Monthly Archives: June 2016

My Top July Kids & YA Releases

Forgetting Foster | REVISED FINAL COVER x 2 (18 April 2016)

Forgetting Foster by Dianne Touchell

Foster Sumner is seven years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad’s stories.

But then Foster’s dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. But the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.

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Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant

Siblings Miracle and Zac have moved between foster homes ever since they can remember. When they are moved to a group home called Skilly House, they think everything is about to break, but it may just be the beginning of their news lives.

Simple, heart-breaking and ultimately full of hope.

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The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager—but she just happens to be goddess of the underworld too. Why is life so unfair? Still, Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead whom she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened… A hilarious and thought-provoking sideways look at life—and death—through the eyes of the funniest teenager in all the (under)world.

 

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My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons

Zack and Lara have superpowers. Luke has new school shoes and a burning sense of resentment. He KNOWS that aliens disguised as gym teachers are about to attack Earth but will anyone listen? No. So one dodgy pact with a self-styled supervillain later, and Luke is ready to save the world. He just need to find his trainers.

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Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman

When his father is arrested and transported to the Colonies, Caleb is left alone. After a desperate journey in search of an aunt he’s never met he receives a strange, cold welcome. Then a body washes up on the nearby beach and Caleb is caught up in a terrifying net of lies and intrigue. Soon he and his new family are in mortal danger.

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Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame

Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip to “bond.” Determined to trick Hank into showing his true – flawed – colours on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide – not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?

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Sunken Forest by Des Hunt

Sent to live with his grandmother in Hastings after his father is jailed, Matt becomes the victim of bad friends and false accusations. Sent off on a military-style school camp to the wilds of Lake Waikaremoana, Matt again gets in trouble for something he didn’t do, and is unjustly punished. Not allowed to join his school friends on their activities, he spends time alone down by the lake where he discovers a massive eel. Unfortunately, news gets out about the eel Matt has nicknamed Elsa, and the class bad-boy, Cameron, is determined to kill it. Matt is determined not to let him … but then, following a night of torrential rain, catastrophe strikes the camp and Matt ends up saving Cam’s life.

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The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company.

He has stayed alive for two winters—hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage.

But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley—an asylum seeker—and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush.

And Ramage wants the girls back—at any cost.

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When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

A boy’s chance encounter with a scruffy dog leads to an unforgettable friendship in this deeply moving story about life, loss and the meaning of family.

Ben Coffin has never felt like he fits in. A former foster kid, he keeps his head down at school to avoid bullies and spends his afternoons reading sci-fi books at the library. But all that changes when he finds a scruffy abandoned dog named Flip and befriends the librarian’s daughter, Halley. For the first time, Ben starts to feel like he belongs in his own life. Then everything changes, and suddenly Ben is more alone than ever. But with a little help from Halley’s magician father, Ben discovers his place in the world and learns to see his own magic through others’ eyes.

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Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Frank Cottrell Boyce is one of my favourite authors.  I fell in love with his writing when I first read his debut novel, Millions.  Every new book of his promises a fresh, entertaining and exciting story that I know I will love.  Frank’s previous book The Astounding Broccoli Boy is one of my favourites of his. Frank’s new book, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, is an out-of-this-world read that I absolutely loved.

Sputnik-s Guide to Life on EarthWhen his grandfather becomes ill Prez goes to stay with a foster family. The Blythes are a big, warm, rambunctious family who live on a small farm and sometimes foster children. Although he seems cheerful and helpful, Prez never says a word. Then one day Prez answers the door to someone claiming to be his relative. This small, loud stranger carries a backpack, walks with a swagger and goes by the name of Sputnik. Sputnik bursts into their lives and sets out to help Prez and try to save Earth.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth is a funny, feel-good story that will make you wish you had a Sputnik of your very own.  Sputnik’s unique point of view will make you look at the world around you in a new way and get you thinking about the things that aliens might find fascinating about Earth.  Frank Cottrell Boyce will make you think but also make you laugh out loud while reading this book.

Sputnik bursts into Prez’s life right when he needs a friend, even one who is going to cause a whole heap of trouble.  While everyone else sees Sputnik as a dog Prez sees him as a wee fellow about the same age and height as him, dressed in a ‘slightly-too-big jumper, kilt, leather helmet like the ones pilots wear in war movies, with massive goggles.’ As Prez doesn’t talk he communicates telepathically with Sputnik, therefore no one sees Prez talking to a dog.  Sputnik tells Prez that he is the point of his mission and that they have to find 10 things that are amazing about Earth.  Earth, says Sputnik, is due for shrinking, and that they need to find 10 things that would make Earth worth saving.  Prez and Sputnik set out to find these 10 things and write Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth. Along the way Prez finds his place in the world and finds his way into our hearts.

