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 – 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 – 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 – J C Jones
Illustrator -Serena Geddes
Age – 8+
Pip’s birthday hasn’t gone to plan at all. Just as she’s about to have some cake, her carer Sully falls to the ground taking the cake with him. “He’s had a stroke,” say the ambulance men, and he’s taken to hospital.
Sully is the only family Pip knows. She was left as a tiny baby on his doorstep inside an apple crate, with a note from her mother. She’ll be back when she’s settled – but she never returns. Pip is what Sully names her.
But with Sully in hospital, Pip knows she will be placed in welfare. She’s been warned about welfare by her friend Ginger, who has been mistreated in different foster homes. So, with a bag packed she avoids police and welfare and looks after herself, keeping one step ahead of the authorities while she waits for Sully to get well.
Pip is polite and thoughtful of others and a diligent pupil, but also tough and resourceful on the streets. This street savvy gets her through some tricky situations, but it’s the people who care for her that eventually help her through. Great story for 8+
(Poverty, Love, Grief, Family, Friendship, Foster care)
Author – Paul Jennings
Illustrator – Geoff Kelly
Age – 9+
A boy gets up one morning from the floor of his room. His bed was burnt for firewood the night before, just to keep him and his mum warm. The boy has a plan to improve their lives, but first he has to climb a hill on this frosty morning. But on the way up he sees an accident and he is the only one who is there to help.
He tries to sound the alarm but his voice doesn’t work. It hasn’t for some time, and he’s teased about it at school. But he can do something. A dog has been thrown from the vehicle and the boy is determined to save it. But this dog is special and the way out is treacherous. Can he get them to safety and then save the dog from its past?
By the renowned author Paul Jennings, A Different Dog has been written with reluctant readers in mind, but still gives any reader a story about bullying, poverty, courage and survival.
(Animal, Dog, Courage, Poverty, Bullying, Accident, Reluctant Reader)
ER – WIL
Author – Jacqueline Wilson
Age – 8+
11 yr old Clover Moon doesn’t go to school. She has to stay home and look after her many step siblings and younger sister Megs. Clover uses her imagination to entertain them and is popular with the alley’s children. But Clover is unhappy. Her stepmother is nasty and even beats her and Clover wants to leave. But how could she leave Megs and Pa?
But then tragedy strikes and Clover has nothing to stay for. Where will she go? Can she be an apprentice to Mr Dolly (her nickname for the local doll maker who has been kind to her), or will she find a job on the harsh streets of Victorian London?
Using all her courage, she ventures out on her own, and it’s her skills with children and street smarts from the alley she’s lived in all her life, that help her become more than she’d ever hoped to be.
Another story for girls about living in Victorian London from this multi award winning author. Another of Jacqueline Wilson’s characters (Hetty Feather) features at the end of the story, linking the two series together.
TEEN – GLE
Author – Morris Gleitzman
Age – 13+
No.5 in this hugely popular series. Felix is now 13 and living with Gabriek who spends a lot of his time drinking his cabbage vodka. But living in the rubble of a city after the war is just as tough as during it. People are just as desperate for food and will kill to get it.
Gabriek has warned Felix to keep to himself, but he can’t ignore people who need help. This attracts a leader of thugs. When Felix stops to help a young boy who has been shot, Gogol kidnaps Felix and demands he help an injured man in his gang. Felix does the best he can and doesn’t realise that he will be in charge of a small baby boy by the end of the day.
This story might be set after the war is finished, but it is no less harrowing. Great series.
(War, Conflict, Courage, Friendship, Historical, Series, Secret, Poverty)