Struggling with grief

TITLE = MAX

AUTHOR = MICHAEL HYDE

GENRE = GRIEF, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

When his best friend takes his own life, Max doesn’t know how to cope. At first it seems like he is intent on risking his own life: daring the cops to catch him when he goes out to tag walls on his own, running headlong at trains, kayacking accidents in the river, getting into trouble at school. His friends and family are uncertain how to help and even Max can’t explain his own actions let alone his feelings.

Michael Hyde has written a compelling story about the pain and grief of losing a friend and the confusion that is felt by those left behind. Read more about the author on his website.

Given the themes and language in the book, this novel is probably more appropriate for older readers.

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

A school story like no other

TITLE =THE WHOLE BUSINESS OF KIFFO AND THE PITBULL

AUTHOR =BARRY JONSBERG

GENRE = MYSTERY, ADVENTURE, COMEDY

INTEREST LEVEL = YERAS 9, 10

As the opening chapter of this book shows all too well, Calma is a very clever girl and an A+ English student. Kiffo on the other hand, prefers to sit up the back of the class and threaten teachers. So why are they be friends? And more importantly, why are they stalking the new English teacher, who they have nicknamed “the Pitbull”? Could she really be a drug dealer and are they assisting the police by breaking into her home??

There are many laugh out loud scenes in this book as the two unlikely friends set about tracking down the truth about the Pitbull. Yet amidst the humour there will be pathos too, as we learn the back story to Calma and Kiffo’s friendship. There are some unexpected twists and turns in the plot that will no doubt surprise the reader. Be warned – a tissue box may even be needed at times!

Learn more about the author here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A love story for a city

banner_loveisthehigherlaw1TITLE = LOVE is the HIGHER LAW

AUTHOR = david levithan

GENRE = RELATIONSHIPS, GRIEF

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 AND UP

This may not be a particularly long novel (at only 164 pages) but it packs a powerful punch. The impact of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York is revealed by 3 teens, who take it in turns to tell their stories. At the beginning of the novel these 3 are only loosely connected (having all been at the same party on a previous weekend) but by novel’s end they are close friends, a strong affirmation of the novel’s title. Claire is in a classroom when news reaches them of the attacks and her first thought is of her little brother. Peter is initially oblivious to the attacks because he has his earplugs in as he impatiently waits for his favourite record store to open. He is excited and anxious about the date he has later that day with Jasper, a college student he met at the party. Meanwhile, Jasper has slept through the attacks and only becomes aware of them when his folks call from Korea (where they are visiting his grandma). As the story unfolds, we follow these 3 young people as they each try to make sense of what has happened in their hometown. Claire feels a growing sense of community, Peter tries to find solace in love and Jasper seems numb and incapable of reaching out to others. Gradually their stories intertwine and the reader will be greatly moved and ultimately uplifted by their experiences. A story that stays with you long after the last page is read.

In the author’s own words: “…it’s really the story of things coming together even as it feels like the world is falling apart — because that’s how it felt to be in New York at that time, both tragic because of the events that happened and magical in the way that everyone became their better selves in the face of it. ”  (taken from david levithan’s website)

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

CHILDHOOD ISN'T ALWAYS EASY!

DIEGO RUNTITLE = DIEGO, RUN!

AUTHOR = DEBORAH ELLIS

GENRE = FACTION, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

For 13 year old Diego, life is tough. He is growing up in a prison with his Mum and his younger sister. His dad lives in the men’s prison across the square. Unfortunately for Diego, his parents have been jailed for drug possession (even though they were innocent of the charges). So they now live in prison in the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia, South America. When Diego is not at school, he acts as a “taxi” for other prisoners – running messages, buying goods and making enough money so he and his family can rent a prison cell, buy food and, basically, survive. His best friend, Mando, finds them both a well paying job – but it comes with great risks: will Diego survive the jungle, will he survive the cruelty of their new bosses, will he survive the hard work?? Suddenly, prison life looks much easier and safer.

