Author – Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator – Michael Foreman
Jonah has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders at home and is bullied at school. This school used to be The Foundling Hospital – a place children were taken to save them from the 18th century streets of London.
Jonah loves music, and humming the songs his mum used to play on her piano always lifts his spirits. But one day after more bullying, he hides in the school chapel. He finds a small gold button on the chapel floor then hears beautiful music coming from the organ. He is entranced.
Out of nowhere, an ghostly old man approaches him. At first Jonah is petrified but soon realises the man means him no trouble. All he wants to do is tell Jonah about the Lucky Button he has found, where it came from, and how important it is.
Another gentle tale of family, and friendship from this popular author. Among the colour and black & white illustrations scattered through the text, the reader will meet Mozart as a boy and learn about Handel too.
(Family, School, Bullying, Music, History)
Author – Adriana Mather
Age – 13+
Sam (Samantha) and her step-mum Vivian have moved to her dead grandmother’s house in Salem, a small town where Sam’s dad grew up. She is instantly disliked at her new high school and she knows why. Her ancestor Cotton Mather was largely responsible for the Witch Trials in Salem centuries before.
‘The Descendants’ (a group of 5 teens always dressed in black, and true descendants of the so-called witches that died) are scathing of Sam and make life difficult. If it wasn’t for the neighbours, handsome Jaxon who sticks up for her and his mum; Sam would be just like she’s always been – friendless and feared.
People around Sam often end up hurt and she’s felt cursed since small. When this ‘curse’ follows her to Salem, it becomes much more serious. Is it all her fault? Where did this curse come from? Can she defeat it?
How to Hang a Witch is not only a fantastic read, it makes the reader aware of how close the 17th century witch trials were compared to the cyber-bullying of today. The phrase ‘Witch Hunt’ is applied to people in all sorts of conflict and this novel makes it clear why.
The other fascinating fact is the author is a descendant of Cotton Mather herself. Salem is a real town in America and she wanted to know more about both the Witch Trials and her own family history. Loved it!
(History, Witches, Ghost, Spell, Curse, High School, Popularity, Romance)
Author / Illustrator – Pam Smy
Age – 10+
Thornhill is an eerie tale told in two ways:
One story is set in 1982 and told in text by a girl called Mary Baines. She lives in Thornhill with other foster kids (all girls) and keeps to herself after being bullied terribly by one of the other girls. The bullying intensifies and she can’t take it anymore. She plans her revenge. But when things don’t go to plan, she has another solution.
The other story is set in 2017 and told in pictures about a girl called Ella moving into a new house. She is alone a lot as her father often works late, and she’s intrigued by the big old house over the back fence – the derelict and abandoned Thornhill Institute for girls. When she sees another girl over there she goes to investigate, exploring the grounds and then the house.
The more she discovers the more she wants to know – will the girl be her friend?
Two girls – two stories, woven into each other. This was an intriguing way to tell a story about loneliness, bullying, revenge and friendship. The final pictures were a great twist!
(Girls, Foster kids, Eerie, Intriguing, Orphanage, Loneliness, Bullying, Bully, Friendship, Foster care, Mystery)
Author – Helen Peters
Age – 10+
Evie is not happy. Her Mum has remarried and gone off on honeymoon, leaving Evie to stay with a godmother she has never met. The room she is shown on the first night looks just like any other room – except for a message scratched into the glass of the window.
Her godmother tells her of a tale told about her room. The message is said to be left by a girl over 200 hundred years before, after being locked in there by her own father.
Evie soon learns more about this girl first hand – waking up in 1814 in the same house, wearing maid’s clothing. Life is very different in 1814 and she has to learn her dawn to dusk duties very quickly or be fired and forced to leave the house. But how would she get home again?
The more she learns about the house and its occupants, she soon meets the girl who scratched the message in the window. Evie knows she has to warn her about her father before it is too late – hoping this righting of a terrible wrong will return her to her own time.
Another great read by Helen Peters – connecting our time with the past in a unique way.
(History, Historical, Godmother, Courage, 1814, Time Travel)
Author – Judy Sheehan
Age – 14+
Sarah is dead. How can this be? She was at her father’s wedding. Life was good. Sure she’d lost her mum and her dad became a workaholic and they’d drifted apart. But then Karen came along and she mended the hurts and the the distance between Sarah and her dad. And they were getting married.
How did she die? And what is this place she has ended up in? It looks like a shopping mall, but there are weird people walking around with no light in their eyes, mumbling to themselves and taking absolutely no notice of her when she asks them – what the heck is going on? Is she really dead? And why is she still wearing the gross coral coloured fluffy bridesmaid’s dress. Could she at least wear something else for all eternity?
Humour, ghosts, angels, murder, revenge, love, and a mission to achieve, I woke up Dead at the Mall is an entertaining read. It sure made me look at things like sunshine, good company, friends, family and the simple things in life in a whole different way.
(Funny, Humour, First love, Angels, Friendship)
Author – Allison Rushby
Age – 9+
Flossie is only 12 but has a very important job. She is the Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery in London. WWII is raging around them, with bombs dropped every night, which makes her job quite difficult. As Turnkey, she is responsible for keeping the thousands of people buried at Highgate – at peace.
Flossie herself is also a ghost and can travel around London and even further afield just by thinking of the place. It is one night from St Paul’s Cathedral that she sees someone who shouldn’t be in London. He shouldn’t even exist. The German Soldier she sees is defying the rules of the dead as he hatches a plot to win the war.
With only her ghost friends to help, they follow the SS Officer to try and prevent him causing trouble. Along the way she discovers he is connected to her own past. Now that all of London’s cemetery’s are at risk, not to mention the entire country, she doesn’t know who to trust among the dead. Can Flossie stop him in time?
(Ghost, Friends, WWII, Cemetery, Grief)
Author – Kristina Ohlsson
Age – 7+
Aladdin’s family owns the Turkish restaurant ‘Turk in the Tower’ in an old water tower in Sweden. They don’t know that the tower was built on land that held an age old mystery. A silversmith used to live there and one night a lightning storm destroyed his home and all his silver was stolen. It was never found.
Who is the strange boy hanging around the restaurant? Is he one of the refugees in town or is he ‘The Silver Boy’ – the ghost of a young boy searching for the silver? Aladdin and his friend Billie are caught up in the mystery, and he’s determined to find the silver to help save the family restaurant.
A ghost, a mystery, a family problem to solve. Twists and turns will intrigue young mystery fans.
(Friendship, Mystery, Ghost, Sweden, Refugees)