Author – Sarah Crossan
Age – 13+
Joe Moon has always looked up to his big brother Ed. He was there for him when their alcoholic mother wasn’t, attending parent interviews, walking him to school or just taking him out for some fun.
But Joe hasn’t seen Ed for ten years. And now Ed’s on Death Row, he needs Joe. His mother long gone, and his aunt pretending Ed doesn’t exist, Joe goes to the small town and the prison that holds his brother.
This is Joe’s story of getting to know his brother again, asking him the questions he needs to ask, hoping when there is no hope left, for a stay of execution. Along the way he meets someone unexpected. Someone who shouldn’t be there for him, but helps him deal with what is to come.
Stunning. The poetry format gives you all you need and no more to feel the character’s heartbreak, confusion, anger, and even happiness as he remembers pieces of his childhood.
A tale of love and forgiveness – for everything and anything, and hope for one more month, one week, one hour, one minute….
(Family, Love, Growing up, Execution, Prison, Hope, Relationships, Award winning author)
Authors – Sarah Crossan / Brian Conaghan
Age – 13+
Jess is tough, caring about nothing or no one – at least that’s what she wants people to think. She resents authority, steals and bunks off school, thinking it doesn’t matter. Jess believes her life with her abusive stepfather and punching-bag mum will never change for the better. It never does for people like her.
Nicu is from Romania. His family has moved to the UK to make enough money to ‘pay’ for a wife for him. This is a Romanian custom and he believes there is no way out of getting married young to someone he has never met. Despite constant racial abuse from fellow students and teachers alike, Nicu wants to learn English, do well and stay in the UK for a chance at a proper life. But his father rules with his fists.
Both are sent to community service for shoplifting, and this is where their story begins to entwine. At first Jess ignores the boy with the strange name. Nicu thinks Jess is pretty and ignores her initial negativity towards him. But he is kind and helpful and so different from the others on their ‘punishment’. His broken english is endearing and she begins to try and teach him how to talk properly. An uncertain friendship builds as the tension builds in both Jess’ and Nicu’s homes. Can they escape their lives?
Written in a poem format, this story is succinct, powerful and compelling. The use of language in this format shows the changes in Nicu’s speech with just the right word at just the right time. It portrays Jess’ anger, frustration and ever-so-slow softening and letting down of her walls. Their characters are full, real and heartbreaking in the briefness of poem, with their feelings, speech and thoughts seamlessly interwoven. Two award winning authors = Fantastic!
(Immigrant, Romania, Abuse, Trust, Arranged marriage, Custom, Poem, Poetry)
TEEN – CRO
Author – Sarah Crossan
Age – 12+
Tippi and Grace are 16 yr old twins. Twins are special, but these sisters even more so. They are joined at the hip – literally. They both have their arms but share intestines and other organs and one pair of legs. Tippi and Grace have learnt to get around on crutches, with their inner arms around one another. They are very different in personality but are very close emotionally, just as most twins are. Tippi is outspoken and brave, wanting to try new things like alcohol and smoking, whereas Grace is quiet and kind and aware of what the alcohol and tobacco can do to their bodies.
They live with their mum who works long hours to support them and her sister Dragon (nickname) their Grammie (Dad’s mum) and their out-of-work drink-away-his-sorrows dad.
The story begins with Tippi and Grace going to a normal school for the first time. It’s a private school and they are worried about the stares, name calling and laughs aimed at them their whole lives. But they are given a guide for the first few days who is small but fiery, and who defends them against any maliciousness, becoming one of their best friends.
The other best friend is Jon, who Grace falls for – dreaming of what it would be like to be his girlfriend, what his kisses would be like and how it could ever be possible.
But there are other things on the horizon. Much bigger worries and important decisions to make – not just for them, but for their whole family.
‘One’ is beautifully written in a poem type format – just as her previous book ‘The Weight of Water’. It is wonderfully clever how so little words can tell this gorgeous but sad story. Loved it.
(Conjoined, Siamese twins, Siblings)
Author – Elena de Roo/ Illustrated by Tracey Duncan
Age – 6+
Opelia Wild is never happier than when she is in her tree house where she is working on code-cracking, bug breaking, secret spy missions.
But while she waits for new clients she has other mysteries to solve and a new boy at school needs some help.
Three fun stories told in rhyming verse. The 1st in this series.
(NZ Author, Tree hut, Spy, Bullying, School, Series, Friendship,Sticking up for your friends, Verse, New Zealand)
Author – Steven Herrick
Age – 8+
Told in a non-rhyming poetry format, this is a story told by students in Room 6A. Mick, Jacob, Laura and Pete all have different worries and dreams and they are all interconnected through their school days. Even the school caretaker gives his view on the happenings during the year. This is a tale about friendships, bullying, loss and laughter.
I enjoyed the way this was written – in a poetry format. What I really liked was stepping into the head of all the different classmates (even the caretaker) and seeing their different view on things.
It always intrigues me how we have a perception of ourselves, often completely different from other’s perceptions of us.
(Bullying, School, Friendship, Grief, Verse, Poetry)
Author – Sarah Crossan
Age – 10 +
Swearing – Piss off
Told in verse, this story is about Kasienka and her mother, two Polish migrants that have arrived in England searching for the father that left them. Kasienka’s mother is obsessed with the idea that she can bring her husband back home to Poland if she can only talk things through with him. Kasienka, being the one with better English language skills, is made to walk down the streets of London, knocking on doors and asking whether people have seen her father. With every failed attempt to find her father, her mother’s heart breaks a little bit more. But that is not the only problem Kasienka faces. She must deal with the other students at her school every day; students who hate her for being different, for wearing the wrong thing, for saying the wrong thing, or just because they can.
This is a story about growing up. It is simply …… Beautiful.
(Verse, Immigrant, Racism, Prejudice, Broken Families, Fitting in)