Archive for the ‘Secondary’ Category

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J. K. Rowling

Illustrated by Jim Kay

ISBN 9781408845677

Bloomsbury

 

This is another beautifully illustrated collectors edition from Bloomsbury Publishers.

It doesn’t matter that I already have the set in paperback and hardback, this is something I just have to have, especially as I have the others in this beautiful format. Actually the original copies in the house belong to my now adult son, these illustrated ones are mine. The story is still the wonderful world of magic and mystery, although in this particular book the series takes a more dramatic turn and becomes darker and scarier, and sad too. It doesn’t really matter how old you are because if you are a fan of Harry Potter, then you are a fan for life. It also doesn’t matter how many times you read the books, there is always something new to discover that makes you suddenly think, so that’s why such and such happened.

Jim Kay brings a whole new element to the stories with his magical illustrations. There are stunning illustrations both in colour but also black and white which add mood and mysticism. Stunning.

Play around on the Wizarding World website to see much more.

My cat Dusty protecting my copy bought yesterday, one day after publication day.

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The Quiet at the End of the World

By Lauren James

ISBN 9781406375510

Walker Books

 

I’m not a huge fan of Science-fiction but I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this read. Totally got in to the story, characters and even the belief that everything in this Young Adult novel, could very well happen one day. That is a scary thought.

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on earth. A catastrophic virus caused global infertility and babies have not been born for many years. They are protected by elders but the elders have secrets; serious secrets they want to keep from the two teenagers. When the secret is eventually uncovered, everything changes and Lowrie and Shen have an impossible choice to make. Life as it exists could change forever.

I listened to the audio of this book and was hooked thinking of all the possibilities. I was in the Thames mudlarking, searching for treasure with them. I was with them when the secret came out and with them as they realised what the future would hold.  I was with them all the way and that to me, is a good book. Thoroughly enjoyed it and totally recommend it to YA readers.

Frankly in love

By David Yoon

 

While this YA book isn’t out yet, it is one I will be hunting for. The trailer is kind of cool and shows a sense of humour, particularly, with the play on words in the title. I’m hopeful there will more humour in the story.

Sometimes, I think book trailers give us a better idea of what to expect than a book review or blurb does. From what I see, the point of view will be Frank’s and that already is a bonus for me that a male character has centre stage. Look out for it soon.

It’s about a teenage boy who falls in love for fake in order to fall in love for real.

Antarctic Journeys

By Philippa Werry

ISBN 9781869664992

New Holland Publishers

When we consider non-fiction books for children, conversations often turn to the fact that everything we want them to know is online with just a quick click away. While that is definitely true, it may take many attempts and quite some time to find what they are looking for with many distractions along the way. As adults we know it is very easy to get lost on the internet and before you know it an hour has passed and you still haven’t really found what you are looking for. So with that in mind it is great to see some new non-fiction books for children, with all the information needed in one place, on two very different topics; Antarctica and Kereru.

Antarctic Journeys is a great example of what to look for in a non-fiction book. It has a multitude of colour photographs, an index, glossary, timeline, and contents page. The subheadings are bold and the photos are well-detailed. The information is well researched.

It is a book to read anyway you want. You can read it all the way through, or dip into chapters and read snippets that take your interest. I particularly liked the animal journeys, especially the cats. I also enjoyed reading about Frank Worsley and Ernest Shackleton. Their journey was an incredible tale of survival, although that can be said of all the early explorers to Antarctica. The book, as the title suggests, is about journeys of all kinds, both historic and contemporary. The writer herself made a journey to Antarctica after winning a place on the Antarctica New Zealand community engagement programme. This book captures much of her experience, and so much more.

This is an excellent choice for school libraries at all levels.

Coo-coo Kereru

By Terry Fitzgibbon

ISBN 9781869665173

New Holland Publishers

This is a combination creative non-fiction picture book. Beautifully illustrated with rhyming text on one side of each spread and information text on the opposite page. The Kereru is indeed, a beautiful bird and whenever I happen to see one, which is sadly, not very often,  I can’t help but stand quietly and watch them.

