It's 1944 and Jakob is hiding from the Nazis in a horse stable in Austria. When they come to investigate the possibility that Jakob's guardian is harbouring a Jewish boy, the SS officer is angered that he can't locate him.
To compensate, he shoots and kills one of the guardian's acclaimed Lipizzaner horses.
Fearing they will return, Jakob and his guardian escape in the night with the remaining horses. Their goal is to reach a village across the mountains where they feel it will be safer.
Along the way they meet Kizzy, a Roma who has her own tragic story to tell. Kizzy is an adept rider and great at hunting and fishing and makes a valuable companion. To reach safety, the trio must enter Nazi held territory and areas crawling with Nazi sympathisers. To make matters worse, they aren't even sure what will be waiting for them on the other side of the mountains.
Flight is a harrowing tale of survival, cunning and adventure. Jakob and Kizzy make a great pair as they try to outwit and out-manoeuver the many threats to their safety. When Jakob's guardian becomes seriously injured, the hope of saving the horses becomes even smaller. It's a story of desperation and grit that any 10 year old will love. Fans of WWII, horses and friendship will really sink their teeth into it!
Jerome is twelve and lives in a neighbourhood where you need to be on your toes at all time.
When he's shot to death by a policeman who mistakes his toy gun for a real one, he emerges as a ghost and watches helplessly as his family tries to maintain sanity after his death.
Jerome watches the preliminary hearing of the policeman who shot him and visits the policeman's' daughter, who, miraculously, can see him.
Joined by Jerome is the ghost of Emmett Till, who tells him of his horrible encounter with violent racism in America's deep south. Till helps Jerome work out why he was murdered and how he can process it and what needs to be done to make sure it stops happening. Throughout this journey, the policeman's daughter learns several valuable lessons as well.
I think Ghost Boys should be required reading in high schools around the world, infuriating, mortifying and heart-breaking, it reflects both historical and current divides regarding race in America. It's a fast, always compelling read that I cannot recommend enough.
I recommend it for ages 10 and up.
Jane Mckeene is born into a world of terror. Zombies, known as shamblers, have risen from the Civil War battlefields and torn the nation apart even further.
Jane is sent to special combat schools based on a government law known as the Native and Negro Reeducation Act, In the school she learns to dispose of the undead in an efficient manner.
Her and the other students are told that the area around Baltimore is shamble free, but when this turns out to be a lie, Jane and her friend Katherine are plunged into a conspiracy that will take them out west where shamblers aren't the only thing that's rotten.
I only gave this book two stars on Goodreads simply because I felt it was around 100 pages too long. I had such high hopes for it but nothing happens, it seems to be a string of mildly entertaining zombie attacks that are wedged into a huge amount of info dumps that go on for pages. It had a lot of promise in the beginning, but I have to say that the book is really boring which should have been near impossible when writing a book about zombies during the American Civil War.
Shif and Bini are best friends. They challenge each other to chess, excel at school and stand up for each other.
Neither boy has a father in their lives, their mothers work and take care of them the best they can.
When soldiers start arriving in their town, Shif's mother knows what's about to happen. The boys are going to be "recruited" to military school - a loose code word for forced labour and confinement.
Desperate to save Shif, his mother tries to smuggle him out of the country but fails.
Shif and Bini then find themselves locked in a shipping container in the desert with other poor souls the military deems to be dangerous. The conditions are horrendous, freezing at night and boiling hot during the day, they are allowed out only for a short walk around the camp. Anyone who speaks up or acts against the soldiers' orders is beaten or taken to the dreaded punishment container.
Exhausted, malnourished and terrified, the boys hatch a plan to escape with the help of the older men in their container. They know the border is only a few kilometres away, they know that if they can reach the border their chances of survival rise from 0% to "just slightly above zero."
With the certainty that they won't see their families again, Shif and Bini decide to escape the containers and make a run for it. What follows is a gruelling survival story.
We're never told what country Boy 87 takes place in, but it's a refugee story that many people endure. Shif's tale is devastating, and Fountain tackles the grief and guilt he suffers through with simple yet brilliant writing.
If you're a fan of Refugee by Alan Gratz or the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or The Bone Sparrow, this is the book for you, I highly recommend it for ages 10 and up!
This is my third book for the British Books Challenge 2018. You can find everything you need to know about the Challenge here or you can click on the banner to the right of this post.
This book was also generously provided to the Library by BookTrust, whose School Library Pack provides free books for schools across the UK. You can learn all about the Library Pack here.
Now, on to the review!
