Messenger of fear
By Michael Grant

ISBN 9780062207401

This is the first book in a new series by Michael Grant. His Gone series is still hugely popular and I have no doubt this series will also be a huge hit.

Mara can remember her name but nothing else. The young man, pale and solemn standing before her, tells her nothing. He does however inform her that at least she isn’t dead. But what is she and what are his plans for her? The messenger of fear sees darkness in the hearts of the young. Left unpunished, he offers a game, a wicked game where losing may be  a living nightmare and the price paid the most ultimate price of all! Where does Mara fit in all this?

I just know this is  going to be brilliant. Can’t wait! Not long now and the trailer is very cool. Check out the website above to read a sample chapter. I did and I loved the great descriptive language and the short sharp sentences. They hooked me in right from the start.

PLEASE NOTE: This book includes the details of a suicide so please ensure that if you are recommending or supplying this book to your students or your own  children that they are mature enough to handle the content. Be prepared to listen if they need to talk about anything that disturbs them in this book. Thanks!

 

 

Line up, please!

By Tomoko Ohmura

ISBN 9781877579998

Gecko Press

 

 

5

What a lovely wee gem of a story. All the animals are standing around in a queue. Some are waiting patiently just talking to each other while some are annoying each other. Their host is bird a gorgeously intuitive creature, trying to keep the peace as they wait in line. When the animals finally get to the front of the line they are in for a wonderful surprise and so is the reader especially when the pages open up wide and double the length of the view. This is a book to read again and again. It is perfect for pre-school but also great at primary school for having fun with maths. The animals are named  and numbered counting down from 50 to 1. The illustrations are bold, birght and curious, without distractions, so that each character is the centre of attention. Do look out for it – perhaps one to get for Christmas!

Arrowhead

By Ruth Eastham

ISBN 9781407137933

Scholastic

This book arrived in the library last week and while I was processing it a student picked it up and eagerly decided he wanted it before I was even finished processing. That is great, fantastic even, that he is so excited but it means I have to now wait my turn to read it . Hhmm!

Jack has recently moved to Norway where people often talk of old myths and legends. The stuff 13 year old Jack just didn’t believe in until he discovered the body of a warrior, frozen in ice and still holding on to an arrowhead. A cursed arrowhead which can unleash terrible evil on everyone around him. Fast-paced and perfect for middle grade readers who like adventure and great myths and of course, evil curses.

The impossible quest

Escape from Wolfhaven Castle

By Kate Forsyth

Scholastic ISBN 9781743624067

After a dreadful attack on Wolfhaven Castle, there are only four who manage to escape. It will be up toTom, Elanor, Sebastion and Quinn to save their people but danger is all around. Their mission is to find four magical mythical beasts but the task is not an easy one. Nowhere is safe and they are the most unlikely of heroes. Will they escape, will they find the beasts? This is the first book out of five in a new fantasy series.

Fast paced and perfect for middle grade readers.

Click to visit the Impossible Quest site and find out more info and have some fun.

 

Where is Rusty?

By Sieb Posthuma

Translated by Bill Nagelkerke

ISBN 9781927271469

Gecko Press

 

rusty (Small)

Rusty, Henrietta, Toby and Rusty’s mum hop on a bus and go in to town. The department store they enter is busy so like any caring mum, Rusty’s mother asks them all “So what do we do?”

“We all stay together” they chant. And of course like any good story – someone doesn’t listen.  Yes! Rusty is just a little too curious for his own good and ends up getting lost. Upon hearing some guards discussing what they will do to stray dogs, Rusty flees through the ventilation pipes where it is dark and scary. Will he find his way back? Has his family even noticed he has gone missing?

Bright colours, and quirky illustrations, Rusty’s  little adventure will definitely delight younger children.

Nightmares

By Jason Segel and Kirsty Miller

ISBN: 978-0-385-74425-6

 

Nightmares is the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and his friends who must  find the courage to save their town.

Charlie is sure his new step mother is secretly a witch. After moving in to a purple mansion which is very scary, especially after dark, he is even more convinced.

Scary nightmares are coming out of his dreams and in to the day time world. Will he have to courage to defend himself and will he ever be able to sleep without the lights on again.
This sounds so cool and just perfect for middle graders who love to scare themselves silly but enjoy a laugh or two as well.
I will be keeping an eye out for this one and I just hope it won’t be long as I want to read it right now!
Just look at the trailer – perfect.

 

You can do it, Bert

By Ole Konnecke

ISBN 9781927271438

Gecko Press

bert

This is a gorgeous picture book about Bert, a young bird who is ready and waiting to take a risk and do something he hasn’t done before. He is ready both mentally and physically, but perhaps just not on the first attempt. But Bert doesn’t give up. Will he succeed – of course! This is perfect for children who may just need a little encouragement to try something new. This could just as easily be a book about starting school. Simplistic in its style, both illustrative and textually, allows the characters to be the centre of the story. Great for pre-school.

Teacher notes can be found here to make the most of this picture book.

 

 

I don’t want to go to school
By Stephanie Blake

9781877579080

Gecko Press

school (Small)

Simon the rabbit is back! We all fell in love with Simon in the best-selling book Poo bum. Well Simon is now about to start school and he really doesn’t want to go. No matter how hard his family try to coax him, he repeatedly tells them “I don’t want to go to school”. Does he go? And if he does what is going to happen? Bright colours, simple story that captures the feelings and anxieties about starting school but with a great outcome which is sure to appeal to young children in the same situation.

Pandora Jones : Admission

By Barry Jonsberg

ISBN: 9781743318119

Allen & Unwin

Book 1 : Pandora Jones series

A plague has wiped out Pandora Jones family, a pandemic so devastating that it has wiped out almost all of humanity. Pandora is a one of the survivors and is now quarantined in a heavily guarded facility known as The School where she must recover and learn skills that will prepare her for survival and whatever dangers may be waiting outside the walls of the The School. Her strength is her instincts but will it be enough? And what is outside the walls? I have my copy by my bed just waiting to get stuck in.

One minute’s silence

By David Metzenthen

Illustrated by Michael Camilleri

ISBN 9781743316245

Allen & Unwin

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As part of our school library’s current commemorations on World War 1 I purchased a copy of One minute’s silence.  I had known about this book and had been waiting for its publication for awhile so snapped it up immediately it hit our shops.

It is an impressive sophisticated picture book with beautiful illustrations, evocative language and insight into the terrible time known as the Gallipoli campaign.

The cover hits you straight way with two faces (one an Australian solder, the other a Turkish soldier) within a circle of never-ending soldiers and crosses. With its sombre sepia tones the message becomes clear that war is a global issue and its impact effects everyone, everywhere.

The book begins with a group of students who really would rather be anywhere else other than inside a classroom having a history lesson. Slowly the teacher draws the students in and one by one they become witnesses to the atrocities of Gallipoli.

I shared this book with my book club children; a group of 10 and 11 year olds who were mesmerized. The discussions generated were amazing. The power of this book is the ability to show readers the two sides of the campaign. The ANZAC soldiers on attack and the Turkish soldiers on defense. Both sides were doing what they thought was right.

The impact of these attacks was devastating and the imagery in this book highlights the losses from both sides.

There are teacher notes available here for further in-depth discussion and activities to make the most of this excellent book. There really is so much to unpack in this book, from the use of sepia tones, frames showing the passing of time and even to the double spread image of flies and what that could possibly mean. This is quite honestly, an amazing book that moves the reader emotionally as we connect with our past and encourages us to reflect on the futility of war. The last page brought many of us to tears. It is a book to share and a book to treasure no matter the subject. Just brilliant!

I am Rebecca
By Fleur Beale

Random House NZ
ISBN 9781775535492

9781775535492

Some years ago I read Fleur Beale’s I am not Esther, a very deserving award winning novel, which still remains a favourite of mine. The sequel which can be read as a stand alone novel, is I am sure, bound to be another award winner.
I was hooked right from the start of this book. Life inside the religious group Children of the Faith is so alien to many people that its strict rules and regulations almost seem barbaric. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca and her twin sister Rachel have their lives totally controlled by the Elders and governed by Rules of the Faith. Everything is planned for them, including whom they are to marry when they turn sixteen. They must remain at all times subservient to men and to the Rules. Disobedience of the Rules could see them expelled from the group and be deemed dead to their families forever more. The fear of an eternity of Hell and damnation keeps them following the Rules, without question.
The story moves along smoothly allowing us more and more of an insight into Rebecca’s world. As the pivotal points came I couldn’t stop reading, I just had to find out what Rebecca was going to do and how she was going to cope. I loved watching her grow as a character but also felt very protective of her and her sister. Such is the power of Fleur Beale’s writing that the characters had become very real.
Do watch out for Mrs Lipscombe. I think everyone needs a Mrs Lipscombe in their lives.
This is a powerful story and quite honestly, a must read.

August has seen many commemorations for the centenary of World War 1.
We have created a display in our school library and I am very grateful to our caretaker for building a model of the trenches. The children have been fascinated with all the details. We also purchased a number of non-fiction books on the war which the students have also gravitated to. We do need to remember our soldiers and their heroic deeds.

It is perhaps timely to look back on some of the fiction books set during the First World War and reflect on how difficult and tragic life was for so many people throughout the world.
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The Light Horse Boy
By Dianne Wolfer
Illustrated by Brian Simmonds
Pub 2013
ISBN 9781921696572
Fremantle Press

It is 1914 and Jim is caught up in the excitement and promise of adventure of what would become the First World War. The reality was far different. The frontline was brutal and deadly. Find out how Jim struggled with all that went on as the war raged around him and his friends.

Lighthouse Girl
By Dianne Wolfer
Illustrated by Brian Simmonds
Pub 2010
ISBN 9781921361531

Also set during the First World War, Fay lives an isolated and hard life on Breaksea Island as a lighthouse keeper’s daughter. She knows semaphore and Morse code and soon these skills are the only hope for soldiers sending messages to loved ones as Fay then telegraphs the families their message. This is based on truth and puts the reader right in the middle of the war.

There are teaching notes available online from Fremantle Press

The Partials
By Dan Wells

Often a stand alone book or the first book in a new series will have a trailer made. It isn’t often that a series has multiple trailers made. The Partials sequence is an exception with three trailers, shared below.

After a war with the Partials (a group of engineered organic beings who are identical to humans) the human race has been pretty much decimated. There are some survivors but danger is always close. RM is a weaponized virus which has wiped out so many and only a few are immune. However, no babies since, have been born immune to RM.
Sixteen year old Kira is a medic in training and desperate to try and save the human race.
Reviews for this series are very good and the pace and thrill of the story are captivating.
I can’t tell you about the second and third book without ruining the first so grab the first and just keep reading.

Partials
Book 1

Fragments
Book 2

Ruins
Book 3

The last viking returns
By Norman Jorgensen
Illustrated by James Foley

Published by Fremantle Press.
September 2014

This is a wonderful follow-up to The last viking. I played the trailer in the library at lunchtime today and had a lovely group of children all crowded behind me. When I asked them if I should buy the book when it comes out there was a resounding and collective “Yesssss”.
The soundtrack is the brilliant and very fitting In the hall of the mountain king which we turned up loud and jiggled to. Do look out for this book and see what happens to Knut and the dragon.

And here is the trailer for the first adventures of Knut the The Last Viking

Quake cats : heartwarming stories of Christchurch cats
By Craig Bullock

Published October 2014

The trailer for this beautiful book gets me every time I watch it. I can’t wait to read the stories
of real cats and how they survived or perhaps didn’t survive the awful tragic earthquakes that devastated our city in 2011. This is a book for everyone, not just those who went through the earthquakes. We know the suffering that went on but animals also suffered. This book follows the great success of Quake dogs in 2013. I just know this will also be a hit. I have already pre-ordered my copy and look forward to its release in October.

My own cat Dusty suffered badly in the earthquakes and is not the same as she once was. I have two cats and just days before the February 22 earthquake, Lily the one year old, was dragged from our property by a dog, that viciously mauled her, shaking her in its mouth until two kind neighbours put their own lives in danger and rescued her. After time at the vets she came home, vet smelly, stapled together and lucky to be alive. Then the earthquake hit. I had a house full of extra people staying who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and even another cat.
Dusty struggled with the vet smells and Lily’s predicament and obvious pain, the extra people and cat and the continuous shakes and roaring sound of the earthquakes. Dusty completely shredded drapes at the front door as she tore at them trying to get out every time there was a noise. She really became quite aggressive and nervous. Eventually she bailed me up and I was under serious attack and afraid!! I had just showered and my only escape was to throw the towel on her and run through the house naked. (Not a pretty sight). The next day Dusty was at the vet first thing and spent many, many months on medication to calm her. Dusty is off the medication now but she still hisses at everything, runs in fear at any sudden noise, and even the wind can upset her. Family and friends tell me Dusty is broken (jokingly of course) but when she snuggles up, paws around my neck, nuzzling and purring away I know she is still under there somewhere, under all that fear.
For those of you who may have read my children’s novel Canterbury Quake, My New Zealand Story; yes there is a Dusty in the novel. She really went crazy so many times that I felt she deserved her own little place in the story. And as for Lily, she is fine – a little on the heavy side perhaps but lovely.
DO look out for Quake cats, you won’t be disappointed. Tearful maybe, but worth it completely worth it.

My Dusty, who loves hiding anywhere safe and secure.
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Speed of light
By Joy Cowley

ISBN 9781877579936
Gecko Press

speed

I thoroughly enjoyed Joy’s previous book Dunger which won the Junior Fiction Category in the recent NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. And I thoroughly enjoyed this book too even though it has a mathematical theme because I confess I actually have a phobia to anything maths related. I can put sentences together on occasions but not numbers. Numbers terrify me and the thought of not being able to use a calculator makes my skin crawl. But with Joy’s latest book I found myself intrigued with the number side of things especially the explanation of the Fibonacci numbers. When the weather is warmer I think I will be outside looking at patterns in leaves and flower petals with a new eye.
But it is so much more than that.
We have Jeff who has a fixation on numbers and anything mathematical, and his sister Andrea who has certain secrets, brother Beckett who is locked up in a prison cell overseas and his parents; a domineering bully of a father and mother in denial. I must say I found myself quite annoyed with Jeff’s father and disliked him intensely. This just goes to show how good the writing is for when we connect emotionally either good or bad, then the writer has hit their mark!
A severe storm one night blows in more than just leaves and broken trees. It blows in to Jeff’s life a mysterious and even mystical old lady who comes with warnings he doesn’t understand. Is she really just a lost and demented old lady or is there more to her that meets the eye.
Find out when it comes out next month. Another great novel from Joy Cowley – aged 12 plus.
Review of Dunger in a previous post here