Author – Bren MacDibble
Age – 10+
Peony lives in a world where bees no longer exist and all pollinating and pest control is done by hand in orchards. She lives with her grandpa and older sister Mags in a tin shed, earning their living by working in the orchard. Peony, and Mags are ‘Pests’, killing pests as they find them. But Peony wants to be a ‘Bee’, climbing the trees and using special sticks to pollinate the flowers. At 9, she is one year too young, but she tries out anyway.
When her mum returns from the city, telling her of money to be made and lovely places to live, Peony doesn’t want to know. Although poor, they are happy in the orchard. But Mum won’t take no for an answer.
The city is like nothing Peony has ever seen, with a toilet inside, water that comes out of the wall, and lovely soft beds. But the work is long and the daughter of the house is incredibly spoiled. An unlikely friendship builds, Peony needing help to get home, and Esmeralda needing courage to leave her grand house.
This is a wonderful story of friendship, determination, and the power of family. Loved it!
(Climate change, Family, Abuse, Courage, Future, Friendship)
ER – AGN
Author – Leonie Agnew
Age – 8+
Vincent is worried about Benjamin, a 6 yr old boy he found on his own after an explosion – lost in the rubble of the war torn city they live in. He is taking him to an orphanage where he hopes someone will look after him. When they arrive Vincent can see how many children there are and how little supervision there is so he decides to stick around for a bit.
A group of children, Lucky, Amos, Sophia and Zaar live in the orphanage, with Lucky as a sort of leader of them all. We find she used to have 5 in her family and she takes Benji under her wing to complete her ‘5’
But when Benji keeps talking to and about Vincent, they all ask who he is talking to? There’s no one there! But he insists the friend who has been looking after him is real.
It’s only when Benji’s belief in Vincent begins to waver that Vincent wonders what he really is. Imaginary friend, ghost or maybe even an angel? If Benji’s imagination has brought Vincent to life in his mind, what else does he imagine?
Children everywhere, have and still do wonder what might be hiding in the closet or wardrobe at night, and Vincent soon meets the monster in the orphanage closet.
Benji’s growing uncertainty at the others insistence that Vincent is not real, and the threat from The Hanger Man from the closet, has Vincent fighting for his very existence. It’s only when all seems lost that Benji finds the answer.
I was surprised at first, at how different this novel is from Leonie Agnew’s others – but Wow! What an amazing concept for a story! Imagination is everything!
(Imagination, Family, Conflict, War, Friendship, Survival, Determination, Belief)
Author – Elizabeth Laird
Illustrator – Lucy Eldridge (B & W chapter headers + double pages between Parts 1-5)
Age – 11+
Omar is 12 and he is proud of his town called Bosra in the country of Syria. Omar doesn’t enjoy school like his older sister Eman and brother Musa. But life is good and he dreams of the day of being a businessman like his cousin and uncle.
Musa has cerebral palsy and is incredibly smart. Omar has spent his life sticking up for his brother against taunts and trouble, but when Musa becomes involved with activists against the Syrian government (that their father works for), Omar is even more worried for him. And suddenly they have to flee. Ma, Baba (father), Eman, Musa, Omar, Fuad (5), and baby sister Nadia. After living out of Bosra on a family farm, they have to flee again. They have received word the government is after Baba, or is it Musa they want? Again they flee – this time, across the border with thousands of others to a refugee camp.
Although there are no guns in the camp, there is also no hope of returning home, nothing to do, severe cold, mud and slime in the winter, and queues, no privacy and camp gangs to contend with. But Omar is resourceful and strong and he makes the best of a terrible situation. Little does he know that wee Nadia is their way out, but only after they nearly lose her.
Welcome to Nowhere is a great way of learning about the Syrian crisis and what its people have faced and are still facing today. One painted slogan by a few teen boys is all it takes to light the flame that becomes the Syrian Civil War that we see on our news. Storytellers like Elizabeth Laird show the rest of the world truths that must be told.
