Welcome to the Dream Team Blog Tour, Day 1! Today I'm highlighting two amazing books by Tom Percival, the Attack of the Heebie Jeebies and A Case of the Jitters! When a girl named Chanda travels into her dreams and can't get out, it's up to the Dream Team to save her! Unfortunately, dreams are harder to fix than they thought, will Chanda ever sleep better again? These books are filled with truly interesting and unique characters and creatures. I really like how it tackles anxiety, depression and overcoming fears for children in a way that doesn't hit you over the head. It really is a perfect book for reading aloud to children. It also has a powerful message about refusing to give up no matter what the odds are and believing in yourself throughout your life. The illustrations are powerful, fun and completely immersive. The Dream Team series is an essential escape for children and parents alike, check it out here!
Knight Sir Louis is a hilarious romp through a seriously strange land. With his trusted steed, a mechanical Sir Clunkalot and his magical sword, which has a face and is called Dave and can trap things in its reflection, he sets out to become the bravest knight in the land. With dastardly villains like the Stripey Knight and Bazook Harry and unlikely allies like Mr. Catalogue, Knight Sir Louis is on an adventure of a lifetime.
This story is perfect for ages 7+ and begs to be read aloud with silly voices, it's very, very funny. If you're like me and unexpectedly fell in love with the Mr. Gum stories, then you should add this to your bookshelves, your students and your own children will love it!
Donte wishes nobody could see him, especially Alan, the bully at school that taunts him. As one of the only black students in his new private school, nobody looks like him and everybody seems to notice him for the wrong reasons. Even his teachers subconsciously select him as the "problem" student even when he isn't.
When Alan gets Donte into trouble, and then arrested, Donte is led out of school by the police. Released from jail, his parents furious at the system and completely broken, Donte discovers redemption through fencing and a coach that teaches him a lot about life.
This is another powerful book by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Donte's arrest highlights a real threat in America, black students going from high school to prison in a highly organised and deliberate system. Donte's struggle is one that many black students face in the United States. This is an important book, like her previous work, Ghost Boys, and I'm very excited to introduce it to our students in September. Highly recommended for ages 11+.
Frankie is a teen who loves astronomy, she does well in school and has had an amazing best friend, Harriet, since primary school. When Frankie notices Benjamin, he notices her back. Although he's athletic and a "guy's guy" kind of dude, he's very nice and charming. When the pair walk home from school one day, things get heated and Frankie's first sexual experience ends in humiliation when it coincides with her period. It's not something she should be humiliated about, but the current culture dictates that this is somehow abnormal and should be locked away where no one can talk or hear about it. Benjamin tells her it's no big deal, he seems genuinely concerned for her welfare more than he's grossed out. This makes Frankie fall for him even more. Then things start to change at school. There are whispers, accusations and gossip that spirals out of control and Frankie finds that she's been reduced to a meme. She starts to get targeted by strangers online, the abuse, the humiliation, it's all too much. Frankie is desperate to find out who created it, she keeps it from her parents and tries to weather the storm on her own. Blood Moon is a timely, powerful YA story that frankly all teens should get their hands on. It brings a topic to the forefront that is always taboo, Cuthew does not hold back, and she shouldn't. Frankie is a great character with flaws just like everyone else and how she endures the abuse is admiral. And the abuse, man oh man it is harsh, just like real online trolling can be. In a time of cancel culture, slut shaming, sexting and the very real dangers of online over indulgence, Blood Moon is a necessary read.
Addie is autistic, she knows the kinds of things that can affect and make her feel uncomfortable: bright lights, lots of noise, even holding hands or being hugged can all be too much for her. Her sister, Keedie, is also autistic and the two share an unbreakable bond. Keedie is in university, she's been acting strange to Addie lately, something Addie can't quite figure out but she has a feeling something isn't right. Addie is obsessed with sharks, she loves taking books on them out from the library, she knows everything there is to know about them. When one of her friends decides that Addie should like dolphins instead, Addie tries to understand, she tries to become the person that the people around her want her to be but it's hard, she starts to think she's like a glove that doesn't fit anywhere. Her teacher is a walking nightmare, unsympathetic, mean and impatient with someone who needs understanding and love.
Addie also has a deep sense of empathy and justice, so whens she discovers that witches were executed in her Scottish village centuries ago, she campaigns to have the local council erect a memorial for them. The townspeople are not impressed, their town is a good town, they don't want a memorial based on something terrible that happened. Addie is determined, though, she starts to feel like those witches, wrongly labelled, a misfit of sorts, someone who is always on the outside looking in. Addie's dream of getting a memorial raised encounters many roadblocks, and with her sister's increasingly withdrawn behaviour and mean classmates rearing their head, the tenuous hold that Addie has on her stability starts to crumble.