Sputnik gets Prez into some hilarious situations in the story.  Sputnik is always trying to fix things and make them better, from a toy lightsaber and a remote control to a chairlift and a mobility scooter.  I loved Sputnik’s new and improved versions and they will have kids laughing out loud.  I especially loved the lightsaber incident.

Not only is Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth a fantastic story, it is also the perfect book to put into the hands of kids whose grandparents have dementia.  Frank Cottrell Boyce perfectly captures the heartbreak of a kid whose grandparent is getting more and more forgetful.  Prez does all he can to help his grandad remember things and tries to break him out of ‘prison.’

Grab a copy of Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth and discover the marvels of Earth with your new best friend, Sputnik.

 

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Win a copy of Fuzzy Doodle

Fuzzy Doodle is the stunning new collaboration between the very talented Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley.  Fuzzy Doodle will be a favourite with young and old alike and I think everyone needs to own a copy of this wonderful book.  You can read my review here on the blog.

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Thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic NZ I have a copy of Fuzzy Doodle to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com, with the subject ‘Fuzzy Doodle,’ along with your name and address.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Craig.

 

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The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

You know a book is really good when you can’t stop thinking about it.  You want to shirk all your responsibilities just so you can read it in one sitting.  The Leaving by Tara Altebrando is one of these books.  You will not want to stop reading it until you’ve reached the last page and finally know what the hell happened!

26073074Eleven years ago, six five-year-olds went missing without a trace. After all this time, the people left behind have moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Now five of those kids are back. They’re sixteen, and they are … fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mother she barely recognises, and doesn’t really know who she’s supposed to be, either. But she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, but they can’t recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back and everyone wants answers.

I absolutely loved this book!  The Leaving is super twisty, tense and heart-pounding.  Tara Altebrando had me at the tag-line ‘Six were taken.  Five came back.’ The blurb completely gripped me and I had to read it straight away.  I got completely lost in the story and couldn’t stop thinking about it when I had to put the book down.

It’s one of those books that I feel that I can’t say much about, for fear that I’ll give something away.  The whole premise of the story is intriguing.  Six kids went missing when they were 5 years old.  They have turned up at home again eleven years later.  Why now? Where were they? Who had them?  Tara is very good at stringing the reader along, giving you tantalising pieces of the puzzle so that you have to keep reading to find out how all the pieces fit together.  When I started I had my own theories about what had happened to the characters but I couldn’t have picked what actually happened.

The story takes place over fifteen days from when the kids return and throughout the story we get the perspectives of different characters. We follow two of the returned, Lucas and Scarlett, as well as Avery, the sister of the kid who hasn’t returned.  The returned desperately try to remember what happened to them, while their families adjust to having them back again (or wondering why they haven’t returned, like Avery and her mum).

I think this is one of the best YA books this year and I highly recommend it.  It’s a great read for those Year 7/8 readers who want to be reading YA too.  Grab a copy of The Leaving now and get lost in this incredible story.

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2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalists

logo_nzcyaThe finalists in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced this morning.  Congratulations to all of the finalists!

There are some great choices but also some favourites of mine that have missed out.  I know how hard it is to choose just a handful of books from all the wonderful ones that are published, so well done to this year’s judges – Fiona Mackie, Melinda Szymanik and Kathy Aloniu.  Read on to find out who the finalists are.

“Haunted houses, war stories, gritty social issues and some amazingly imaginative works were all part of the mix. It was very challenging for us all to choose these finalists,” says convenor of judges Fiona Mackie.

In this 26th year of celebrating the best of New Zealand writing for our children and young adults, this year’s awards have expanded to include two categories from the now-merged Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) Awards – the Russell Clark Illustration Award and the Te Kura Pounamu Award for books in te reo Māori.

The finalists in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are selected across six categories: Young Adult Fiction, Junior Fiction, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, Illustration and te reo Māori. There were 154 entries submitted for the 2016 Awards.

