The Wizards of Once

Author/Illustrator – Cressida Cowell34455798

Age – 8+

Xar is selfish, impulsive and full of himself. After all, he is the son of Encanzo, the King Enchantor. But he is the youngest son, and his magic hasn’t come in yet, causing him embarrasment and worry.

Wish is the daughter of Queen Sychorax, the most evil queen in the Warrior Empire. Wish is also impulsive, daring, and rebellious, but also caring and kind.

They are taught from birth that the other is a foe, an enemy, one to be slain if need be. But these two venture out into the darkness on the same night, breaking the strict rules of their forts. Wish is looking for her friend, a magical spoon that has run away. Xar is hoping to catch a witch. Everyone knows witches are extinct, but Xar believes if he can catch one and harness its magic, he will finally make his father proud of him and quieten his older brother’s taunts.

But there is something else out in the darkness. Something wild and evil, which throws them together into a uneasy pact to help the other. Not only do they have to face their angry parents, the something’s power has been growing their whole lives and they have unwittingly unleashed it.

Told directly to the reader, this is an exciting story about a prince and a princess unlike any other. Xar is a weedy, annoying brat and Wish has a limp and an eye patch. But both have loyal sidekicks who will defend them to the death. Xar’s magical creatures are funny and fantastical and Wish’s assistant bodyguard is new at the job and trying to be brave. Full of mystical pencil sketching illustrations, this was a great read with an unanswered question at the end – who is narrating the story?

(Courage, Bravery, Wizards, Witches, Magic, Warrior, Friends, Magical Creatures, Series, Scary, Humour)

Advertisements

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)

Maybe

Author – Morris Gleitzman36125803

Age – 10+

It’s 1946. The war is over and Felix and his friends Gabriek and Anya are heading back to Gabriek’s farm – keen to live a life without fear. But all does not go to plan and they are soon running for their lives.

The 6th in Morris Gleitzman’s ‘family’ of books about Felix’s life – before, during and after World War 2, Maybe he’ll finally be able to find a life without having to look over his shoulder, avoid death all around him and become the doctor he wants to be?

Maybe this will happen when he wakes up in an airbase? Maybe it will happen when he flies to Australia? But there is always the threat of Zliv, the younger brother of a man they killed in Poland, who does not care that it was in self defense.

Drawn right into the continuing narrative on the very first line, the reader is back in Felix’s life. At age fourteen, he has seen terrible things, lost loved ones and suffered throughout the war. But the war has ended and now he has hope for the future. This ‘family’ of books has been written and intended to be able to be read in any order. Once, Then, After, Now, Soon are as beautiful and heartbreaking as each other. Maybe they’ll be one more in this family?

(War, Loyalty, Courage, Australia, Series)

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)

The Traitor and the Thief (1) The Sin Chronicles

Author – Gareth Ward35296530

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)

Ngarara Huarau

Author – Maxine HemiNgarara Huarau

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)

Garbage Night

Author / Illustrator – Jen Lee34130220

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)