This book, aimed at younger children, explores the history of kereru, as far back as the myths and legends when a Kereru helped Maui fish the North Island out of the sea. The birds are also known as wood pigeons. I did find it sad that at one time Kereru had a life-span of 20-25 years but now because of introduced predators, loss of their forest homes and other things, their life expectancy is now only 5-6 years. The back of the book gives plenty of ideas of how you can help these beautiful birds.

Another good book to add to your library.

 

 

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

By Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

ISBN 9780062414465

Bloomsbury 

 

Wow! Just so excited about this soon to be released novel by two awesome authors.

Pan’s Labyrinth has undergone a transformation which has apparently taken ten years to complete but from what I can see and have heard, the wait has been worth it.

The novel is said to be suitably dark and spellbinding, sinister and magical. There will be “trickster fauns, murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family”. Everything you want in a great novel. There are also a number of beautiful but haunting illustrations to add to the overall quality package. 

I simply cannot wait. I loved the movie although every time I watched it there is one scene where I had to turn away and close my eyes until it is over. Every time!

This is going to be epic. 

The book trailer is very cool.  Counting down the weeks until July when it will be published. 

 

You shouldn’t come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I’ll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it. 

In fairy tales, there are men and there are wolves, there are beasts and dead parents, there are girls and forests. 

Ofelia knows all this, like any young woman with a head full of stories. And she sees right away what the Capitán is, in his immaculate uniform, boots and gloves, smiling: a wolf.

But nothing can prepare her for the fevered reality of the Capitán’s eerie house, in the midst of a dense forest which conceals many things: half-remembered stories of lost babies; renegade resistance fighters hiding from the army; a labyrinth; beasts and fairies.

There is no one to keep Ofelia safe as the labyrinth beckons her into her own story, where the monstrous and the human are inextricable, where myths pulse with living blood …

A place of Stone and darkness

by Chris Mousdale

ISBN9780143773122

Penguin Random House

 

 

Chris Mousdale’s book A place of Stone and Darkness had me hooked right from the start.

It is a stylishly produced hardback novel which crosses a mix of genres. There is fantasy, adventure and mystery all in a wonderfully imagined, dystopian underground world. Chris Mousdale  also illustrates the book and includes maps of the Striggs world, a glossary of their language, and character portraits, as well as a number of gorgeous earthy illustrations.

Deep, deep down underground is the world of the flightless Striggs.  They have lived there for thousands of years after being forced from the surface by savage humans. The Striggs have adapted to life underground but their world is threatened with pollution to its water and members of the flock are becoming ill and dying. While exploring in one of the tunnels Ellee Meddo, finds a human, a Toppa, as they are known, who has fallen through an old unused well. Toppas are known to be dangerous and feared at all costs but this Toppa is young and hurt and Ellee can’t just leave him. With the help of her brother Sidfred, Ellee hides the boy but eventually he is is discovered by other Striggs and that creates friction and more action. One Strigg in particular, Kass, wants to just kill the boy. The action is fast paced, even nail-bitingly at times, so that it was very hard to put the book down. I just wanted to keep reading.

In order for the community to work and survive, the Striggs believe in the mantra; “Be one, be all, be everything”. When the group decide that they must return the boy, to the surface, this mantra becomes more important, especially when faced with danger from other humans. The world of the humans is violent and one of social decay. If the Striggs are discovered by humans it could mean the end of their world. I can tell you, their worlds do collide and the suspense built so quickly I was almost holding my breath wondering what was going to happen next. 

I loved this novel for so many reasons. The fast-paced action, its total believability, its warmth, the friendships, the loyalties and even the subtle messages. Yes, there are messages about our environment, trust, human kindness and taking risks. This is a wonderful read and one that I predict will go far. Great for older readers and with its buff coloured pages is ideal for children with dyslexia.  Loved it!

This would make a good class read aloud and teacher notes can be found here to explore this novel further.

Ursa

By Tina Shaw

ISBN 9781760651244

Walker Books

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Ursa is the latest book out by New Zealand author Tina Shaw. It is a Young adult book set in a disturbing time of tension and oppression.

