The Mapmaker’s Race

Author – Eirlys HunterThe-Mapmakers-Race_cover

Age – 8+

Sal and her twin siblings Joe and Francie, and little brother Humphrey are about to embark on the biggest adventure of their lives. They have been on map making adventures before with their Ma and Pa, but this time they are on their own.

Pa is missing and Ma has been accidentally left behind. With huge prizes up for grabs they decide to go ahead with the plan of entering a Mapmaker’s Race across valleys, mountains, ridges, and raging rivers – without their parents. A new railroad is to be built and the best route will win.

The stakes are high for their family, as their money has rapidly been running out. With a new friend along for the journey they are up against adult teams, some of which who will do anything to win.

First they must learn to do all the things Ma used to do. If they are going to reach their destination in the required 28 days, or even just survive, they must remember all that they have been taught and learn to work together as a team.

With their individual skills – Sal is a mathematician, Joe is great at plotting their way, and Francie has a other-worldly gift of seeing the landscape from high above them, and map-drawing prowess. Nearly-5-year-old Humphrey adds humour to their days.

Bears, wolves, mechanical horses, cowboys and constant challenges are thrown at the young group with a nail-biting finish.

The Mapmaker’s Race is a traditional adventure story with lots of action, family squabbles and sharing of stories. B & W illustrations are sprinkled throughout and Francie’s maps show their progress to the reader along their travels. Set in the time of early steam trains and traction engines but with a touch of magic and wonder.

(Maps, Adventure, Family, Race, Wilderness, Railway, Animals, Courage, Journey)

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After the lights go out

Author – Lili Wilkinson

Age – 14+

Imagine it – suddenly, without warning or reason, there is no electricity. Anywhere. Modern cars are useless and even pacemakers fail.

The isolated Australian outback town of Jubilee begin to struggle with this after a few days, and even more so when their men don’t return from the mine where they work.

After she finds an old Holden to travel in, 17 yr-old Pru Palmer decides to go to the mine to look for her father. They have a secret. Her father Rick is a doomsday prepper and they have a bunker not far from their house packed with supplies to last years underground. Pru and her sisters have been trained to survive in almost any situation. But Pru is now in charge. She always thought her dad would be there too.

Along with a stranger in town (whose mother was facilitating a safety seminar at the mine), Pru finds disaster at the mine. They return to Jubilee to find her usually docile community beginning to attack eachother – just like her father said they would. But can she just walk away and leave them all to starve?

Her dad always said “Family first,” and Pru is torn between how she was raised and the people in town.

This story drew me in early and surprised me again and again. Pru is an authentic character, suddenly dealing with so much responsibility and guilt. She feels surrounded by anger, fear and even death and has to find solutions. But realistically, she doesn’t have to cope all on her own – until the unthinkable happens.

(Doomsday prepper, Apocalypse, Bunker, Romance, Siblings, Twins, Family, Courage, Australia, Outback, Secret)

Soldier Dogs (1) Air Raid Search and Rescue

Author – Marcus Sutter36137568

Illustrator – Pat Kinsella

Age – 8+

The bombs have begun to fall and Matt and Rachel have been separated from Matt’s parents. It seems everywhere they run, the fires are burning and the rubble exploding. The air raid sirens are shrieking and the drone of more German bombers fill their ears. Where will they be safe?

Meanwhile, Chief; a German Shepherd who belongs to Matt’s big brother has also been separated from them. His smell guides him through the rubble where there are people looking for others in the devastation. One after another he helps to find humans in the rubble. But where are the young human pups? They need him to find their way home!

While Chief is busy rescuing people, Matt and Rachel are involved in a rescue. But is it worth it?

This is the first book in a new series about the brave dogs who helped save hundreds of people in human wars. Told in both Matt and Chief’s viewpoint, the action never stops! Will Matt forgive his parents for what they did? Will he finally accept Rachel, the refugee living with them? Will they survive the endless bombing of Canterbury England (June 1st 1942).

The end pages of the book show real dogs who were awarded bravery medals for their work in wartime, Q & A pages, an interesting, easy-to-read timeline of World War II and stats about the Canterbury Blitz where this story is set.

(War, Canterbury Blitz, German Bombers, Courage, Refugee, Family, Shelter, Bombs, Bravery, Dogs, Animals, Search and Find)

 

Scarlett Hart Monster Hunter

Author/Illustrator – Marcus Sedgwick

Age – 8+         Graphic Novel

Scarlett Hart was born to be a monster hunter, just like her dead parents. Now living with the family butler, Napolean and the housekeeper, she is carrying on the tradition of monster hunting.

Napolen is no ordinary butler and neither is the housekeeper, assisting Scarlett in killing monsters to claim the rewards posted for their demise. But Scarlett is officially too young to be a monster hunter, even if she could fence at 6, is clever and fearless. Count Stankovic is also a hunter, and will do anything for reward money. He is determined to catch and photograph Scarlett as she hunts, so she will be arrested and no longer any competition.

But that’s not all he’s up to. Why is there an increase in monsters lately? Has he teamed up with someone even worse than him, able to summon monsters from another realm?

This graphic novel is full of action from the first page! Scarlett is feisty, funny and brave, and The Count is a perfect nemesis. Loved it!

(Graphic Novel, Courage, Orphan, Monsters, Betrayal, Humour, Funny)

Bigfoot and Little Foot (1)

Author – Ellen Potter
Illustrator – Felicita Sala

Age – 6+

Hugo is a young Sasquatch eager for adventure and maybe to even become a sailor! But his big sister Gigi says he could never become a sailor because it would break their most important rule – never be seen by a human.

One day while out on a school trip practising their sneaking and camouflage, that very thing happens. A small human wanders into the same area and Hugo is so surprised by him that he bursts out with a laugh. The boy sees him and his teacher rushes them to safety. Hugo is in serious trouble. But his curious nature has been fuelled even further. The human didn’t look dangerous at all.

When an opportunity to explore presents itself, Hugo grabs his chance…

A fun story about friendship and feet, told from a young bigfoot’s point of view.

(Bigfoot, Friendship, Multiple POV, Curiosity, Bravery, Series)

The Wild Magic Trilogy (1) Begone the Raggedy Witches

Author – Celine Kiernan

Age – 10+36131823

Mup’s great-aunt told Mup she must tell her if she ever sees any witches. She is not to say a word to her parents about it.

But Aunty has just passed away, Mum is grieving and weary as she drives them home from the hospital, and Dad is far away working on an oil rig.

When Aunty appears on the end of Mup’s bed as a ghost, Mup tells her what she saw – and their entire world is changed forever. Mup’s mum is someone special. Someone taken from another realm as a young child, to save her from her own mother, Mup’s grandmother – an extremely powerful witch who rules her lands with hate, suspicion and cruelty.

The raggedy witches Mup saw following them home from the hospital have been sent to take her mother back with them now Aunty isn’t around to prevent it. But Aunty’s ghost is still powerful. When the witches’ plan to take Mup’s mother fails, they snatch her father instead, to use him as bait.

Mup’s mum is shocked to learn the truth about herself, but is determined to get her husband back. Mup’s family is thrown into an epic battle of good against evil, with crows that must talk in rhyme, women who morph into cats and witches who revere their evil queen.

This story grabbed me very quickly and held on until the end. Mup is a brave and kind character, determined to find her father and increasingly proud of her mother. Mup not only looks out for her younger brother (who has been transformed into a young dog), but also stands up for a boy called Crow who has lost his own father to the queen. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

(Morphing, Magic, Family, Determination, Bravery, Courage, Witches, Action, Conflict)

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)