Tag Archives: young adults

My Top September Kids & YA Releases – Part 2

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone.

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Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay

“Don’t you wish,” said the small rhinoceros, “that you could see the world?” And so begins this delightful picture book by award-winning creators Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge.

Once, there was a small rhinoceros who wanted to see the big world. So she built a boat. And sailed away … From the duo behind award-winning picture book No Bears comes a simple yet inspirational tale about challenging the norm, pushing boundaries and being true to oneself.

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I Want to be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien

Monster wants to be in a scary story – but is he brave enough? Scary stories have creepy witches and creaky stairs and dark hallways and spooky shadows… Oh my goodness me! That is very scary. Maybe, a funny story would be better after all?

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Baabwaa & Wooliam by David Elliott and Melissa Sweet

Baabwaa is a sheep who loves to knit. Wooliam is a sheep who loves to read. It sounds a bit boring, but they like it. Then, quite unexpectedly, a third sheep shows up. A funny-looking sheep who wears a tattered wool coat and has long, dreadfully decaying teeth. Wooliam, being well-read, recognizes their new acquaintance: the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing! The wolf is so flattered to discover his literary reputation precedes him that he stops trying to eat Baabwaa and Wooliam. And a discovery by the sheep turns the encounter into an unexpected friendship.

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On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond

Bunny and Dog live on opposite sides of the fence. No one says hello. Or hi. But on the night of the shooting star, two doors open… From bestselling author Amy Hest and illustrator Jenni Desmond comes a charming picture book about loneliness and making friends.

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His Royal Tinyness by Sally Lloyd-Jones and David Roberts

Marianna, the most beautiful, ever so kindest princess, lives happily with her mum, dad and gerbil. Happy, that is, until the new baby comes along. His Royal Highness King Baby is so smelly. He’s so noisy. And all the talk in the Land is about him – non-stop, All the time! Has there everbeen such a time of wicked rule?!

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Crazy About Cats by Owen Davey

Did you know that the fishing cat has partially webbed paws for catching fish? Or that pumas can leap up over 5 metres into trees? There are roughly 38 species of cats today, each one superbly adapted to their environment – whether that be in the rainforest or the desert!

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The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson

The cold bites and the sea lashes in this adventure on the ice seas. Ten-year-old Siri must counter the treachery of sailors, hungry wolves, frozen landscapes and a mine where children are enslaved, to save her younger sister from the dreaded ice sea pirates.

 

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Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843 by M.H. McKinley

One of the things I love the most about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is that it always introduces me to New Zealand books that I hadn’t heard of.  One of the gems that I’ve discovered from the shortlist is M.H. McKinley’s brilliant graphic novel, Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843.

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Wairau, 1843 is the first in the Wars in the Whitecloud graphic novel series that vividly brings to life important events in the early interactions between Maori and Pakeha.  This first book portrays the ill-fated meeting between early settlers and the Ngati-Toa tribe at Wairau in 1843.  It was a short but violent and bloody conflict and the author hasn’t shied away from portraying this.  M.H. McKinley stays true to these historic events while bringing to life both Maori and Pakeha figures who played a part in the conflict.  There are also extensive historical notes at the back of the book so that you can learn more about the events and the people involved.

As someone who loves both New Zealand history and graphic novels I absolutely love this book!  I loved studying New Zealand history when I was in high school and this is the sort of book that I needed.  Secondary school Social Science teachers all over New Zealand need to have this book put in their hands. It is an invaluable resource to make history come alive, not just for teenagers but adults as well.

The art is stunning throughout, with realistic depictions of Maori and Pakeha.  I especially like the art and layout of the front cover, which reminded me of a movie poster.  The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that there wasn’t enough of a margin throughout the book, meaning that you have to really pull the pages apart sometimes to read the text.

Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843 is a finalist in the Best First Book Category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and it is certainly a winning book in my opinion.

 

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Ink by Alice Broadway

Imagine that you live in a world where every significant moment in your life is tattooed on your skin.  When you are named at birth your name is tattooed on your wrist, your family tree is tattooed on your back, and any successes or failures are recorded on your skin for anyone to see.  When you die your skin is flayed from your body and made in to a book so that your ancestors will remember you.  However, you are only allowed to be remembered once you are judged and your soul found to be clean.  If you are found to not be a good person your book is burned and you are forgotten.  This is the world in which Leora lives in in Alice Broadway’s fantastic new YA book, Ink.

