Author – Ele Fountain
Age – 10 +
Shif and his best friend Bini are smart. Smart enough to be put up a class in school. Bini wants to be a doctor and Shif an engineer. They enjoy maths and chess and trying to outdo each other in everything. Life is good.
But life around them is changing. Bini suddenly stops coming to school. Government soldiers are appearing more often in their town, looking for children avoiding compulsory military service. Shif’s mum tells him the truth about his father, who he always thought was dead. The unthinkable happens and Shif and Bini are arrested.
The friends soon see another side of life in their country. One of soldiers, cells, mistreatment and force. Will they ever achieve their mother’s dreams of escaping their corrupt country for England?
The cover does not do this book justice. Boy 87 is set in an un-named Middle Eastern Country, where many people are doing what they can just to survive, and/or planning their escape. They can’t trust anyone, always watching out for soldiers, slave traders or those who wish to trick them out of their hard-earned savings to enable fleeing from their homeland. A great read to kick off class discussion about the courageousness of refugees in our world.
(Refugee, Middle East, Courage, Conscription, Military Service, Family, Friendship)
Author – Mary-anne Scott
Age – 10+
Wolf (Wolfgang – named after Amadeus by his musician mum) hasn’t been very focused lately. His marks at school have declined and he’s dropped out of his sports and activities. Wolf’s worried about his brother Davey. Davey has been diagnosed with the rare Addison’s disease, requiring injections, hospital visits and rest.
When Wolf gets the chance to go hunting with an experienced uncle, his parents are dubious, but with Davey’s help he soon earns the right (and fitness) to go.
Excited, Wolf can’t wait to get out there among the action of a pig-hunt. He’s not disappointed, but by the end of his adventure he’s been scared, exhausted, embarrassed, angry, thrilled, and just plain terrified. It wasn’t what he expected and just about everything that can go wrong – does.
I loved the character of Wolf. He was very believable as he tried to shake the ‘townie’ label, impress a girl and his uncle, all with the thought of Davey stuck at home and unable to experience what he was doing. This story had no ‘boring bits’ as Wolf came across one challenge after another. Great kiwi lingo and reluctant reader heaven.
(Hunting, Siblings, Brothers, Courage, Pig, Boar, Tramping, Family)
Author – Katherine Paterson
Age – 9+
Lora lives in Havana, Cuba, and she has just shocked her parents into tears and anger. It is 1961 and Lori wants to join Fidel Castro’s army of teachers to go and live in the rural areas to teach literacy. She will become a Brigadista.
Lora is excited to be joining 1000’s of others in the quest to make Cuba a illiteracy free nation. She is to live with a rural family and after working alongside them in their fields each day, she is to teach them at night. At first she has to overcome the men’s feeling of losing their status in their homes, but when they realise their children and wives will be able to read and write and they not, they soon join in the lessons at night.
All is going well until they learn of armed rebels in the jungles around them. Brigadistas are their target. Should she go home?
This was a simple story about the 250,000 volunteers who left their homes of comfort to help their fellow citizens to read and write. 100,000 were between the ages of 10 and 19. The rear of the book has a timeline of Cuban history which taught me much about this nation.
Author – Lucy Adlington
Age – 12+
Ella is a designer. She loves clothes and fashion, after being taught everything she knows by her no-nonsense but loving grandmother. She is hurrying to the nearby Upper Tailoring Studio who are looking for a new seamstress.
But this is no normal sewing shop. There is no pay, no breaks, and an armed guard by the door who can shoot you at any disturbance. This is Birchwood – better known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Ella makes a friend at the Studio in funny, book-loving Rose whose mother is a Countess. Together the girls bond over their sewing skills as they work for the camp commandant’s wife and female guards. They learn to barter, steal, and fight to keep themselves alive while Rose tells stories and they both dream of opening a dress shop together – the hope helping to keep them going.
A hidden red ribbon, although causing a vicious beating, helps keep that dream alive, even when they’re separated.
When a human has hope, it can keep them alive, filling their thoughts with wonderful things as they are starved, beaten, humiliated, terrified and shocked to their core. The Upper Tailoring Studio was real at Auschwitz and this story shares another side of this terrible time in history.
Author – Amie Kaufman
Age – 8+
Twins Anders and Rayna live in a world of dragons and wolves – ice wolves to be exact. These wolves that can morph from human to wolf in a matter of seconds protect their city of Vallen from the dangerous dragons who also morph from human.
With Rayna’s savvy street smarts the twins live on the streets, pick pocketing and stealing to survive. But when something goes wrong they are caught up in a sacred ritual in front of hundreds of people. They find themselves on opposite sides of the age-old conflict, and Anders is alone for the first time in his life.
How will he find Rayna, let alone get her back? Anders has to learn to stand on his own two feet among people he’s not sure are friend or enemy.
This is the first in a new fantasy series by acclaimed author Amie Kaufman. It is chocka full of intrigue, action and wonderful world building.
Author – LM Montgomery
Adapted by – Mariah Marsden
Illustrator – Brenna Thummler
Age – 8+
When brother and sister Matthew and Marilla decide to take in an orphan boy to help on their farm, little did they realise their world would be tipped upside down by a fiery, red-headed, freckle-faced, highly imaginative 11 year old girl.
At first they were disappointed to find Anne, but very quickly her constant chatter and the way she wears her heart on her sleeve, wins over first Matthew then his no-nonsense sister. Anne then sets out to find her first ever bosom friend in neighbour Diana Barry.
Anne’s forthright ways and vivid imagination transforms lives around her, and this graphic novel adaptation takes Anne right through until adulthood.
I haven’t read or watched Anne of Green Gables for many years, and was looking forward to diving into this modern version of this classic. It was as wonderful as I hoped.
(Classic, Graphic Novel, Friendship, Family, Orphan, Imagination, Adventures)
Author – Victoire Dauxerre
Age – 14+
When approached by a stranger in the street, 17 yr old Victoire couldn’t believe her ears. He told her she was beautiful and he worked with Elite, a fashion agency that could make her into a supermodel. After giving his business card and urging her to call him, Victoire and her mum burst out laughing. Was that for real?
Victoire was in the middle of exams and stressing whether she will pass, when she decides to call this stranger. After a meeting with a photographer, she was asked if she’d like to meet important people at Elite. “Yes”. And her short but intense time in the fashion world begins.
Size Zero tells the story of a young family-orientated girl showered with attention, glamourous clothes, shoes and makeup. But then there’s the waiting around at photo shoots, the hair products and makeup that burns, the arrogant photographers, hair stylists and designers who bark instructions. And worst of all, the constant pressure to be thinner than your competition.
This book shines a light on the behind the scenes cut throat fashion industry. Models are often seen as clothes racks and nothing more and are as disposable as plastic cutlery. The ‘new look’ can change in an instant, the fashion agencies screaming for new, fresh girls constantly, with no regard for their welfare. Illuminating.
(Biography, Fashion, Anorexia, Weight loss, Dieting, Depression, Photographer, Designer, Clothing)