Author – Chloe Daykin
Age – 10+
Billy has got a lot on his mind – things he’d rather not think about. To escape he likes to swim in the sea not far from his home. Another escape has been David Attenborough videos as Billy is an avid nature lover, fascinated in the quirkyness of animals.
One day while swimming, a mackerel swims up to his face and speaks to him. “Fish Boy,” it says. Billy is shocked and surprised and mystified and when he finally blurts it out to his new friend at school (Patrick), he thinks Patrick will begin treating him like the rest of his classmates – because he’s weird.
But Patrick isn’t like the others. Patrick believes him and encourages him to swim again to see what happens. As his life seems to spiral downwards (school bullying and a sick mum), Billy wants to escape to the sea more and more. But Patrick is looking out for him putting his own life at risk.
This isn’t just another ‘sick parent’ story. It’s so much more than that with a touch of magic and wonder. The voice of Billy is brilliant and believable and his relationship with his father heartwarming.
(Friendship, Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Family, Worry, Bullying, School, Differences)
Author – Paul Jennings
Illustrator – Geoff Kelly
Age – 9+
A boy gets up one morning from the floor of his room. His bed was burnt for firewood the night before, just to keep him and his mum warm. The boy has a plan to improve their lives, but first he has to climb a hill on this frosty morning. But on the way up he sees an accident and he is the only one who is there to help.
He tries to sound the alarm but his voice doesn’t work. It hasn’t for some time, and he’s teased about it at school. But he can do something. A dog has been thrown from the vehicle and the boy is determined to save it. But this dog is special and the way out is treacherous. Can he get them to safety and then save the dog from its past?
By the renowned author Paul Jennings, A Different Dog has been written with reluctant readers in mind, but still gives any reader a story about bullying, poverty, courage and survival.
(Animal, Dog, Courage, Poverty, Bullying, Accident, Reluctant Reader)
Author – James Russell
Animations – Yongtao Zhang
Age – 7+
Paddy & his older brother live on an island with their parents and little sister Ada. They have never seen a cellphone, tv, computer or even electricity, and spend their time hunting, climbing, running, digging, making things or adventuring. When they see a boat moored just off the island, they wonder who it could be?
The owners of the boat are after dragons and will do anything to get them. Can the boys stop them and protect their family too?
Chocka full of action, adventure and it also comes with an exciting ‘AR Reads’ app that can be downloaded which brings the story alive digitally too. Read traditionally or with ‘the app, this story is a fabulous follow-on for the Dragon Brothers Picture Book Series.
(Series, Fantasy, Family, Animals, Courage, Dragons, Action)
Author – Justine Windsor
Illustrator – Becka Moor
Age – 7+
Lucy and her parents are gamblers and they have something that ensures they always win when they need to. But someone has figured them out and suddenly Lucy is part of a bet and they lose!
She is taken to a grand house by Lord Grave and is to be his boot girl. She is used to a grander life and balks at her new one, but is soon caught up in a scheme of magical proportions. Flying horses, tears in time, missing children and black panthers – not to mention an evil witch and a farting cat.
Lucy’s gambling skills are quickly forgotten as she discovers her magical ones. Who are the goodies and who are the villains? The plot swings one way and then the other, drawing the reader into the story. Full of action, magic and mystery, this is a rollicking read.
(Historical, Mystery, Magic, Fantasy, Friendship, Abduction, Courage)
Author/Illustrator – Elise Gravel
Age – 6+
Olga LOVES animals. She prefers them much more than people and then proves her point quickly to the reader with funny pictures and diagrams. Olga considers herself an animal scientist and would much rather make observations about animals than go to school and talk with girls like her annoying neighbours Shalala and Farla (lalas) who only care about clothes, and hair and a Korean popstar they both think is adorable. But according to Olga, he’s got nothing on animals!
When Olga finds a small, strange creature who says nothing but ‘Meh!’ – that is what she names it. But where is it from? What does it eat? After a trip to the library and the local store, her friends try to help. Even the Lalas begin to help, with very pink consequences….
(Humour, Animals, Mystery, Science, Series)
Authors – Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee
Age – 10+
What happens when you die? Maybe you turn into the wind. Maybe you become a shooting star. Maybe a fox?
When Jules loses her older sister Sylvie to a forbidden place in the woods, she is left with Dad and ‘Life After Sylvie.’ She’s angry at Sylvie’s incessant need to run faster. If only she hadn’t run off into the woods that day. If only she’d grabbed Sylvie’s hand tighter?
But if onlys don’t make things any easier, for Jules or their neighbour who has his own if onlys. But a fox called Senna is growing up nearby, and she is drawn to Jules. She knows she has to help this young human full of sadness.
Maybe a Fox is a story of grief, sisterhood and wishing rocks. Some that have worked and some that haven’t. Jules and Senna become closer throughout the story and then an event links them forever just as Jules learns the reason for her sister’s need to run faster….
(Fox, Animals, Secret, Catamount, Wishes, Friendship, Loss, Grief)
Author/Illustrator – Donovan Bixley
Age – 6+
Fantastic illustrations fill this series, as always with Donovan Bixley’s work. There’s tons of action, likeable characters and the beginnings of other storylines are threaded through these stories about the never ending battles between cats and dogs – but set in wartime.
Each mission is set in a different country and also contains a non-fiction element in the way of illustration. There is funny cat and dog themed word play, which will add to the enjoyment of these books which would make great read-a-louds for year 3-4 children.
The next instalment of this exciting series called Unmasked about the never ending rivalry between cats and dogs is out mid April 17!
(Cat, Dog, Animal, War, Humour, Funny, Kiwi, NZ, Series)