Title: The Moonlight Dreamers
Author: Siobhan Curham
Interest Level: Year 7+
It’s hard being yourself in a world full of people telling you what to do, how to look and who you should be. Amber is tired of being a victim to the bullies at school, just because she has two dads and likes vintage things. Rose’s famous mother is driving her crazy – the paparazzi are following them everywhere, she’s got a new yoga-loving boyfriend, and worst of all, he and his hippy daughter are moving in! Maali is used to being invisible, it’s the safest way to get through school and avoid bullies, but when she meets Ash, Maali does want to be noticed! Sky has always wanted to compete in a Poetry Slam but since her mum died and her dad seems to be moving on, she doesn’t have the confidence or support to take to the stage.
These are four very different girls; all struggling to achieve their dreams. By chance (and with a little inspiration from Oscar Wilde), they find each other and slowly gain the courage to be themselves. A heart-warming read, this story explores the lives and dreams of four girls from very different backgrounds, beliefs and families. It reminds us that we can achieve anything with the support of our friends. And though we can sometimes lose our way, they are the ones who will help guide us back.
1. Find a desiccated bat.
2. Mix it with some water.
3. Drink it, and
4. see what the future holds for the offspring of each and every person you come across in the next few weeks.
What could go wrong?
Glory’s present isn’t easy. Her mother has died, and her father doesn’t want to leave his chair, his computer, or the copious amounts of comfort food that seems to provide little consolation for life’s miseries. Glory’s only friend is not so friendly, and she is about to graduate school with no plans for her future. Glory obviously needs the soothsaying bat juice to provide direction for her life!
But it seems that the future is not so bright. The second American Civil War is only decades away, and Glory has a vital role to play…
This is another thought provoking book from the author of Everyone Sees the Ants, Ask the Passengers, and Reality Boy. A.S. King is an extraordinary writer, who successfully twists and morphs genre in such a way so as the reader never loses the sense that every event in the book could happen in real life. This is a book for older readers who enjoy dystopian themes but who are looking for more than a rehashed The Hunger Games.
Wonderful: (ipe) *****
Interest Level: Year 9+
Lucy Lam should feel like the most fortunate of girls. She has won a highly coveted scholarship to an exclusive girls’ school, Laurinda. It is an opportunity of a lifetime; an opportunity which Lucy and her parents believe will allow her to ultimately improve her life.
As the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, Lucy struggles to adapt to her new school, and the fact that she is no longer amongst the smartest and most studious in her class. Lucy’s feelings of dislocation are compounded by the hierarchical nature of the school, and the trio of girls known as the Cabinet. They are not your run of the mill clique, but three girls who believe it is their personal mission to control and manipulate the students, staff and administration of the school. Lucy faces her greatest hurdle when the Cabinet decide that she must join their group.
Laurinda is an entertaining read, which is at times so autobiographical in tone that you may find curiosity driving you to “google” Pung’s biography. The descriptions of Mrs Lam’s life working long hours illegally as a seamstress from her garage are confronting. So too are the demands placed on a fifteen year old Lucy to attend school, study, and run a household all whilst caring for her infant brother. Pung has created a book that is highly critical of patronising programs run by some “elite” schools, but is equally disapproving of the oftentimes onerous expectations that prospective students’ families place on their young people to achieve academic success.
Dane has just about used up all his chances. One more mistake and he will be expelled from his High School.
Billy D has changed schools and needs help avoiding bullies like Dane. What better way for Dane to redeem himself than helping a kid like Billy D? Or at least the principal thinks so…
As reluctant as he is to help, Dane quickly discovers that Billy D needs more than a bodyguard, he needs a friend. Dane isn’t really sure anyone is equipped to be that friend. Billy D is a demanding task master who is not above threatening and manipulating Dane to make him do what Billy wants. And yet, Dane and Billy D have much in common; they both struggle to fit in and both are missing their fathers. Dane has never known his father, whilst Billy D has lost contact with his. It is this common bond, and the resulting search for their fathers that ultimately brings both boys a little closer to adulthood.
This is Erin Lange’s second book. Her first, Butter, was a stand out for its original and contemporary approach to issues such as obesity and teen suicide. In Dead Ends Lange in her straight forward and uncompromising way, tackles disability, bullying and poverty of opportunity. There are no neat resolutions or happy endings for the characters, however, Dead Ends does leave the reader believing that the boys’ lives are better for their friendship and that there is potential for happier futures.
GENRE = FAMILY DYSFUNCTION, RELATIONSHIPS, LOSS AND GRIEF
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7- 9
This is a compelling story which gives you plenty to think about.
This may not seem an easy read, initially: as the story is told from 3 different characters and in 3 different time periods (before, after, later). Sarah always tells the “later” story. She has clearly been badly injured in “the accident” referred to by the title of the book, and has now started at a new school. Will tells the “after” sequence; the link to the accident is not made clear for the reader until about 50 pages in – what is instantly obvious though is the dysfunctional nature of Will’s home life. Dad has long gone and Mum spends most of her time upstairs, writing – only occasionally making forays down to see her children. AS the middle boy, Will feels like he has been bossed and bullied by his 2 sisters: Lauren (the elder) has been particularly brutal whilst Morgan’s indifference is just as difficult for him to bear.
