Frankie Potts is back again!

Frankie Potts is the village of Tring’s number one girl detective.  She has flaming red hair, a questioning mind and an addiction to gobstoppers.  And she is REALLY good at solving mysteries. Frankie’s first two adventures saw her trying to solve a whole pile of mysteries including:

  • What’s my (sort of) new dog called, and where’s he from?
  • Why is my grandma acting so oddly?
  • Why are random pink items of clothing going missing all over the village?

Frankie Potts is back in two new adventures – Frankie Potts and the Postcard Puzzle and Frankie Potts and the Wicked Wolves.

9780143770206

Frankie’s list of mysteries to solve is getting longer by the day. Firstly, her mum is acting very strangely – she’s tired, grumpy and feels sick all the time. And then there’s Grandma M, who keeps dropping hints about expanding her troupe of performing greyhounds: Tinkerbell, Titania and Tiramisu.

With her detective sidekick Mac, Frankie travels to Giggleswick to find out about the mysterious Gideon R. Best, Animal Trainer Extraordinaire, and why he sent a postcard – with two kisses on it – to Frankie’s mum. How can Frankie work out what an overweight donkey, a cuddle-obsessed pig and a pooing parrot have to do with anything? And why has Tinkerbell started to waddle?

Kaboom! Things are getting explosive in Frankie’s family. She had better start solving.

9780143770459

A band of dancers with bells and blue painted faces have come to Tring, and Frankie can smell a mystery. Who are these Wicked Wolves? How come Grandma M knows them, and wants to pick a fight with them?

Meanwhile, Tinkerbell and Sparkplug’s seven adorable puppies are causing chaos at Frankie’s house. Grandma M is planning to give away four of them, and Frankie and Mac must make sure that they go to good homes. Ralph Peter-McGee, Frankie’s arch-enemy, seems to have his eye on her favourite pup Kettle Thomson. Can Frankie stop Kettle going to the wrong home? And why are those Wicked Wolves sniffing around the puppies?

The Inaugural Tring Talent Contest is rapidly approaching, and Frankie has some serious detecting to do. But maybe not all the clues are quite as they seem.

I can’t get enough of Frankie Potts!  She is a wonderful character that kids, especially girls, will love.  She is really inquisitive and mysteries seem to follow her wherever she goes.  Naturally she needs to solve them and you just know that she’ll find the answers.  She carries a notebook everywhere so she always has a list of mysteries that she needs to solve.  I like the way that these lists are included in the story so that the reader can try to solve the mysteries too.

One of my favourite features of the Frankie Potts series is the design of them.  Phoebe Morris’s illustrations and the bright colours make the covers stand out and look really appealing to the target audience.  I also really love the alliterated titles which sound really cool (Postcard Puzzle, Bikini Burglar).

Get the Frankie Potts series into the hands of any young fans of a good mystery.  I think they would be a good ‘next step’ for fans of Geronimo and Thea Stilton and Billie B. Brown.  Once you’ve read one you’ll be hooked!

1 Comment

Filed under books, mystery

My Top March Kids & YA Releases

9781760293512.jpg

Frogkisser by Garth Nix

Princess Anya needs to see a wizard about a frog. It’s not her frog, it’s her sister’s. And it’s not a frog, it’s actually a prince. A prince who was once in love with Anya’s sister, but has now been turned into a frog by their evil stepstepfather. And Anya has made a ‘sister promise’ that she will find a way to return Prince Denholm to human form…

So begins an exciting, hilarious, irreverent quest through the Kingdom of Trallonia and out the other side, in a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs.

9781760113766.jpg

Hotaka: Through My Eyes – Natural Disaster Zones by John Heffernan

When the tsunami strikes the Japanese coastal town of  Omori-wan, the effects are utterly devastating. Three years later, much of what happened on that day is still a mystery. As Hotaka sets about convincing local performers to appear at the town’s upcoming Memorial Concert, he finds himself increasingly haunted by memories of his best friend Takeshi.

When strong willed Sakura initiates a controversial anti-seawall  movement, there is danger at every turn for Hotaka and his friends. As the town and its people struggle to rebuild their lives, can Hotaka help Omori-wan look to the future – and let go of his past?

9781408878866

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Jess would never have looked twice at Nicu if her friends hadn’t left her in the lurch. Nicu is all big eyes and ill-fitting clothes, eager as a puppy, even when they’re picking up litter in the park for community service. He’s so not her type. Appearances matter to Jess. She’s got a lot to hide.