9781407172842Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever.

When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life.

But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.

Ink is a gripping dystopian story of a girl whose life has been a lie. It’s also a book about wanting to live forever through the memories of our ancestors.  There is a belief in Leora’s world that only those who have lived worthy lives will be remembered and people will go to any lengths to ensure this.  I was hooked from the very first page and Alice kept me guessing the whole way. The stunning cover was the main reason why I picked this book up as the bronze foil design made me want to find out what the book was about.

Alice Broadway has created a world that is intriguing and enchanting.  It is a world that is held together by the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.  These stories, that are woven in to Leora’s story, are based on fairy tales that have been manipulated to serve the purposes of the government.  In Leora’s world there are those that have been marked by their stories and those who choose to remain blank.  These Blanks have been banished but it is believed that they are trying to sneak back in to society to spy and ultimately to start a war.  Everyone in Leora’s world has a certain job, including inkers, flayers and government workers, and it is Leora’s dream to be an inker.  Just as her dream becomes a reality Leora’s world starts to unravel, leaving her unsure who to trust.

Ink is the perfect book for those readers who have read the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Flawed series and want something similar.  I think it is even suitable for Year 7 and 8 as there is nothing in the book that makes it inappropriate for this age group.  Although the book comes to (what I considered) a satisfying end there is certainly the possibility to delve deeper in to this world, and Alice says on her website that Ink is the first book in the The Skin Books Trilogy.

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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).

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Introducing SmackFiction

SmackFictionI’m really excited to be able to introduce you all to SmackFiction.  SmackFiction is a brand-new mobile app, aimed at teens, that allows readers to discover upcoming novels, read free sample chapters, earn rewards and share what they’re reading with friends.  You can add reviews or comments about the books on the app and tell others about what you’re reading on Facebook.  It’s an awesome app for readers of all ages and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You can download it for free from the AppStore or Google Play.  Libraries and schools can sign up to receive information on the use of the app by library users and students, and you can also receive a promotion pack with bookmarks and posters.

For more information about SmackFiction read the media release below.

A new mobile app aimed at getting younger adults reading has been launched by Wellington-based SmackFiction. The app features sample chapters for readers to browse when they are commuting or waiting for class, as well as entertaining articles about authors and their creations. People can see what their friends have been reading, and status points are awarded to readers who explore new books and share comments with friends.

Early interest in SmackFiction has come from The New Zealand Book Council and Hutt City Libraries who see the app as a way to divert a mobile focussed generation away from games and onto reading. Authors are interested because they can participate on the app community, allowing them to have direct contact with their fans.

Public Libraries of New Zealand Chair Paula Murdoch says “SmackFiction is to be congratulated in offering readers a new choice in the way they read and the added appeal of connecting with others in an online community to share their love of a good book.”

SmackFiction is supported by HarperCollins New Zealand and many other leading New Zealand publishers who have provided content such as Gecko Press, Steampress Books, Huia and Victoria University Press. SmackFiction particularly celebrates Kiwi fiction, but has attracted interest (and content) from quality publishers in Canada, Australia and the US, who are watching the New Zealand pilot with interest.

The SmackFiction app can be downloaded from the Apple™ App Store by anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch and a Facebook™ account. An Android™ version will be released shortly.

Libraries and schools will be able to get aggregated reporting on their reader activity by signing up at www.smackfiction.com.

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Meet the Apocalypsies #3: Leah Bobet

Today I’m joined by debut author and member of the Apocalypsies, Leah Bobet.  Leah is the author of Above, an amazing new Young Adult urban fantasy novel.  Leah drinks tea, wears feathers in her hair, and plants gardens in back alleys. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.   Here’s the blurb for Above:

Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above–like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.

But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home–not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.

Now it’s over to Leah to tell us about her writing and Above.  Thanks Leah for your wonderful post.

