Posts Tagged ‘Des Hunt’

To trap a thief

By Des Hunt

ISBN 9781775435648

Scholastic NZ

 

Des Hunt always manages to capture the essence of what it is to be young and conflicted. His latest book is another example of a rollicking good read, full of adventure, conflict, mystery and in this case, a good quest as well.

In To trap a thief  we have Connor, a 12 year old boy who is still struggling with the death of his father and facing the reality that his mother is ready to remarry. The man she wants to marry is Morgan but Morgan’s own parents are not so keen on the idea of their son marrying either.  Tensions are high when everyone meets for the first time and go badly.  Connor and Morgan’s father go off for a walk leaving the others behind to discuss things. On their walk they run into one of the town’s bullies and this is just the beginning of a heap of things that go wrong. To try and get to know each other, Morgan’s parents take Connor and his best friend, Harvey, on holiday with them in a newly bought camper van.  While on holiday Connor is sent clues to missions via his phone but he has no idea who is sending them. The boys begin the quest but run into a stranger, Frank Brown who seems too good to be true, especially as he starts handing out $100 notes.  Indeed, Frank has an agenda of his own and it leads to danger for everyone and an actual fight for survival.

Fast-paced, believable characters, and a good solid read from one of New Zealand’s much-loved and award winning authors. I love how Des Hunt incorporates a little bit of science into his novels and he does it seamlessly.

Great read for 10 plus.

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1918 Broken Poppies

Kiwis at War 

By Des Hunt

ISBN 9781775432821

Kiwis at War 1918 Broken Poppies hr

Based on author Des Hunt’s own uncles who went to war, this novel is a chilling account of what went on in the trenches during World War One. It is at times harrowing and confronting but there is also humour, just as in any difficult situation, which makes it so real. 

Four Christmases have passed since the world went to war in 1914. Struggling to survive in the trenches, close to enemy lines, amid the terror of gunfire and the whine of warplanes, Kiwi soldier Henry Hunt rescues a shaken little dog. He has no idea he’ll soon be facing a disciplinary hearing. To Henry’s relief, the Major allows the little foxie to live this time. Henry finds the dog is not only a comfort to his fellow soldiers on the battlefields of France, but a great ratter, too. Together, can they survive the Great War?

 

Henry Hunt is both believable and likeable. He has panic attacks from a childhood trauma which still haunts him but he soon finds himself having to face these fears head on. They seem insurmountable but will put himself and others in danger if he doesn’t overcome them. Hunt’s ability to put the reader in the character’s footsteps is brilliant. We too, feel the same fear as Henry.  The author doesn’t hide us from the reality of life in the trenches either.  I flinched many times when reading about the rats which seemed to be everywhere. The descriptions of trench foot were also very real.

“…trench foot – a form of gangrene caused when feet were always wet. Raw skin would turn to angry sores which, if left untreated, became purple then black.” pg 64

Amputation would come next. Horrible stuff but sadly, horribly true. 

Henry faces bullying by Sergeant Bell who continually and unjustly calls him a coward. There is injuries, danger, death all around but there is also loyalty and comrades to help him get through the awful times. The rescuing of the wee dog they named Poppy is a wonderful part of the story. I fell in love with Poppy and at times found myself holding my breath when she got in to danger. The courage of these soldiers is amazing. The months and years in the trenches must have been horrific.  Many of the soldiers would be wounded, patched up, and sent back for more which really is beyond our comprehension. Des Hunt’s account of Henry Hunt takes us there as much as it is possible, so that we can see and feel what it might have been like during World War One. A compelling read and superbly done. A great story to end the series Kiwis at War.

Great read for some Year six students (but not all) but certainly Intermediate through Secondary levels.

Teacher Notes will help make the most of this novel.

 

Sunken Forest

By Des Hunt

ISBN 9781775434030

Scholastic NZ

forest

Des Hunt has a very deserving reputation for producing top quality stories and Sunken Forest is no different.

           New town, new school, one random act of kindness.

           Wrong choices, bad mates,

           A raft of false accusations.

           Matt Smith is forced to attend a military-style wilderness camp with a bunch of kids he barely knows.

          It’s a nightmare, until he meets Elsa in the sunken forest…

           Who knew he could feel such empathy for a giant eel?

          And how far could that stretch when disaster threatens the lives of all? Matt is about to find out.

 

It seems no matter which way Matt turns, someone is there ready to dig the knife in especially when people realize his father is in prison. People suddenly don’t want to trust or believe him. He finds trouble everywhere, as one problem leads to another escalating out of control. He is however, determined and resourceful but struggles with the notions of justice and revenge. This is a great read, well paced and well researched. The descriptions of  New Zealand’s native bush and its wildlife and fauna highlight the beauty of our country. The author also points out the danger in our bush and how the weather and in particular, heavy rain, can create incredibly dangerous situations. It is a very real way of life in the New Zealand bush. The environment is always incredibly strong in Des Hunt’s novels so that setting is part of the story as much as any of the characters.

The characters are strong but all have flaws just as we all do. It is the flaws that lead to poor decisions which impact on Matt’s lives. His good deed to help an old lady ends up with him being accused of theft for which he is sent to a camp for problem kids. It is at the camp that he meets Elsa.

I love the relationship Matt has with Elsa, the giant eel. They seem to connect on a number of levels. It certainly proves the quality of Des Hunt’s writing in that it works, as we are right next to Matt and Elsa as they cross that bridge of communication between human and animal.

This is a great read for those who love the outdoors, conflict, bullying, and adventure. Goodness, it really does have heaps going on and I will be recommending it to all my year six students at school. I also think it would be perfect for a set text for teachers or librarians wanting to work with a group of keen readers.

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