Authors – Lila Perl & Marion Blumenthal Lazan
Age – 10+
Marion’s story is another testament to the bravery, courage and determination to live, by a family persecuted for nothing but their religion. This book also explains Hitler’s rise to power in simplistic terms and can be read by anyone 10+
(Holocaust, War, WWII, Jew, Courage, Determination, Prejudice)
ER – AGN
Author – Leonie Agnew
Age – 8+
Vincent is worried about Benjamin, a 6 yr old boy he found on his own after an explosion – lost in the rubble of the war torn city they live in. He is taking him to an orphanage where he hopes someone will look after him. When they arrive Vincent can see how many children there are and how little supervision there is so he decides to stick around for a bit.
A group of children, Lucky, Amos, Sophia and Zaar live in the orphanage, with Lucky as a sort of leader of them all. We find she used to have 5 in her family and she takes Benji under her wing to complete her ‘5’
But when Benji keeps talking to and about Vincent, they all ask who he is talking to? There’s no one there! But he insists the friend who has been looking after him is real.
It’s only when Benji’s belief in Vincent begins to waver that Vincent wonders what he really is. Imaginary friend, ghost or maybe even an angel? If Benji’s imagination has brought Vincent to life in his mind, what else does he imagine?
Children everywhere, have and still do wonder what might be hiding in the closet or wardrobe at night, and Vincent soon meets the monster in the orphanage closet.
Benji’s growing uncertainty at the others insistence that Vincent is not real, and the threat from The Hanger Man from the closet, has Vincent fighting for his very existence. It’s only when all seems lost that Benji finds the answer.
I was surprised at first, at how different this novel is from Leonie Agnew’s others – but Wow! What an amazing concept for a story! Imagination is everything!
(Imagination, Family, Conflict, War, Friendship, Survival, Determination, Belief)
Author – Elizabeth Laird
Illustrator – Lucy Eldridge (B & W chapter headers + double pages between Parts 1-5)
Age – 11+
Omar is 12 and he is proud of his town called Bosra in the country of Syria. Omar doesn’t enjoy school like his older sister Eman and brother Musa. But life is good and he dreams of the day of being a businessman like his cousin and uncle.
Musa has cerebral palsy and is incredibly smart. Omar has spent his life sticking up for his brother against taunts and trouble, but when Musa becomes involved with activists against the Syrian government (that their father works for), Omar is even more worried for him. And suddenly they have to flee. Ma, Baba (father), Eman, Musa, Omar, Fuad (5), and baby sister Nadia. After living out of Bosra on a family farm, they have to flee again. They have received word the government is after Baba, or is it Musa they want? Again they flee – this time, across the border with thousands of others to a refugee camp.
Although there are no guns in the camp, there is also no hope of returning home, nothing to do, severe cold, mud and slime in the winter, and queues, no privacy and camp gangs to contend with. But Omar is resourceful and strong and he makes the best of a terrible situation. Little does he know that wee Nadia is their way out, but only after they nearly lose her.
Welcome to Nowhere is a great way of learning about the Syrian crisis and what its people have faced and are still facing today. One painted slogan by a few teen boys is all it takes to light the flame that becomes the Syrian Civil War that we see on our news. Storytellers like Elizabeth Laird show the rest of the world truths that must be told.
(War, Syria, Refugee, Immigrant, Fear, Courage, Family)
TEEN – GIB
Author – Alan Gibbons
Age – 12+
With short chapters and only 186 pages, this story about an English family almost torn apart by terrorism (from the inside) will capture many who aren’t that keen on reading, or haven’t been able to find a book that grabs them.
The Trap deals with an issue that can destroy families on both sides of terrorism. Majid is training to be a doctor in the UK. His family fully support him in his education and dreams to help people, but when he begins spending more and more time with a man who talks of UK infidels, war, martyrdom and glory, they are worried for him. But Majid feels he has to make his own decisions.
This story follows those decisions and Majid’s path to war and back.
The tension rises throughout this novel, to a thrilling conclusion – or is it the end?
(War, Conflict, Crime, Family, Racism, School. MI5, Agent, Extremist, Muslim)
(Not in Napier/Taradale Libraries)
Author – L P Hansen
Age – 12+
Matt Turner has gone to stay with his grandparents on their dairy farm. His mum is on bed rest in hospital for her baby and his dad is away on business. Matt enjoys the farm, and is attending a new school. He quickly makes friends with the few kids in his year but is soon unsettled by an old man called Cedric who takes offence to him as soon as he learns his name. To make things worse, his teacher announces a term project – prepare a speech about a war hero in your family. Public speaking, no matter how small, is Matt’s biggest fear.
When he tells his grandfather about Cedric, he learns that Cedric himself was a war hero, but he hated ‘Conchies’ (Conscientious Objectors) and that someone in their family called Archibald Baxter was one of NZ’s bravest pacifists – standing up for what he believed in no matter how harshly he was treated by the army and his own home town.
A thought provoking story about standing up for what you believe in no matter what and gaining courage from others who have done just that. Archibald Baxter is a well-known NZ pacifist and it’s fantastic there is a story for Year 6 up that can share that.
(New Zealand, WWI, Archibald Baxter, Conchie, Conscientious Objector, School, Courage, Family, Stutter)
(PB = picture book section) (H) = Which letter book can be found under)
Title Author / Illustrator
My Grandad marches on Anzac Day PB (H) Catriona Hoy / Ben Johnson
Anzac Day Parade PB (K) Glenda Kane / Lisa Allen
Lest we Forget JI (T) Feana Tu’akoi / Elspeth Alix Batt
TEEN – DEF
Author – Timothee de Fombelle
Age – 12+
This story is something special.
Part fairy tale, part historical (WWII), part present, and part love story, The Book of Pearl isn’t just a story.
The book that you hold in your hands as you read is actually part of the character’s story.
The structure of the novel is skilfully pieced together, which would be the only thing I would worry about with younger readers. As an adult I found it pleasantly challenging to follow the strands of the three main characters until they had woven together completely at the end of the story, but young readers may struggle with this.
But if you are 12+ and a keen reader – it’s well worth the effort. I’ve never read anything like this before. And guys…it’s not just for girls either. Most of the characters are men.
Truly and cleverly magical.
(Fairies, Fairytales, WWII, War, Tyrant, Hate)