Author – Irfan Master
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)
Author – Gareth Ward
Age – 10+
Caught stealing at Coxford’s Corn Market, 14 yr old Sin is hunted across the city. But his street skills can’t evade his pursuers. They want Sin to join their Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. Used to his life of crime on the streets he’s not sure of these people, (but he does enjoy a nice warm bed and plenty to eat for a change.)
Wary to begin with, Sin soon makes a friend in Zonda Chubb, and an unlikely alliance with the school bully Velvet Von Darque. But there is an assassin among them, and he’s not sure who he can trust. Is his own life in danger?
A rip-roaring steampunk adventure by the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Writing Competition for Young Adults in 2016! With rich writing, well developed characters and awesome world building, The Traitor and the Thief is a fantastic read and not to be missed!
(Series, Friendship, Spy, Assassin, Courage, Conflict, Adventure, Action, Betrayal)
Author – Maxine Hemi
Illustrator – Andrew Burdan
Age – 8+ (Graphic Novel)
A Taniwha has wreaked havoc on many maori villages over the years. A young warrior is sure he can defeat this beast once and for all, but is warned by an old woman who lost her entire village, to be be wary.
This Taniwha is looking for his sister Parikawhiti and travels from Hawkes Bay to Wairarapa, inhaling whole seal herds and flocks of birds along the way. Can the warrior trick the Taniwha into his trap with many warriors waiting nearby to attack?
The beautiful atmospheric illustrations add depth and scale to this tale. Ngarara Huarau is a Finalist in the 2017 New Zealand Book awards for Children & Young Adults.
(Graphic Novel, Action, Battle, Myth, Maori, Warrior, Bravery, Courage, Monster)
Author / Illustrator – Jen Lee
Age – 10+ (Graphic Novel)
There are many stories out there about zombies, aliens or viruses wiping out humankind. This isn’t one of those, but tells the story of some animals who have been left behind after such events. Simon (dog), and his friends Cliff (Racoon), and Reynard (Deer) are hungry. They are waiting for garbage night, so they can raid the bins like they always have. But garbage nights seems to have vanished along with the humans.
Barnaby is looking for food too and they soon team up with him to travel to the next town. But Barnaby is sneaky, slowly working his way between fellow dog Simon and his friends, even purposefully putting them in danger. Simon has to make a choice. Hang out with new Barnaby who knows stuff and is cool, or stick with his old mates.
With muted colour illustations, larger font, and a simpler drawing style, this graphic novel will suit younger readers. The theme of loyalty and friendship suits everyone.
(Friendship, Dystopian, Graphic Novel)
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)