By: Mark Pardoe
Andy Flegg wants an X-box, to get one his mother has told him he has to write in a journal everyday. Andy is not impressed. Some entries are really short and then things start happening. A cute girl starts in his class, his parents are fighting and his dog gets sick. Then his dog gets a bit better, his parents get back to normal briefly and the cute girl is texting him. Things are just not meant to be that way. The day the motorbike his dad has borrowed is vandalised is the day things go from bad to worse for Andy. Just when he thinks it can’t get any worse he finds out just how wrong he can be.
Andy is an everyday 11 year old who loves computer games and isn’t fond of school. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t have an X-box. As Andy writes in his journal bits of his life seem to unravel. It is a fun, somewhat quirky look at being a preteen boy who has to deal with the obvious things such as the next best computer game and the other unexpected things such as his ‘thingie’ suddenly taking on a life of it’s own, particularly when he thinks about Amber. It is an angsty time and Pardoe takes you through it with humour and ease. Andy could be any boy, he is believable and his responses to the curveballs life throws at him are made all the more real by the fact that there are consequences.
This is a wonderful read, the fun balances out the pathos and there is no total happy ending, which is good because that would totally have negated the power of the story-telling. Also as a funny little bonus each entry has an obscure word defined and used, I think I can safely say a large number are words I will never come across again but it is a great device. Suitable for 10+.
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Published: 24 July 2013
Format: Paperback 240 pages
Categories: Life, School, Friends,
ISBN 13: 9780143306771
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I received my copy from the publisher.
By: Jacqueline Harvey
Clementine is about to start school. She couldn’t be more excited, in fact she is so excited that she gets up way too early. She is going to have a lovely teacher named Miss Critchley and be in a class with her best friends. When she gets there though things aren’t what she was hoping for. Firstly her teacher is not Miss Critchley but the meaner, shoutier and way more boring Mrs Bottomley. Then there a horrible boy called Angus, he keeps doing mean things to Clementine but the teacher doesn’t believe her. It doesn’t take long for Clementine to think school isn’t going to be any fun. Things look up though when there is an announcement of a Pet Day. Clementine thinks at least this will be a good thing. She plans to take her teacup pig called Lavender with her and she is sure she will win a prize.
This is a fun book for young readers. It is easy to be swept into Clementine’s initial excitement then her disappointment as things don’t go as she hoped. Harvey has given us something a little outside the realm of what we expect, what with Queens and Ladies, but still at it’s core it is a story about starting school, being bullied and having a positive outlook. I found this a joy to read. The text is easy to understand and it has some black and white, quite stylised illustrations which help the story jump of the page.
Publisher: Random House Australia Children’s Books
Published: 02 January 2013
Format: Paperback 160 pages
Categories: School Stories, Animals
ISBN 13: 9781742755434
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By: Cathy Cassidy
Daizy Star series book 3
Daizy Star is still searching for her star quality. This time she thinks she may have finally found it – modeling. She seats out to make herself into a top pre-teen supermodel for the class recycled fashion show. She is hoping to be discovered by a model scout. The problem is her dad’s crazy new scheme is threatening not only her modeling career but also the very foundation of her life. This time he wants the family to move to a Scottish island and farm nettles. Daizy will be away from all her friends. The worst thing is that this time it appears her mother is enthusiastic about this plan. Daizy isn’t the only one with problems this time, something is wrong with one of her best friends and Daizy wants to help fix it.
Daizy is just as quirky as ever and still determined to find her star quality. On of the changes in this book is her mother supporting her father, which gives the story a slightly different dynamic to the previous two. Also her big plan this time around comes from her desire to help someone else, something which adds a nice depth to the friendships, (the others are usually supporting and doing things for Daizy). It doesn’t loose any of its humour or wackiness though and I still really like the unique Daizy Star.
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 02 June 2011
Format: Paperback 192 pages
Categories: Humour, School, Friendship
ISBN 13: 9780141335971
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By: John Green & David Levithan
Will Grayson #1 has two rules a) don’t care too much, b) shut up. The things that have gone wrong in his life have stemmed from the times he hasn’t stuck to these rules, like the time he wrote a letter sticking up for his best friend Tiny Cooper the best, and very gay, offensive linebacker in the schools football team. Will and Tiny go way back and at this time in Will’s life this is causing him a few problems.