The city of Ursa is inhabited by two races of people. The Cerels and the Travesters; the have and the have-nots, the oppressed and the oppressors. The Travesters have everything, they live in good housing, have food and clothes while the Cerels live in abject poverty, unhealthy, overcrowded housing. Leho is fifteen and lives with his blind mother, grandmother, sisters and brother crammed in a tiny space accessed through a manhole. They are almost always hungry. His father has been taken away, deemed a threat to society. Men keep disappearing. Rules are everywhere. The Cerels are said to be inferior so are not allowed to breed. No more babies. The end of their race is inevitable. It is a hostile world and dangerous. Leho has had enough. He wants changes, he wants freedom for his family and friends. He is prepared to risk everything.

Ursa is very much an allegory for what happened in World War Two inside Nazi Germany and the more I read, the more familiar the story became and the more sick I felt that this kind of hatred was actually once real. I connected with Leho and his family. They are strong characters in a world they did not choose but must do everything they can to survive. The repercussions for trying to make changes can be fatal but Leho is determined. Revolution is in the air. Shaw gives us believable characters, in a bleak and desperate setting. Day-to-day life is hard but Leho’s, older brother Jorzy entertains the family at night with stories. These stories weave themselves into the novel, story within a story, offering further understanding to the plight of these people.  Jorzy too, wants change but he is more patient than Leho, plans more but Leho can’t wait. The tension between the brothers builds as does the overall suspense. One wrong move and it could all end in disaster. It is certainly a book that will leave you thinking. Can this happen again? How can we make changes for a better world. This is a solid read which keeps you going, and keeps you thinking.  A well-deserved winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award.

 

Bess the brave war horse

By Susan Brocker

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775435563

Scholastic NZ

 

Bess is a fine filly of a horse frolicking in grassy fields in New Zealand when she is chosen by Captain Guy Powles to be his horse. He said she was a beautiful horse and strong enough to carry him through battle. We follow Bess’s journey as she spends weeks at sea, cramped and sweaty below deck in a ship heading for Egypt. Bess and the other horses were often frightened , especially when the seas were stormy. When they finally arrived in Egypt life became busy with preparations and training to help the soldiers on the battlefield.  Bess and her master had a wonderful relationship where they cared for each other and more importantly, trusted each other. The book provides us with a different perspective of World War One. The language is descritptive and features some wonderful alliteration.

“fine filly, frolicking in the fields with her friends”

“On shore, strange smells, sights and sounds greeted Bess.”

This is a beautifully illustrated picture book for older readers. I love the end pages with their two-toned illustrations of Bess; first as a young horse and then back home in New Zealand, fully grown and happy. The end pages alone would look good framed on any wall. The colours throughout mirror the dusty fields and dark uniforms worn by the soldiers. The research by both author and illustrator is obvious and makes this book an important one to have in your school libraries.

The sad fact is that out of 10,000 horses that went to war, only four came back to New Zealand. Bess was one of them. Her story is true.

Chinatown Girl: The diary of Silvey Chan, Aukland 1942

My New Zealand Story.

By Eva Wong Ng

ISBN 9781775435778

Scholastic NZ

The first thing you notice in this re-release of Chinatown Girl is its fresh new cover.  It is bright, eye-catching and appeals to the preteen and early teen reader. Twelve year Silvey Chan begins her diary on January 1st 1942. The World is at war and life throws many complications at Silvey and her family, friends and the Chinese community she belongs to.

Like other books in the My New Zealand Story series, which focus on certain events in New Zealand’s history, Chinatown Girl  provides insight into the Chinese community in downtown Auckland. Through Silvey’s diary entries we find out what it is like to be different from others, including racism with Government poll taxes for Chinese people. We read about many Chinese traditions and the constant fear as the war continues overseas, but seems to get closer and closer. At school they children practice air-raid drills just in case. We also read about rationing and the consequences of a world at war.

There is much excitement in town when the American soldiers arrive and new friendships are made. 

Silvey is likeable and inquisitive and her diary makes a good and informative read about life in 1942 New Zealand. Silvey is determined to make something of her life and I bet she does.

You can find teacher notes here if you want to take this beyond a simple read.