(War, Syria, Refugee, Immigrant, Fear, Courage, Family)
TEEN – GIB
Author – Alan Gibbons
Age – 12+
With short chapters and only 186 pages, this story about an English family almost torn apart by terrorism (from the inside) will capture many who aren’t that keen on reading, or haven’t been able to find a book that grabs them.
The Trap deals with an issue that can destroy families on both sides of terrorism. Majid is training to be a doctor in the UK. His family fully support him in his education and dreams to help people, but when he begins spending more and more time with a man who talks of UK infidels, war, martyrdom and glory, they are worried for him. But Majid feels he has to make his own decisions.
This story follows those decisions and Majid’s path to war and back.
The tension rises throughout this novel, to a thrilling conclusion – or is it the end?
(War, Conflict, Crime, Family, Racism, School. MI5, Agent, Extremist, Muslim)
ER – JON
Author – Allan Jones
Age – 8+
Zac Archer is 12 and lives in a children’s home. He is a bright kid but doesn’t achieve his potential at school. His true love is free-running and he’s exceptional at it, but doesn’t know how exceptional.
When he witnesses a murder he’s suddenly caught up in an action-packed, dangerous mission to help find a memory stick of international importance. Two spy agencies are after it. Zac knows where the memory stick is and after a girl called Rina (codename Ballerina) comes to his aid more than once, he tries to help her retrieve it.
While bullets fly, Zac uses his skills to flee from enemy agents with Rina. But how do they know where he’ll be? And why does Rina tell him one thing and other agents tell him another? Who is telling the truth and which side should he take?
Zak is a likeable character – even with his exceptional speed he is just a normal kid caught up in something terrifying and thrilling at the same time. If you like Cherub, you’ll like this one.
(Spy, Crime, Betrayal, Action, Murder, Courage, London)
ER – COX
Author – Emma Cox
Malkin Moonlight has been blessed by the moon with a collar of pure white fur. She has told him he is special and will go on to do great things.
He is special, preferring peace than anger and he even shares his food with mice and rats. When Malkin is saved by a domestic cat called Roux after nearly drowning in a sack, he soon falls in love, despite the pull of something calling him further afield.
Malkin can feel when he is needed and he and Roux often go to the aid of other animals. After nearly losing Roux they finally answer the call of Malkin’s destiny and leave Roux’s home.
They arrive at a recycling station/waste dump which houses two different groups of cats, fighting for the best food and shelter. Can Malkin heal the generations of hate and anger between them before more of them lose any more of their treasured nine lives?
Told in an omniscient point of view, the reader gets to see all the character’s thoughts and feelings. This is a tale of tolerance, love and forgiving and will be loved by cat lovers everywhere. Just imagine a feline Ghandi.
(Cat, Animals, Love, Friendship, Peace, Environment, Waste, Courage, Omniscient, UK Nat Literacy Trust Award winner)
(Not in Napier/Taradale Libraries)
Author – L J Ritchie
Age – 13+
When Oscar’s school has security camera’s installed throughout the school, he is as perturbed as his friends. Why do they need cameras?
But when the younger brother of a mate is being bullied, Oscar quickly plans a way to help, by using the new ‘eyes’ around the school. At first Oscar and his friends feel good about their solution to school bullying, but before they know it, things backfire badly. They are suddenly the topic of edited videos and not in a position to tell anyone – as they will be in trouble for starting it all.
What makes things worse is Oscar’s crush (Caroline) is part of the revenge towards him and his friends and he’s not sure how to deal with it. Things spiral out of control until Oscar takes the bull by the horns (or the cameras and editing software by the keyboard) in order to stop things once and for all.
A thought provoking story about the power of camera footage in the wrong hands, to be used for good and bad, and how it affects people on both sides of the lens. Set in a NZ High School with Year 10 characters, Kiwi teens will relate easily to this novel.
(Kiwi, NZ Author, School, Surveillance, Camera, Revenge, Control, Bullying)