TITLE = NO SAFE PLACE
AUTHOR = Deborah Ellis
GENRE = Growing up, Survival, War, Refugees
INTEREST LEVEL = Years 8 and up
This is another powerful novel from an acclaimed author, Deborah Ellis. Once again Ellis brings the spotlight to bear on injustices in the world and how they impact on children’s lives. In this novel, she moves her focus to Europe and tells the stories of 3 young teens, from varied backgrounds, who have been brought together as refugees struggling to find safe passage to England, where they hope they will find the safety and security that they have failed to find in their homelands. Abdul has seen first hand the toll the war in Iraq takes on innocent families, women and children. Rosalia is escaping the harsh life of a Roma child sold into prostitution and Cheslav, too, has been abandoned in Russia when his Mum sought a new life as a mail order bride. All 3 children have learned how to survive against the most horrific of circumstances and this makes them cautious about trusting others, even each other. The first half of the novel is especially powerful as it conveys the harsh life of a refugee child and the skill and stamina needed just to stay alive. We learn about each child’s back story via flashbacks which allows the reader to sympathise with each of the children. However, some of the action in the second half of the novel seems a little too tidy and convenient (especially in the children’s ability to steer a large yacht) so the sense of compelling action is diminished. Perhaps not Ellis’ best work but still this novel provides an eye opener to world events that Aussie children may know little about. Those who have enjoyed reading the Parvana trilogy will find this novel to be a worthy and interesting read.
Read more about Deborah Ellis and her books on her publisher’s website
Recommended (dma) ****
TITLE =BEHEMOTH (The Leviathan Trilogy Bk 2)
AUTHOR =SCOTT WESTERFELD
GENRE =STEAMPUNK, FANTASY
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP
This is a rip-roaring adventure from the very first page. Even if you haven’t read Book 1 (The Leviathan) you will still enjoy the inventiveness and the action in this most entertaining steampunk story. The action is set in what appears to be a slightly different World War 1 from the version with which we are more familiar. In Westerfeld’s inventive hands, WW1 is not a battle between the Brits and the Germans, it is a struggle between the Darwinists (who breed animals to use as tools and weapons of war) and the Clankers (who instead use all sorts of mechanical devices). Our main heroes are the Clanker, Alex (heir to an empire) who is on the run from the forces who assassinated his father (and kick-started this war). Alek is aboard the Darwinist airship that rescued him and has become friendly with Deryn (who is actually masquerading as Dylan, a boy soldier on the Darwinist side). Together they are hoping to stop the war … and save Alek from imprisonment by the Darwinists …. or death. But who can they trust? And why won’t Deryn entrust her secret to Alek??
Whilst the action is neatly resolved by the end of this story, the war still rages and it appears that Alek and Deryn/Dylan have a new set of adventures in store for them, in the eagerly awaited final book in the trilogy, “Goliath”.
Not only is the action exciting and Westerfeld’s imaginative recreation of the period entrancing but also, the book is a delight from a design point of view. From the rich cover to the endpapers to the brilliant illustrations (by Keith Thompson) this book is a feast for readers on all levels.
A sure fire hit and Highly Recommended (dma) *****
Why not explore more about this world and learn more about the author by checking out his website.
You can also check out some of the artwork from the book here.
TITLE = THE HUNGER GAMES : MOCKINGJAY
AUTHOR =SUZANNE COLLINS
GENRE =ADVENTURE, ACTION, WAR
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP
Katniss, Peeta and Gale are back in an enthralling final instalment of this brilliant series from Suzanne Collins. The political intrigue and war games are the focus of attention here – as the Katniss, Gale and the rebel forces fight – to stay alive and to take on the might of the Capitol. But what price will Peeta pay if Katniss contiues to defy the authorities? And can she trust the rebel forces she is working with?? Katniss is filled with doubt – about herself and her motives, about the tactics being employed by Gale and others … and the reader will be intrigued at this adrenalin charged study of war and peace. And love … because Katniss is still struggling with her feelings for both Gale and Peeta. The twists and turns in the plot, and the characters feelings for each other, will keep readers truning each page with excitement and trepidation. The ending may be hard to predict – but it is sure to satisfy readers and give them pause for thought. Our only sorrow will be that the exciting journey is over.