Blackbird

By N. D Gomes

ISBN 9780008184896

Harpercollins NZ


I have just listened to the audio edition of this new Young Adult novel by N. D. Gomes. I generally listen to books while  driving to and from work. With Blackbird I found myself making excuses to go out driving just so I could hear the rest of the story. There was certainly a few extra trips to the supermarket.

Olivia disappeared the night the blackbird died.

It was New Years Eve the night that dead blackbirds descended, hours before fourteen year old Alex McCarthy’s sister Olivia went missing from a party.

Committed to finding out what happened to her sister, within the previously safe walls of their subarctic Orkney village, Alex knows that dishevelled, sometimes intoxicated Detective Inspector Birkens is her best shot.

 

This story jumps right in at the beginning and before you know it you are totally involved with Alex and her family. As things progress, sadly,  the story becomes a murder mystery. I love Alex and her sense of the world around her. Her pain and grief is raw and so real. She is so determined to find out what happened that she unwittingly puts herself in danger. We see a family grieving, each in their own way and this only makes it all so much more believable. The landscape too has its own place in the novel where island living has its own set of rules and where everyone knows each other.

I believe she will be just fine. I love the relationship Alex has with Detective Inspector Birkens, a rather flawed but real character, who is equally determined to find out what happened. And as with all good novels, there are secrets to be discovered. I kind of see Alex as one of those characters that I will stop and think about from time to time and hope that she is doing okay. I believe she will be just fine.

A top murder mystery for young adults.

 

Cook’s Cook

The Cook who cooked for Captain Cook

By Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776572045

Gecko Press 

 

 

Gavin Bishop as author and illustrator of this new picture book brings us an extraordinary point of view of the 1768 journey of Captain James Cook on board the H.M.S  Endeavour. He shares the voyage through the eyes of John Thompson, the one-handed cook. What an amazing man he must have been to prepare and cook food for 94 people on board a ship that at times ran short of food and essentials and with only one hand.

Gavin shares some of the recipes the cook used and believe me, some of them are what I would consider, disgusting.  For example, Stingray soup and dog and breadfruit stew. Gross. So glad things have changed. 

Gavin has obviously done his research with this creative non-fiction picture book filled with important illustrations reflecting the times as they were. His end pages create a beginning and end of the journey starting with a cross-section of the ship. It is brimming with goods and supplies but still has to fit 94 people so we can only imagine how cramped it must have been.

We also see the trading and bartering of goods, which at times was certainly questionable in its fairness. We follow the lives of many passengers and in many cases, also their deaths. The story of John Thompson is one I had never heard of before which proves the point in history, and in life in general, there is always more than one side to any story. 

As Julia Marshall says, this book has everything: “culture, class, adventure, humour and much more”. And it does. It has something for everyone and will certainly make a perfect resource for school libraries and teachers at many levels.  There are some excellent teaching notes here to make the most of this book and generate further discussions. A great book also to add to any home library and reflect on the history of New Zealand.

Check out the video below with Gavin talking about his latest book. 

 

 

Poet X

By Elizabeth Acevedo

ISBN 9781405291460

Egmont Books

I am and always will be a huge verse novel fan. My latest read is Poet X and it gets a five out of five from me.

Xiomara lives in Harlem where often it is easier to use her fists for talking. She longs to be understood and to understand the world around her. She has a twin brother and they are tight and always look out for each other. They understand each other far more than anyone else. Their Mami is incredibly strict, demanding and hugely religious and X, as she now calls herself, struggles with the whole concept of church, God and Holy Communion. Twin, as she calls her brother, is bright and seems to do everything right while X continually ends up in some sort of trouble.

X begins a relationship with a boy from school and the consequences, lies and secrets have a huge impact on X.

I love how X discovers poetry and then finds her voice and the strength to stand up and be heard. Her poetry is a powerful tool for self-discovery.

I love the language, the poetry, the cultural voices coming through and X. Her relationships are strained and difficult but they are real. I hear it in their voices; the things the characters say and do. I can hear X’s thoughts. X is both strong and vulnerable, feisty and afraid, but she is real and I wish I could meet her in person and tell her to believe in herself just a little more.

