Author/Illustrator – Andy Riley
Age – 6+
9 yr old Edwin is the King of Edwinland, and in this episode he learns the truth about Minister Jill’s past. (Minister Jill is the grown-up who helps him with all the boring stuff).
One evening, Edwin and his best friend Megan (the court jester) decide to break a few of Minister Jill’s rules, with hilarious but horrendous consequences. Suddenly Edwin is on his own without Jill’s guidance, (Who would have thought that breakfast doesn’t make itself) and Edwin knows what he must do. But only after he’s made a few laps of his castle in screaming panic!
Edwin and Megan set off (on the coolest rowboat ever, because the original was just too boring), to find Minister Jill.
No. 4 in this funny series, it is just as zany as the rest. With lots of laugh-out-louds, this would make an entertaining read aloud or be a fun step up for young readers into more substantial chapter books. Black & white illustrations inhabit every page spread in the book, adding even more crazy fun. I love this series.
(Series, Humour, Funny, Zany, Crazy, Appreciation, Taking for granted, Blended family)
Author – Scot Gardner
Age – 15+
Merrick is 18 and there is only 2 weeks left before his final exams and the end of his school life. He has always been a good student, but lately his school is concerned that he’s ‘lost his mojo.’
Merrick is struggling with the loss of his grandfather to a sudden heart attack. Grandad taught him how to surf, and how to cope with both his parents remarrying and giving him several stepbrothers/sisters, all the while giving Merrick gems of wisdom along the way.
One morning Merrick makes a sudden decision to get on his beloved motorbike (he calls Brunnhilde) and just ride, leaving behind his friends, study and blended family. On his journey he meets Victor, an old, bearded, homeless man, a girl called Felicity, a dog with no name and…himself.
This is not just another ‘road-trip’ story. Merrick is grieving for his lost friend and mentor – his grandfather. He’s trying to figure out where he fits in his family, what the future might hold and how to deal with its expectations of him. He learns about relationships; no matter how long or fleeting, his habits that seemed entrenched and necessary but are not, and what’s important to him. The banter between Merrick and Victor is brilliant, the journey both inner and outer – superb.
(Road-trip, Relationships, Quest, Friendship, Grief, Motorbike, Australia)
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/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)
Author – Emily Conolan
Age – 9+
It is 1825. You are a young Irish girl who has lost her Ma to small pox and your father to English gaol. He was an Irish rebel and you fear you will never see him again. But now living on the harsh streets of London, you face life and death decisions every day.
You are given a secret treasure for helping a wealthy lady, but have to try and avoid gaol yourself. You make a dear friend but have to choose whether to leave her behind or escape.
But then there is months of travel on a thunderous ocean. Will you survive or die in the bowels of a ship with hundreds of others?
This is a Choose Your Own Destiny book like none other I’ve read. The 1st book of four in a new series, you live the life of a poor Irish girl in the early 19th Century, making decisions that will impact not only your life but others you meet on your journey. It reads just like a novel, but with choices to make that lead you further.
If you wish you can read more about the time in the Fact Files at the end of the book. eg. Smallpox, Prisons, Pickpockets, Child Labour and Tasmanian Aboriginals, before you make your decision. I perished a few times before I reached the end. Look out for other titles in this series. Loved it!
(Historical, 19th Century, Victorian, London, Pickpocket, Irish Rebel, Van Dieman’s Land, Convict, Choose Your Own Adventure, Choose your Own Destiny, Pick-a-path)
Author – Mary-anne Scott
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)
Author – Katherine Paterson
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.