Suzzane Collins is to be commended for not only maintaining the interest level throughout this series but also for increasing the tension and the thoughtfulness with each volume. A series which is brimming with excitment for male and female readers but which also sepaks volumes about some very serious issues which face us on the daily news. There truly is something for everyone in this book and the series as a whole.
Highly Recommended (dma) *****
Title: On the Jellicoe Road Author: Melina Marchetta
Interest Level: Yr9/10 up.
This is the war story with a twist. Taylor Markham was dumped by her mother on the jellicoe road when she was 11/12 years old. She was then picked up by her new mentor Hannah. 5 years later Taylor is trusted with leading her school in the territory wars against the cadets and townies. As Taylor tells her story another story is being told about 5 kids who lived in Jellicoe years earlier. Taylor and her new/old friends start to go on an adventure of a life time to disscover who the 5 kids were, why the territory wars started and who they are themselves. This was a fantastic story and one that will stay with you long after you have read it.
A ROSE for the ANZAC BOYS by Jackie French
GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION
INTEREST LEVEL: YRS 9 AND UP
A beautifully crafted story, with strong characters who quickly grab the readers’ interest. Whilst French’s central aim (to tell the story of WW1 through women’s eyes) is stated boldly on the front cover – she manages to tell a story first and let the social message take care of itself. Although we do experience WW1 largely through the eyes of Midge, a young New Zealander, in her role as canteen operator, ambulance driver and nursing aid close to the front, this novel isn’t just about the role of women in war. Inevitably, the horror of trench warfare, the brutality of life for soldiers on the front line are all too vividly portrayed. French cleverly uses series of letters to convey not only the perspective of soldiers but also those who are back at home. The letters also help to place the time and events of the main story. We see the inevitable change in the main characters as war changes from the illusory world of heroism that young men and women are keen to involve themselves in (and that will soon be over) to the bitter and ugly reality of death and loss. The story is truly moving and clearly intended for older readers (the frankness of war’s horrors would be hard for young readers to bear). French’s research is exemplary and the additional notes at the end of the novel are informative. The story will stay with the reader long after the novel is finished.
Highly Recommended (dma) *****
Interest level:Yr 8 and over.
Author: Karen Levine.
Novel: Hana’s Suitcase.
Hana’s suitcase is a true story about a young woman, Fimuko, who wants to learn more about the Holocaust and teach the young children in Japan the horrors of war. When she finds Hana’s suitcase she goes on an epic adventure to find the girl, Hana. Along the way we start to learn about Hana’s story and how as a Jewish child the war affected her. This was the book that changed our lives as we learnt how horrible Hitler and the human race can really be. It shows good things like how when times get tough we need our family and friends and bad things like the horrors of what went on in World War 2. This book is a wonderful story about love, loss and how a little bit of determination is all we need. So if you ever think that your life is tough, pull out the story about a young girl whose life was so bad she lost everything all because some man hated Jews.
4 and 3/4 stars.
by Abbey.P. Jayde.D. Gina.T. Ashlee.B. and Bryce.D.
FINDING DARCY by Sue Lawson (LAW)
Genre: War, Family Relationships
Interest Level: Year 9/10
There is an interesting blend of themes in this compelling novel. On one hand there is the story of Darcy who is being bullied at school and facing family problems at home. The family issues are worsened when she is given a research task by her social studies teacher which involves interviewing family members about wartime experiences. For Darcy’s problem is that her family is haunted by death of her great-grandfather during the war, an experience which no-one will discuss. The intrigue behind this mystery leads Darcy to learn more about an incident in Australia’s involvement in WW2 which will provide compelling revelations for most readers. As Darcy finds herself she also finds her family and helps them to find solace for past grief. Darcy is a likable character and the school scenes are well drawn and believable. An intriguing story which should appeal to both girls and boys; to those who enjoy reading about relationships and those who are fascinated by war. This novel was longlisted for the 2008 Inkys.
Highly Recommended (dma): *****