The finalists for the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

Young Adult Fiction

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo, Brian Falkner, Pan Macmillan Australia (Farrar Strauss Giroux)
Being Magdalene, Fleur Beale, Penguin Random House (Random House New Zealand)
Hucking Cody, Aaron Topp, Mary Egan Publishing
Lullaby, Bernard Beckett, Text Publishing
Sylvie the Second, Kaeli Baker, Mākaro Press

Junior Fiction (Esther Glen Award)

Enemy Camp, David Hill, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, Kate De Goldi, Penguin Random House (Longacre)
Lily Max – Satin, Scissors, Frock, Jane Bloomfield, Luncheon Sausage Books
The Bold Ship Phenomenal, Sarah Johnson, Flat Bed Press
The Girl Who Rode the Wind, Stacy Gregg, Harper Collins

Non-Fiction (Elsie Locke Award)

ANZAC Heroes, Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic, Scholastic NZ
Changing Times: The story of a New Zealand town and its newspaper, Bob Kerr, Potton & Burton
See what I can see, Gregory O’Brien, Auckland University Press
The Beginner’s Guide to Adventure Sport in New Zealand, Steve Gurney, Penguin Random House (Random House New Zealand)
Whose Beak is This? Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson, Potton & Burton

Picture Book

Allis the little tractor, Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge, Millwood-Heritage Productions
Finding Monkey Moon, Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson, Walker Books
Haka, Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers
The House on the Hill, Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Scholastic NZ
The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, Nikki Slade Robinson, David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)

Illustration (Russell Clark Award)

Changing Times: The story of a New Zealand town and its newspaper, Bob Kerr, Potton & Burton
Finding Monkey Moon, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson, written by Elizabeth Pulford, Walker Books
Hush: A Kiwi Lullaby, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, written by Joy Cowley, translated by Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ
Much Ado About Shakespeare, Donovan Bixley, Upstart Press
The House on the Hill, illustrated by Sarah Davis, written by Kyle Mewburn, Scholastic NZ

Te reo Māori (Te Kura Pounamu Award)

Tamanui te Kōkako Mōrehu o Taranaki, Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
Te Huatahi a Kuwi, Kat Merewether, translated by Pānia Papa, Illustrated Publishing
Whiti te Rā! Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers

 

HELL Children’s Choice finalists also announced

Kiwi children have enthusiastically voted online to select the finalists for the HELL Children’s Choice Awards. HELL Pizza general manager Ben Cumming says, “As a creative, New Zealand-owned business, HELL Pizza is passionate about feeding the imaginations of Kiwi kids and helping develop their literacy – particularly through a relationship with books. The stories these young readers have chosen as finalists are exciting, well-written, beautifully illustrated and clearly resonate with their audience. We can’t agree on our favourite, but luckily it’s not up to us!” Voting for the winners in the five categories of the HELL Children’s Choice Award opens on Wednesday, 8 June and closes on Friday, 22 July.

Click here to vote in the Hell Children’s Choice Awards.

The HELL Children’s Choice finalists are:

Young Adult Fiction

Being Magdalene by Fleur Beale, Penguin Random House (Random House New Zealand)
Stray, Rachel Craw, Walker Books
Sylvie the Second, Kaeli Baker, Mākaro Press

Junior Fiction

Cool Nukes, Des Hunt, Scholastic NZ
Enemy Camp, David Hill, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
The Girl Who Rode the Wind, Stacy Gregg, Harper Collins

Non-Fiction

ANZAC Heroes, Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic, Scholastic NZ
First to the Top, David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
Wildboy, Brando Yelavich, Penguin Random House (Penguin)

Picture Book

Kuwi’s Huhu Hunt, Kat Merewether, Illustrated Publishing
Stripes! No, Spots! Vasanti Unka, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
The House on the Hill, Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Scholastic NZ

Te reo Māori

Tamanui te Kōkako Mōrehu o Taranaki, Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
Te Hua Tuatahi a Kuwi, Kat Merewether, translated by Pānia Papa, Illustrated Publishing
Whiti te Rā! Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers

For more information check out the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults website.

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The Turners by Mick Elliott

Sometimes you pick up a book and you just know that kids are going to love it.  It could be the cover that jumps out at you or the blurb that hooks you in and makes you want to read the book.  Mick Elliott’s new book, The Turners, has huge kid-appeal, from the awesome cover featuring a shape-shifting kid to the promise of killer pigs and snake-men on the cover.

the-turnersLeo Lennox has an epic problem: it’s his thirteenth birthday and he has just grown a tail.

You’d think that growing a tail in the middle of the school library would be the worst thing that could happen to you, but Leo is about to discover that things can always get worse – and a whole lot weirder. Now, as he discovers an unthinkable family secret, Leo must team up with his infuriating older sister to escape snake-skinned henchmen, ancient shape-shifters and a whispering villain determined to feed him to a pack of genetically engineered killer pigs – all while trying to control his new shape-shifting powers.