Nicu thinks Jess is beautiful. His dad brought Nicu and his mum here for a better life, but now all they talk about is going back home to find Nicu a wife. The last thing Nicu wants is to get married. He wants to get educated, do better, stay here in England. But his dad’s fists are the most powerful force in Nicu’s life, and in the end, he’ll have to do what his dad wants.

As Nicu and Jess get closer, their secrets come to the surface like bruises. The only safe place they have is with each other. But they can’t be together, forever, and stay safe – can they?

9781681191782
Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas
Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their letters continue, chronicling their lives in fascinating and often hilarious detail. Ollie is headed to Ohio on the first road trip of his life (no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity), and Moritz is trying to decide which school would best suit a depressed, eyeless boy. Things are never easy for either of them: Ollie grieves the loss of his mother, and is constantly at risk of seizing or sending out electromagnetic pulses that could cause power outages or traffic accidents. Moritz still struggles to find his place in a world that wants to label him and limit him.

As their worlds widen, both boys meet other children like them–other Blunderkinder who are living complicated and amazing lives. But when Ollie and Moritz see that their new friends are in danger from serious health complications they realize that only one person could save them: Moritz’s mother. Finding her won’t be easy, but if Moritz can attend a new school and Ollie can leave his home in the woods, then surely anything must be possible.

9781408880319
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest kind of dragon, and she’s ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human.

But when the human she captures tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, she finds herself transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. She’s still the fiercest creature in these mountains though – and now she’s found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is walk on two feet to the human city, find herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she’ll be conquering new territory in no time … won’t she?

Wild and reckless young Aventurine will bring havoc to the human city – but what she doesn’t expect is that she’ll find real friendship there too, along with betrayal, deception, scrumptious chocolate and a startling new understanding of what it means to be a human (and a dragon).

9780571329465
This is a Serious Book by Jodie Parachini and Daniel Rieley
A serious book is black-and-white, and it informs the reader. So why are a donkey in a flowered hat, a laughing zebra, a hissing snake, a marching penguin and cavorting monkeys in this book? Join the fun as the animals take control, effortlessly and with great style and humour.
1480326427768
Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Meet Triangle. He is going to play a sneaky trick on his friend, Square. Or so Triangle thinks. . . . With this first tale in a new trilogy, partners in crime Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen will have readers wondering just who they can trust in a richly imagined world of shapes.
1484796375157
The Turnkey by Allison Rushby
Flossie Birdwhistle is the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery. As Turnkey, Flossie must ensure all the souls in the cemetery stay at rest. This is a difficult job at the best of times for a twelve-year-old ghost, but it is World War II and each night enemy bombers hammer London. Even the dead are unsettled. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object, she becomes suspicious. What is he up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could result in the destruction of not only her cemetery, but also her beloved country. Can Flossie stop him before it is too late?
1476916195342
Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, better than best friends. Jules’ favourite thing is collecting rocks, and Sylvie’s is running – fast. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the most dangerous part of the river one snowy morning to throw in a wish rock, she is so fast that no one sees what happens when she disappears. At that very moment, in another part of the woods, a shadow fox is born: half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She, too, is fast, and she senses danger. When Jules goes to throw one last wish rock into the river for her lost sister, the human and shadow worlds collide with unexpected consequences.
1485988746577
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
1479290314351
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.
33282947.jpg
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

All eleven-year old Alex wants is to launch his iPod into space. With a series of audio recordings, he will show other lifeforms out in the cosmos what life on Earth, his Earth, is really like.

But for a boy with a long-dead dad, a troubled mum, and a mostly-not-around brother, Alex struggles with the big questions. Where do I come from? Who’s out there? And, above all, How can I be brave?

Determined to find the answers, Alex sets out on a remarkable road trip that will turn his whole world upside down.

