Who Killed Darius Drake?

Author – Rodman PhilbrickImage result for darius drake

Age – 9+

It all begins with a letter – written in, could it be…blood? When Arthur Bash is shown this letter by oddball, sticky-up haired, orphaned, brainiac, weirdo Darius Drake, he’s not sure whether he wants anything to do with it. Arthur might look big and scary and mean, but it’s all just for show.

Arthur is available for hire to anyone at school. If you want anyone to leave you alone, or you want to scare someone, Arthur is your man, well at least, 12 year old boy. Payment is in chocolate bars.

With three Snickers bars up for grabs, Arthur says yes to helping Darius figure out who sent the mysterious letter. But there is so much more to be discovered, and a mystery that deepens the more they dig.

A spooky house. A disfigured man. A convicted felon. A pretty step-sister. A man who looks like a movie star. And a very famous lost diamond necklace. Were three Snickers bars worth it?

(Mystery, Friendship, Blended Family, Secret, Bully, Humour, Funny, Crime)

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Mr Penguin (1) and the Lost Treasure

Author/Illustrator – Alex T SmithMr Penguin and the Lost Treasure

Age – 6+

Mr Penguin has just set up an Adventure/Mystery Agency and advertised it in the local newspaper. On his first day he is keen to get started on solving mysteries and going on adventures! But his phone doesn’t ring. He’d paid a lot of money to set up his Adventure Agency, and if he didn’t get a job soon, he would have to go home to the Frozen South, leaving behind crabsticks and his favourite sandwiches (fish fingers of course).

Just as he’s really beginning to worry – the phone nearly rings right off his desk. There is a mystery at the local museum. Boudicca Bones needs his help URGENTLY to find hidden treasure within the museum.

Mr Penguin is very excited, but soon is wondering whether this whole adventuring thing was a good idea after all? With an X marks the spot, pitch-black passages, and a kung-fu expert spider side-kick named Colin, Mr Penguin’s courage, smarts and rumbling stomach are put to the test as he investigates.

The intricate pencil illustrations add to the fun format of white, orange and black pages of this new series. Mr Penguin is trying to do his best, and is lucky his spider side-kick is along for the adventure. This slapstick action mystery is a little Indiana Jones and a lot funny. Would make a great read-aloud/bedtime story.

(Funny, Humour, Friends, Adventure, Baddies, Villains, Mystery, Secret tunnels, Museum, Slapstick, Series)

A Song Only I Can Hear

Author – Barry Jonsberg40012192

Age – 12+

Rob Fitzgerald has a huge crush on Destry Camberwick. The problem with that is that Rob suffers from panic attacks, and is incredibly shy – only talking with his friend Andrew, his parents and his best friend – his grandfather.

Pop is funny, straight to the point and loves to swear. Rob sees him almost daily and can talk to Pop about anything. How will he get Destry’s attention? Rob’s mate Andrew has some suggestions, one being to impress Destry as a football goalie in the next inter-school game.

When Rob begins receiving strange text messages with more suggestions, he is intrigued about who they are from. Mum? Dad? What about Pop? No. He hates technology.

But Rob takes the text advice seriously and is soon in trouble again and again trying to make a good impression for Destry. And just as it seems to be working, things go terribly wrong.

It was so refreshing to read a teen novel that was true-to-life but had me bursting out laughing throughout the novel. Pop is the funniest character I have read in ages. This book made me laugh, cry and gasp in surprise. It’s about identity and believing in who you really are. Beautiful, funny, clever – pure Barry Jonsberg.
(Note: any swearing is replaced by the word blankety in the novel, which made some scenes even funnier.)

(Identity, Crush, Family, Grandfather, Grandparent, Anxiety, Counselor, Grief, LGBT, Funny)

Yours Troolie, Alice Toolie

Authors – Kate & Jol TempleYours Troolie, Alice Toolie

Age – 7+

Alice Toolie is mortified. Her arch enemy Jimmy Cook has found and read her diary. This is the final straw, and this means war!

But their teacher has decided that they need to put their differences aside and find out more about each other. Do they have anything in common? Could they be friends? They now must write letters to each other to find out.

