Author – Alan Gibbons
Age – 14+
John is on the beach with a girl called Ceri James from school. They have been teamed up to do a photography project together. John is enjoying using the school’s expensive camera and is aiming at everything around him, getting the feel of it.
A car pulls up near them and John is instantly on alert. Things in his past have made him aware of anything looking a little shifty, and the two guys inside the car ring alarm bells.
He watches them in the camera viewfinder and uses the zoom on them when they follow a man out onto the beach. What he sees next sends him and Ceri on a pell-mell, dash from place to place – trying to find somewhere to hide. The men saw them with a camera and will do anything to stop them from taking any pictures taken, to the police.
Not sure who to trust, realising his own father is connected somehow, and trying to protect Ceri who has her own secrets and past swirling just under her skin; John is angry, confused, and scared. They are running for their lives.
(Murder, Crime, Trust, Hostage, Gangster, Witness, Family, Foster, Action)
Author – Rodman Philbrick
Age – 9+
It all begins with a letter – written in, could it be…blood? When Arthur Bash is shown this letter by oddball, sticky-up haired, orphaned, brainiac, weirdo Darius Drake, he’s not sure whether he wants anything to do with it. Arthur might look big and scary and mean, but it’s all just for show.
Arthur is available for hire to anyone at school. If you want anyone to leave you alone, or you want to scare someone, Arthur is your man, well at least, 12 year old boy. Payment is in chocolate bars.
With three Snickers bars up for grabs, Arthur says yes to helping Darius figure out who sent the mysterious letter. But there is so much more to be discovered, and a mystery that deepens the more they dig.
A spooky house. A disfigured man. A convicted felon. A pretty step-sister. A man who looks like a movie star. And a very famous lost diamond necklace. Were three Snickers bars worth it?
(Mystery, Friendship, Blended Family, Secret, Bully, Humour, Funny, Crime)
Author/Illustrator – Alex T Smith
Age – 6+
Mr Penguin has just set up an Adventure/Mystery Agency and advertised it in the local newspaper. On his first day he is keen to get started on solving mysteries and going on adventures! But his phone doesn’t ring. He’d paid a lot of money to set up his Adventure Agency, and if he didn’t get a job soon, he would have to go home to the Frozen South, leaving behind crabsticks and his favourite sandwiches (fish fingers of course).
Just as he’s really beginning to worry – the phone nearly rings right off his desk. There is a mystery at the local museum. Boudicca Bones needs his help URGENTLY to find hidden treasure within the museum.
Mr Penguin is very excited, but soon is wondering whether this whole adventuring thing was a good idea after all? With an X marks the spot, pitch-black passages, and a kung-fu expert spider side-kick named Colin, Mr Penguin’s courage, smarts and rumbling stomach are put to the test as he investigates.
The intricate pencil illustrations add to the fun format of white, orange and black pages of this new series. Mr Penguin is trying to do his best, and is lucky his spider side-kick is along for the adventure. This slapstick action mystery is a little Indiana Jones and a lot funny. Would make a great read-aloud/bedtime story.
(Funny, Humour, Friends, Adventure, Baddies, Villains, Mystery, Secret tunnels, Museum, Slapstick, Series)
Author – Nic Stone
Age – 14+
Justyce is 17. He is the top of his class, an excellent debater and is aiming for Yale. All is good in his life until one night when he is helping his drunk ex get into her car. The police arrive, see a young black male with a drunk girl and assume the worst. He is immediately put in cuffs and read his rights.
Although released (hours later), Justyce has now experienced the racial profiling he’s heard and read about. He’s shocked when he realises he could have easily been just another police shooting accident involving a young African American man.
Justyce has been working on a personal project, studying the speeches and teachings of Martin Luther King. He has been writing letters to him in a journal – trying to work out the world around him.
His new awareness of the racial profiling around him makes him angry. Even his friends and classmates’ comments are getting under his skin. But it’s cruising around with his best friend one morning when the unthinkable happens. Bang! Bang! Bang!
This is a powerful story about prejudice, blatant racism in schools, courts, businesses and homes, and a young man trying to come to terms with it all. Gritty and gripping.
(School, Racism, Prejudice, Friendship, Family, Grief, Crime, Gang)
Author – Andrew McDonald
Illustrator – Ben Wood
Age – 6+
Rock Pigeon loves to dress up. Is it a rabbit? Is it a chicken? Or is it a pile of leaves? No – it’s Rock Pigeon!
When an old pigeon (Granpouter Pigeon) approaches Rock about his disguise skills for a top secret Pigeon Crime Fighting Squad, Rock isn’t sure. But he’s soon working with two other pigeons, Homey & Frillback on three separate cases.
Why aren’t there any animals and people in the park?
Who is capturing all the bats?
What is ticking in a boy’s bag at the Food Fair?
Fans of the series Bad Guys will love this new crime-fighting bunch of pigeons.
Funky illustrations amongst 3 hilarious stories.
(Humour, Series, Animals, Crime, Funny)
Author – Jess Butterworth
Age – 9+
Ruby knows there is something wrong as soon as she gets home one night. But she never imagined the changes that are about to happen in her life.
Within hours she is escaping Australia and travelling to India with her father, grandmother, family dog and a smuggled baby kangaroo.
How can they do this to her? She is angry at her father for making this choice for her, but soon learns to love the mountain they are to live on. She makes a friend, photographs the wildlife and helps refurbish a run-down hotel with her family.
But strange things are happening on the mountain, and the local townspeople claim that it is haunted by an angry goddess. Will anyone ever want to work in their hotel, let alone guests come to stay?
Ruby becomes protective of the mountain, particularly the leopards that prowl the undergrowth. When she sees men behaving suspiciously she wants to know what’s going on.
Much of this story was written based on the author’s own experiences as a child in India. Ruby is a well-drawn character still dealing with the loss of her mother in a car accident, which has triggered other fears she must overcome. Her friend Praveen gives a young, girl-boy friendship and an environmental theme builds around the endangered leopards.
(Leopards, Endangered animals, India, Grief, Friendship, Courage, Family, Poaching)
Author – Denis Wright KIWI!
Age – 13+
Lucy (Lucinda) and her friend have noticed the creepy guy following them and the strange lady’s ramblings at the bus stop, but being kidnapped from the school play is the last thing Lucy expected. She wakes in a small room to be told she is the chosen one. She is to marry their leader and have his child who will be the next Jesus for the world.
She fights for her freedom, thinking about how her father and grandfather will be coping – not knowing how or where she disappeared to. She has seen glimpses of newspapers where she fills the front pages.
The weeks pass and although she doesn’t admit it to herself at first, she is relaxing within the group of people who took her. She is beginning to believe what they say. Life seems so much easier with others making the decisions. But as her wedding looms nearer she has to make a choice. Stay or escape?
Lucy is already dealing with the way she looks, drawing attention from guys at school and men her father knows. Girls are jealous of her looks and she is a caretaker for her alcoholic dad and aging Poppa, so the calm of the cult soothes her, finally making her a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. A believable character within a NZ setting and a religious cult.
(New Zealand, Cult, Kiwi, Stockholm Syndrome, Kidnap, Family)