 

large_9781775433668

Dinosaur Trouble: The Great Egg Stink by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

Some times a big brain means big trouble! There is a surprise inside Arg’s dinosaur egg. His food is too cute to eat. But saving his new friend gets mega-messy! Step back in time to meet Arg and Krrk-Krrk. It’s where the trouble begins!

large_9781743812389

Busting! by Aaron Blabey

Lou is BUSTING for the loo. But the loo has quite a queue. So what on earth is Lou to do?

large_9781743816516

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, shell realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasnt ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive, one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins, and with her deeply artistic neighbour, Mrs Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesnt want to fade into the background and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

large_9781775433651

Torty and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck and Fifi Colston

Meet Torty! Shes one tough little tortoise with a beat-up shell and some missing toes. Torty survived a great war that raged in Europe 100 years ago. Torty was rescued back then by a young Kiwi soldier. She is a World War One survivor.

large_9780545925518

Shadow House #2: You Can’t Hide by Dan Poblocki

Shadow House will find you …Poppy, Marcus, Dash, Dylan, and Azumi are all trapped within Shadow House, a sinister estate where past and present intertwine. As they fight to find a way out, the kids think the ghosts of the house are the greatest danger they face. Little do the kids know it’s the secrets they’re each hiding that will prove even more lethal. They’re going to have to come face to face with their fears if they stand any hope of escaping the house alive. Is there anyone or anything in the house they can trust? Or is all hope disappearing, too …Enter Shadow House …if you dare.

large_9781910655412

Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans

Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

Bathtime for Little Rabbit by Jorg Muhle

Tickle My Ears, Jorg Muhle’s previous book with Gecko Press, was a hit in our household.  My daughter loved helping get Little Rabbit ready for bed by tucking him tickling his ears, rubbing his back and tucking him in.  It’s a great interactive book to help all little ones get ready for bed.  Gecko Press now brings us the gorgeous Bathtime for Little Rabbit.

bathtime-for-little-rabbit

Bathtime for Little Rabbit is another interactive board book perfect for helping your little ones with their bath and bedtime routines.  In this book you call Little Rabbit for his bath, help to wash his ears, help to keep the water out of his eyes and make sure he’s nice and dry.

Little Rabbit is absolutely adorable and you and your little one will love helping him with his bath.  It’s a book that subconsciously teaches them about caring for others because you’ve got to make sure that you’re gentle and kind.  You’ll also have a bit of a laugh too, especially when you have to blow on the page to dry Little Rabbit off.   The illustrations are soft and the text sparse making this the perfect read for newborns right through to preschoolers.

Grab a copy of both Tickle My Ears and Bathtime for Little Rabbit for some perfect bedtime reading with your little rabbits.

Leave a comment

Filed under Board Books, books, picture books

Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher

Prepare yourselves for more fantastical adventures with your new favourite babysitter, Marge.  She’s back again in Marge and the Pirate Baby.

9781848125933

Marge is back and exploring the neighbourhood with the kids! With some help from Jemima and Jake, can she stay in charge and keep ‘pirate’ baby Zara under control? And can the children make sure Marge behaves at Uncle Desmond and Annie’s wedding?  Anything can happen with Marge around!

I love Isla Fisher’s Marge stories.  Marge is bursting with energy, stories and surprises and you just never know what she’s going to get up to next.  Jemima and Jake always look forward to Marge turning up to look after them and I look forward to her visits too.  She brings joy and excitement in to the Button house and plenty of colour too (especially with her rainbow hair.  Eglantine Ceulemans’ illustrations are delightful and add some extra humour to the stories.

The Marge stories are perfect for reading aloud, especially for 7-9 year olds, and they will certainly have kids laughing.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, funny, humourous

What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible by Ross Welford

If you had really bad acne you would want to do anything you could to get rid of it.  You would try every possible remedy you could, possibly even resorting to less scientifically-proven methods.  Imagine, though, that you had tried everything that you possibly could and were feeling pretty downhearted, until one day you wake up and you’re actually invisible!  Not only can nobody see your spots, they also can’t see your whole face or the rest of your body.  This would be enough to freak anyone out and you would have to figure out how and why it has happened.  This is the weird situation that Ethel finds herself in in Ross Welford’s fantastic new book, What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible.

y648Turning invisible at will: it’s one way of curing your acne. But far more drastic than 13 year-old Ethel Leatherhead intended when she tried a combination of untested medicines and a sunbed.It’s fun at first, being invisible. And aided by her friend Boydy, she manages to keep her extraordinary ability secret. Or does she…?When one day the invisibility fails to wear off, Ethel is thrown into a nightmare of lies and deception as she struggles to keep herself safe, to find the remedy that will make her seen again – and solve the mystery of her own birth.

