Author – Rowena House
Age – 9+
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)
Author – Peadar O’Guilan
Age – 13+
Nessa may have returned from ‘The Grey Land’, but her battle isn’t over yet. She is instantly under suspicion. How could she survive with her bent and twisted legs? How could someone so weak return unscarred when bigger, stronger, better trained children and teens do not?
She is labelled a traitor – someone who has made a deal with the S’dhe in order to survive. There are now government agents searching for such traitors, and they will find them at any cost.
Something terrible is happening to Ireland. More terrible than The Call itself, with nothing to stop it.
Told in different viewpoints of Nessa, Anto, and others from the survival school Nessa attended, there is action at every turn, choices to make or believe and survival an even thinner thread than before.
Be careful what you promise, and who you promise to, as they are assembling out there, and coming for you….
(Fantasy, Violence, Fairy Folk, Legends, Myths, Ireland, Love, Friendship, Courage, Trust)
Author – Megan Miranda
Age – 13+
Jessa loved Caleb Evers. He was sweet, funny, good looking and attentive. But now he’s gone. The last time she saw him was on the sidelines of her cross-country competition. They say he left upset. They say the accident is all her fault.
Caleb’s mum can’t face packing up his room and asks Jessa to do it. Each thing she packs brings back a memory of their time together. A photo. A piece of clothing. A letter opener. But the more she packs up, the more she finds. Some things don’t add up, and his mum is acting weird.
Caleb’s best friend Max is grieving too. He was with Caleb and Jessa so much that he has become a close friend of Jessa’s. But how close? Should she feel guilty? Between them they discover things that were supposed to be hidden. Things that will change everything.
Another fantastic read from Megan Miranda. She weaves the intrigue and mystery throughout her books to such a point, I can’t read fast enough. This book took a bit more time to get into, but once I was in there, there was no chance I was going to leave it alone.
(Family, Secret, Grief, Relationship, Love, Intrigue, Accident)
Author – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Age – 10+
Grace and her little sister Bee became orphans 5 years ago, losing their mother to an illness and their father two days later. Their sun-loving, travelling Uncle Freddy returned immediately to become their guardian. Soon after their grandfather moved in too.
Five years on and they’ve done ok. Uncle Freddy forgets to pay the bills sometimes and housework isn’t his top priority, but the girls feel loved and cared for. If only they could talk about the not-to-be-mentioned subject. The loss of their parents and in turn, their grief.
Now Grace is older, she’s become embarrassed by her little sister’s quirkyness and insistence on imaginary things being real. According to Bee, their parents are still around, their dog talks to her, and there is a magical hotel at the top of tall cliffs nearby.
When Grace wants to be part of the ‘top group’ at school, she fears Bee will spoil it for her, and she does everything she can to prevent that – with terrible consequences.
Another wonderful story by this author. This is a tale of a blended family all dealing with a great loss all in their own way, and a special little girl who sees things differently. Beautiful.
(School, Popularity, Blended Family, Family, Grief, Love)
Author – Gillian Mears
Illustrator – Dinalie Dabarera
Age – 6+
The Cat with the Coloured Tail is no ordinary cat. Not only does its tail change colour, it guides his friend Mr Hooper and his moon-cream van, seeking out unhappy people who just might need one of their magical moon-creams. These moon-creams are no ordinary ice-cream, spun with just the right colours that the person needs to cheer them.
When they’re not selling moon-creams, or making special ones for those in need, they both love to look for heart shapes around them. One day, the cat’s tail turns black, and Mr Hooper knows something is terribly wrong. Can he help return his cat to it’s colourful self?
Shortlisted for many Australian Awards. A story of kindness, hope, song and love.
(Love, Animals, Cat, Icecream, Kindness)
Author – Sally Gardner
Illustrator – Nat Barlex
Age – 13+
Jazmin’s best friend Becky has gone. She jumped off a building with her boyfriend. But moments after they jumped they vanished, leaving Jaz with the fallout, a devastating court trial, and her life shattered.
No-one believed her testimony at the trial. No-one would listen to her. But now, a man called Mr Jones has come to interview her. She can finally tell someone what really happened.
A line on the cover gives a clue to the reader that this is a story that contains something not of this world ‘They came to Earth to find love‘. And indeed it does include alien beings. But the entire story is still set on Earth as we know it today, through a series of interviews. This style and structure was intriguing and had to be followed closely as each person recounted what happened before Becky disappeared.
Something different from a multi-award winning author.
(Aliens, Friendship, Friends, Love, Romance, Sci-Fi, Action, Fear)
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)