Author – Annabel Pitcher
Age – 16+
Archie is reeling after a family announcement. His father is leaving. His mother doesn’t even seem mad about it, and his big sister knows more than she’s letting on. When Archie learns the whole truth, his whole world implodes.
What if his the guys at school find out? His life won’t be worth living. They will show no mercy. And that’s when Archie begins to think about that guy who ended it all on the train tracks behind his house.
Archie likes a girl at school – who just happens to be the sister of the guy on the tracks. She blames herself and is trying to understand why her brother did it. When Archie offers her some relief from her guilt, they become a little closer. But she has her own secrets too. Is Archie strong enough to resist a final solution for himself and protect her from the same?
This is an easy read/novella for not only dyslexic teens, but those who may find larger texts daunting or unappealing. It was gritty, true to life, showing the no-filter language of teen boys amongst themselves and about girls. Fantastic read.
(Dyslexic, Homophobia, Suicide, Bullying, Mental Health, School, Family)
Author – Allison Rushby
Age – 10+
Immy has moved from Sydney Australia, to a small village in the UK. It’s a new start for them after something happened at her father’s work.
After seeing a few houses with a rental agent, they choose a cute little cottage with a large tree in the back lawn. But this isn’t just any tree.
The agent tells them of the tree’s history. A history where two girls who lived in the cottage mysteriously vanished on the eve of their 11th birthday. The entire village blames the tree. But that’s ridiculous – isn’t it?
Immy tries to make friends but the tree’s history affects everyone around her – even Jean, the kind old lady who lives next door. She says her best friend Elizabeth was one of the girls who disappeared many years before.
Immy has been hearing a creepy rhyme being sung – even when there is no-one nearby. Could there be some truth in the legend? While she keeps her fears to herself, she is also dealing with her dad’s depression, and the feeling that the tree is watching her and mirroring her feelings. She is determined to learn the truth – which means staying home on the eve of her 11th birthday…..
I loved this story! It was sad and beautiful, and intriguing and creepy. I couldn’t read the last few pages fast enough. I closed the book with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. Fans of Emma Carroll will love it too.
(Mystery, School, Magic, Secrets, Friends, Depression, Nature)
Author – Marcus Sutter
Illustrator – Pat Kinsella
Age – 8+
The bombs have begun to fall and Matt and Rachel have been separated from Matt’s parents. It seems everywhere they run, the fires are burning and the rubble exploding. The air raid sirens are shrieking and the drone of more German bombers fill their ears. Where will they be safe?
Meanwhile, Chief; a German Shepherd who belongs to Matt’s big brother has also been separated from them. His smell guides him through the rubble where there are people looking for others in the devastation. One after another he helps to find humans in the rubble. But where are the young human pups? They need him to find their way home!
While Chief is busy rescuing people, Matt and Rachel are involved in a rescue. But is it worth it?
This is the first book in a new series about the brave dogs who helped save hundreds of people in human wars. Told in both Matt and Chief’s viewpoint, the action never stops! Will Matt forgive his parents for what they did? Will he finally accept Rachel, the refugee living with them? Will they survive the endless bombing of Canterbury England (June 1st 1942).
The end pages of the book show real dogs who were awarded bravery medals for their work in wartime, Q & A pages, an interesting, easy-to-read timeline of World War II and stats about the Canterbury Blitz where this story is set.
(War, Canterbury Blitz, German Bombers, Courage, Refugee, Family, Shelter, Bombs, Bravery, Dogs, Animals, Search and Find)
Author – Brian Conaghan
Age – 14+
Bobby loves his mum and his little brother Danny. Mum has worsening Multiple Sclerosis and Danny is well… challenging. Bobby is up early, tending to his mum and making sure Danny is up, dressed, fed and ready for school. At only 17 Bobby is still at school himself and does his best whilst trying not to worry about mum on her own at home.
When Bobby is offered a place at a young carer’s group, he balks at first. He doesn’t want to sit in a circle with a bunch of whingers and ‘woe is me’s.’ He doesn’t resent looking after his mum no matter how hard it is getting.
The group turns out to be just what he needed. Somewhere to be and have some fun without worrying about home. But one guy (Lou) is making him feel things he has never felt before. When Lou tells him a secret, Bobby wonders if he can share his own.