What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible is a weird and wonderful story full of mystery and marvels.  There is something for everyone in this book, from an invisible girl and her family secrets to unexpected friendships and secret missions.  I loved Ross’ first book, Time Travelling with a Hamster, so I was really looking forward to this book and Ross doesn’t disappoint.  There are plenty of mysteries to keep you guessing and some really tense moments too.  I was holding my breath in anticipation in several parts of the story, wondering whether Ethel’s invisibility would be noticed.  Ross also lightens the mood with some funny (and embarrassing) moments.  Ross captures both the excitement and the terror that I’m sure you would experience if you found yourself invisible.

Ross shows us that people often aren’t who we perceive them to be.  Almost everyone in the story has an aspect of themselves that they keep hidden.  Ethel herself buys strange medicines online without her grandmother knowing,  her Gram and her Great-Gran have secrets of their own, Elliot Boyd (or Boydy to his friends) is different from what she’s been led to believe, and the school bullies Jesmond and Jarrow are quite different when they’re in their own home.  Ethel discovers that the life that she knows is a lie and sets out to uncover the truth, with the help of Boydy.

The thing I loved most about this book is the friendship between Ethel and Boydy.  Ethel is initially skeptical about being friends with Boydy, who is an outcast at school.  He doesn’t seem to care what people think though and Ethel starts to warm to him.  He may seem a bit strange to Ethel but he becomes a loyal friend who will do anything to help her.

Like Time Travelling with a Hamster I think What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible would make a great read aloud for Years 6-8 as it would create some good discussions.  I can’t recommend Ross Welford’s books highly enough.  I can’t wait to see where Ross Welford takes us next!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction

My Top February Kids & YA Releases

9781848125933

Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher

Marge is back and exploring the neighbourhood with the kids! With some help from Jemima and Jake, can she stay in charge and keep ‘pirate’ baby Zara under control? And can the children make sure Marge behaves at Uncle Desmond and Annie’s wedding?

9781408869079

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shocking death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for them both.

9780857638069

Neon Leon by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup

Everyone knows that chameleons are the best at fitting in. But not Leon. Leon is neon! In fact, he’s SO bright that he keeps all the other chameleons awake at night. But poor Leon is lonely, so he goes off in search of somewhere he can blend in.

9781408870860

Spy Toys by Mark Powers

The world’s leading toy manufacturer makes playthings for the rich and famous, and every toy they create contains a tiny computerised brain and a unique personality. These toys are seriously awesome! But every so often there’s a faulty toy …

Dan is a Snugliffic Cuddlestar bear – he should be perfect for hugging. But because of a faulty chip, Dan is so strong he could crush a car. Thrown on to the rejects pile, he meets Arabella, a Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll, who has a very short temper and is absolutely NOT good with children. Soon Dan, Arabella and Flax (a custom-made police robot rabbit gone AWOL) are recruited by the mysterious Auntie Roz, and together they make up THE SPY TOYS.

Their first mission: to protect the prime minister’s son from being kidnapped…

This book has a great website with downloadable activities to use in your classroom or library – http://spytoysbooks.com/fun-stuff

9781408873304

There’s Broccoli in my Ice Cream by Emily MacKenzie

Granville the Dalmatian loves sweet, sugary, chocky wocky gooey things to eat. NOT fruit and vegetables. Which is a shame, because he comes from a long line of greengrocers and gardeners. So his family come up with a plan to persuade him to be passionate about parsnips and bonkers about broccoli. Only, Granville has a plan of his own – and it will surprise everyone!

9780763692650

Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins

Birds of all feathers flock together in a fun, rhyme-filled offering by the creator of Maisy. From the rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo” at dawn to the owl’s nighttime “tuwit, tuwoo,” the cheeps and tweets of many bright and beautiful avian friends will have children eager to join in as honorary fledglings.

1477302395697

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

A thrilling and fantastical story of a farmer, a dancing dog, a fiddle, and one brave, tiny musical duckling that will warm the heart. Captain Alfred is sailing home with new ducks for his farm when his little boat is caught in an unexpected and mighty storm. Everything aboard the ship is flung to the far reaches of the sea, including the very special and beautiful duck egg he had nestled safely inside his violin case. But perhaps all is not lost.

