cornwall and the dolphin they saw that captivated Charlie’s heart. But is the dolphin the real reason for their travels back there?
(Dolphin, Road trip, Train trip, Travel, Spectrum, Secret, Friendship, Siblings, Family, Poetry)
Author – David Hill
Age – 10+
Two families – one maori, one Scottish (and new to New Zealand), come together in this novel. They learn about one another, from hearing the strange bagpipes for the first time, to learning about land and how sacred it is.
Lifelong bonds develop and family stories between the two cultures are soon inextricably woven together down through the generations with tales of war, hardship, friendship and belonging. The land they live on and the river that runs through it, is as much a part of them and their shared history, as family members and neighbours.
This novel is separated into sections across these generations, with different members from the 1800’s through to the present, sharing a piece of their life as it is now – all aware of how their family history relates to them as a person.
Finding would make a fantastic reading resource for NZ history or Social Sciences, as the family’s stories show how New Zealand has changed across the generations from early settlers to now. Farming, our people, and our attitudes to many issues that have faced us as kiwi’s over the years are portrayed in an interesting narrative that will promote discussion in the classroom and inform interested readers.
(NZ History, Settlers, Scottish, Generations, War, New Zealand, Kiwi, Friendship, Greenstone)
Author – Denis Wright KIWI!
Age – 13+
Lucy (Lucinda) and her friend have noticed the creepy guy following them and the strange lady’s ramblings at the bus stop, but being kidnapped from the school play is the last thing Lucy expected. She wakes in a small room to be told she is the chosen one. She is to marry their leader and have his child who will be the next Jesus for the world.
She fights for her freedom, thinking about how her father and grandfather will be coping – not knowing how or where she disappeared to. She has seen glimpses of newspapers where she fills the front pages.
The weeks pass and although she doesn’t admit it to herself at first, she is relaxing within the group of people who took her. She is beginning to believe what they say. Life seems so much easier with others making the decisions. But as her wedding looms nearer she has to make a choice. Stay or escape?
Lucy is already dealing with the way she looks, drawing attention from guys at school and men her father knows. Girls are jealous of her looks and she is a caretaker for her alcoholic dad and aging Poppa, so the calm of the cult soothes her, finally making her a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. A believable character within a NZ setting and a religious cult.
(New Zealand, Cult, Kiwi, Stockholm Syndrome, Kidnap, Family)
Author – Cory Doctorow
Illustrator – Jen Wang
Age – 12+
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer – a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.
I took the blurb from the publisher for this review as it is so clear. I loved the illustration style and variety of design throughout this graphic novel which is such a current topic both in game worlds and real life. Gamers, young and old are becoming different people via their avatars (digital alter egos) online. But it’s just a game right? What is often forgotten by the players is that the characters in the game you are shooting, chasing, trapping or scheming with, are actual people in the next street, town, country or continent. Real people. And sometimes these people’s needs are as simple as food or shelter and if selling things to affluent players achieves this, this is what they must do.
(Gaming, Computer Game, Avatars, Game, Poverty)
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)