Will Grayson #2 is in a dark place trying to help his mother, and get through school all while trying to figure out life and his own sexuality. He cuts himself off from as many people as he can. Then one night things go mildly wrong for Will Grayson #1 and terribly wrong for Will Grayson #2 and their worlds collide.
I don’t want to say much more about the plot, except to say writing a musical about your own life is brave or ridiculous at any age, good thing Tiny is…well Tiny.
Will Grayson and Will Grayson have vast differences yet at the same time both struggle with relationships and school. Tiny, who is so much larger than life is what joins them together. Tiny Cooper is a fantastic character who is bound to stay with you long after the last page has been cheered over. The two Will’s provide a wonderful grounding for this story whilst Tiny gives it it’s pizazz. Levithan and Green have come together to give us one hell of a lough out loud, life affirming book. it is a great story, with great characters. It will possibly be the most romantic book you will read all year, but there is nothing schmaltzy about it. There are crushing moments, moments of high hilarity and moments that will resonate with you.
Definitely pick this up. Highly recommended.
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Published: 03 May 2010
Format: Paperback 320 pages
Categories: Humour, School, Sexuality
ISBN 13: 9781921656231
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By: Megan McDonald
Illustrated By: Peter H Reynolds
Book 9 in the Judy Moody series
Judy Moody is in a Nancy Drew kind of mood. She’s been reading stories about the girl detective and has decided that that is what she wants to be. It is a good thing that she is in a mystery solving mood because she finds herself smack in the middle of an honest to goodness mystery. Mr Chips, a police dog in training, has gone missing. Never fear, Judy Drewdy is on the case, she thinks he was taken by evil dognappers and is determined to track them down. Armed with her detective kit and her associates; agents Stink, Pearl and Rock.
Judy is a girl who is enthusiastic and quickly gets swept up into her own bright ideas. She may not always be right in her assumptions but she is determined. McDonald has created fun characters with entertaining stories. The print is fairly large but the chapters average about 14 pages which makes the books best suited to readers in the 7-9 age category. Judy Moody is a lot of fun.
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Published: 07 February 2011
Format: Paperback 144 pages
Categories: Crime, Humour
ISBN 13: 9781406327434
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By: Lili Wilkinson
Penny Drummond lives with her dad and aspires to be a prize winning journalist. Before she gets there she has to hone her skills on her school newspaper. She is focussed, in control and desperately for the story that will give her that big break. Then she discovers a boy at her school is posting anonymous messages on loveshyforum.com and blogs about his terrible problem of not being able to even talk to girls, let alone the girl of his dreams.
Penny believes this could be the story she has been looking for, so she sets out to track him down and fix him up. Things don’t go as smoothly as Penny expects, especially when she finds out just who the boy is. Along the way she discovers all is not as perfect in her life as she assumed.
Penny is a strange character. At times she is annoying, when she is all knowing and superior in her attitude to everyone. Somehow though it is not that off putting. Sure I wanted to slap her upside the head a couple of times but mostly I was pulled into the story and how she grows as a person. Penny has cut herself off from friends and it is nice to see how others get into her life. The people around her are well developed and balance out the story nicely. I enjoyed this, there were parts that on their own may not have worked but when woven together created a rather entertaining story.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 01 April 2012
Format: Paperback 324 pages
Categories: School, Friendship, Relationships
ISBN 13: 9781742376233
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By: Alan MacDonald & David Roberts
Dirty Bertie is a grubby little boy with some rather disgusting habits. His is also full of some rather silly ideas. In Kiss he thinks it will be funny to put a slug down Angela’s top but the plan backfires when it seems she is determined to kiss him. How gross, how is Bertie ever going to get away from Angela? In Hamster, Bertie volunteers to take the class hamster how for the week of mid-term break. He wants to teach it some tricks. What happens though when it escapes? Boast sees Bertie trapped into playing the trumpet in a concert because his mother boasted of his non-existent ability to another mother. It could be worse, he could actually have to play rather than just pretend. Then disaster strikes.
This slim volume contains three funny, silly stories that are perfect for young readers slowly gaining confidence. Each story is broken into chapters and the black and white line drawings perfectly complement the story. They can be read chapter at a time or story at a time.
