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School Bully Beware

scholastic-reader-level-2By: Kate Ledger

Illustrated by: Kyla May

Twin Magic Series bk 2

Lottie and Mia are twins, but in some ways they are very different, that doesn’t make their bond less strong. In fact Lottie and Mia have a secret when they whisper a secret charm the twins get super powers. They need them this day at school when the new kid Max starts to do things that make him seem like a big bully.

This is a very sweet story with a good heart. Lots of colourful, fun pictures complement the text, which is simple to read. This is a great choice for beginning readers who will enjoy the story of twins with superpowers and find something to talk about with adults regarding the bully part of the story.

Publisher: Scholastic Inc

Published: 01 November 2013

Format: Paperback 32 pages

Categories: Reading Scheme, Twins, Superpowers

ISBN 13: 9780545480260

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

The Hero of Little Street

9781596437296By: Gregory Rogers

Our character, Boy, ducks into a gallery in order to escape from a gang of bullies. Once inside the most amazing thing happens, he is drawn into a Vermeer painting. It turns out that Vermeer’s Little Street in Delft isn’t a safe place and Boy has to figure out a way to reuse his doggy friends from a terrible fate at the hands of the butcher.

A beautiful story with no actual text. There is however plenty of scope for readers to experience a wonderful story, and in rereading probably find something new. The illustrations are terrific and it was a joy to read this story.

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Published: 27 March 2012

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Bullying, Adventure

ISBN 13: 9781596437296

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

A Monster Calls

By: Patrick Ness

Connor isn’t going through the easiest of times. His mother is really sick and his father is living in another country with his new family. School isn’t going that well either, most people – teachers and students seem to ignore him, except the class bully. Then there is the nightmare.

One night though, something strange happens and a monster appears. he says he will tell Connor three stories and at the end Connor will have to share with him his truth. Connor has no real idea what that means, but doesn’t find the monster all that scary, not with the nightmare coming every night.

Even with everything going on; his mother going back into hospital and his grandmother trying to look after him, Connor can’t ignore the monster. As Connor’s life spirals out of control the monster is there to teach Connor some of the hardest truths he will ever have to learn in his life.

This is an incredible story. The concept was created by Siobhan Dowd who passed away before she could write it and it has been bought to dark and stunning life by the masterful hand of Patrick Ness. I would in no way say this is an easy book to read, however it is certainly compelling.

As the reality of Connor’s mother’s illness comes to light you can’t help feeling for Connor, his hurt, his frustration and his confusion. Even when his behaviour is at it’s worst. The monster is a strange creation whose motivation may seem uncertain but never wavers right till that moment he clearly states his purpose. This is a story that contains some harsh truths, it remains though a heart wrenching tale told in an exquisite manner.

Highly recommended but no light read.

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: 01 September 2011

Format: Hardback 204 pages

Categories: Fiction Fantasy Family Death Bereavement

ISBN 13: 9780763655594

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Don’t Call Me Ishmael

By: Michael Gerard Bauer

Ishmael Leseur is convinced he is cursed because of his name. His name embarrasses him on a regular basis and causes him to so often be the focus of year 9 bully, Barry Bagsley. Ishmael’s policy is to try and stay out of Barry’s way as much as possible, but then James Scobie arrives in Ishmael’s class and things will never be the same. Everything about James screams victim, Barry’s eye’s light up and James turns things on their head. As if that wasn’t enough, he pulls Ishmael into the year 9 debating team and Ishmael finds himself embroiled in the worst, most embarrassing and somehow best year of his life. Somewhere along the way he finds friends, courage and there may even be a girl, but probably not because how could she possibly like Ishmael?

This book is laugh out loud funny. It is cheeky, silly, embarrassing and has moments that reminded me of school. Ishmael is a great character, resigned to his lot yet somehow wishing he could change things. He tries to step up but when he does things don’t always got the way he hopes. James is awesome, he has the appearance of a total geek but with a seeming imperviousness to bullies, he has mastered the art of insulting and informing while appearing pleasant and not the least bit like a tattletale.

Then there are the other members of the debating team; Ignatius Prindabel -the fact-o-pedia, Orazio Zorzatto – the class clown and Bill Kingsley – the sci-fi/fantasy obsessed one. They fit so well together, Bauer has created a very real and very fun book. I see Ishmael and his friends being heartily embraced, Ishmael is slightly older than Greg Heffley (Wimpy Kid) and the writing style is for slightly older readers but this is a good place for those who like those books to move up to.

