Out of Heart

Author – Irfan Master33786395

Age – 12+

Adam’s family is struggling. They have just lost his grandfather and learned that he donated his heart – given to someone else who needed it after he died.

Adam’s mum hasn’t cried yet, and he’s worried about that.

Adam’s little sister Farah still doesn’t speak, preferring to sign instead.

Adam blames himself.

This story could be bleak. It could be dark and depressing and leave you wishing you never picked it up. It is the opposite.

Yes, life is tough. Mum has to work two jobs. They are grieving. Adam likes to be alone even more now, spending all his time drawing in his sketch pad or writing down words to make some sense of the world. His exceptional talent at drawing is also shown in tagging, but unlike other taggers he knows, he is working alone on a bigger project. One that takes months of being out in the cold, bit by bit, revealing something important.

And then there’s William. He’s different. He’s tall and white and just appears one day on their door-step. He has something to tell them. Who is this stranger?

Out of Heart is all about – HEART. All the different types of heart. Kind-hearted. Hard-hearted. Broken-hearted. Cold-hearted. And luckily for Adam’s sake, a Sweet-heart. And with interesting quotes from books, and poems, or facts about the heart sprinkled through the book – it was nothing but heart-warming. LOVED IT!

(Abuse, Grief, Family, Tagging, Friendship, Relationships, Blended Family, Courage, Conflict)

Fish Boy

Author – Chloe Daykin32490590

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 – even 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)

Orbiting Jupiter

Author – Gary D Schmidt30335557

Age – 12+

This isn’t a long read and would be great for those teens who are a little reluctant at the thought of reading one of the doorstops they regularly see on library or bookshop shelves for teens. But just because it’s only 192 pages, doesn’t mean it won’t pack a punch – because it sure does.

I felt so much for Joseph, who at only 14 had experienced prison for attempted murder of a teacher, found an all consuming wonderful first love then lost it again, and learned that he was a father but was forbidden to ever have any contact with his baby daughter (called Jupiter.)

Now in foster care with 12 yr old Jack and his parents, Joseph is quiet, deliberately and instantly misunderstood by some of his teachers and the school bus driver, and the target of some school bullies.

But Jack quickly finds that Joseph is none of the things he is labelled with and he stands by him, just like he would an older brother. Jack’s parents treat Joseph as if he is their son, and Joseph responds to that – but his past soon catches up with him, with terrible results. Joseph has to make a choice. A sad but beautiful story of friendship, family and belief in someone you love.

(Family, Foster Care, Bullying, Prejudice, School, Young father, Love, Trust)

A Different Dog

Author – Paul Jennings34628938

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)

Polly and Buster (1) The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster

Author/Illustrator – Sally RippenThe Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster (Polly and Buster #1)

Age – 7+

Polly just can’t get her spells right. She’s laughed at, at witch school and her only friend is her neighbour Buster. But Buster is a monster and witch-monster friendships are a no-no.

One day on a school trip, her witch class runs into Buster’s monster class. When Polly ignores Buster, his secret is out. He feels things very strongly. When he feels sad he shrinks and looks grey. Polly sees his classmates teasing him and he’s so sad and small. She goes to his rescue and suddenly sparks are flying from her fingers! Can she do spells after all?

This is a story of friendships and popularity (especially at school), and which one is more important. Polly has to make a choice, and she does – but is it the right one?

I really liked this new story from the author of Billie B Brown and Hey Jack. It’s going to be a great series!

The Call

TEEN – OGU31567282

Author – Peadar O’Guilin

Age – 14+

Children have to face a terrible truth at the age of 10. Their parents might have kept all knowledge of The Call from them, to try and give them some childhood, but the inevitable may be just around the corner….

Set in Ireland, all children at the age of 10 are sent to one of the many survival schools that train them to try and stay alive. Many years before, humankind banished creatures to a terrible grey land. But they now have taken their revenge, calling every child to their land at random. They have to survive one day in this land filled with horrific creatures sculptured out of humans they have slayed and kept. They can fight, hide, or die.

The survival skills teach them the language of the Sidhe and how they fight, live, act and kill. It was once recorded that only 1 in 100 survived this day, but with the school’s intensive training and the testimonies of the survivors pored over for every detail of the grey lands, the odds are now 1 in 10 of survival.

Nessa is a beautiful girl, strong, determined and brave, but her legs are twisted, preventing her from walking very fast or running at all. When she is in a training session or an organised hunt through school, she fashions crutches out of anything she can, giving her the freedom of movement her legs never have.

They may be called at any time of day, day or night, and although they are in the grey land for a day, they are only missing from current time for 3 minutes and 4 seconds. When they vanish, leaving their clothes behind, the wait for their friends, teachers or loved ones is excruciating as most return dead. If they somehow do survive they are often disfigured, burnt, bleeding and/or changed physically and mentally.

This was a quick read, with a fascinating story line, tense relationships and the threat of ‘The Call’ at any moment. Each time one of the characters was called, it caught me by surprise. There is the kick-ass girl character, her risk taker friend, the ‘jock’ who likes her but will never admit it, and his followers who believe every word he breathes, until….

Think Hunger Games, with every kid forced to enter, at random, with no warning, and little chance of survival. The Call is brutal, violent but captivating.

(Violence, Hell, Creatures, Fight, Fear, Determination, Horror)

The Song from Somewhere Else

(Not in Napier/Taradale Libraries)Image result

Author – A F Harrold

Illustrator – Levi Pinfold

Age – 10+

Frank (Francesca)has been bullied for months, but she can’t bring herself to tell anyone about it. When Nick Underbridge saves her from the bullies in the park one day, she’s grateful but did it have to be weird Nick from school? Everyone said he’s smelly and has fleas.

But to her surprise, he not only rescues her and keeps her secret, she finds she enjoys his company. Sure he’s bigger than most kids his age and is definitely different, but she soon learns why he keeps to himself, trying not to attract attention. He has a secret of his own. When Frank hears beautiful music that makes her feel better than she has in months coming from his cellar, she just has to investigate….

A wonderful story about friendship, secrets, bullying, and how our universe connects with another with terrible consequences. The exquisite black & white illustrations and shadowy edges to many of the pages add so much to this story. Simply gorgeous!

(Alternate Universe, Music, Bullying, Friendship, Secrets)