Twelve year old Tash lives by very strict rules. In Tibet, you have to follow them if you don't want to be harassed by soldiers. One of those rules is to keep your mouth shut, another is to never look a soldier in the eye and even more importantly, never say the words Dalai Lama.
When a commits self-immolation in protest of the Chinese government's harsh rule, soldiers descend on her village and start rounding up suspected dissidents. When they knock on her door, Tash's father bundles her up with a satchel, some documents and instructs her to run for her life.
Tash's parents are arrested and it's up to her, her friend Sam and their two Yaks to make it to the Indian border and to safety. It's no easy trek, though, with dangerous weather, rocky mountains and the constant threat of government snipers, they have to rely on stealth, cunning and friendship to endure a seemingly impossible journey.
Running on the Roof of the World is a fantastic adventure story set against the backdrop of true events. It's a great opportunity to teach students about human rights abuses currently on-going in Tibet, not to mention a brilliant book overall.
I recommend it for ages 9 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!
Three children, all from different time periods, all trying to escape the horror of war.
This is refugee, a meticulously researched historical fiction about Josef, a boy escaping Nazi Germany with his family, Isabel, a girl escaping Castor's Cuba for Miami in a makeshift boat and Mahmoud, a Syrian refugee desperately trying to get to Germany through whatever means necessary.
Each story is woven against the backdrop of brutal confrontations and callous, uncaring governments more concerned with political manoeuvring than the plight of people who have reached complete rock bottom. Each story is connected, separated only by a few decades.
This is an important read, one that forces you to see the plight of refugees from their perspective. Through this novel we see the desperation, fear, shame and hopelessness that they face on a daily basis.
I'm excited to promote this in the library, I plan on purchasing several copies to ensure my book club gets their hands on it, highly recommended!
It's 1945 and the Nazi army is crumbling.
Four teenagers are on the run from the advancing Soviet army. Tales of their brutality have preceded their arrival.
Each teenager is from a different country but their lives have all been shattered by the war.
Together, they travel across a frozen wasteland towards the only thing that gives them hope: a ship that is evacuating refugees away from the Soviets.
They are frostbitten, starving and terrified. Not only that, they are each carrying with them a dark secret.
As they near their destination, they come to realise that not everything is as it seems within their motley crew of survivors.
This is by far one of my favourite books that I've read in a long time. Based on a nautical disaster that I had never heard of, it is chalk-full of brutal scenes that will make you angry, sad and unable to put the book down.
It's a book about the absolute brutality of war and how it whittles people down to their very core. But it's also a book about how strongly people hold onto hope in the middle of Hell.
I highly recommend this book to ages 13 and up!
Things are gonna get rough.
Beck is the product of a loveless and brief encounter between his poor mother and an African sailor in Liverpool in the early 1900s.
After his mother dies Beck is sent to Canada to a group called The Catholic Brothers which is just as terrifying as it sounds.
Abused at the home, Beck is sent to work as a farmhand where he's treated like one of the animals.
Beck powers through, though, and what follows is a beautifully written tale of extreme hardship and true grit.
Eventually, Beck finds Grace, a woman that understands at least part of his hardships. With Grace Beck finds a glimmer of hope in what has been a cruel and heartless world.
I loved this book, even when it was hard to read sometimes. Peet creates a character that survives against all odds and projects volumes without barely saying a word.
There's been a lot of controversy about this being nominated for the Carnegie Award and the graphic description of abuse and sex. I get that, I wouldn't hand this to an 11 year old. It's for older teens in my opinion. Some have said it's just for adults and I disagree. If an older teen reads this they'll still be here in the morning and they'll be better off for reading it. An amazing tale that should not be missed.
You had me at Nazi motorcycle race to the death.
It's the 1950s and the Nazis have defeated the Allies in WWII. To celebrate, Hitler holds a deadly motorcycle race for teenagers that spans the newly minted Axis continents. The winner meets Hitler on live television at a grand ball held in Tokyo.
Yael is a survivor.
In the camps, she was an experiment for sadistic Nazi doctors. Injected with toxins, she was given an amazing ability, one that ultimately helps her blend in to Nazi society without getting caught.
Now, she must impersonate the best Nazi motorcycle rider in the land. Why? Because she needs to win the race across the continents. She needs to get to that ball in Tokyo, she needs to meet Adolf Hitler so she can assassinate him.
This book is pretty amazing. It has a strong female lead that kicks some serious butt. It has intrigue, danger, history and love all wrapped up into a pedal to the metal motorcycle race that combines threats and dangers worthy of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I loved it, I read it in a day. You will fall in love with Yael and you will be there with her on the back of her bike, rooting her on, picking the dust out of your teeth and watching a darn good story unfold.
I recommend this book to Year 8 and up!