Publisher: Koala Book Company
Published: 01 March 2012
Format: Paperback 96 pages
Categories: Humour, Boys,
ISBN 13: 9780864618207
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By: Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley is feeling the pressure to be good between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize his gifts. Added to this things at school have been tense with an anti-bullying program and the removal of playground equipment. Added to all this is a burgeoning addiction to on-line computer game Net Kritterz. Then there is the fact that school property has been damaged and Greg is the prime suspect. Which is kind of unfair a she really is innocent or at least sort of.
Just when he thinks the authorities are closing in a surprise blizzard hits and the Heffley family find themselves trapped in doors. It is not long before Greg starts to think being stuck inside with his family is a worse punishment than anything the authorities can do to him.
Greg is back with yet more problems interrupting his normal kind of life. Greg’s troubles are the sort that any school kid can identify with. The form for this book is one readers will be familiar with. Nothing has changed in style or structure, Greg’s problems haven’t become the problems of an older boy. Rowley is still innocent Rowley, Roderick is still an annoying older brother and Manny ably fills the role of annoying younger brother.
Cabin Fever is a fun addition to this popular series. It is the perfect series for reluctant readers of around nine. It’s presentation for those not familiar with the series makes for an easy read, and with the text broken often by illustrations it doesn’t look as daunting a read as it might otherwise. If you haven’t read this series before make sure you start from book one.
Published: 16 November 2011
Format: Paperback 228 pages
Categories: Family, School
ISBN 13: 9780143306641
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By: Cornelia Funke
A CHIX adventure
Charlie’s grandmother is away and Charlie has to look after her chickens and do a whole list of other chores that her grandmother left for her to do. What Charlie really wants to do though, is become part of a gang. She convinces her best friend Xa as well as Izzie and Hannah to join them. They decide to call themselves CHIX after the first letters of all their names. They promise to have adventures and keep each others secrets. Things aren’t that simple though as Freddie and his gang like to spy on the girls and make trouble for them. The girls don’t take that lying down and this rivalry escalates into something bigger than either group would have thought. All of them could be in big trouble.
From the author of the Inkheart Trilogy comes a book about friendship. The four girls have very distinctive personalities. Charlie can be a little annoying and pushy at times but she is the force behind the formation of the gang. There are also a few darker kind of secrets that while not focussed on are touched on in a way that may open the door to discussion (abuse, single parent families, the influence of race on family).
One of the things I like about this book is the girls aren’t a foursome that have been tight forever, rather they are two lots of best friends who like to hang together. The rivalry with the boys is fun and for the most part harmless, it drives the story along to a climax that was a little surprising.
This is a story that is a pleasant read and somehow feels older than what it is. In some ways the style and story harken back to a more simpler time. If you are looking for something nice for an 8 to 10 year old then give this a look.
Publisher: Chicken House Ltd
Published: 05 April 2012
Format: Paperback 176 pages
Categories: Growing Up
ISBN 13: 9781904442868
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This book was sent to me by the publisher.By: Cathy Cassidy
Skye has an identical twin sister. They always do things together, that is they used too but recently Skye has been wanting to different things and she is feeling a bit left out. She is as the point where she really believes everyone is far more interested in Summer. To make matters worse her friend Alfie confesses to having a crush – on Summer, which hurts more than Skye expected, and her best friend seems more interested in hanging with her sister. Then Skye finds herself drawn to the mystery of one of her ancestors, something her sister wants nothing to do with. FInally maybe Skye can learn to be her own person and maybe people will begin to notice her for who she is, not just because of her sister.
Skye is a slightly quirky and incredibly appealing character. She is a wonderfully drawn girl who is struggling to find herself amongst the pressures of a blended family, having a twin who excels and the need to grow up. The way Cassidy has developed the family is very real and touching. As with most families there is chaos and clashing wills. This is the second of the Chocolate Box Girls series and you don’t have to have read the first to enjoy and understand the second.
Cassidy deftly and honestly deals with that awkward time of life when you being to discard the childish things in favour of the less childish ones. There is a dash of mystery, some good laughs and the honest texture given to it all through the lens of blending two families and and finding out who you really are.
If you are a fan you will love this, if you haven’t read anything by this writer before she is well worth picking up and giving a try, especially if you are a reader or know a reader who prefers stories more grounded in reality than fantasy. Read this and allow the heartache and joy of this story to wrap around you.
Publisher: Puffin Books
Format: Paperback 294 pages
Categories: Fiction, Family, Divorce, Growing Up, Sisters
ISBN 13: 9780141325240
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