This is another compelling book from well known author, Deborah Ellis. Readers may be familiar with her other much loved novels: Parvana and Parvana’s Journey. Diego, Run! is a similar type of novel: filled with realistic children whose lives are difficult but who show enormous strength to survive against the odds. This novel will certainly open readers’ eyes to how different and difficult life can be for some children in poorer countries of the world. Readers will no doubt await the sequel to this novel with great interest.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy:

parvana parvana's journey

Growing up in Afghanistan

parvana Title = Parvana

Author = Deborah Ellis

Genre = Adventure

Interest Level – Yrs 7 – 9

Parvana is a young girl growing up in tough times in Afghanistan. Her young brother has been killed in a land mine explosion. As a young girl she is not allowed outside unless accompanied by an adult. But when her father is taken away by the police her mother can’t cope. So Parvana cuts off her hair and pretends to be a boy. She sets herself up as a scribe in the local market so she can make enough money to keep her family alive. But every day she risks being found out. A compelling and very credible story. Hard to put down.

Read more about Deborah Ellis and her books on her publisher’s website.

Read a review of the sequel to this book (Parvana’s Journey) here.

Read about some of her other books eg “No Safe Place” and “Diego’s Run“.

Highly Recommended (dma) . *****

Specky Magee is at it again

specky magee boots Title  = Specky Magee and the Boots of Glory

Author = Felice Arena & Gary Lyon

Genre = Sport

Interest = Yr 7, 8 boys

Specky Magee is really excited when he wins a scholarship to a private school but it turns out to bring him almost more trouble than its worth. His old friends thinks he is becoming a snob.  His new school expects him to play to his best. But there is a mystery to be solved and a very important game to be played.

is Specky’s scholarship on the line?

Another action packed book from the highly acclaimed and very, very popular Specky Magee series.

Highly Recommended. *****

Space Demons

spacedeamonscover Title = Space Demons

Author = Gillian Rubinstein

Genre = Science Fiction

Space Demons is an adventure into the virtual world of a video game.

This book started not boringly, but not excitedly either. It was a little predictable, but that didn’t ruin the book. When it gets into it it becomes a pretty interesting book, with a bit of everything in it.

The best parts were when the kids were in the actual computer game.

Recommended ***

Samurai Kids!

samurai kidsTitle=Samurai Kids

Author=Sandy Fussell

Genre=Action

Interest level =Year 7 and 8

I didn’t enjoy this book a lot, but I did like how they had the disadvantaged kids doing something that they felt a part of. I would probably recommened it to people who like Action and war books because there was a lot of fighting . I gave it 3 stars. Georgie 😀

***

A boy who wants to change

the other facts of life The Other Facts of Life, Morris Gleitzman

Drama/Comedy

Year 8+

This book is about a boy Ben who wants to help people from starving.  It starts off with him watching movies about people starving.  His parents get a bit worried about him.  At a family and friends BBQ Ben shaves his head.  This makes his mum and dad really mad and embarrassed.  It was the funniest part in the book.   If we had a choice we wouldn’t read it again because it gets a bit boring in the middle.  we would say people in year 8 up would like it because Ben is around that year and age.

Jack and Alyson

Buddha says yes!

Genre: Comedy/Adventure

Interest level: 13-15 years old

Tumble Turn is a good book because it is a welcome change from chapters to e-mails(Riley). It is easy to relate to for teenagers because Dominic faces problems teenagers experience at some point as they grow up(Keegan). The twists and turns in the book make it very interesting to keep on reading. The humour is made for 13-15 years for it to be funny (Brodie). Good things in the book were that it kept you guessing on what would happen next (Mitchell). The worst part of the book was the whole book I just didn’t like it because it needed more action and suspense. It is not the type of book I like reading because it was boring. (Jack)

Recommendation ***/5 stars

Names of reviewers Mitch, Keegan, Brodie, Riley, Jack