Publisher: Omnibus Books

Published: 01 April 2006

Format: Paperback 288 pages

Categories: School Stories, Bullying, Humour

ISBN 13: 9781862917668

Purchase: use logo on side of page to go to Booktopia


By: Tamora Pierce

Protector of the Small series bk 3

Keladry made it through her first four years due to her incredible determination, only to fins she is worried that no knight will take her on as a squire. After waiting so long she is surprised when Lord Raoul Knight Commander of the King’s Own asks. She is thrilled but knows many will think she is not up to the task. Being away from the palace doesn’t take her away from the prejudices she has dealt with the while being a page.

Out in the field though Kel quickly proves she can hold her own; as a warrior, a jouster and guardian of a young griffin. Time and again she is able to show Raoul didn’t make a mistake in choosing her. Throughout this time she discovers new romance, becomes reacquainted with old friends and makes many new ones. Her determination, intelligence and strong moral code gain her valuable experience and respect not only among the King’s Own but those in power and in those who will look to follow in her footsteps.

There are still those who want to see her fail or dead before she can claim her shield, but Kel has no time to think on them as she prepares for the squire’s final challenge ‘The Ordeal’.

‘Commanders are as rare as heroes…You’ve shown flashes of being a commander Keladry. It’s my job to see if you will do more than flash…’ Lord Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie’s Peak.

Kel’s training amps up as she is put thoroughly through her paces and once again proves she’s got what it takes. Kel is talented, flawed, uncertain and determined. She has a goal and works hard to attain it. Pierce allows Kel to grow further now she is out of the castle and it is a wonderful journey. Her detailed descriptions of life on the Progress, training and battle bring it all to technicolour life.

Raoul is a perfect counter point and trainer for Kel, totally opposite of Lord Wyldon, yet just as hard a task master. It is a treat to get out to the castle and spend time with other characters like Raoul, Dom and Buri. It is also a joy to read the scenes that blend the Tortallan way of life and the Yamani way as the Prince and Princess’ wedding approach. It is also interesting to watch Kel try to balance her dreams with new love.

Kel’s world and Kel herself are textured and shaded by a master creator. I am always happy to sink myself into the realm of Tortall, even to the point that when I finally got my own copies of this series I read it twice in a row while knowing I have a huge pile of other books waiting for my attention.

A word of note, sex is mentioned though not actioned in this book, however the way it is dealt with in no way makes this book something unsuitable for a 10 year old. Kel and her mother discuss safe sex.

Publisher: Random House USA Children’s Books

Published: 01 September 2002

Format: Paperback 409 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Family

ISBN 13: 9780679889199

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of the page


By: Tamora Pierce

Protector of the Small bk 2

Keladry of Mindelan returns to the royal palace to continue with her training. It is a rigorous schedule of physical fitness, weapons training, magic and tactics amongst other skills. The older pages haven’t stopped their bullying and as much as she’d like to try and wait her last year with them out, they simply won’t leave her be. It’s not all bad though, she has a loyal and growing circle of friends, a scruff dog who appears to have adopted her and a timid maid she is teaching to gain strength and confidence.

Then one day on a training camp her group of pages find themselves trapped by bandits and it is Kel who keeps her head and leads them. Is this a sign of things to come? People in power are watching her closely as both Kel and her training master push harder. Then there is her mysterious benefactor who seems to know exactly what she needs, and those who will stop at nothing to see her fail.

Book 2 of the Protector of the Small series and Kel’s return is welcome. She is a remarkable character, a strong female physically and mentally, who isn’t gifted through magic but achieves her successes through her own hard work. Kel is a wonderful example of girl power in that she competes for a level playing field and works harder knowing it isn’t, along the way she is fueled by determination and a strong moral code based on justice and fairness. She never tries to manipulate or use feminine wiles to get what she wants. She is wonderfully real, makes mistakes, gets angry, frustrated and learns.

