Tag Archives: kids novel

6th Grade Revengers: Cat Crimes and Wannabes by Steven Whibley

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catcrimes6th Grade Revengers: Cat Crimes and Wannabes by Steven Whibley, e-book, 88 pages, published in 2015.

Jared and his best friend Marcus style themselves as The Revengers; a team that takes care of problems in their community. Their first task is to rid the Oak Street neighbourhood of a crazy and evil cat that is ruling the street with his claws and teeth. They also have to do something about Gunner, Jared’s sister’s boyfriend and wannabe pop star. He just hangs about Jared’s house pretending to write music and loafing off Ronie (Jared’s sister). The boys are going to have to be creative to solve these problems, and prove themselves as a team that gets things done.

An easy and quick read, Cat Crimes and Wannabes was entertaining and amusing. There were occasional black and white illustrations among the text, and the chapters were fairly short, good for reluctant readers.

The first chapter was a very clever way to begin the story, introducing Jared and his family. I enjoyed reading about Jared and Marcus and their new business. I especially liked their efforts to banish the evil cat. That was one scary cat! So vicious and aggressive, it was more like a small tiger than a house cat. Jared and Marcus really underestimated how difficult removing such a cat would be, but their efforts were funny.  While Gunner wasn’t dangerous like the cat, he was still an annoying presence who I disliked greatly. The boys’ plan to remove Gunner from their lives was ingenious, and much nicer than things I thought of to do to him!

This is the first book in a series following The Revengers. I had a moment of disappointment when the story finished, as I was expecting it to be longer based on the page count. Instead there was a preview for the next book in the series at the end , and now I want to read that one too!

Cat Crimes and Wannabes is most suitable for middle and upper primary school children into lower high school.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

A Day in the Park by Matt Weiss

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dayparkA Day in the Park by Matt Weiss, e-book, 271 pages, published in 2016.

During a science lesson at school, Ryan’s teacher suggests that he investigate a local park area to look for frogs and frog spawn. Along with his mates, Casey and Jay, Ryan heads to the park, but along one of the trails in the forest, he discovers something else. Even though they do not know what it is, the three boys decide to dig it up and research it.

Overall, I quite enjoyed A Day in the Park. I have an interest in archaeology and palaeontology, so a book about fossils and prehistoric creatures is right up my alley. There were a lot of references to scientific terms and processes during the story, which might throw some readers. However, all of the terms were explained sufficiently for people new to this area of science.

I was surprised the first time that Ryan drifted off into the prehistoric landscape. And I’m still not sure if he was dreaming, hallucinating or actually travelling back in time! There was also no explanation as to how or why he was experiencing these prehistoric travels. These sequences were some of my favourite parts of the story. They were well developed with lovely descriptive language, bringing the prairie and its inhabitants to life.

The boys were average young teens being encouraged to leave their screens behind and find adventures in nature. Jay was definitely the clown of the trio, doing some rather silly, though funny things. Casey was the brains, always ready to investigate things thoroughly, and read extra information. Ryan was kind of in between. He was quieter than Jay, but less studious than Casey. I liked all three, and through the story I learnt plenty about each of them.

A Day in the Park is most suitable for middle primary school to lower high school children. I read the whole book in one day, and it kept me entertained throughout. While I enjoyed it as an adult, I know that I would have loved this book when I was about ten or eleven, so I am recommending it to my ten year old to read.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady G. Stefani

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alienationThe Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady G. Stefani, e-book, 282 pages, published by SparkPress in 2016.

At fifteen, Courtney Hoffman has had to deal with a lot more than most. Her parents are divorced, and her Mum is dating a creepy doctor, her Grandpa tried to drown her when she was seven… and she is being visited by aliens. Could they be real, or is she just losing her mind?

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman was a thrilling and fast paced young adult read. It was quite different to other sci-fi books I have read, blending conspiracy theory and secret societies with alien visitation and apocalyptic action. It captured my interest very quickly, and I found it incredibly hard to put down.

The plot was complex, well written and riveting. I really enjoyed the conspiracy elements, and the mystery surrounding Courtney’s grandfather. The alien legacy was intriguing, though I’m sure it would have been much better for all the young blood-liners had someone told them of their potential for uniqueness prior to the alien visitations!