51faz4ldkgl-_sx326_bo1204203200_

MWD by Brian David Johnson and Jan Egleson

Liz served in Iraq with her trusty military working dog, Ender, by her side. But now that her tour is over, she has to readjust to life in her small New Hampshire town. Despite being surrounded by people she’s known her whole life, Liz feels entirely alone and soon gets trapped in a downward spiral of flashbacks and blackout drinking. Things seem destined for a bad end, but when Liz’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Ben, almost hits a stray dog while she is in the car, things start to change. Brutus might just be the only thing that can bring her back from the brink.

1477302295223

What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems by Michael Rosen

Over many years as a working poet, Michael Rosen has thought a great deal about what poems are, what they can do and the pleasure that comes from writing and reading poetry. In this invaluable handbook, he shares this knowledge and experience in book form for the very first time. Starting with a detailed analysis of a number of classic poems, he offers a real “writer’s guide” to writing and performing poems, as well as a wealth of technical information and tips. He then takes a fascinating look at a selection of his own poems and explains how and why he wrote them.

9780143770206

Frankie Potts and the Postcard Puzzle by Juliet Jacka

Frankie’s list of mysteries to solve is getting longer by the day. Firstly, her mum is acting very strangely –she’s tired, grumpy and feels sick all the time. And then there’s Grandma M, who keeps dropping hints about expanding her troupe of performing greyhounds: Tinkerbell, Titania and Tiramisu.

With her detective sidekick Mac, Frankie travels to Giggleswick to find out about the mysterious Gideon R. Best, Animal Trainer Extraordinaire, and why he sent a postcard – with two kisses on it – to Frankie’s mum. How can Frankie work out what an overweight donkey, a cuddle-obsessed pig and a pooing parrot have to do with anything? And why has Tinkerbell started to waddle?

Kaboom! Things are getting explosive in Frankie’s family. She had better start solving.

9780143770459

Frankie Potts and the Wicked Wolves by Juliet Jacka

A band of dancers with bells and blue painted faces have come to Tring, and Frankie can smell a mystery. Who are these Wicked Wolves? How come Grandma M knows them, and wants to pick a fight with them?

Meanwhile, Tinkerbell and Sparkplug’s seven adorable puppies are causing chaos at Frankie’s house. Grandma M is planning to give away four of them, and Frankie and Mac must make sure that they go to good homes. Ralph Peter-McGee, Frankie’s arch-enemy, seems to have his eye on her favourite pup Kettle Thomson. Can Frankie stop Kettle going to the wrong home? And why are those Wicked Wolves sniffing around the puppies?

The Inaugural Tring Talent Contest is rapidly approaching, and Frankie has some serious detecting to do. But maybe not all the clues are quite as they seem.

helper-and-helper-cover-432x600

Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

More funny stories and wry observations with the bestselling Snake and Lizard.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

My Summer in Verse

I’ve had the chance to catch up on loads of books over the summer school holidays, which has been so great.  One of the books that I had wanted to read for a while was Kwame Alexander’s Booked.  I’d heard so many good things about this book and I had it on reserve at my public library for ages.

Not only was Booked totally brilliant, it also got me hooked on verse novels, a way of telling a story that I had previously thought wasn’t for me.  Kwame Alexander’s Booked opened up this door for me.  I loved the way that Kwame’s characters came alive using such few words.  Booked is about football and The Crossover is about basketball and, even though I’m not a sporty person, I loved the way that Kwame weaved the gameplay in with family issues, friendship and girl problems.  I especially enjoyed Booked because there is a really cool librarian called Mr Mac who always talks about books with Nick and keeps trying to give him books to read. I highly recommend both of Kwame’s books for Year 7 and up, especially boys who are super sporty but don’t really like to read.  These books might just switch them on.  I think boys would find them especially appealing because each of the poems is short so there isn’t too much reading.

Here are the verse novels that I have enjoyed recently and completely recommend.  Paper Hearts and Coaltown Jesus are aimed at teens but the others are perfect for ages 8+:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

18263725

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

25897953

Booked by Kwame Alexander

In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

53498

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

“I guess it does
look like a poem
when you see it
typed up
like that.”

Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Ms. Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments — and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns he does have something to say.

2930911

Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech

February 25

Today the fat black cat
up in the tree by the bus stop
dropped a nut on my head
thunk
and when I yelled at it
that fat black cat said
Murr-mee-urrr
in a
nasty
spiteful
way.

I hate that cat.

This is the story of
Jack
words
sounds
silence
teacher
and cat.

