Author – Sabrina Malcolm
Age – 10+
Tuttle is holding everything together – at least he’s trying to. His dad was a famous mountain climber who didn’t return from his last expedition. The only thing that did return was news that Tuttle’s father left his client alone on the mountain to die.
No-one really knows what happened, but living with this news and their loss is hard. Mum spends too many hours alone in her room or asleep, leaving Tuttle to look after his little brother Fen who also spends most of his hours alone in his room.
Tuttle’s one escape is the stars. He spends a lot of his leisure time at the local observatory or trying to look through his own telescope from home. Trying, because the boy next door spends all his spare time tinkering with his car, revving it loudly and flooding Tuttle’s back yard with light from the shed.
Tuttle’s frustration and worries escalate with all that lays on his shoulders. And now there’s a snooping reporter and social worker to deal with. Can he hold his family together?
Fans of astronomy and myths and how they are connected will enjoy this story about this grieving family. The friendship between Tuttle and his mate Attila is humourous as they ‘bounce’off each other, together and online, and Tuttle’s inner turmoil is well written. Authentic kiwi fiction.
(NZ, New Zealand, Kiwi, Astronomy, Grief, Myths, Family, Friendship, Bully)
Author – Tim Miller
Age – 6+
Ben Dugan is excited when something green crash lands in his back yard the day before they are moving house. It’s a creature from outer space that has farted so hard, it left its planet and landed on Earth.
It eats everything Ben can think of to make it ‘blast’ off again, but no matter how many cabbages, baked beans or eggs it eats, it cannot get enough gas. Ben doesn’t want to leave it behind on its own, so takes it with him to their new house at Stone Beach.
It’s good that the creature is invisible to anyone but Ben, except for the fact that every time it blows off, Ben is blamed.
In No. 2 in this series, Ben goes to his new school and as he tries to make friends, they all make fun of him for the smell that comes with him.
Great for any reluctant readers who love toilet humour.
(Alien, Fart, Trumpet, Blow-off, New School, Invisible, Humour, Funny, Series)
Author – Ross Montgomery
Age – 8+
Max doesn’t enjoy being the only orphan at St Goliath’s Boarding school. That and his hearing aids make him different to his classmates. The only person who he feels at ease with is Mr Darrow, the school caretaker. They both love modelling, but Mr Darrow has taken his a huge step further – he has tiny people in his models, and they are alive!
Mr Darrow has gone missing, and Max follows the instructions he was given if that ever happened. Max is shocked and awed by what he finds in Mr Darrow’s room, but in the caretaker’s abscence, his model people have built their own world, at war with itself.
After all his kindness, Max feels he owes Mr Darrow. Can he save the tiny people from war? Can he find out what happened to Mr Darrow? And most of all, can he keep Mr Pitt, the evil headmaster away from Mr Darrow’s room while he does it?
This story was funny, fantasy and full-on action. Fleas, friendship and a gaggle of five-year olds pumped up on birthday candy make this even funnier. The two worlds are connected by Max and a brave prince just trying to save his people. Great read!
(Friendship, Family, Miniature people, War, Secret)
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 – 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 – Geoffrey Girard
Age – 14+
Katie Wallace’s dad isn’t much of a dad these days. As she has grown she has watched him get high, drunk and unconscious. When official looking people arrive on her doorstep she’s not surprised.
But it’s not what she expected. Her dad has been hospitalised for random threats against the vice president and he’s telling lies about the government. She is swept quickly into foster care.
When she finally gets to see her dad he is heavily drugged in a guarded hospital room. But he fights through his haze to tell her something. Something she never expected and cannot ignore. This is where her fight to free her father begins.
This novel has received some negative feedback because of its main topic – 9/11 conspiracy theories. The people who believe these theories and/or others call themselves Truthers. I for one, much enjoyed the story and the way it was written. Although in third person I was reading other character’s point of view without knowing who they were yet. Very intriguing! The author specifically states he means no disrespect to anyone with this novel and I appreciated that. I liked the characters who drew me in and had me wondering who telling the truth. Great read.
(Twin Towers, Conspiracy, 9/11, Lies, Truth, Mental Illness, PTSD, Soldier, Government, Mystery, Murder, Family, Trust)
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)