The “Before” part of the story is told by Eliat. Like Sarah and Will, Eliat is studying yr 12 but unlike them she is also raising a 2-year old daughter whilst living in foster care.
What gradually becomes apparent is that all 3 teens are living in various stages of dysfunction as they and their 3 families attempt to come to terms with new circumstances in each other’s lives. Sarah’s family has been directly impacted upon by the accident, whilst Will’s family has been more indirectly affected. AS their stories unfold we become engaged in the growth of these 2 teens as they attempt to make sense of, and survive their families – can they affect those who are suffering around them as well as themselves??
Eliat’s link to “the accident” of is less certain through most of the novel but given that hers is the only story told “before” and given that her life appears to be spiralling out of control, the last section of the novel will be particularly gripping for most readers as we sit on the edge of our seats wondering exactly how Eliat and her daughter are going to be linked to the horrific car crash … and dreading the outcome.
What may begin for many readers as a bit of a mystery story soon becomes more of a family drama as we watch the way the teens and their parents (or foster-parents) respond to their circumstances and attempt to change things for the better … or will they?
GENRE = FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, GRIEF, GROWING UP, IDENTITY
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 – 12
Alex’s life should be great: he lives in a big house with a swimming pool and goes to a prestigious private school; he is a water polo champion and has a part-time job which he loves. But there is not a lot of joy in his home life. His domineering father seems to constantly see the negatives in Alex and puts him down. Is it just because Alex is different to his dad? Certainly, his older brother, Ethan, can do no wrong but then he is the mirror image of his father, right down to being on the school rowing team. Ethan even sounds like Dad when he speaks to Alex and knows just how to push his buttons. Alex is constantly frustrated that he can’t seem to stand up against either his father or his brother. Maybe they are right and he is hopeless after all??
The only bright light at home comes from his little sister, 4 year old Mia who adores Alex and is adored in return. Alex will even wear dress-up wings and play tea parties with his cute little sister, who he is teaching to swim. But when this book opens, Alex is in the neurosurgery unit of a hospital recovering from a serious head injury. How did this happen and why won’t he even mention Mia’s name?
This book is a compelling read –we desperately want to know what has brought Alex to this point (whilst also dreading the discovery) and as the story of Alex’ life unfolds, we have a great deal of empathy for a young man who wants to do the right thing, even if no –one else will acknowledge his efforts. Will he survive his family or will they break him?
The structure of the story may take a little getting used to as it is told in alternating parts: the current story of Alex’s recovery in hospital and the back story (where we go back some months and learn about Alex and what lead to his hospital stay). The two strands gradually come together towards the end of the novel in a dramatic, page-turning climax. This is a compelling read, even if it is heartbreaking at times, but it never slips over into melodrama or sentimentality – Sue Lawson tells her story well.
No wonder this book gained a Notables listing in the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers)
GENRE = MYSTERY, CRIME, FANTASY, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, GROWING UP
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 8
Fans of the popular “The Truth about Verity Sparks” will be pleased to know the long-awaited sequel is now available. The action has moved to Melbourne and Mount Macedon (one of the characters even ventures to the goldfields of Ballarat) and Verity again has several puzzles to solve. But the stakes have risen again: has Verity lost her power to find lost things?
The first part of the story is set in a boarding school (where Verity makes new enemies and gains new friends) whilst the second half of the story sees Verity with a new companion in the detective game…
The sequel may not be quite as unique and special as the first book about Verity Sparks, but it is still filled with plenty of adventure, action and mystery. Check out this book trailer:
Music (Serenade No 13: A Little Nightmusic : Mozart). Cover image from Walker books.
Three Junior Book Clubbers were invited to participate in the launch of the international Anne Frank travelling exhibition. The students read passages from Anne’s diary. Laura read one of the earliest entries, describing the family’s first day in hiding. Agnes read a passage that was written 18 months later which demonstrated Anne’s keen sense of humour in petty squabbles between members in hiding (against the backdrop of war). Whilst Caitlin read a moving passage written 6 months later, in which Anne describes her determination to remain positive in the face of chaos and destruction. The poignancy of this diary entry is that it was written only 9 days before Anne and her family were captured. The readings provided by Laura, Agnes and Caitlin were a highlight of the exhibition opening as the girls read with such clarity and emotion. A number of the guests congratulated the girls on the powerful readings and were impressed with their performances. All three girls certainly represented the school with great pride and are to be commended on their efforts.
Interest level: all kids that like an interesting story.
The good thing about the novel was the action like when the shark attacked Sam Fox but then he fought off the shark. Another example of good bits of the story is when the smuggler was trying get Sam Fox and Michi in the cage, the bad bits about the story is when he beats the shark and gets away. I think its a bit far fetched. People who like adventure and action story’s will like this book. I think all kinds of age groups will like this book. My favourite thing about the story was when they finally got out of the ocean and ecaped the smuggler and got recued and Sam found out that Michi was a girl then they got home safe and sound.