The Wonderling

Author/Illustrator – Mira BartokThe Wonderling (HB)

Age – 10+

Arthur lives a troubled life in an Orphanage called ‘The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures.’ These creatures are groundlings (mixed-up animals) like Arthur (a foxling who walks on two legs and with only one ear).

Arthur tries to avoid the bullies and Miss Carbunkle who believes groundlings only exist to serve and suffer. But there is a light in Arthur’s life – a new friend called Trinket, who shares her songs and stories with Arthur, igniting hope in his heart for something different outside the Home’s damp, grey walls.

They are soon on an adventure, as Arthur seeks his destiny with only an address stolen from Miss Carbunkle’s filing cabinet. Along the way, he meets many other groundlings of every mix, shape and size and is taken in when he reaches the city, by a rat called Quintus. Quintus is very much like Fagan in Oliver Twist, teaching, feeding, and sheltering Arthur in return for stealing.

But this is a very different world from Oliver Twist, with the High Hats (Humans) just as tough as Miss Carbunkle – who has her own evil plans in mind. Can Arthur and Trinket stop her and her evil manticore from ruining the world forever?

The Wonderling’s world is a little steampunk, a little fantasy, a little Cruella Deville and as Arthur finally discovers within himself, a lot wonderful. Beautifully told with rich description and multiple sub-plots afoot. And as the reader will discover in the gorgeous illustrations – Arthur’s best friend Trinket is not only an amazing inventor but a Kiwi Bird!

(Steampunk, Destiny, Journey, Quest, Creatures, World building, Fantasy, Orphan, Kiwi, Friendship, Courage, Bravery, Crime)

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I’ll give you the Sun

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Author – Jandy Nelson

Age – 14+

Noah and Jude are twins and are very close. Jude is popular at school and at home, where Noah is the opposite. He feels his father’s disappointment in him, not being strong, masculine, and sporty like him.

But Noah is a brilliant artist and constantly draws the world around him. He not only can draw anything, he sees and thinks things in possible portraits and drawings. As the twins grow older, a tragedy forces them apart. Both have to deal with new and destructive relationships and face truths about themselves – all the while dealing with their troubles without the other.

But it’s art that brings them back together, making them face the tragedy that’s train-wrecked their family. And with each other’s help, find the love they needed to grow again.

It took 3 years for the author to write this novel, and after reading it I can understand why. She knows these characters inside and out, and it felt like I did when I had finished this novel. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Written beautifully, the story  constructed wonderfully, and with a beautiful ending after so much pain. 

(Gay, Twins, Siblings, Love, Art, Family, Friendship, Grief, Ghost, Truth)

 

The Lost and the Found

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Author – Cat Clarke

Age – 14+

Faith’s family is broken. Ever since her 6-yr-old sister Lauren was taken from their front lawn when Faith was 4, they have carried on with life as if on a precipice. Dad has left and has a boyfriend, and Mum copes most of the time, but every now and then can’t even leave her bed- overcome with all encompassing grief.

Faith tries not to be bitter, but she feels like the next 13 yrs are all about Lauren. Her mum never gives up hope for Lauren’s return and is constantly making sure she is never forgotten in the media.

When a phone call comes to say that Lauren is alive – they’ve found her – dropped off by her abductor on the front lawn she was taken from – it’s hard to believe. Faith has suddenly got a ‘real’ big sister, not a ghost that has haunted her whole life. What will she be like? Where has she been and what happened to her while she was gone?

(Guilt, Friendship, Secret, Abduction, Blended family, Family)

Forget me not

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Author – Sue Lawson

Age – 10+

Evelyn and her family are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. They are going to travel across the ocean to a new life in America on the ‘unsinkable’ ship – The Titanic. Evelyn is sad to leave her dog and her best friends behind and has a terrible sense of foreboding as she boards the brand new ship.
‘Forget Me Not’ tells the story of Evelyn’s family on the infamous voyage in Evelyn’s first person point of view and her older brother Thomas’ story in third person.

(Titanic, Siblings, Jealousy, Friends)

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish

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Author – Mo O’Hara

Age – 6+

Two zany stories about two mates, their evil big brothers and a goldfish. Tom isn’t happy when his big brother Mark combines his new chemistry set with his school science experiment and a goldfish.

When Mark leaves the goldfish in a bowl full of green goop, Tom and his best friend Pradeep save it. But a little extra help was needed when the fish looked close to death. With a help of a battery placed against the fish, it was revived but it wasn’t quite the same.

Imagine a goldfish with special powers!

This is the first book in this hilarious series.

(Humour, Family, Pranks, Mischief, Mates, Friends, Pet, Animal, Fish)

My Brother’s War

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Author – David Hill

Age – 10+

This is the story of two New Zealand teenagers in 1914. They might be brothers but they think very differently. Edmund is the oldest and when war breaks out in Europe, he’s keen to fight for his country and is eagerly swept up in the excitement to enlist. But his younger brother sees things another way – completely against war and refusing to join up. He is a CO. A conscientious objector.
Their separate stories are told, interspersed by letters home to their mother and sister. (William’s are only in his thoughts as he is imprisoned).

The recommended age group is 9-12 yrs but older readers will also find this book a great read. The reader is taken into horrific life in the trenches – mud, lice, hunger and fear as the ground shakes and the air shrieks with explosion after explosion.

The author of award winning ‘See Ya Simon’ got me again, pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the last page.

My Brother’s War won the Junior Fiction section of the 2013 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.

(NZ Author, Award, WWI, Trenches, War, Siblings, Brothers, Family, Action)

Perfectly Reflected

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Author – S C Ransom

Age – 14+

The sequel to ‘A Small Blue Thing’ – ‘Perfectly Reflected’ picks up the story with Alex’s window being smashed by a golf ball hurled through it. Somebody is spreading rumours about her and even clears her entire bank account. When she discovers who the culprits are, she is powerless to stop them. And then she loses her connection with Callum. She is devastated and needs to get that link back!

(Ghost, St Paul’s Cathedral, Sibling Rivalry, Love, Crime, Family, Bullying, Fantasy, London)