28217808

Moo by Sharon Creech

When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora.

28588033

Apple Sauce Weather by Helen Frost

When the first apple falls from the tree, Faith and Peter know that it’s applesauce weather, even though Peter is getting a little old for such things. It also means Uncle Arthur should be here to tell his stories, with a twinkle in his eye as he spins tales about how he came to have a missing finger. But this is the first year without Aunt Lucy, and when Uncle Arthur arrives, there’s no twinkle to be found and no stories waiting to be told. Faith is certain, though, that with a little love and patience, she and Peter might finally learn the truth about that missing finger. Paired with warm, expressive illustrations by Amy June Bates, this heartfelt tale by award-winning poet Helen Frost highlights the strength of family and the power of a good story.

71rbictrgcl

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring.

Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma’s staggering dust storms, and the environmental–and emotional–turmoil they leave in their path. An unforgettable tribute to hope and inner strength.

(This was one of the verse novels mentioned in Kwame Alexander’s Booked so I had to read this one.  It is heart-breaking but so wonderful!)

23342570

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

A novel in verse, Paper Hearts is the story of survivial, defiance, and friendship. Based on historical events about a group of girls who were slave laborers at the munitions factory in Auschwitz.

(This is a story of the holocaust unlike any I have read before.  Telling this story in verse somehow makes it more powerful)

17262298

Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge

Walker shouldn’t have been so surprised to find Jesus standing in the middle of his bedroom. After all, he’d prayed for whoever was up there to help him, and to help his mom, who hadn’t stopped crying since Noah died two months ago. But since when have prayers actually been answered? And since when has Jesus been so . . . irreverent?

But as astounding as Jesus’ sudden appearance is, it’s going to take more than divine intervention for Walker to come to terms with his brother’s sudden death. Why would God take seventeen-year-old Noah when half of the residents in his mom’s nursing home were waiting to die? And why would he send Jesus to Coaltown, Illinois, to pick up the pieces?

 

4 Comments

Filed under books, children's fiction, poetry, young adult, young adult fiction

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

Reality television shows are made about just about anything these days. You can watch people survive on an island, housewives fight with each other or follow the exploits of a group of Kiwis on the Gold Coast, from wherever you are in the world. However, would you watch a man dying of a brain tumour as his family crumbles around him? Len Vlahos’ amazing new book, Life in a Fishbowl, shows us exactly what life would be like for a family in this situation.

32604250Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone’s father is dying.

When Jackie discovers that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, her whole world starts to crumble. She can’t imagine how she’ll live without him . . .

Then, in a desperate act to secure his family’s future, Jackie’s father does the unthinkable–he puts his life up for auction on eBay. Jackie can do nothing but watch and wait as an odd assortment of bidders, some with nefarious intentions, drive the price up higher. The fate of her entire family hangs in the balance.

But no one can predict how the auction will finally end, or any of the very public fallout that ensues. Life as Jackie knows it is about to change forever…

I absolutely loved this incredibly powerful story!  Like a reality TV show, Life in a Fishbowl is addictive and entertaining, but this book will also make you stop and ponder the issues that it deals with.  What lengths would you go to to provide for your family if you only had 4 months to live?  How would you feel if someone you loved was dying and you couldn’t grieve in peace? How would you cope with people who want to twist and edit your words and feelings just to make better TV?  If the person you love asked you to help them die would you do it?

Like the house that the family Stone live in, with it’s multiple cameras and multiple points of view, Len Vlahos gives us many different perspectives of Jared Stone’s situation.  I feel that these different points of view set this book apart from your average YA read.  You get the perspective of Jackie, one of the teenage daughter’s of Jared, who is struggling to deal with her father’s illness and the constant cameras that follow her everywhere in the house.  However, you also get the perspective of Jared himself (who is quickly loosing his memories and control of who he is), the ruthless TV producer Ethan (who will do almost anything to keep his show running), Sister Benedict (a nun who wants to save Jared but has questionable morals) and Sherman Kingsborough (an immature millionaire who believes that money can give him everything he wants).  Then there is my favourite perspective of the book, Glio, the anthropomorphized glioblastoma multiforme (or brain tumour).  You watch as Glio gobbles up Jared’s memories with glee, giving you a taste of family life before Glio came along.  Glio becomes more and more adventurous and hungry for experiences as the book progresses, which ultimately means the deterioration of Jared.

