Summer holidays should be more relaxed than this!

get a grip cooper jonesTITLE = GET A GRIP, COOPER JONES

AUTHOR = SUE WHITING

GENRE = IDENTITY, GROWING UP, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8, 9

Cooper Jones is a regular at swim training, so why won’t he swim in the surf at his local beach? Cooper Jones has never met his dad (who left when he was just a baby), so why does he suddenly want to know all about him now? Cooper Jones and his mum have always got along quite well, so why do they always seem to be fighting now?These are some of the dilemmas facing Cooper at the beginning of this entertaining novel. Then their neighbour’s niece comes to stay and Cooper finds that he is not the only with parent woes. But as the two get closer, this brings even further complications to Cooper’s life. Cooper begins to wonder if he is just a coward like his dad – too afraid to swim in the surf, too afraid to ask his mum about his father and too afraid to face the consequences when he kisses the girl next door.

The story is set against the backdrop of a scorching Australian summer with bushfires raging across the state … as the fires burn closer, things really start to heat up for Cooper and the time for action draws closer. Is he up to the challenge?? Both boys and girls should enjoy this story which rattles along at a quick pace and has just the right balance of humour, drama and action.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A Grandfather's wisdom

nowTITLE = NOW

AUTHOR = MORRIS GLEITZMAN

GENRE = BULLYING, RELATIONSHIPS, HOLOCAUST  (Bushfires, Grandparents)

INTEREST LEVEL = YEAR 7

Whilst this is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy, the novel may seem a little twee at times; perhaps it is more appropriate for a primary school audience rather than a secondary school. Gleitzman touches on some pertinent issues: bullying, cyberbullying and surviving an extreme bushfire but Zelda seems to overcome these hardships in fairly conventional (stereotypical) ways (eg the bully needing to be saved).

Grandfather Felix seems almost too kindhearted to be true and for a seemingly bright child Zelda seems somewhat lacking in common sense at times (running away to join the firefighters because she believed she had started the fire, for instance).

However, Gleitzman has clearly tried to show the impact of past experiences on current events and the moral of his story is eminently just.

This novel has also been longlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2010

Recommended for younger readers (dma) ***