The Turners is a crazy, hilarious thrill-ride packed with shapeshifters, weird genetic experiments and family secrets.  Mick Elliott drops you straight into the action with the strange, embarassing situation that Leo finds himself in.  The story gallops and leaps along, with never a dull moment, as you join Leo and Abbie on their search for answers.

There is something in The Turners to appeal to anyone.  There is the mystery of Turners with their genetic anomoly that allows them to turn into different animals, (from rodents and birds to mammals and reptiles), the adventure that Leo and Abbie find themselves on in their search for answers, some delightfully sinister villains, and genetically engineered pigs and hamsters.  The Turners is also perfect for those kids who love a funny story.  There are some hilarious moments in the story, especially when it comes to turning in to different animals.  My favourite part is when Leo interupts his sister Abbie when she is trying to show him how an expert Turns.  It ends in Leo being sprayed with sloth urine (I know kids will love this part).

The cover and design for The Turners is brilliant too.  The bright orange and green makes the book jump off the shelf and the cover illustration makes you want to find out what the story is about.  The title also has a very cool lizard scale effect as well.

The Turners is the first part of a trilogy by Mick Elliott and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  It’s perfect for ages 9+ and would make a great read aloud for Years 5-8.

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Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley

I love everything that Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley do, so when I heard that they were collaborating on a book I was incredibly excited.  The more I heard about this book, Fuzzy Doodle, the more I wanted to get my hands on it.  We don’t have many books published in hardcover here in New Zealand but you know that when a publisher releases a book, especially a picture book, in hardcover that they really believe in this book.  Fuzzy Doodle has just been released and it is an absolutely stunning book!

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Fuzzy Doodle follows a scribble on a page as it starts to eat the ink, then nibbles letters and words, until it moves on to gobbling pictures full of colour.  When it is full to bursting it makes a cocoon and then emerges and unfolds as a dazzling book.  The story perfectly captures the process of creating a story, from the first scribble of an idea, building on that idea, adding colour and layers to the story, sending it out into the world and hoping that it will unfold into a book.

Fuzzy Doodle has ‘award-winning’ written all over it.  It is one of those books that everyone is going to know and it will be a favourite with kids and adults alike.  It is a book that speaks to you as a reader and a lover of books.

There is something magical about this book, from Melinda’s delightful text that is a joy to read aloud to Donovan’s stunning, vibrant illustrations that make Fuzzy leap off the page. Melinda has a lot of fun with words and the story is sure to introduce children to lots of fantastic new words.  Fuzzy does lots of eating so Melinda uses words like ‘gobbled,’  ‘chomped,’ ‘famished,’ and ‘scrumptious.’ Donovan’s illustrations in this book are like nothing we’ve seen from him previously but they are perfect for this story.  Fuzzy starts off as quite dull but the magic really happens when he discovers the ink.  The ink is glossy on the pages (which looks amazing!) and so as Fuzzy eats more ink and words he starts to become glossy himself.  Then Fuzzy discovers colours, and you can’t help smiling as Fuzzy gets brighter and larger.  It really feels like you are holding a valuable piece of art when you are holding this book.  You know that it is something special to treasure.

I urge everyone to buy a copy of this book (multiple copies if you can afford it).  Fuzzy Doodle should be in every home, school and library in the country, and I hope that those outside New Zealand get the opportunity to discover this wonderful book too.  If you are a teacher or a parent you need to share this book with your children.  You will fall in love with this adorable Fuzzy Doodle.

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Twisted Journeys – the graphic novels that you control

I’m always on the lookout for new graphic novels for kids.  Walker Books Australia recently highlighted a fantastic graphic novel series that they distribute called Twisted Journeys that are perfect for middle and upper primary.

These brilliant books are a cross between a graphic novel and a choose-your-own adventure.  The story is told with a mix of plain text and graphic novel panels, and like choose-your-own adventure stories, there are several directions that the story can go in.  The first book in the series is called Captured by Pirates, and depending on your choices you could rescue your father and live happily ever after or get eaten by cannibals.

There are 22 different stories to choose from including being trapped in a haunted house, caught in a time machine, escaping a zombie island, defeating an evil mastermind, becoming a martial arts master, or join forces with Frankestein’s monster to solve a crime.

Here are a couple of images from inside two different books:

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Twisted Journeys are perfect for reluctant readers and those who love graphic novels.  They are a great format to get kids hooked on books and there a heaps to choose from.

