Author – Claire Hennessy
Age – 15+
Lauren is 16, a student at a Catholic Girls School and increasingly angry. It doesn’t help that her mum is the principal and seemingly too busy to notice what Lauren is going through. And she is going through a lot.
Her best friend Steph is now Evan, coming out to Lauren and the world. This is confusing because didn’t they have a night of something special together? Lauren thinks about her boyfriend Justin a lot, until she realises he is just using her.
School is a disaster as the school play has been announced and it includes boy characters. But much to Lauren and her friend’s dismay, they won’t be working with the local boy’s high school, but playing all the boy parts themselves.
Suddenly Lauren is dealing with a life-changing decision all on her own. She’s alienated her friends, her favourite teacher and stolen from her family. Reaching for alcohol, it numbs her for a while, but results in hours missing in her memory. Lauren is a mess. How will she climb out of the hole she has dug for herself?
This was a challenging read, but I was right there with Lauren and her confusion, pain and sense of hopelessness. Being a teen in 2017 is tough, and many issues they face are tackled with authenticity and courage. A great read.
(Sexuality, School, Friendship, Abortion, Trans, Bi, Lesbian, Choices)
Author – Scot Gardner
Age – 12+
Sparrow is kind, respectful, brave and friendly. He’s also resourceful and street savvy. He has to be – sleeping on a block of toilets at night, avoiding his brother and his paint sniffing gang of teens, and helping cafe owners with their chairs night and morning in payment for food.
Sparrow is a selective mute after a troubled childhood, and this story begins on a boat full of kids from juvie. A fire forces them into the croc and shark filled waters, and 16 year old Sparrow swims for his life to the far north Australian coastline. With determination and courage learnt on the streets of Darwin, he learns how to survive in the bush and mangroves.
This tale of survival is interspersed with chapters of his earlier life, people that have helped him, the reason for his mutism, and why he’s called Sparrow.
But he’s not alone on the coastline. Someone else escaped the burning boat. Someone who needs saving even more than him.
Sparrow is yet another compelling teen novel from this accomplished Australian author. This book is not only about survival. It’s about loss, courage, love and hope for a future that seemed impossible to imagine.
(Street kid, Survival, Love, Determination, Self sufficient, Fishing, Hunting, Australia, Love, Courage)
Author – Eion Colfer
Illustrator – Andrew Donkin
Age – 10+
Ebo is only 12 when he is forced at gunpoint to sail with 13 others in a patched up inflatable dinghy designed for only 6. This is the journey he’s been waiting and working for since he was 10 years old when his brother Kwame left him behind.
But as we all know, these voyages of hope for a better life are nothing like the journey promised to them by money hungry people smugglers. Luckily Ebo has a wonderful voice and loves to sing, and his voice is something he can take on his journey, which ultimately helps him find all that he was looking for.
A full colour Graphic Novel about one boy’s hazardous journey to find a better life in Europe, across deserts, through dangerous streets of a city and out in the ocean on a sinking boat. A thought provoking book that shows young readers the truth behind these perilous journeys.
(Refugee, Boat people, Journey, Voyage, Sing, Poverty)
Author – Julie Lamb
Age – 8+
Summer Rain is a laugh a minute – at least the boys at school think so. She’s always cracking a joke or laughing stuff off. It’s her way of fitting in and dealing with things at home. Not that it’s bad or anything, it’s just… embarrassing. When her dad is away during the week for his work, Summer stays with her fun, a little crazy and a whole lot stingy Pop. The thing is, Pop isn’t poor, Summer has seen a bunch of bank statements to prove it.
Now 12, Summer is feeling like she’d like to change from the tom-boy she is – just a little? A popular girl at school starts showing an interest in her, which confuses Summer, but she begins to enjoy some ‘girl stuff’ for a change.
Things are just fine until a woman starts to show an interest in Pop. Surely she’ll be gone again as soon as she realises how crazy-stingy Pop is? Summer is suspicious, and digs a little deeper into this woman’s past. She doesn’t like what she finds, but Pop just won’t listen!
All is revealed in the end, with the reason for the girl’s interest, Pop’s solution and Summer being just who she wants to be.
