The Last Days of Archie Maxwell

Author – Annabel Pitcher36170364

Age – 16+

Archie is reeling after a family announcement. His father is leaving. His mother doesn’t even seem mad about it, and his big sister knows more than she’s letting on. When Archie learns the whole truth, his whole world implodes.

What if his the guys at school find out? His life won’t be worth living. They will show no mercy. And that’s when Archie begins to think about that guy who ended it all on the train tracks behind his house.

Archie likes a girl at school – who just happens to be the sister of the guy on the tracks. She blames herself and is trying to understand why her brother did it. When Archie offers her some relief from her guilt, they become a little closer. But she has her own secrets too. Is Archie strong enough to resist a final solution for himself and protect her from the same?

This is an easy read/novella for not only dyslexic teens, but those who may find larger texts daunting or unappealing. It was gritty, true to life, showing the no-filter language of teen boys amongst themselves and about girls. Fantastic read.

(Dyslexic, Homophobia, Suicide, Bullying, Mental Health, School, Family)

 

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A Song Only I Can Hear

Author – Barry Jonsberg40012192

Age – 12+

Rob Fitzgerald has a huge crush on Destry Camberwick. The problem with that is that Rob suffers from panic attacks, and is incredibly shy – only talking with his friend Andrew, his parents and his best friend – his grandfather.

Pop is funny, straight to the point and loves to swear. Rob sees him almost daily and can talk to Pop about anything. How will he get Destry’s attention? Rob’s mate Andrew has some suggestions, one being to impress Destry as a football goalie in the next inter-school game.

When Rob begins receiving strange text messages with more suggestions, he is intrigued about who they are from. Mum? Dad? What about Pop? No. He hates technology.

But Rob takes the text advice seriously and is soon in trouble again and again trying to make a good impression for Destry. And just as it seems to be working, things go terribly wrong.

It was so refreshing to read a teen novel that was true-to-life but had me bursting out laughing throughout the novel. Pop is the funniest character I have read in ages. This book made me laugh, cry and gasp in surprise. It’s about identity and believing in who you really are. Beautiful, funny, clever – pure Barry Jonsberg.
(Note: any swearing is replaced by the word blankety in the novel, which made some scenes even funnier.)

(Identity, Crush, Family, Grandfather, Grandparent, Anxiety, Counselor, Grief, LGBT, Funny)

The Promise Horse

Author – Jackie Merchant40191001

Age – 8+

Harry wasn’t happy about moving away from all her friends, pony club and all the memories she had made with her older sister Sissy before her illness. The one thing that eases the move (besides being closer to her loving grandparents), is the promise of a horse of her very own.

Little do her parents know, but Sissy has come with them, even if only in spirit. Harry has been to therapy about ‘hearing voices’ so now she keeps Sissy a secret. After all, if she was just imagining her older, bossy, strong sister’s voice, wouldn’t she make her less annoying?

When an impressive Appaloosa called Marksman is offered to her in her new town, Harry isn’t sure she can handle such a big horse. But with Sissy’s constant pushing, and her grandparent’s support, maybe it is something she can achieve for herself. If only Mum didn’t regret the promise made in the first place.

This story isn’t just about horses, pony club, friendship and family. Harry’s family is still dealing with their grief at the loss of Sissy, but all in their own way. A boy called Billy from school has his own problems, and Harry has to find her own courage (without Sissy) to hold onto what she loves.

(Animals, Horses, Pony Club, Gymkhana, Friendship, Fitting in, Moving)

 

Max & the Millions

Author – Ross Montgomery
Age – 8+

Max doesn’t enjoy being the only orphan at St Goliath’s Boarding school. That and his hearing aids make him different to his classmates. The only person who he feels at ease with is Mr Darrow, the school caretaker. They both love modelling, but Mr Darrow has taken his a huge step further – he has tiny people in his models, and they are alive!

Mr Darrow has gone missing, and Max follows the instructions he was given if that ever happened. Max is shocked and awed by what he finds in Mr Darrow’s room, but in the caretaker’s abscence, his model people have built their own world, at war with itself.

After all his kindness, Max feels he owes Mr Darrow. Can he save the tiny people from war? Can he find out what happened to Mr Darrow? And most of all, can he keep Mr Pitt, the evil headmaster away from Mr Darrow’s room while he does it?

This story was funny, fantasy and full-on action. Fleas, friendship and a gaggle of five-year olds pumped up on birthday candy make this even funnier. The two worlds are connected by Max and a brave prince just trying to save his people. Great read!

(Friendship, Family, Miniature people, War, Secret)

Lucky Button

Author – Michael Morpurgo

36584192Illustrator – Michael Foreman

Age 7+

Jonah has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders at home and is bullied at school. This school used to be The Foundling Hospital – a place children were taken to save them from the 18th century streets of London.

Jonah loves music, and humming the songs his mum used to play on her piano always lifts his spirits. But one day after more bullying, he hides in the school chapel. He finds a small gold button on the chapel floor then hears beautiful music coming from the organ. He is entranced.

Out of nowhere, an ghostly old man approaches him. At first Jonah is petrified but soon realises the man means him no trouble. All he wants to do is tell Jonah about the Lucky Button he has found, where it came from, and how important it is.

Another gentle tale of family, and friendship from this popular author. Among the colour and black & white illustrations scattered through the text, the reader will meet Mozart as a boy and learn about Handel too.

(Family, School, Bullying, Music, History)

Pirate Blunderbeard (1)

Author – Amy SparkesPirate Blunderbeard

Illustrations – Ben Cort

Age – 5+

Blunderbeard is the worst pirate ever! His big brother Blackbeard enjoys rubbing it in every chance he gets. Blunderbeard is scared of fish, bites his nails, enjoys baking cupcakes and has a terrible sense of direction.

His pirate mum is embarrassed by her youngest son and signs him up for the POTY Award (Pirate of the Year), to try and make him become a better pirate. He is doomed!

He does his best with his trusty sidekick Boris the chicken at his side (the parrots were all gone when he went to the pet shop), and between the two of them and Blunderbeard’s crazy inventions, maybe, just maybe he can survive the trials to live another day.

(Pirate, Bully, Sibling, Family, Humour, Series)

Nevermoor

Author – Jessica TownsendNevermoor 1

Age – 9+

Morrigan Crow has always been told that she is cursed and she won’t live past her 12th birthday. She is blamed for everything from the weather, to a school fire, to the gardener’s heart attack. Of course, none of it was true.

Little does Morrigan know that her entire life is about to change, where she will be a treasured member of a household, a valued friend of other children and a gigantic speaking cat!

She is taken to Nevermoor (a secret magical city by a stranger who tells her she can be one of the privileged of the Wundrous Society. All she has to do is pass four trials they will give her. Although thought to be cursed, Morrigan has led a sheltered wealthy life, and she can’t imagine passing any challenges thrown her way. But the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Full of magic, strange and wunderful characters, this just may be a ‘Harry Potter’ for a new generation of readers. It has its own ‘Voldemort’, ‘Malfoy’ and the world-building is gloriously imaginative.

(Magic, Tasks, Challenges, Friendship, Nemesis, Bully, Curse, Series)