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 – 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 – Katherine Paterson
Age – 9+
Lora lives in Havana, Cuba, and she has just shocked her parents into tears and anger. It is 1961 and Lori wants to join Fidel Castro’s army of teachers to go and live in the rural areas to teach literacy. She will become a Brigadista.
Lora is excited to be joining 1000’s of others in the quest to make Cuba a illiteracy free nation. She is to live with a rural family and after working alongside them in their fields each day, she is to teach them at night. At first she has to overcome the men’s feeling of losing their status in their homes, but when they realise their children and wives will be able to read and write and they not, they soon join in the lessons at night.
All is going well until they learn of armed rebels in the jungles around them. Brigadistas are their target. Should she go home?
This was a simple story about the 250,000 volunteers who left their homes of comfort to help their fellow citizens to read and write. 100,000 were between the ages of 10 and 19. The rear of the book has a timeline of Cuban history which taught me much about this nation.
Author – Lucy Adlington
Age – 12+
Ella is a designer. She loves clothes and fashion, after being taught everything she knows by her no-nonsense but loving grandmother. She is hurrying to the nearby Upper Tailoring Studio who are looking for a new seamstress.
But this is no normal sewing shop. There is no pay, no breaks, and an armed guard by the door who can shoot you at any disturbance. This is Birchwood – better known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Ella makes a friend at the Studio in funny, book-loving Rose whose mother is a Countess. Together the girls bond over their sewing skills as they work for the camp commandant’s wife and female guards. They learn to barter, steal, and fight to keep themselves alive while Rose tells stories and they both dream of opening a dress shop together – the hope helping to keep them going.
A hidden red ribbon, although causing a vicious beating, helps keep that dream alive, even when they’re separated.
When a human has hope, it can keep them alive, filling their thoughts with wonderful things as they are starved, beaten, humiliated, terrified and shocked to their core. The Upper Tailoring Studio was real at Auschwitz and this story shares another side of this terrible time in history.
Author – Maria Gill
Illustrator – Marco Ivancic
Age – 7+
Hundreds of thousands of animals were part of WWI and WWII. Horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, a tortoise, donkeys and pigeons all helped with the war effort, either with carrying goods and the injured, sending messages, finding the injured, boosting morale or even saving thousands of lives.
Anzac Animals is a celebration of all those animals with 20 of them showcased and displayed under sections WWI and WWII. Helpful extras to aid understanding of the information include easy-to-read fact boxes on each page, timelines for both wars with the animals as their focus, maps of Europe showing the conflict directions and separate sections on veterinary care and animal welfare, awards, and a glossary to pull everything together.
Creative Non-Fiction. Stunning full colour illustrations and captivating text, not only animal lovers will enjoy this one!
Author – Amie Kaufman
Age – 8+
Twins Anders and Rayna live in a world of dragons and wolves – ice wolves to be exact. These wolves that can morph from human to wolf in a matter of seconds protect their city of Vallen from the dangerous dragons who also morph from human.
With Rayna’s savvy street smarts the twins live on the streets, pick pocketing and stealing to survive. But when something goes wrong they are caught up in a sacred ritual in front of hundreds of people. They find themselves on opposite sides of the age-old conflict, and Anders is alone for the first time in his life.
How will he find Rayna, let alone get her back? Anders has to learn to stand on his own two feet among people he’s not sure are friend or enemy.
This is the first in a new fantasy series by acclaimed author Amie Kaufman. It is chocka full of intrigue, action and wonderful world building.