Archive for April, 2014

My heart is laughing
By Rose Lagercrantz
Illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Gecko Press
laughing

The adorable Dani of My happy life is back in a new heart-warming story My heart is laughing

Dani who is almost always happy, deparately misses her best friend Ella ever since she moved away. Some days Dani copes very well but other days are just too much, especially when Vicky and Mickey, the class bullies turn on Dani.
When it all gets too much Dani strikes back but that just lands her in a whole heap of trouble. This is a delightful follow-up to My happy life but also a great stand alone.
As much as this is a story about bullying it is also a tale of true friendship and loyalty.
I think this is ideal for 5 -7 year old readers looking for a first chapter book.
As a school librarian, I know how important it is that first chapter books have to connect in order to encourage readers to keep going. This does that beautifully.
Eva Eriksson’s gorgeous line drawings bring to life all the emotions; smiles, defiance, loneliness and of course happiness and laughter. So simple but so telling.
This combination of author and illustrator is spot on. Younger readers will love this.

Enders
By Lissa Price

For those of you who loved Starters then you really do have to get hold of a copy of the sequel Enders.
We meet Callie and her younger brother Tyler and friend Michael in Starters not long after the spore wars has wiped out most of the Middles (middle aged people). Enders (old people) with all their money and might are able to rent out the bodies of young people, the Starters.
Tyler suffers from poor health and with their mother dead from the wars and their father missing, presumed dead, Callie is desperate to get money and a warm, safe place to live. She decides to rent out her body at Prime Destinations. For this rental to happen, a chip is placed inside Callie’s head, just like so many other Starters. This allows the “mind transfer” to happen. Her rental is to an Ender called Helena but it isn’t long before Callie realises Helena isn’t ready to give up her rental. Helena has other plans. And there is a voice inside Callie’s head slowly taking control. Heaps of action and such an intriguing concept. Lots of questions at the end. Who is “the old man”? Who is the voice? Loved Starters.

Enders kept me going just the same. Without giving too much away, Helena is no longer a problem. Callie has left Tyler at a safe house so she, Michael and the mysterious Hyden can find a way to have the chip removed and find other starters and rescue them from those in control. They are all being hunted down. There is again, a heap of action, and heap of guessing who to trust. The chip inside her head can now be controlled leaving her with no options but to do as the controller requires and that just might mean murder!
As Callie is told “trust no one but yourself, and then question that”.
If you are wanting a sci-fi thriller set in a not to distant future with just a little hint of romance these books really are a top read.
Sharing the trailer again, even though I posted this sometime ago. Always great to see this.

The forbidden library
By Django Wexler
Illustrated by David Wyatt (UK edition)
2014

library

Young Alice happens at the very start of this novel to eavesdrop on a rather heated exchange between her father and a fairy. Not your ordinary run-of-the mill fairy, but a two foot tall fairy with enormous wings and a “mouth full of needle-like teeth, and a long red tongue like a snake’s”.
This exchange is just the start of many events and action which just keep happening.
As with many good adventures it isn’t long before Alice is suddenly orphaned and forced to live with strangers in a very strange place.
Alice finds herself in a magical world where cats can talk and dangerous creatures invade the pages of books in a very large, dark and mysterious library.
There is the very quiet, mysterious and waif-like Emma who attends to Alice but seems just as strange as everything else in Alice’s new world.
Then there is the library where books have their own secrets and dangers and Alice has no choice but to enter a fantastical world of adventure and danger.
Trapped between the pages of the mysterious books Alice must find a way to survive and return to safety in the real world. The pace is steady and enticing and I had to keep reading.
The UK edition offers some wonderful pen and ink illustrations from David Wyatt. The US edition illustrations are also very fine but I must admit I do prefer the UK ones.
This is a great read for children 10-13 who love books, reading and adventure, with a heap of fantasy for good measure.
If you want a taster of this novel check the author’s website here and read the first chapter.The trouble is you know you will want to read more once you start.

I was only nineteen
By John Schumann
Illustrated by Craig Smith

Allen and Unwin

The Vietnam war may be in the past but it can never be forgotten. It was, at the time a controversial war. Returning soldiers were not treated with the same respect as those of the World Wars.
This sophisticated picture book is Schumann’s song I was only nineteen, put into pictures for younger readers to help them learn about the tragedy of this particular war.
I love the scenes with the colours and tones that Craig Smith has used to take us right in to the jungle. We really are in the jungle with the soldiers. Careful use of sepia tones in some pages also bring in another dimension to the story.
There is much to offer in this book, much to pull apart and mull over. While I am not a huge fan of songs becoming childrens’ books (and there are plenty these days) I do think this one works very well.
There are some teacher notes available to help make the most of this book. I think upper primary all the way through to secondary school students could learn much from this book.
I could see classes broken in to groups – those in one group watch the trailer and listen to the music and another group reads the book on its own. I would encourage the students to think about their reactions, feelings and compare the group’s responses. Food for thought!