Firebirds and fear, bluebirds and love

TITLE = THE TENDER MOMENTS OF SAFFRON SILK

AUTHOR = GLENDA MILLARD

ILLUSTRATOR = STEPHEN MICHAEL KING

GENRE = FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, PARENTS, GROWING UP, MENTAL HEALTH, IDENTITY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

This is the sixth book in the Kingdom of Silk series, which began with The Naming of Tishkin Silk, however The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk can be read on its own quite happily.  In the Silk family everyone has a naming ceremony and a naming book, and at Saffron’s ceremony it is hoped that the pages of her book will be filled with tiny tender moments “those that make the soul tipsy with ordinary happiness.”  However, Saffron begins to see ‘firebirds’ and experience severe head pain until one day she collapses in the middle of baking pies with her family.  This is a story of fear and pain; Saffron’s fear of what the firebirds and pain in her head may mean, and also the fear and pain of her family and friends around her, who see her suffering but initially, know neither its cause nor its cure.  It is also a story of discovery and love, for when Saffron is sent to the city to see a specialist she discovers the quality and depth of her family’s love for her and her treasured place within her small rural community.  This is a 2013 CBCA Short-listed Book for Younger Readers.

Recommended (mrsk) ****

What would you do?

TITLE = OTHER BROTHER

AUTHOR = SIMON FRENCH

GENRE = BULLYING, GROWING UP, IDENTITY, FAMILY, PARENTS,

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

Kieran’s view of himself and his world is forced to change when his cousin Bon and a new girl, Julia, arrive at his school.  Kieran wants to fit in, but Bon doesn’t know anything about fitting in—he looks different, he wears the wrong clothes, he says weird things—and Julia doesn’t care about fitting in, establishing her own style and following with seeming ease.  Bon’s arrival doesn’t just threaten to upset Kieran’s relationship with the cool kids at school, but also his relationship with his parents, his sister, his Nan and his budding relationship with the elusive Julia.  This is a story about families and relationships, about bullying and fitting in, about discovering where your values lie and that the world is more complex than you think. This is a 2013 CBCA Short-listed Book for Younger Readers.

Recommended (mrsk) ****

Wrestling with words

TITLE = LOUIS BESIDE HIMSELF

AUTHOR = ANNA FIENBERG

GENRE = FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, PARENTS, GROWING UP, IDENTITY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

Louis is not your typical hero but he finds himself in a situation where courage and loyalty are needed, and where he must make some important decisions and take   action.  Louis loves words and would much rather read, take notes and add to his ‘Word Bank’ than join his mates Singo, Hassan and Elena skateboarding or playing basketball.  However, Louis’ father comes from a long line of wrestlers and tries constantly to share moves and arm-wrestles with him, despite his own doubtful skill. When a burglar breaks in one night, Louis fails to use his wrestling moves but instead uses his own special skill—words—with unexpected results.  The intruder is Cordelia, an older girl who has run away from family problems and whom Louis and his mates decide to hide.  This is a humorous yet thoughtful book with great characters. Through Louis, the author celebrates the richness of language and suggests that there is a hero in all of us, and that if we are true to ourselves we can be true to others.  This book is a 2013 CBCA Notable Book for Younger Readers.

Recommended (mrsk) ****

A moving story about a girl caught in a family split

TITLE = MOTHER’S DAY

AUTHOR = ANNE BROOKSBANK

GENRE = FAMILY, DIVORCE, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

Molly has lived with her dad and his second wife, Ro, for as long as she can remember and she feels happy and comfortable in their lakeside home. And she dearly loves her step-brother, Locky. But she is aware that all is not going well for her dad and Ro … they seem to be constantly bickering .. and maybe Locky doesn’t love her as much as she thought?

So when her long distant mother makes a reappearance in her life, Molly is ready to get to know her better … maybe even ready to move in with her mum and grandmother, even if this means being miles away from Dad and Locky.

But what if she changes her mind? jhat if her dad changes his mind too and wants to fight to have her back  … will lawyers and courts get between Molly and a happy future? Is there a chance for happiness when divorce and remarriage has changed her family so much??

This is a sensitive and credible story about the difficulties sometimes faced by youngsters caught between parents who no longer love each other… how do you decide who to live with and can you still love both parents when they don’t love each other? Molly’s story is often touching and heartfelt and it has a satisfying outcome.

And if you enjoy reading this book you might like to read “Father’s Day” and “Big Thursday” written by the same author and set amongst the same group of friends – looking at other teens (this time boys) who are caught in awkward family arrangements too.

Highly Recommended (dma) ****   

A book that lives up to its funny title!

TITLE = DADS, GEEKS & BLUE HAIRED FREAKS!

AUTHOR = ELLIE PHILLIPS

GENRE = FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, SCHOOL

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

On her 15th birthday, Sadie dies her hair blue (well it is actually purple streaks but everyone seems to think it is blue). She also receives a birthday card from her dad which throws her into a tizz because Sadie doesn’t know who her father is and she didn’t think he knew about her either! Sadie’s Mum used a sperm donor bank to conceive her daughter so all that Sadie has ever known about her dad is a photo of him as a baby and a letter he wrote when he donated his sperm.

Rather than ask her Mum about finding her dad, Sadie enlists the help of her geek cousin, Billy and his rather cute friend, Tony Cruz. But has she bitten off more than she can chew.. and what will  Mum say if Sadie actually does unearth her biological father? Meanwhile, how can she survive at school if her best friend has become her worst nightmare? And she ever develop a relationship with Tony if her uncle is acting like an over-possessive father and refusing to allow her to see boys??

Life is pretty full for blue-haired Sadie and her geek friends … how is it all going to end? This is a very entertaining book and an unusual take on family life and getting to know your parents.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****