Like any reality TV show you there are moments where you will be biting your nails, screaming at the characters, laughing with glee as a character you hate gets what is coming to them, and ultimately wanting to binge the whole book until you’ve reached the end. Rush out and grab Life in a Fishbowl now!

Leave a comment

Filed under books, young adult, young adult fiction

The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Like many of the books on my shelves The Bombs That Brought Us Together has been sitting on my shelf for a while just waiting for the chance for me to pick it up.  I’ve spent the last month reading through my TBR pile and this book shot straight to the top when I heard that it had won the Costa Book Award.  I’m so glad that I finally got around to reading it because it is a brilliant book.

9781408855744Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.

Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will…

The Bombs That Brought Us Together is an atmospheric, tense, utterly unique read that made me smile one minute and bite my nails the next.  I was absolutely captivated by this story and the characters that Brian has brought to life.  It is clear to see why this book won the Costa Book Award.
Brian Conaghan portrays life in a war-zone and a time of unrest with honesty and with heart. You see what the day-to-day reality is for Charlie, with rationing, curfews and beatings, and you see the fear that his parents live with.  Charlie tells us about the reality of life after the bombs when he shares his list of things he did before the bombs came, including ‘got really bored because Little Town had a lack of teenage things to do.’ You also see what life is like for refugees like Pav, those people that are forced out of the country and the lives that they knew into a place where they are hated and made to do horrible jobs just to survive.  Brian also shows us the friendship and hope that exists too, even with everything else that is happening.
The way in which Brian has portrayed the war between Little Town and Old Country is brilliant.  The conflict between Little Town and Old Country bears striking similarities to wars all over the world.  There are rebels that have taken Little Town as their own and they run the place as they see fit, but Old Country wants to take Little Town back and so they invade with their bombs and their soldiers.  Pav and his family are refugees from Old Country who are now living in Little Town and they are persecuted, especially when the Old Country troops invade.  Little Town is run by The Big Man and his Rascals.  It is when Charlie and Pav get themselves involved with The Big Man that the real trouble starts.
It was Charlie’s voice that grabbed me from the first page and made me want to keep reading.  As the story is narrated by Charlie you really get inside his head and go through all of his dilemmas and the events of the story right with him.  You feel him changing as the story progresses and hope that he is going to make the right choices.  You know how much he wants to protect his family and Pav and that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe.  Things get especially tense towards the end of the book and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end.
The Bombs That Brought Us Together is one of those stories that I’m still thinking about days after finishing it.  Charlie and Pav will stay with me and I’ll wonder what they are getting up to.  I loved Brian’s writing so much that I want to go and hunt down his first book, When Mr Dog Bites, and I’m eagerly awaiting his next book (with Sarah Crossan) called We Come Apart.
Recommended for 13+ (definitely a YA read).

Leave a comment

Filed under book awards, books, war, young adult, young adult fiction

My best book of 2016 – There May Be a Castle by Piers Torday 

My best book of 2016 – There May Be A Castle by Piers Torday. I read this amazing book just last week and it blew me away. It is also the first book in a long time to make me cry. When I got to the end I just placed it down and the tears started flowing. 

It is about a boy called Mouse who doesn’t like books at all. He is in the car with his two sisters and his mum when they are driving through snow to get to his grandparent’s house. They slip on the road and crash, throwing Mouse from the car. Mouse wakes up in a strange land and is told he must try and find a castle because there is something bad following him. There is a delightful cast of characters that join him on his quest, including a sarcastic horse called Nonky, a sheep called Bar, and a ‘dragon’ called Trex. The strange thing about these characters though is that they are personifications of his childhood toys. As you join Mouse on his quest you are trying to figure out what is going on and hoping that he’ll make it to the castle. You know something bad is going to happen if you don’t. The story also flashes to Mouse’s sister Violet and the rest of the family in the crashed car.

There are so many things I loved about this story. The characters are memorable, the dialogue is wonderful and often very funny, and the sense of not knowing what is happening makes you want to keep reading to the very end. It’s ultimately a story about the power of the imagination. Piers is a very gifted storyteller and I will certainly be getting hold of all his other books right away. I thought the story would end differently which I think is why I got such an emotional punch from it. Once I got to the end though I just wanted to start from the beginning again.

Grab There May Be a Castle now and lose yourself in this marvellous book. 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction