How did I take this long to read this?
I loved A Wizard of Earthsea. It tells the tale of Ged as he goes from apprentice to master wizard. On his journey, he unleashes a powerful evil in the land, one that stalks him right up until the final pages. In between, he fights dragons, gets shipwrecked, becomes an oarsman on a longship and meets strange and mysterious people. His quest becomes more of a mad obsession, destroy the shadow creature that he himself pulled from the darkness. Not even his mentor, friends or his own powerful magic seems to be enough to destroy it.
This books is much more than a series of trials though. It reads like a scroll discovered in a cave, telling the story that has never been told before. It's a philosophical story that touches upon greed, lust, pride, revenge and the duality of humans. It's a brilliant book that deserves to be re-read. I recommend it for ages 12 and up!
Morrigan Crow has been having a strange few days.
As a cursed child, she's destined to die on her eleventh birthday on an event known as Eventide.
The kingdom blames Morrigan for all of the ills that befall them and even her own family seems to be ready to get rid of her.
As the hour of birthday approaches, she is visited by a mysterious man named Jupiter North. Jupiter tells her that she isn't cursed and that he can help her escape. To do so, though, she must leave her family behind forever.
As Morrigan is contemplating this bizarre offer, a death cloud of murderous hounds and demons appears, seemingly ready to take her life and move it to the realm of death. Morrigan finds herself without options so she takes a giant leap of faith and puts her trust in the hands of Jupiter. Jupiter takes her to a bizarre world called Nevermoor, where she must undergo a series of four trials. To pass them means entrance into an elite society, to fail means deportation and most likely death.
Nevermoor is a book you can really get lost in. It has some truly original and great ideas sprinkled throughout. It has elements of steampunk, fantasy and horror all mixed in. Harry Potter is an obvious comparison yet it will appeal to a brand new set of readers looking for something really thrilling and exciting. I recommend Nevermoor to ages 10 and up!
Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, has a lot on his mind, mostly anger.
His favourite sport is basketball but a chance encounter on the track field gets the attention of an Olympic medal-winning coach who recruits him for the track team.
Ghost has some real talent that the coach tries to draw out but things keep getting in the way.
Things like Ghost's dark past, his anger issues, his lying and his belief that nobody is willing to truly help him. If he's going to be serious about running and be part of a team, he needs to confront the things that are haunting him first.
Ghost is an amazing book, I think it should be required reading. It taps into the anger and frustration that a lot of young teens face, especially those from broken homes or those who don't have privileged upbringings. However, this is a book for everyone, it's a shot of hope and resilience in the arm. Everyone needs someone like Coach in their life, someone who cuts through red tape with a razor sharp tongue. Someone who doesn't cut you any slack but still deep down cares about you very much. If all of the students I interact with in the library had someone like Coach in their ear, I think they'd be better off for it. Ghost is the next best thing. I cannot wait to get this into the hands of our students this year. I recommend it for ages 10 and up!
When AJ's grandfather dies, his life seems to spiral out of control in a matter of days. AJ's parents are around, but due to their learning disabilities they aren't able to maintain a stable living environment.
AJ's only escape is running. He's aiming to get into the national competition that's coming up. His big problem is that his running shoes don't fit anymore. He's resorted to cutting the toes out so he can squeeze into him. All of his money goes to paying the electric meter at his house.
As the bills pile up, so does AJ's anxiety. He starts lashing out at school and nobody seems to know what the problem is. He's dealing with way too much for an eleven year old but nobody seems to notice. Will he be able to keep his family afloat and make it into the national running competition?
Running on Empty is a really strong novel. It deals with sensitive topics and turns them into a story that everyone can relate to. If you like See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, which was one of my favourites of 2017, then you'll love Running on Empty. I can guarantee this will be a student favourite at the school library I manage. Recommended for ages 10 and up!
Crow has a lot of questions. At twelve years old, the only home she has know is Cuttyhunk, a tiny island in Massachusetts. The only family she knows is Osh, the man who rescued her when he found her washed up on shore in a skiff when she was only a baby and Miss Maggie, their neighbour who is both stern and compassionate at the same time.
Crow has a good life, but she wants to know where she's from and who her real parents are. One night, she spies a fire on Penikese a neighbouring island where no one ventures. Penikese has a dark past, one that Crow only half knows. Osh and Miss Maggie give her bits of information about the people that used to live there, how they suffered. Crow convinces Miss Maggie and Osh to take her to Penikese to investigate. What they find sets forth a series of events that will not only change Crow's life forever, it will also put them in grave danger.