There are many links to hear the author read poems from this novel on her website and on Youtube. They sound even better read aloud which makes me think this would be perfect for high school English teachers to use on many levels.

Loved it.

Elizabeth Acevedo has another book coming out later this year, With the Fire on High and I will be hunting it down as soon as it is published.

Lyla

Through my eyes. Natural Disaster Zones

By Fleur Beale

ISBN 9781760113780

Allen & Unwin

Shortlisted for the junior fiction awards in the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

On the 22nd of February 2011 thirteen year old Lyla is in the centre of town when an earthquake devastates the city of Christchurch. In town because of a teacher union meeting where secondary schools are closed, Lyla and her friends are faced with absolute terror as a massive earthquake thunders beneath their feet. The ground shakes so violently that buildings all around them tumble and fall with the frenzied force of the shaking. They separate in an effort to go home but Lyla gets caught up helping injured people and this is where we see how strong Lyla is as a character.

The novel focuses on the next few months and the impact of the continued aftershocks, damaged houses and day-to-day life living in a munted city.

It was a terrible time for the people of Christchurch and Canterbury and Fleur Beale has captured many of the issues people had to deal with or learn to overcome. Lyla is mature beyond her years and it is her family, friends and neighbours that become more important than things. Supporting each other, even the unlikable bully Matt is what matters most and it is these relationships which are the strength of the novel.

Lyla remains calm in the face of it all but eventually, she needs to confront the reality of everything she has been through and everything she has witnessed.

Having lived through every one of these earthquakes myself, this novel brought back a lot of memories and not all of them pleasant ones. A reminder that disasters often bring us closer together.

Pieces of you

by Eileen Merriman

ISBN 9780143770473

Penguin NZ

 

Rebecca McQuilten is 15 and has just moved to a new city where she is the newcomer in a school where everyone knows each other already. Wanting to fit in she accepts party invitations and goes places when asked. It is at one of these parties that something happens, something she keeps to herself and struggles to deal with. Her way of coping creates a whole new set of problems.

Becs meets Cory, the boy next door, and soon finds herself in an on-again off-again sort of relationship. He is just the person she needs to help her build up her confidence and believe in herself but he has demons of his own.

It is good to read a book about real issues, real relationships and struggles that teens do deal with everyday. The characters are flawed but real. Their problems and insecurities remind us of what it is to be a teenager again. The writing is just the right pace. No rushing or skipping over things but takes issues without glorifying them or making them more than they are. At the heart of the novel, for me, is the relationships and learning to read other people and understand that everyone has demons and we all need support at sometime in our lives. This book does deal with issues of self-harm but it is handled well and certainly not the focus of the novel. Relationships are the real focus and that is a good reminder to us all; that people matter.

Currently short-listed for the Best First Book Awards in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Find out more here.

Earthquakes! New Zealand

By Maria Gill

ISBN 9781869664862

New Holland Publishers

If you have ever wanted to know anything about earthquakes in New Zealand, then this new book from award-winning author Maria Gill has it all. The production is a perfect example of what a quality non-fiction book should be. It has all the features we expect with contents pages, glossary, bibliography, credits, headings and subheadings, photographs, graphs, symbols and timelines all sandwiched between a shiny, colourful, glossy cover. Maria Gill is well-known for her dedication and determination to research her subjects to provide readers with the best and most accurate information.

Maria Gill explains what earthquakes are, why they happen and the damage they can cause.  The timeline goes way back in time to some of the first earthquakes and marks many of the strongest ones that occurred. She also explains what to do in an earthquake and how to keep yourself safe which is something everyone in New Zealand needs to know. Having lived through the tragic Canterbury and Christchurch earthquakes, this book brought back many memories but it is good to see everything explained and know that while we cannot predict or stop earthquakes; we can be prepared and that is most important.

The language is easy and informative without being too formal or wordy, making it a suitable choice for everyone. The book is informative and shares links to videos on the internet for further research or explanation. There is also a friendly helper throughout the pages. Maria introduces us to  Rūaumoko the Maori god of earthquakes and volcanoes who helps explain things as readers move from page to page. A lovely addition to this quality book.

Primary schools through to secondary schools will certainly benefit from having this book in their school libraries.