I recommend A Kind Of Spark to anyone hoping to gain insight into the world of Autism, it's a powerful story with a lot of punch, heartbreaking and real. Addie's life pops off the page at a feverish pace, don't miss it! Great for ages 9+
Louis has never had luck with pets, they all seem to croak after a little while. When his father brings home a sick, baby donkey, he's determined to nurse it back to health. Everyone around Louis tells him constantly not to get attached to the donkey, that it won't survive. Louie decides to name it Winslow and despite it's constant braying and barking, loves it more than anything else.
What follows is a heart warming tale about friendship, loyalty and standing up for what you believe in.
Louie's bond with Winslow is very touching and reminiscent of Charlotte's Web and many other great novels with animal connections. I recommend this story for ages 8+, a short, sweet novel with a lot of heart.
Lucas is driving with his parents when his father loses control and goes off the road. Both of his parents dead, Lucas climbs out of the wreckage to see a wolf standing in the middle of the road. He's sent to live with his Nan, an ageing lawyer who lives far from his home. Sent to a new school and coping with trauma, Lucas becomes obsessed with the image of the wolf. Then he hears it, news stories about a wolf killing farmers' sheep. Lucas' Nan doesn't believe it, neither does his friend Deb, whose father is a farmer, someone that is convinced the wolf is real.
Coping with dangerous bullies and forced to go to anger management therapy, Lucas feels that his mind is slipping, that he's losing control of his sanity. As the hunt for the wolf intensifies, Lucas decides to take matters into his own hands. I really loved this novel, Lucas is a dark, complicated character with a lot of guts. Lambert's writing is poetic and brooding, pounding away at you until you are completely absorbed into the story. It's a nice shot in the arm for anyone looking for a book to really grab you by the collar and give you a shake. I recommend it for ages 11+.
When Christine first meets Moon, she's intimidated. Christine has heard stories that Moon will beat you up for no reason. Then Moon moves in next door to Christine and she quickly becomes best friends with her. Moon is daring, mischievous and art simply pours out from her. These are all the things Christine isn't. Christine's parents are relatively conservative and aren't too sure they like the influence Moon is having on her.
Moon often tells Christine about the star creatures that talk to her and that she is from another planet and will be joining them soon. Christine brushes this off as Moon is always creating, always thinking of things that "regular" people don't think about. Then, something disastrous happens and Christine has to summon all of the courage that Moon has instilled in her to carry on and be a great friend. This is a lovely graphic novel about friendship, heartache, anxiety and pain. This is exactly the kind of graphic novel I'm looking for to fill the shelves at Glenthorne High School as I know it will be extremely popular.
Gene Luen Yang is a bestselling graphic novelist and a teacher at Bishop O'Dowd Catholic School. He's struggling to come up with a new graphic novel idea after his best selling work "American Born Chinese." After hearing a buzz around school surrounding O'Dowd's basketball team, The Dragons, he decides to talk to the coach to see if there's a story there. The issue is that Gene is not a sports guy, he's a comic book guy. When he was young he was nicknamed "Stick" by his classmates because he was so skinny. He's always shied away from competitive sports because it's not the world he feels comfortable in. However, once he becomes immersed in the world of The Dragons, he finds himself fascinated with the players' back story and the competition that surrounds them. Dragon Hoops is not only a whirlwind history of basketball, it's a fascinating glimpse into the real lives of these players and coaches. Yang covers the anxiety, fears and even racist attitudes that the players face on a daily basis. I love dhow he slowly grew more and more excited about each upcoming game, much to the confusion of his family. It's a wonderful graphic novel for fans of basketball, comics and true stories told with an honest voice. I recommend it for ages 11+!
Effie feels alone and invisible in her school. Her teachers don't seem to like her and she's always bumped into, ignored and called a nerd behind her back. One day she discovers a school for ghosts in the woods near her human school. Despite warnings, the other ghosts take her in and she starts to learn the ways that the ghosts can control lost spirits. It's all fun for Effie and very exciting until she's asked by her new ghost friends to track down an actual lost spirit, one that proves to be quite dangerous.
Effie now has to prove to her new friends that she deserves to be in the ghost school and that she's got special powers like the others. It's a great story about believing in yourself and finding your true friends. It's also an important story about bullying and how easy it is to fall into the trap of not only being bullied but becoming one yourself. Great comic for fans of ghosts and good storytelling for ages 9+