My writerbrain’s a bit like a game of Katamari Damacy; I read and putter and roll the little ball around, picking up things, and eventually it gets big enough that I become a star have something to write. Here are a few of the things it picked up:

The first was a detail, actually, from an essay I was reading for a third-year philosophy course: where the author described having to stand in his underwear in an examination room under bright lights because his doctors were using the diagnosis of his disability to teach student doctors. I can actually viscerally remember leaning back on my (crappy student) couch when I read it: all this emotion, shame and display and anger, bleeds right through the page. It hit me right between the eyes, and I knew I had to use it for something, somewhere.

The second thing was, well, picking a fight. I used to watch the Ron Perlman Beauty and the Beast TV show back when I was a kid, and I used to watch Futurama, and I have this pickily annoying practical streak that used to do things like correct people when they had song lyrics wrong. So part of my head, for a long time, has been going but it wouldn’t be like that! You get this whole Secret Society of Mutants Living Underground thing, suspicious and insular and ready to set you on fire and hiding in life-and-death ways, but nobody ever talks about how they got that way or the long-term emotional consequences of being locked up down there with the same five people all the time. They live underground in sewers or the like, but they’re always these suspiciously comfortable, all-the-amenities, Hollywood kinds of sewers, not what you’d actually get if a half-dozen people with various mental and physical issues went down into the actual sewer and tried to rough out something to live in. In real life, it’d probably be cold. You’d spend all your time figuring out how to get enough water, power, and canned food to just survive. So, says I, picking a fight with a whole bunch of books and movies, all happy with how smart I was. I’ll show them what it’s really like.

The third thing? A question I’ve been picking at for years, and still haven’t found a great answer to: When someone you care about is in trouble, when do you work like hell to save them, to try to pull them out of the hole they’re falling into – and when do you realize they’re just going to pull you in after them, and let go, and walk away?

I still have no idea about that: Where the line is between being right and safe, and wrong and cruel, or the other way around, lies. But I had enough to say about it, trying to find that line, that a whole book came out: about a boy who grew up underground and a girl who can turn into a bee.

ABOVE (Arthur A. Levine Books, April 2012)

http://www.leahbobet.com

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Discover what the Scottish Book Trust has to offer

Beth Bottery from the Scottish Book Trust wrote this wonderful post about the promotions and events that they offer, even to children and teens in New Zealand.  Be sure to check out their brilliant site.

No matter where in the world you’re based or what kind of books you’re interested in, Scottish Book Trust has something for you to get involved with. Based in Edinburgh, Scottish Book Trust is the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland. Our Children’s Programme also run several projects which can be enjoyed by children, and adults, all over the world. You can find details of just a few of these below. Our website is a great resource, full of writing advice, book recommendations, author interviews, blogs and loads more www.scottishbooktrust.com

Authors Live

A series of fantastic of children’s and teen’s authors events which are broadcast live online to schools in the UK via the BBC. These events then become available to watch again for free a week later for people around the rest of the world. They feature a stellar line-up including Michael Rosen, Charlie Higson, David Almond, Jacqueline Wilson, Liz Lochhead and many more and you can download them from our website for free. Details of the next event are below. All events come with free classroom resources.

  • Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry) – World Book Day 1st March 2012

You can find further information about these and future online events on our website http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/childrens-authors-live. Keep an eye out for information about our next programme of live events by following the same link.

Virtual Writers in Residence

We have brilliant Creative Writing videos and tasks from top teen authors Keith Gray and Cathy Forde. Keith looks closely at several aspects of the writing process and Cathy has a series of creative writing tasks for budding writers to use in developing their skills. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/teens-and-young-people/videos .

The Blog

Every week we have new blog entries from authors and illustrators, booksellers, publishers and Scottish Book Trust staff. It’s a great place to find out about what’s going on at Scottish Book Trust and in the world of books more generally. We have several regular blogs aimed at young people, learning professionals and parents. You can find out more by following this link: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog.

Teen Hit List

We regularly put together hit lists of some of the best teen books around. These often feature a theme and are a great way of getting your pupils reading new and different fiction, our latest one is all about understanding mental health: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/teens-and-young-people/hit-lists

Reviews

We are always on the lookout for reviews of what you have read recently, whether you loved it, hated it, would recommend it or warn everyone against it. Email your book reviews to heather.collins@scottishbooktrust.com and we will put the best ones on the website. You can read past reviews by following this link: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/children-and-young-people/books/reviews-and-recommendations


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