Author – Adriana Mather
Age – 13+
Sam (Samantha) and her step-mum Vivian have moved to her dead grandmother’s house in Salem, a small town where Sam’s dad grew up. She is instantly disliked at her new high school and she knows why. Her ancestor Cotton Mather was largely responsible for the Witch Trials in Salem centuries before.
‘The Descendants’ (a group of 5 teens always dressed in black, and true descendants of the so-called witches that died) are scathing of Sam and make life difficult. If it wasn’t for the neighbours, handsome Jaxon who sticks up for her and his mum; Sam would be just like she’s always been – friendless and feared.
People around Sam often end up hurt and she’s felt cursed since small. When this ‘curse’ follows her to Salem, it becomes much more serious. Is it all her fault? Where did this curse come from? Can she defeat it?
How to Hang a Witch is not only a fantastic read, it makes the reader aware of how close the 17th century witch trials were compared to the cyber-bullying of today. The phrase ‘Witch Hunt’ is applied to people in all sorts of conflict and this novel makes it clear why.
The other fascinating fact is the author is a descendant of Cotton Mather herself. Salem is a real town in America and she wanted to know more about both the Witch Trials and her own family history. Loved it!
(History, Witches, Ghost, Spell, Curse, High School, Popularity, Romance)
Author – Chae Strathie
Illustrator – Anna Chernyshova
Age – 6+
Tommy can’t wait to start Pirate School. This means sailing on the Rusty Barnacle, captained by Pirate Captain Firebeard, for the whole school term!
Once aboard, he learns about all things piratey including sea monsters they may encounter on pirate escapades. Between their lessons, the apprentice pirates can visit the tuck shop for on board sweets and treats – until they start to go missing. Who is stealing the lollies from under their noses?
Suspicion instantly falls on Spiky Spencer and his gang including Muttonhead Max and Greta the Grouch, but maybe the thief isn’t quite so obvious. It’s only when Tommy and the entire crew are in grave danger that the thief is revealed.
A simple, fun, pirate story for young readers with lots of ‘Aaaaaarrrrr!’
(Pirates, Sea Monsters, Pirate School, Nemesis, Theft)
Author – Jay Jay Burridge
Illustrator – Chris West/Jay Jay Burridge
Age – 10 +
Beatrice Kingsley can’t understand why her grandmother (nicknamed Bunty) has brought her halfway around the world to look at the Raptors of Aru. Sure they are said to be beautiful and elusive but it was such a long way to go. Along with them was Theodore, loyal to Bea and Bunty after being ‘adopted’ into the family many years before.
But there is another reason for them to visit the wild Islands of Aru, and Bunty isn’t ready to tell Bea why just yet.
But this island has more secrets than they know, and as they enter the jungle with the help of a plucky nine year old porter and his father, they encounter many dangers. This island may have the most beautiful raptors, but it also hides very dangerous ones too. Not to mention the arrogant, vicious leader of the island, Christian Hayter, who isn’t happy about strangers in ‘his’ jungle.
What they find is beyond their imagination, but worth fighting for. But first they have to survive!
This is the 1st in a series of 6 books – with two more out 2018. If you’re after Dinosaurs, Courage, and Action, this story has bucket loads. Both Bea and Bunty are brave and determined, despite all Bunty’s rules on behaving like a lady. Jam-packed with luscious B&W illustrations, this adventure is going to popular!
(Dinosaurs, Courage, Adventure, Jungle, Orphan, Grandmother)
Author – Scot Gardner
Age – 12+
Sparrow is kind, respectful, brave and friendly. He’s also resourceful and street savvy. He has to be – sleeping on a block of toilets at night, avoiding his brother and his paint sniffing gang of teens, and helping cafe owners with their chairs night and morning in payment for food.
Sparrow is a selective mute after a troubled childhood, and this story begins on a boat full of kids from juvie. A fire forces them into the croc and shark filled waters, and 16 year old Sparrow swims for his life to the far north Australian coastline. With determination and courage learnt on the streets of Darwin, he learns how to survive in the bush and mangroves.
This tale of survival is interspersed with chapters of his earlier life, people that have helped him, the reason for his mutism, and why he’s called Sparrow.
But he’s not alone on the coastline. Someone else escaped the burning boat. Someone who needs saving even more than him.
Sparrow is yet another compelling teen novel from this accomplished Australian author. This book is not only about survival. It’s about loss, courage, love and hope for a future that seemed impossible to imagine.
(Street kid, Survival, Love, Determination, Self sufficient, Fishing, Hunting, Australia, Love, Courage)
Author – Will Hill
Age – 13+
Moonbeam survived. She is full of grief and guilt that many of her brothers and sisters didn’t. Even Father John didn’t make it out, and he was their whole world for so long. But was he telling the truth about the outside?
The Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion has been Moonbeam’s home her entire life. She is promised to Father John as one of his future wives, which she once thought was a great honour.
But she’s not so sure anymore. Things are changing in the compound. Harsher rules and penalties are being dealt until Moonbeam can’t stand back with her head bowed any longer.
But the result is nothing like she could ever imagine.
From the talented Will Hill (Author of the Department 19 Series), After the Fire is completely different but just as intriguing. Moonbeam’s story is told in two different times. Before the fire that claimed many of her friend’s lives, and after as she is interviewed by the FBI and a psychiatrist. Loved it!
(Cult, Religion, Belief, Family, Blended family, Truth, Lies, Guilt)
Author – Eion Colfer
Illustrator – Andrew Donkin
Age – 10+
Ebo is only 12 when he is forced at gunpoint to sail with 13 others in a patched up inflatable dinghy designed for only 6. This is the journey he’s been waiting and working for since he was 10 years old when his brother Kwame left him behind.
But as we all know, these voyages of hope for a better life are nothing like the journey promised to them by money hungry people smugglers. Luckily Ebo has a wonderful voice and loves to sing, and his voice is something he can take on his journey, which ultimately helps him find all that he was looking for.
A full colour Graphic Novel about one boy’s hazardous journey to find a better life in Europe, across deserts, through dangerous streets of a city and out in the ocean on a sinking boat. A thought provoking book that shows young readers the truth behind these perilous journeys.
(Refugee, Boat people, Journey, Voyage, Sing, Poverty)
Author / Illustrator – Luke Pearson
Age – 8+
Hilda has joined the Sparrow Scouts and wants to make her mum proud by achieving her first badges. But camping hasn’t turned out that well, and neither has insect collecting or any of the others that her fellow scouts are aiming for. Hilda has been spending all her time looking for a Nisse (a house spirit) that has been thrown out on the street for stealing.
But the Nisse denies it and suddenly other Nisses are in trouble too. Does it have anything to do with the huge black wolf that has been seen in Hilda’s city of Trolberg? Is everyone in danger or is everything just a big misunderstanding? Hilda is determined to find out.
This is my favourite out of Hilda’s four adventures so far. She is a determined, animal loving, feisty little girl who just wants the best for the Nisse – and maybe even the dreaded black wolf too. With fantastic muted colour illustrations and full graphic novel format, Hilda and the Black Hound might also explain where things go when they disappear down the back of the couch or behind a piece of furniture…
(Graphic Novel, Series, Magical Creatures, Scouts, Badges, Courage)