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 – Fleur Beale
Age – 10+
Lyla had already been through a large earthquake in Christchurch, but nothing prepared her for another one – with much more damage to the city, private homes, schools, landmarks and devastatingly – 185 lives are lost.
Lyla and her friends are outside in the city when this earthquake hits in the middle of the day. The air is thick with dust, people are running, crying, and injured. Lyla helps an elderly gentleman with a deep gash on his head and is worried where her parents might be. She makes her way home along streets torn up and flooded by the all too familiar liquifaction.
As Lyla and her neighbours gather together in their fears and worries for other family members, they learn more about their ravaged beloved city. A boy from school who has always been a thorn in her side is suddenly on her couch, her lounge is full and she is trying to hold everything together at home and within herself. But as life changes around her, she struggles with her inner turmoil more and more. Will she ever be able to relax and feel normal again?
This story expresses the fear and horror of the Christchurch earthquakes through the life of a 14 year old girl. It gave me a clearer understanding of not only the devastation of the city itself, but also the terrible toll the continuing earthquakes (some as nearly as big as the first two) takes on it’s citizens.
(Earthquake, Fear, Empathy, NZ, New Zealand, Christchurch, Aftershocks, Friendship, PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
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)
Author – Ross Welford
Age – 9+
Would you want to live forever? Alfie is 11 years old and has been 11 for 1000 years. He lives with his mum who is also a ‘Neverdead’ and they keep to themselves in a small house in the woods.
When there is an accident, Alfie is left alone, frightened and desperate to find what he needs to finally grow up and grow old normally. He makes two friends who help hide him from the police and social services while he figures out what to do.
But there is someone else who wants what Alfie needs – someone who has been searching for Alfie for hundreds of years. Someone who will do anything to get what he wants.
An intriguing story about friendship, family, and history, all rolled up with a mystery and a heart-stopping conclusion. Be careful what you wish for! Great read!
(History, Friends, Mystery, Action)
Author – Jason Reynolds
Illustrator – Chris Priestley
Age – 13+
When Will’s big brother Shawn is gunned down in front of him, Will remembers what Shawn has taught him.
No crying. No Snitching. Get Revenge.
Will knows he has to follow through with these rules – no matter what. But on the elevator ride down his building, people from his past step inside from each floor. They all have something to say, something to share, something to tell him about the past.
Will he go through with it?
Shocking. Heartbreaking. Stunning.
Told in verse format, Will’s story is about the terrible waste and toll on lives and families through gang warfare. Winner of the US National Book Award 2017. Just read it.
(Honor, Family, Guns, Gang, Grief, Ghost, Crime, Murder, Shooting)