Fahrenheit 451

Author – Ray Bradbury

Age – 16+

It’s not until firefighter Guy Montag meets his new 17 yr old neighbour, Clarisse McLellan, that he begins to think about his life. She seems strange, taking pleasure out of simple things and asking personal questions. The toughest of these being, ‘Are you happy?’

This gets Guy thinking, and he realises he hasn’t just sat and thought for a long time. When he discovers his wife has tried to commit suicide, and doesn’t even remember doing it – just waking up and asking for another full wall TV screen (they are already trying to pay off the third they purchased only 2 months ago), Guy really starts to look at his life.

He is a firefighter – no, make that a firestarter. He works shifts at a firestation, responding to alarms that tell them someone, somewhere, has books that need to be disposed of – burnt, by him and his crew. They spray kerosine, not water, from their pipes, then throw a match.

It’s not until he witnesses a woman preferring to die amongst her books that he realises what he has become. Almost a robot. Just going through the motions of life, not thinking or asking questions. Will books help him make sense of his life. Will they wake him up?

He can’t talk to his wife. She’s only interested in the TV programs and radio broadcasts she is addicted to. Who will help him in his quest?

His firestation Captain seems to understand his confusion – at first. But soon Guy’s life tips upside down, and he can’t return to how life was before, even if he wanted to…..

This classic was written in 1953 and has been classed as Dystopian, Futuristic, and a story about Censorship. But the author said simply, it was about too much TV turning people into morons. This story fascinated me in the fact that the author seems to have looked into the future (our now), and seen our TV and screen addictions, and often ‘sameness’ culture.

Brilliant!

(Dystopian, Censorship, Friendship, Books, Book-burning, Future, Classic)

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In Real Life

Author – Cory Doctorow20575446
Illustrator – Jen Wang

Age – 12+

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer – a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

I took the blurb from the publisher for this review as it is so clear. I loved the illustration style and variety of design throughout this graphic novel which is such a current topic both in game worlds and real life. Gamers, young and old are becoming different people via their avatars (digital alter egos) online. But it’s just a game right? What is often forgotten by the players is that the characters in the game you are shooting, chasing, trapping or scheming with, are actual people in the next street, town, country or continent. Real people. And sometimes these people’s needs are as simple as food or shelter and if selling things to affluent players achieves this, this is what they must do.

(Gaming, Computer Game, Avatars, Game, Poverty)

The Wild Robot

Author/Illustrator – Peter Brown26030734

Age – 8+

A ship sinks on the first page of this story, with only 5 boxes escaping the depths of the ocean. Four of them are dashed against rocks of an island, only one surviving. A group of otters surround the strange box and while investigating it, inadvertently push a button inside.

A strange shiny creature emerges. “Hello, I am ROZZUM Unit 7134, but you may call me Roz.” Roz is a robot, and she is instantly labelled by the animals on the island as ‘The Monster’.

Slowly but surely, Roz uses her computer brain to observe these animals and their habits – learning camouflage, their languages and their rules. Slowly but surely she is accepted among them, her adoption of a gosling egg helping smooth the way.

Roz not only has to learn be a mother, but how to look after herself and her new friends in an extreme winter while she waits for her gosling son’s return from his fly south.

This Award winning book is something special. Set in the future, it combines Technology and Nature and shows how they learn from one another. It lightly touches on Global warming, and shows a winter more extreme than before, both things we are dealing with now. The Wild Robot would make a fantastic Read aloud for classrooms, as it makes the reader think about our future and how we will look after not only ourselves but the other creatures that share our world. B & White Illustrations compliment this novel.

(Nature, Robot, Friendship, Environment, Global Warming, Island, Family, Leadership, Award)

Timeless – Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic

Author – Armand Baltazar23354816

Age – 9+

Imagine a world where all of Earth’s history is thrown together in a tumble of times. Victorian, Art Deco, Steam, Dinosaurs, Airships, the present and the future – all mixed up by a singe cosmic event. This is the world that Diego Ribera lives in.

His father Santiago Ribera is a brilliant mechanical engineer and for Diego’s 13th birthday he is given 3 gifts – one being the understanding of a mysterious inherited gift, and part of the reason for his father’s sought after skills.

When his father is kidnapped, Diego is determined to find him, especially after an argument between them. He is thrown into an adventure with dinosaurs, technology, pirates and three other teens in a quest to get his father and his engineering team back.

What results are the Rangers of the Vastlantic, four teens from different times, working together with their special skills to save the world as they now know it.

Bursting with sumptuous illustrations from the talented Armand Baltazar, who has worked for Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks as a director and artist. There is plenty of action, great character developments, steam gadgets, intrigue and mystery to keep any reader glued to the page – except the illustrations are so good, you want to stay looking at them! FANTASTIC!

(Action, Friendship, Steampunk, Kidnap, Pirates, Dinosaurs,

 

 

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)

How to Bee

Author – Bren MacDibble34341687

Age – 10+

Peony lives in a world where bees no longer exist and all pollinating and pest control is done by hand in orchards. She lives with her grandpa and older sister Mags in a tin shed, earning their living by working in the orchard. Peony, and Mags are ‘Pests’, killing pests as they find them. But Peony wants to be a ‘Bee’, climbing the trees and using special sticks to pollinate the flowers. At 9, she is one year too young, but she tries out anyway.

When her mum returns from the city, telling her of money to be made and lovely places to live, Peony doesn’t want to know. Although poor, they are happy in the orchard. But Mum won’t take no for an answer.

The city is like nothing Peony has ever seen, with a toilet inside, water that comes out of the wall, and lovely soft beds. But the work is long and the daughter of the house is incredibly spoiled. An unlikely friendship builds, Peony needing help to get home, and Esmeralda needing courage to leave her grand house.

This is a wonderful story of friendship, determination, and the power of family. Loved it!

(Climate change, Family, Abuse, Courage, Future, Friendship)

The Time Museum

29102874Author/Illustrator – Matthew Loux

Graphic Novel

Age – 8+

Delia Bean loves science, facts, history – everything. Her Uncle thinks she is definitely smart enough to apply for an internship at an amazing Earth Time Museum. It holds Earth’s history (past, present and future.)

Uncle Lyndon tells her that he is in fact a time traveler and curator of the museum and he wants her to join 5 others from different times in history to go through 3 tests to determine who will work at the museum. This is better than Delia’s wildest dreams for her future.

Their tasks include finding specimens, spotting things, people, objects etc that don’t belong in that time and capturing them and learning about important historical events. Delia soon makes friends but when something goes terribly wrong, Delia is to blame.

Will she lose her friends and her chance at her dream job?

Fantastic full colour illustrations and intriguing adventures!

(Science, Time Travel, Graphic Novel, Friendship, Competition, Cooperation, Trust, Series)