Author – Cory Doctorow
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)
Author/Illustrator – Peter Brown
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)
Author – Armand Baltazar
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,
Author / Illustrator – Jen Lee
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)
Author – Bren MacDibble
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)
Author/Illustrator – Matthew Loux
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)
TEEN – DRE
Author – Kerry Drewery
Age – 14+ (Language)
Martha has 7 days to live – the only thing that can save her are the voting public who rely on a TV show ‘Death is Justice’ to give them the information they need to save or condemn her.
Society is no longer ruled by courts and sentences handed down after a fair trial. Criminals are ‘processed’ through a set of 7 cells over 7 days, the last containing an electric chair in front of a viewing platform where people can view the execution of criminals.
Martha has no hope of surviving. She admitted to shooting a popular celebrity – Jackson Paige. But did she? And why would she lie? She has to endure a smaller cell each day, thinking of why she is there and how that maybe she can make a difference. But she’s relying on someone outside to carry out their part of the plan. Will they go through with it or has she made a terrible mistake?
Cell 7 has a great concept, especially with social media becoming a huge part in modern life. Will it ever come to this – deciding someone’s fate through popular opinion? Could it ever function corruption free?
Another great read from the author of ‘A Brighter Fear’
(Future, Crime, Social Media, Murder, Love)