Pierce then surrounds Kel not with weak characters but strong ones: Neal was strong enough to befriend her when others wouldn’t; Wyldon throws all he can at her because he is convinced a woman’s place is not at war; even Peachblossom the tough, smart warhorse. We should not discount Kel’s parents, while they do not play a large part in the story they still play a crucial one, they advise and support. Kel’s relationship with her mother is a wonderful one. As Kel learns she teaches those around her. Kel has heart and it is that which drives her to succeed and pull others along with her.

Obviously I am a fan. I make no apologies for that. Pierce presents us not only with well rounded characters but a tight and thoroughly engaging story in an incredibly well developed world.

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Published: 01 August 2004

Format: Paperback 257 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Family, School,

ISBN 13: 9780375829079

Purchase: here or use logo on side of the page to go to Booktopia


The Last Viking

By: Norman Jorgensen and James Foley

Josh is very brave, there are only a few things that scare him. His granddad tells him great stories but sometimes they are scary. This time when he stays over his granddad tells him all about the vikings. Josh likes the sound of them and decides he wants to be one. He talks to the viking gods and sets out to do the sort of things vikings do. It turns out that Josh makes a pretty good viking, proving this when he stands up to the bullies, with surprising consequences.

This is a wonderful little story that embraces the imagination, individuality and standing up to the  bullies. Josh is a wonderful character. The story is incredibly charming, and the illustrations wonderfully complement the text.

Recommended for any child with an imagination and the courage to dream.

Publisher: Fremantle Press

Published: 27 June 2011

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Picture Books, Self-Esteem

ISBN 13: 9781921888106

Purchase: use the link to Booktopia on side of the page

First Test

9780375829055By: Tamora Pierce

Protector of the Small series, bk 1

Keladry of Mindelan (Kel) is the first girl to take advantage of the decree permitting females to train for knighthood. She is determined and supported by her parents. She isn’t supported by Lord Wyldon, the master in charge of training the pages and squires. He believes girls shouldn’t become knights and so he puts her on probation, he may be forced to train her but he will not do it willingly. So Kel finds herself facing not only the grueling schedule and traditional hazing faced by all pages but also a trial period no other page has ever had to endure. It is hard enough being the only girl, the probation serves only to separate her from the others even more. Kel is more determined than others realise and they will find out just how much they have underestimated her.

Kel is young, showing great focus and determination. She knows what she wants and though the challenges along the way are harder than she expects she doesn’t back down. Kel relies on her heart and her smarts. The learning she acquired when in foreign courts with her parents and she puts that training to good use. Kel is an amazing character. Her sponsor and friend Neal, sums her up this way, ‘You’re the oldest 10 year old I’ve ever met…It means I’m trying to justify to myself the fact that the best lesson I’ve ever had on the heart of chivalry came from someone five years younger than me.’

In Kel’s story we learn a little something of heart, knowing yourself and bullying. Pierce writes in a way that has these characters jumping off the pages. Kel is surrounded by characters that support her and those that try to destroy her and they are woven together in a manner reminiscent of school yard environs. This is very much Kel’s story and she is one of my favourite characters. I love the way Pierce presents the world and the characters she has populated it with. I also love reading about strong female characters and adore this series. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Published: 01 August 2004

Format: Paperback 216 pages

Categories: Fiction Science Fiction Family Fantasy School Stories

ISBN 13: 9780375829055

Purchase: here or use logo to connect to Booktopia site

Tender Morsels

By: Margo Lanagan

Liga’s life is harsh. It is full of darkness and cruelty. Things hard to speak of. From all this misery natural magic creates a sanctuary for this broken woman and her daughters. But a magic sanctuary can’t totally prevent the real world from intruding in harsh and unexpected ways. It cannot keep everyone safe. What happens when questions cause you to seek? What happens when a girl decides she wants to know more, to grow and to be protected no longer?

This is a densely written, elaborately developed world that admirably houses a story that explores the extremes of nature from it’s gentler forms to it’s harshest evils. This is a story of life, love, pain, happiness and heartbreak with magic woven through.

Due to the dark nature of one of it’s topics (sexual assault) and the fractured points of view, I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger readers but as always a recommendation like that is purely subjective.

Tender Morsels is a winner of  the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and and Honor book in the Michael L Printz Award for Excellence in YA Literature.

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Published: 09 February 2010

Format: Paperback 436 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Bullying, Abuse, Family Issues

ISBN 13: 9780375843051

Purchase here

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