Alice and Jimmy finally agree on something. This is the worst idea ever and their teacher must be bonkers! But the letters begin. Jimmy brags about all he knows about being a famous explorer, and Alice does all she can to pop his imaginative delusions.

But just as planned, they do find things in common – a ghost in the girl’s toilets, great ideas to make money for the school fete, and how to get their mothers to STOP being friends, and making them spend time together out of school as well!

It was great to see these characters in another story, after the hilarious Captain Jimmy Cook discovers Third Grade, and X marks the Spot. Alice loves sparkle, unicorns and positivity, and Jimmy is all about exploring, digging, and handling all the dangerous stuff. Their back and forth baiting banter is funny.

(Funny, Penpals, Letter, School, Nemesis, Enemy, School Fete, School Gala)

Wedgie & Gizmo (1)

Author – Suzanne SelforsRelated image

Age – 6+

Wedgie is a welsh corgi and he LOVES his house, his stick, the dog-beach and the park. He’s happy almost all of the time and loves taking his humans for a walk, and when they pet and praise him.

He’s not sure about the ‘furry potato’ that has just moved into his house with his boy and man, and he wants to sniff and check him out.

Gizmo is a guinea pig. But he detests such a name. Do humans not know that he is not a pig at all? He is from the rodent family and not just any animal. Gizmo believes himself to be the most amazing creature – in fact…. an EVIL GENIUS.

While Gizmo is plotting to take over the world where his kind will have everything they want and he is king, Wedgie is enjoying barking at the neighbour’s dog Brutus, burying his new bone (hoping he’ll remember where he buried it this time), and protecting his family.

The furry potato’s boy (Elliot) thinks Wedgie wants to eat Gizmo, and Gizmo thinks the elderly lady also living in the house, wants to eat him too. After all, she’s from Peru and they eat his kind, don’t they? Gizmo is constantly adjusting his evil plan as family events unfold.

This tale is told in the viewpoints of positive, happy bouncy Wedgie, and selfish, greedy, narcissist Gizmo. It’s entertaining to see the world from their eyes and how they perceive their human’s behaviour. Fun read!

(Animals, Dogs, Guinea Pig, Evil Genius, , Blended Family, Birthday, Pets, Animal POV, Series)

 

Frindle

Author – Andrew Clements439173

Age – 8+

Nick has a reputation in school for making class interesting. He uses stalling tactics, or time-wasting questions to trick teachers into not setting homework, or to avoid more work in class.

But Mrs Granger is different. She is a 5th grade (Year 6 in NZ and UK) teacher, and at first his intended trick backfires. But something she says in class triggers an idea. Mrs Granger loves her dictionary and insists they all have their own personal copies for their homework. Nick decides he’d like to change a word and begins calling a pen a Frindle.

His friends follow his example. Mrs Granger isn’t happy. The school principal isn’t happy. But is it against school rules? Is it offensive? Is it really such a big deal?

Nick’s word soon becomes a HUGE deal, with run-away results.

I learnt about this book in the Kid’s Lit Quiz (An International Reading Competition run by Wayne Mills NZOM). I can see why it is a favourite of so many people, young and old. It would make a great read-aloud to 7-8 yr olds.

(School, Words, Dictionary, Language, Humour, Teaching, Teacher, Self-belief)

 

 

The Boy who Grew Dragons

Author – Andy Shepherd39355816

Illustrator – Sara Ogilvie

Age – 7+

Have you ever wanted your very own dragon? Maybe you’ve dreamed about flying on one high above your town or city? Tomas can tell you all about that and what to do if you ever find one – just like he did.

It all began while he was helping his Grandad in his new vegie garden. Suddenly he is dealing with a tiny bundle of sparks and exploding poos, all the while trying to keep it all a secret from his parents, friends, grandparents and especially a kid called Liam from school.

But it’s all just too exciting to keep to himself, and he’s dying to tell someone!

The first in a series, this was a fun read and guide on how to keep a dragon and where you might find one. Looking forward to The Boy who Lived with Dragons.

(Funny, Dragons, Grandfather, Humour, Bully, School, Friends, Secret, Younger Sibling)