This story may be set in NZ, but girls everywhere (especially tom-boys, like I once was), will really enjoy the trials of Summer at school, home around her small town. This book won the Best 1st Book of the Year Award in the NZ Children’s Book Awards 2017. And it definitely deserved it. Loved it!
(New Zealand, NZ, Kiwi, Funny, Humour, Tom-boy, Friends, Award)
Author – Sarah Crossan
Age – 13+
Joe Moon has always looked up to his big brother Ed. He was there for him when their alcoholic mother wasn’t, attending parent interviews, walking him to school or just taking him out for some fun.
But Joe hasn’t seen Ed for ten years. And now Ed’s on Death Row, he needs Joe. His mother long gone, and his aunt pretending Ed doesn’t exist, Joe goes to the small town and the prison that holds his brother.
This is Joe’s story of getting to know his brother again, asking him the questions he needs to ask, hoping when there is no hope left, for a stay of execution. Along the way he meets someone unexpected. Someone who shouldn’t be there for him, but helps him deal with what is to come.
Stunning. The poetry format gives you all you need and no more to feel the character’s heartbreak, confusion, anger, and even happiness as he remembers pieces of his childhood.
A tale of love and forgiveness – for everything and anything, and hope for one more month, one week, one hour, one minute….
(Family, Love, Growing up, Execution, Prison, Hope, Relationships, Award winning author)
Author – Irfan Master
Age – 12+
Adam’s family is struggling. They have just lost his grandfather and learned that he donated his heart – given to someone else who needed it after he died.
Adam’s mum hasn’t cried yet, and he’s worried about that.
Adam’s little sister Farah still doesn’t speak, preferring to sign instead.
Adam blames himself.
This story could be bleak. It could be dark and depressing and leave you wishing you never picked it up. It is the opposite.
Yes, life is tough. Mum has to work two jobs. They are grieving. Adam likes to be alone even more now, spending all his time drawing in his sketch pad or writing down words to make some sense of the world. His exceptional talent at drawing is also shown in tagging, but unlike other taggers he knows, he is working alone on a bigger project. One that takes months of being out in the cold, bit by bit, revealing something important.
And then there’s William. He’s different. He’s tall and white and just appears one day on their door-step. He has something to tell them. Who is this stranger?
Out of Heart is all about – HEART. All the different types of heart. Kind-hearted. Hard-hearted. Broken-hearted. Cold-hearted. And luckily for Adam’s sake, a Sweet-heart. And with interesting quotes from books, and poems, or facts about the heart sprinkled through the book – it was nothing but heart-warming. LOVED IT!
(Abuse, Grief, Family, Tagging, Friendship, Relationships, Blended Family, Courage, Conflict)
Author – James Roy
Age – 5+
Let’s do Diwali (5) – Chook is paired up with Praj in his class because his best friend Joe is sick. They have to research an international festival and Praj asks if they can do Diwali – A festival of lights. Chook is worried about how big the crowd might be and if he’ll like the food, but Praj’s mum makes him feel part of things with traditional clothing and careful choice of food for Chook to try. He loves the happy atmosphere, the food, the music and the fireworks!
On the Road (6) – Chook and his family are going to visit their younger twin girl cousins. What will they talk about? But Chook takes his chess set and his brother takes his socccer ball. Evie learns chess very quickly and Poppy ends up playing soccer with Ricky outside. They have things in common after all.
Unhappy Camper (7) – Chook doesn’t want to go on the school camp. His mum and friend Joe try to convince him it will be fun, but he still worries. When Chook’s brother Ricky is jealous, camp doesn’t sound so bad after all. He finally picks up his gear and goes to school – only to find they aren’t going anywhere. They are going to camp at school!
Up and Away (8) – When Chook’s teacher asks them to write about what job they’d like to do when they are older and why they think they’ll be good at it, Chook can’t decide. He thinks about being a pilot like his dad, but he’s a bit scared of that. When he helps out in the travel lounge with a little girl who is scared of flying, his dad is proud of him. Being a pilot is much more than just flying planes. It is being good with people too.
Four more stories in this easy-read series for boys, with characters they can relate to in their own daily lives.
(School, Growing up, Courage, Friendship)