The journey continues for a brave young girl

TITLE = PARVANA’S JOURNEY

AUTHOR = DEBORAH ELLIS

GENRE = REFUGEES, WAR, POLITICS, CHILDHOOD, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

 In some ways, this book is even tougher to read than the first story about Parvana, because now Paravana is on her own or without adults, for most of her journey. She does have other children with her: Hassan (a baby who demands her attention), crippled Asif (with whom she bickers) and friendly Leila. Unfortunately, the adults that Parvana meets on her travels seem to simply let her down: they either withdraw from the horror of their daily lives (like Leila’s grandmother) or they are unkind and selfish. Life is tough and the children must be brave and resilient and resourceful to survive; as we would expect from reading book 1, Parvana certainly rises to the occasion.

One of the refreshing things in this story is that although these kids must be brave and adult-like on a daily basis, they are clearly still kids: Parvana gets annoyed easily and in angry outbursts she can behave badly (as you would expect, under the circumstances). The humorous banter between Asif and Parvana (where he pretends to do exactly the opposite of what she wants) also provide one of the few glimpses of lightness and humour in the book.

This is a worthy sequel to Parvana and readers who loved the first book are sure to be thoroughly engaged in reading more about her adventures.

Read a review of Parvana here.

Loyalty, betrayal and war

the bridgeTITLE = THE BRIDGE

AUTHOR = JANE HIGGINS

GENRE = WAR, REVOLUTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

Action packed from the opening page, this is an exciting tale of a future world that bears striking similarities to our own. A world which is at war and divided – by race, by religion, by a lack of compassion and understanding. So it is not surprising that betrayal and loyalty lie at the heart of this novel.

Nik is a clever student and expects to be selected for training as an ISIS soldier so he feels understandably hurt and betrayed when things don’t go to plan. So when his school is bombed and ISIS questions his loyalty Nik is puzzled. Why does his surname cause such anger?? Nik knows little of his parents, having lost them as a youngster – his sense of family lies with his close friends and he risks his life to help them.

Even crossing the bridge to the Southside to try and rescue his friend Fyffe’s 8 year old brother. The sense of threat and peril in the Southside is all too real as Nik and Fyffe struggle to stay alive and find her brother – whilst putting their own lives at risk.

There are many twists and turns in the plot and Nik (like the reader) is not quite sure who to trust. Strategy and plotting (and counter plotting) become important. And loyalty – to a cause and to one’s friends.

Finally Nik must question everything he has ever believed in – and discovers that sometimes physical frailty belies inner strength.  Against the backdrop of war, Nik learns who he can trust and what to trust in himself. This is an action packed adventure story with a powerful and credible ending which will leave readers with plenty to think about long after the last page has been read.

A worthy winner of The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, 2010

Highly Recommended (dma) *****