A heart-breaking, funny, moving, beautiful story about a caring young teen and the love for his mum. This award-winning author will capture you on the first page and not let you go until the last. I didn’t want to put it down and read deep into the night.
(Grief, Family, Carer, Multiple Sclerosis, LGBT, Relationships)
Author – Jackie Merchant
Age – 8+
Harry wasn’t happy about moving away from all her friends, pony club and all the memories she had made with her older sister Sissy before her illness. The one thing that eases the move (besides being closer to her loving grandparents), is the promise of a horse of her very own.
Little do her parents know, but Sissy has come with them, even if only in spirit. Harry has been to therapy about ‘hearing voices’ so now she keeps Sissy a secret. After all, if she was just imagining her older, bossy, strong sister’s voice, wouldn’t she make her less annoying?
When an impressive Appaloosa called Marksman is offered to her in her new town, Harry isn’t sure she can handle such a big horse. But with Sissy’s constant pushing, and her grandparent’s support, maybe it is something she can achieve for herself. If only Mum didn’t regret the promise made in the first place.
This story isn’t just about horses, pony club, friendship and family. Harry’s family is still dealing with their grief at the loss of Sissy, but all in their own way. A boy called Billy from school has his own problems, and Harry has to find her own courage (without Sissy) to hold onto what she loves.
(Animals, Horses, Pony Club, Gymkhana, Friendship, Fitting in, Moving)
Author – Sabrina Malcolm
Age – 10+
Tuttle is holding everything together – at least he’s trying to. His dad was a famous mountain climber who didn’t return from his last expedition. The only thing that did return was news that Tuttle’s father left his client alone on the mountain to die.
No-one really knows what happened, but living with this news and their loss is hard. Mum spends too many hours alone in her room or asleep, leaving Tuttle to look after his little brother Fen who also spends most of his hours alone in his room.
Tuttle’s one escape is the stars. He spends a lot of his leisure time at the local observatory or trying to look through his own telescope from home. Trying, because the boy next door spends all his spare time tinkering with his car, revving it loudly and flooding Tuttle’s back yard with light from the shed.
Tuttle’s frustration and worries escalate with all that lays on his shoulders. And now there’s a snooping reporter and social worker to deal with. Can he hold his family together?
Fans of astronomy and myths and how they are connected will enjoy this story about this grieving family. The friendship between Tuttle and his mate Attila is humourous as they ‘bounce’off each other, together and online, and Tuttle’s inner turmoil is well written. Authentic kiwi fiction.
(NZ, New Zealand, Kiwi, Astronomy, Grief, Myths, Family, Friendship, Bully)
Author – Rowena House
Age – 10+
It’s 1916. Angelique is 14 and is not sure how she should feel after hearing the worst news about her father fighting in WWI. Her mother is grief-stricken but Angelique only remembers her father’s anger. Her fears for her beloved brother Pascal overshadow her guilt over her father, and she vows to make sure their farm will be just as it was when Pascal left to fight. He must have somewhere safe and loving to return to.
But doing everything herself is almost impossible, and when Nature takes a swipe at them, and then the Army take even more, Angelique is at breaking point. There is even worse news to come – they will lose the farm if they don’t pay her dead father’s debts.
It’s a heart-breaking choice, but Angelique decides to sell Pascal’s Toulouse Geese. But the only way to get the best price is to take them to where the money is – the officers in the army. This means a long, cold and dangerous journey closer to the front.
Along the way they meet many people just as desperate to live as they are. She must keep her wits about her, and sum up all the courage she has.
The idea for this story came from a photograph the author saw on a TV documentary about the Spanish Flu pandemic – blamed on domestic birds like geese, chickens or ducks in 1916. It spread through the army who then spread it further when they returned home. (Angelique has no idea what is making her birds unwell along their journey.) Through thorough and meticulous research by the author, this story gives yet another face to war – that of those left behind, trying to hold onto hope for their loved ones while holding everything together at home. War took their fathers, uncles, brothers and sons, then their stock, their livelihood, farms and homes. Stunning.
(War, Family, Courage, Geese, Goose, France, WWI, Soldiers, Journey)