This is a beautifully written novel. My family is from an island off of Nova Scotia called Cape Sable Island and I connected immediately with the descriptions of island life. Being covered in salty, sharp air, hunting for sea life in rock pools, gathering mussels when it's low tide and being a part of the lobster fishing community is in my blood. So I'm probably biased but I could read this book over and over again and not get tired of hearing about that life. Wolk has written a novel that speaks to anyone who has ever felt curiosity take over, who knows that friendship and family, when done right, can blend into one. It's a powerful book that deserves all of the praise it's currently receiving. I recommend it for ages 11 and up!
When Frank is putting up posters to help find her missing cat, the last thing she needs is to run into the pack of bullies that makes her life miserable on a daily basis.
The bullies find her though, and the humiliating ritual of name calling and psychological tug of war ensues.
Suddenly, Frank is rescued by an unlikely classmate, Nick Underbridge. Frank doesn't really know Nick, like the other students in her class, she views him as strange and withdrawn.
On a visit to Nick's house, everything changes for Frank. She hears strange music coming from the basement, it seems magical, far away yet everywhere at the same time.
When Nick and his father are preoccupied, Frank decides to go down to the basement. What she finds will change her life forever.
The Song From Somewhere Else reads like a fever dream. Sprinkled with Levi Pinfold's stark, haunting illustrations, it has a constant feeling of uneasiness throughout. The horror is effective in that it is relatively unknown and therefore more disturbing. This novel feels like the moment before a thunderstorm during a summer's evening. I don't know how else to describe it. It's odd, cool, weird and wonderful. I highly recommend it for ages 11 and up!
Blade Morrison has a lot to live up to, and a lot to escape from.
The son of a fallen-from-grace rock star, Blade is the poster boy for "money doesn't buy you happiness." Nestled in the Hollywood Hills with maids, butlers and wads of cash doesn't mean much when everyone around you is falling apart.
Then, after a disastrous late night party, Blade learns a shocking secret about his family. Inconsolable, he sets out on a trip around the world to uncover the truth, leaving his drug-addled father behind.
Written in verse, Solo is a fast-paced examination of family trauma, redemption and setting out on your own. Alexander has a real skill in making regular conversations between people flow like poetry. It touches on a subject that a lot of teens can identify with. Alexander's characters are deep and real and full of life, each one's desires pour off the page like music. Highly recommended, can't wait to get this in the hands of our students!
Budi has a plan. He wants to be a football star like his hero Kieran Wakefield.
When Budi's a star he won't have to work in the sweatshop anymore. He won't have to be beaten by his foreman when he doesn't work fast enough or makes mistakes. Most of all, he'll be able to pay for his Grandma's medication and move his family into a neighbourhood that isn't crawling with poverty, sickness and addiction.
This is Budi's life, yet he doesn't stop dreaming.
Then one evening when Budi and his friends are in the street playing football, he accidentally kicks the ball into the home of The Dragon, the most dangerous man in Jakarta. The Dragon is angry, and tells Budi to do some dirty work for him. If he refuses, The Dragon will use his influence with the police department and make life even worse for him and his parents.
Caught in an impossible situation, Budi is forced figure out a plan if he's going to protect the ones he loves.
This is a great book, and an important one. I've already written a blog post on it discussing how attractive it is for reluctant and struggling readers which you can read here.
This is a guest post by Hana, a Year 7 student at Glenthorne High School.
I recommend this book because it is inspiring and unique. I decided to read this book because I want to be a scientific illustrator when I'm older. This Is an important book to me because years ago women weren't allowed to be scientists and they were expected to stay at home and work in the house. I am passionate to show that women can do anything. This book is written in a child friendly way and it's very interesting. This book is probably for budding scientists and for people who like reading about the changes of the world throughout the years. I LOVED THIS BOOK!!
Twelve year Ted Sparks, fresh from solving The London Eye Mystery, finds himself embroiled in another puzzle, this time in New York City.
While visiting his aunt Gloria, who works at the Guggenheim Museum, a priceless piece of artwork is stolen.
Gloria is suspected and eventually hauled in by the police. Convinced she's innocent, Ted, along with his cousin Salim and his sister Kat, scour the Guggenheim for clues that will set her free.
As they cross people off their suspect list, time is running out for Gloria. Ted must use all of his sleuthing prowess to crack this mystery!
I really enjoyed this novel, it was a fast paced read with some great twists and turns.
This novel has been shortlisted for The Bookling, the book award that we host every year at the high school that I work at. I purchased six copies and book-talked them in one library lesson. After talking about it all six copies were borrowed. Stevens has a real skill for writing mysteries and drawing you into the world of Ted, who runs on a slightly different voltage than everyone else.
It's a great novel about teamwork, believing in yourself and standing up for what's right. I know it's going to be hugely popular in our library. I recommend it for ages 11 and up!