For more info about each title check out this info sheet from Walker Books  – http://classroom.walkerbooks.com.au/home/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Twisted-Journeys.pdf

 

 

 

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Flying Furballs: Dogfight by Donovan Bixley

Donovan Bixley is one of our most talented illustrators in New Zealand and I’d have to say he’s my favourite illustrator.  Not only has Donovan illustrated stories for other wonderful authors like Kyle Mewburn, Yvonne Morrison and Margaret Mahy, he has also written and illustrated his own books.  His style is unique but it varies slightly depending on the topic, with a particular talent for poo, vomit and snot.  Donovan has recently released a new series, called Flying Furballs, that he has both written and illustrated.  The first book in the series, Dogfight, really proves why Donovan is one of our most talented creators of great books for kids.

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Strap on your flying goggles, prepare your bi-plane and get set to join Claude D’Bonair and the CATs Air Corps for adventure, crazy missions, dangerous rescues and plenty of laughs.  Donovan Bixley shows us the Great War like we’ve never seen it before.  It’s the CATs (Cat Allied Troops) versus the DOGZ (Dog Obedience Governed Zone) as the CATs try to stop the DOGZ from taking over Europe.  It’s up to Claude and the team at CATs HQ to fight for all of katdom.  In this first book Claude decides to take matters into his own hands when the CATs most famous dogfighter, Major Tom, is captured and held in the DOGZ castle headquarters.  It’s up to Claude to rescue Major Tom and bring him home.

Dogfight is a witty and very funny start to the Flying Furballs series.  Donovan really knows his audience and tells a story that kids will love.  Donovan’s trademark humour shines through in both the illustration and the text.  There are cat and dog puns galore dotted throughout the story.  At one point in the story when Claude meets Major Tom he says that he was afraid that the DOGZ were torturing him and Major Tom’s reply is:

‘Oh yes, got plenty of that.  They pulled my tail. Rubbed my fur the wrong way.  Dunked me in a bathtub.  And the mongrels dangled a piece of wool in front of me, just out of reach  – for a week!’

Even the characters names are hilarious, from Syd Fishus, the cat who flew with Claude’s father, to Commander Katerina Snookums, and C-for, the CATs resident inventor.

Like the Dinosaur Rescue series and Dragon Knight series Donovan has included some cool diagrams in Dogfight.  These explain how gadgets and planes work and show the different important parts.

Dogfight will have you laughing out loud and desperately wanting to get hold of the next book in the series.

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Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Some books grab hold of your heart from the first page and don’t let go, even when you’ve reached the last page.  When I first heard about Pax by Sara Pennypacker I knew that it was going to be one of those books and from the moment I picked it up I knew I was going to love it.

PaxPax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.

Pax is a beautiful heart-breaking story about the connection between a boy and his pet fox.  Sara Pennypacker makes you feel this connection between Peter and Pax and you read the story with hope that they’ll find each other but dread that they might not. Pax is also a story about never giving up, even when the odds are stacked against you.  Both Pax and Peter face many challenges but they are determined to find each other.  Sarah Pennypacker grabs you from the first chapter, giving you an immediate connection with Peter and Pax.  It’s a very emotional start to a story (that will probably make you cry) and you have to know what will happen to Peter and Pax.  Jon Klassen’s illustrations are stunning too.  His illustration style perfectly captures the tone of the story.

The story starts with Peter leaving Pax in the woods at the side of the road and driving away.  Peter’s father is going off to war so Peter has to go and stay with his grandfather.  This means he is not allowed to take Pax with him and his father tells him he has to set him free.  As you can imagine, this would be hard for any child to do, and you feel how hard it is for Peter to do this.  Peter found Pax clinging to life as a kit.  Peter’s mum had just died and so he found Pax when he really needed a friend.  They had been inseparable ever since, until this day that Peter is forced to leave Pax.  The story alternates between Peter and Pax’s point of view and we follow both of their journeys to find each other again. There are times that you wonder whether they will both actually survive long enough to do so.

I loved the characters of Peter and Pax, especially their determination.  They will stay in my head for a long time and I already want to go back and read their story again.  My favourite character though was Vola, a woman that Peter meets and who helps him.  She’s a really interesting character because she has been damaged by war and is used to living alone.  I love the way that her character develops just through her relationship with Peter.

Pax is an amazing story that I can’t praise enough.  It is perfect for those who like stories with animals, for fans of Michael Morpurgo and highly recommended for those who have read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

 

 

 

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