We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
Wednesday is going to be a great day! Rob is meeting Tessa for the first time at the Kings Cross Rail Station in London. Everything is going to plan and he isn’t telling anyone where he is going this time.
On his way to the meeting place, Rob starts to imagine all sorts of creepy dangers that adults warn you about when you are have an online relationship then decide to meet each other in person. Rob is so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he has his own ‘creepy’ encounter with an older man.
This thriller is true to life especially when Rob’s frustration and anger threatens to destroy everything. The story is easy to relate to because we have all had to deal at some time with unrealistic expectations and dangerous situations.
Publishers, Barrington Stoke has also published this as a dyslexia friendly title.
review by Fiona
Image by Jim Linwood
Joseph Romanos has done well with this publication. The book includes a terrific range of male and female sports heroes, those of historical significance alongside today’s stars. It makes for interesting reading and will appeal to sport enthusiasts and those who will pick up the book and become fascinated by the stories of achievement inside. Wood- chopping, kayaking, netball, athletics, tennis and rugby jostle for attention. The language is not technical but dwells on the individual’s personalities in an informative and readable style.
An image of each sports hero accompanies their biography and these vary from action shots to portraits that manage to convey the spirit of the athlete. The book serves as a reminder to readers that Māori and Pakeha have many amazing role models to be proud of.
review by Barbara
Image by Mapperley Jas
This excellent historical novel, set in 6th century BC ancient Greece, incorporates actual characters from the time. In particular the twin princes, Leonidas and Brotus. The author has managed to include an abundance of social history about Sparta and military life when following the early life of Leonidas - the education of Spartan youth was very structured and lasted until they were 21. The royal families and the different social classes depicted in the book create a lively clash of characters and events.
This is the first book in a series and no doubt will end with Leonidas’ last stand at Thermopylae. While there’s a sprinkling of typos throughout this edition it’s a good read nevertheless and would certainly suit years 7-10, especially as a backup to any Ancient Greece study.
review by Phil
Image by Niko978
In the first book The Maze Runner Thomas arrives at a mysterious place named ‘The Glade’ by the teenagers who have been trapped inside it for two years. When two of his friends become caught in the maze at night he runs in trying to save them. He does everything he can to save his friend and ends up tying him up to the wall with vines. He meets up with his other friend and they make it through till sunrise when the maze’s door reopens, something that has never been done before. He then teams up with some of the ‘Gladers’ to solve the mystery of ‘The Maze’. They manage to do it after many bumps in the road and end up at W.I.C.K.E.D, an organisation made of all the governments in the world.
review by Finley White – 13 years old
Image by Tiger Pixel
All New Zealanders should watch this DVD and feel a sense of pride as it reveals how pivotal a group of New Zealand protesters were in showing the world that apartheid was not acceptable. Until that point, New Zealand had largely welcomed any sport interactions with South Africa on any level. The surprise of the South African players when this suddenly was no longer the case is clearly explained in the DVD. As well the realisation that their politics meant that other countries did not want to interact with them really hit home.
South Africa moved into an area of isolation after the Springbok tour which contributed to the end of this abhorrent system. In the DVD notable journalists, politicians and players of that time, speak honestly about the apartheid system and about the part that they played in 1981 tour.
This DVD aptly named The Try revolution is not only an eye opener but a welcome perspective on a topic that is still relevant in New Zealand society. Recommended for intermediate upward.
review by Melissa
Image by Neville10
In this first novel by Mary-Anne Scott, the topics of school balls their after parties, and bullying are tackled head-on.
Finn is 16. He lives in Waimea with his over-anxious mum, his girlfriend and some school mates. When his drug addict father Duggie finds himself charged with manslaughter, Finn’s Grandmother sends him to a boarding school in Auckland to get away from the gossip.
But, adjusting to the new school culture, rich kids and a jealous school bully who knows Finn’s secret, makes settling in difficult for Finn. He does make new friends and soon meets the lovely Mia, the richest girl in the school, who plays in the band. When Mia invites him to the school ball, Finn thinks he’s made. But alcohol and high-jinks around a swimming pool at the illegal after ball party results in a terrible tragedy, and it forces Finn to make a decision that will change his life forever.
Finn is a strong, typical kiwi teen, and boys in particular will relate to him.
review by Joy
Image used with permission
Samuel is a boy growing up in Apartheid South Africa. He knows the memory of the massacre of his parents and sister will never leave him. However his life changing experience begins when his Uncle Sabata recognises his talent for running. His uncle fills his mind with inspirational stories of other people, who like himself have gone on to win laurels at the Olympics in spite of encountering racial prejudice. This motivates him to achieve even higher goals.
Blood Runner is the story of Samuel who makes a decision to fight racial prejudice as a runner even though, at that very time his brothers join the anti-Apartheid movement. James Riordan’s historical novel very cleverly encapsulates Samuel’s endeavour to physically and mentally prepare for his marathon, which in his mind he is running for the freedom of his people. The brief note on Apartheid at the end of the book provides an adequate amount of background for the novel.
I would highly recommend Rebel Cargo and The Sniper also written by James Riordan.
review by Janice
Image by JP-Flanigan
This revised and updated edition is not just a tell-all about the ills of modern slavery. It is a handbook on how you and I can make a positive stand to become abolitionists.
David Batstone systematically goes through all of the regions of the world (sadly, most countries) where some form of slavery operates in the form of sex trafficking, human trafficking, child soldiers, working in factories without pay and being held against one’s will.
This book has a plethora of information that we can call upon to do our bit to be abolish slavery. It is a clever mix of real life anecdotes, contemporary examples of what others are doing and facts and figures from governments to support his argument. Batstone offers several options of how we can contribute to the ‘Not for sale’ campaign which makes the reader feel that however small their efforts are, they count. I hope mine will.
Recommended for intermediate upward.
review by Melissa
Image by TheIRD
Dom has just finished school and is engaged in a painting job at his father’s advertising agency before he starts university. One morning he walks into his father’s office to ask for the keys to his car. Here he gets drawn into a conversation on the benefits of advertising and next thing he knows he’s being thrown a challenge to come up with a pitch to sell toothpaste. Dom’s philosophy it that it is easy enough to write an advertisement and that any ‘monkey’ could do it.
What follows is Dom’s process of due diligence on the campaign. The question raised is why does Dom really want to beat his dad at his own game? The story deals with the serious and humorous side of advertising, a father son relationship and Dom’s learning curve of where he wants to be in terms of a career.
Leonie Thorpe has done a brilliant job of keeping the story light, youthful and purposeful. Also noteworthy is the exposure to the world of advertising which is insightful for anyone wanting to pursue this line of a career.
review by Janice
Image by owly9
George Larson is an 18 year old school boy from Otago, with aspiring dreams of becoming a musician. But everything changes when George notices a spider crawling over his homework book in a repeating pattern - spelling out the word “soul”. His dead granddad starts turning up at night with strange messages that someone is after him, and to try not to get killed! And that George is apparently the only one who can save the world by turning off the “lighthouse”. A Tibetan monk (who likes to “high five”) turns up at George’s house wanting to go on a journey with him. George has so many questions. What is this lighthouse? Why does his dead Granddad keep turning up? Who are the people after him? Where are they going? Why does the Tibetan monk say he has known George for a long time? Can George and Kaisa become more than friends?…
The author, Fredrik Brouneus, was born in Stockholm, but now lives in Dunedin with his family. The Prince of Soul and the lighthouse is his first book in English.
review by Michelle
Image by alijava
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