The Thunderbolt Pony

Author – Stacy Gregg34522470

Age – 7+

Evie has had a lot on her plate. Her father has passed away, her OCD is taking over, and the Kaikoura earthquake has left her mum being helicoptered to Christchurch. They are being evacuated, but Evie doesn’t want to leave. Her best friends are Moxy, Jock and Gus. Her cat, dog and Arabian horse – and there is no way she is leaving any of them behind. The only solution is to ride all the way to Kaikoura from her farm.

This story is their journey together, facing after shocks, an angry bull, raging rivers, wild weather and more. But their bond is absolute and also battling her OCD, Evie’s thoughts flash back to her appointments with her doctor and the thing that triggered it in the first place. Will they get there in time to board the HMS Canterbury with the other evacuees? Will they all make it?

Any fan of Sheila Burnford’s The Incredible Journey, will love this tale as much as I did. It made me cheer, cry, smile and laugh. The pace gallops along (sorry, but it’s the best word for it), with one obstacle after another for the plucky friends to beat. The story flicked backwards to the 7.8 earthquake that struck two minutes after midnight in New Zealand on 13 Nov 2016, and further back to her doctor’s visits about her OCD, then forward to the present, but it was clearly marked with different fonts and easy to follow. Fantastic!

(Love, Family, Earthquake, Disaster, New Zealand, Kiwi, Horse, Cat, Dog, Brave, Courage)

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The Wonderling

Author/Illustrator – Mira BartokThe Wonderling (HB)

Age – 10+

Arthur lives a troubled life in an Orphanage called ‘The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures.’ These creatures are groundlings (mixed-up animals) like Arthur (a foxling who walks on two legs and with only one ear).

Arthur tries to avoid the bullies and Miss Carbunkle who believes groundlings only exist to serve and suffer. But there is a light in Arthur’s life – a new friend called Trinket, who shares her songs and stories with Arthur, igniting hope in his heart for something different outside the Home’s damp, grey walls.

They are soon on an adventure, as Arthur seeks his destiny with only an address stolen from Miss Carbunkle’s filing cabinet. Along the way, he meets many other groundlings of every mix, shape and size and is taken in when he reaches the city, by a rat called Quintus. Quintus is very much like Fagan in Oliver Twist, teaching, feeding, and sheltering Arthur in return for stealing.

But this is a very different world from Oliver Twist, with the High Hats (Humans) just as tough as Miss Carbunkle – who has her own evil plans in mind. Can Arthur and Trinket stop her and her evil manticore from ruining the world forever?

The Wonderling’s world is a little steampunk, a little fantasy, a little Cruella Deville and as Arthur finally discovers within himself, a lot wonderful. Beautifully told with rich description and multiple sub-plots afoot. And as the reader will discover in the gorgeous illustrations – Arthur’s best friend Trinket is not only an amazing inventor but a Kiwi Bird!

(Steampunk, Destiny, Journey, Quest, Creatures, World building, Fantasy, Orphan, Kiwi, Friendship, Courage, Bravery, Crime)

The Ice Sea Pirates

Author – Frida Nilsson34014687

Age – 10+

Siri and her little sister know the legend of the evil Captain Whitehead and his ship the Snow Raven. It’s full of pirates who snatch children to send down Whitehead’s diamonds mines – never to be seen again.

But one day while out searching for berries for their dinner, Miki is snatched away. Siri is bereft, blaming herself, and no-one will help her go after the Snow Raven. She has no idea how, but she is determined to get Miki back, no matter what.

Her quest is full of danger,  facing rowdy pirates, becoming a stowaway, fighting off white wolves and much much more! Making friends and enemies along the way, she discovers there is more to the legend of Whitehead, and he’s even crazier than the stories say.

A full-on story of adventure, hope, determination, cruelty and courage, just like Siri, I wasn’t expecting the ending. Great read!

(Ice, Courage, Sisters, Siblings, Quest, Journey, Pirates, Evil, Wolves, Cruelty, Revenge)

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)

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

Author – Megan Shepherd31108732

Illustrator – Levi Pinfold

Age – 9+

Emmaline lives in a grand mansion that has been converted to a hospital for sick children. She too is one of the sick, but is still able to explore and go places the other children don’t dare. She is a bit of a loner, as it seems she alone sees the magnificent winged horses in the many mirrors of the hospital. Putting it down to imagination, the nuns that look after them all shrug it off. But the other children aren’t so kind.

One day while exploring places she shouldn’t go, Emmaline finds a real winged horse in the garden behind a wall. It is injured and shy and she is fascinated. But this winged horse is there for a reason. She is hiding from the Dark Horse who is looking for her – a horse with evil intent.

When Emmaline begins finding letters from the Horse Lord about the winged horse (named Foxfire), she learns she is Foxfire’s only hope. She needs to find all the colours of the rainbow to scare the Dark Horse off before he is back at the next full moon.

Whether it be Emmaline’s imagination or something that really happens to her is up to the reader. Emmaline is a feisty, courageous little girl with an inquisitive mind and a sad past. This story is beautifully told and exquisitely illustrated by the exceptional talented Levi Pinfold. Gorgeous!

(WWII, Horses, Animals, Mystery, Quest, Bully, Illness, Hospital)

Chase

Author – Linwood Barclay32738952

Age – 10+

Chipper isn’t just any dog. Well not now anyway. He grew up on a farm with his brothers and sisters but one day was picked up and taken to a laboratory.

Everything was white. The walls, the floor, his cage and the coats the people wore. And then everything was black while they operated on him, replacing parts and adding things like GPS, USB ports, and cameras to make him a super smart canine. But on the day they decide he still has too many of his dog instincts (he likes chasing things), he knows his hours are numbered.

Using the intelligence they gave him, he escapes. Meanwhile there is a boy named Jeff. He’s lost his parents in a plane crash and is living with his aunt, working at her camp ing ground. He soon makes a friend in Emily, a girl who is visiting with her dad.

Chipper, Jeff and Emily are quickly caught up in spy rumours, escape plans, super technology, men in black suits and explosions. Who can they trust and where can they hide?

This is the first in a new series, with more action, intrigue and evil plans afoot to come…. 

(Family, Animals, Courage, Technology, Computers, Dog, Laboratory)

 

Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes back

Author/ Illustrator – Laura Ellen Anderson33637875

Age – 8+       Graphic Novel

At the bottom of the world lives Mr Eight (an Octopus), Eugene (a fluffy white minion) and the Evil Emperor Penguin who always has another plan for world domination. Luckily for the world he’s particularly bad at it.

He tries being a computer hacker, shrinking the human race, stealing the world’s art masterpieces to capture world leaders, all the while his nemesis Evil Cat getting in the way or Eugene and and best friend Keith (a pink flying unicorn) making things better.

This dastardly penguin is hilariously hopeless in every scheme he pulls. Great fun.

(Funny, Humour, Friendship, Evil plans, Graphic Novel)