Courtney did cry more than most heroes, but that just made her seem more believable as a character. I liked her quite a bit, including her quirky fashion sense. I can hardly imagine living with her witch of a mother though; she was truly awful. I spent a lot of time thinking about her mother, and how she just wouldn’t listen to Courtney, and would rather commit her than believe her. And Dr. Anderson was just ick! I was suspicious of him from the start, he was just too weaselly. I was also wary of Haley, who just kept popping up all over the place, and seemed to know more than was good for her. My favourite character though, was Agatha. She was cool. Maybe slightly eccentric, but certainly cool. And if it wasn’t for her, Courtney could never have faced her reality and her future, which wouldn’t have made for much of a story.

Suitable for high school students and up, I highly recommend The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman to any and all fans of sci-fi. Even if you aren’t a huge sci-fi fan, give this book a try, it might surprise you!

 

*I received this book from the author (via @BookTasters) as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

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hiccup1How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, paperback novel, 227 pages, first published by Hodder Children’s Books in 2003, this edition published in 2010.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a boy, but not just any boy, he is the son of the Viking Chief, Stoick the Vast. He is expected to achieve great things and become a Viking Hero. Unfortunately, Hiccup doesn’t seem much cut out for life as a hero; he is scrawny, and already known as Hiccup the Useless by most of the other boys of his tribe. In order to become a full member of the Hairy Hooligans, the boys must pass the initiation tests, including capturing and training a wild dragon.

I’m quite fond of stories featuring dragons; I enjoyed the movie of “How To Train Your Dragon” when I saw it with my kids. I promised myself I would read the books when I had a chance. I was expecting the first book in the series to be similar to the movie, so I was surprised to find the book vastly different. Some of the names are the same, but the bulk of the story was not translated. This was by no means a disappointment though, I thought the book was great. My 9 year old was also very taken with the book, and has asked to read more of the series.

How to Train Your Dragon is funny and action filled, if just a tad silly! It has serious entertainment value, I didn’t want to put it down. It made me laugh and sigh, and glare when Snotlout was being mean to Hiccup. He is quite a bully!

Vikings using small dragons to fish for them is ingenious. Having a dragon companion would definitely have its advantages, though I’d be too afraid to crawl into a dark cave full of sleeping dragons to catch one! Most of the dragons weren’t particularly nice, especially Snotlout’s dragon, nor are they overly loyal. The humongous seadragons were the most arrogant of all. Toothless reminds me of my youngest child: stubborn, disobedient, whiny, always complaining, never stops eating! He is there when hiccup needs him most though. I really like Hiccup and Fishlegs; they aren’t your typical blood-thirsty vikings, but they are trying.

Even the names in this story are humorous. The Hairy Hooligans and the Meatheads are funny names for tribes, but what about names like Fishlegs, Hiccup or Snotface Snotlout? And a dragon called Horrorcow; I love it!

How to Train Your Dragon is suitable for primary school children and up. It is the first in a series featuring Hiccup and Toothless; I want to read all of them and so do my kids. I have already started the second book in the series, How to Be a Pirate.

Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

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upsidedownmagicUpside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins, paperback novel, 196 pages, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2015.

Nory’s magic isn’t quite right. She is trying to learn how to turn herself into a kitten, but every attempt ends in disaster. So when it is time for Nory to enter magic school she is placed in a special class for magical misfits, the Upside-Down Magic class, with a bunch of kids whose magic is also considered not quite right. Here Nory might find acceptance and friendship, but only if she can be herself.

The cute little kitten with dragon wings on the cover piqued my interest, and the story sustained it. I love the idea of an all magic world where everyone has a certain type of magical talent. It would be pretty awesome to change into different animals at will, though Nory’s versions could be a little problematic! Her ‘bitten’ (half beaver, half kitten) antics were very funny, despite the utter destruction she wrought.

The story was an easy read for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, finishing it off in one day. It reminded me a bit of The Worst Witch, with the unintentional consequences of their magic, which often made me laugh. It was just a fun story to unwind with, and I think it would be great for my children to read.

Each child in the Upside-Down Magic class is a little different. They have all experienced bullying or ostracisation to some degree, making them feel alone and frustrated, and wanting to be ‘normal’. By bringing them together in this class, they are able to see that they are not alone, form friendships and question what ‘normal’ really is. The kids were well written and I could see what a day in their classroom would entail. They are all quite unusual with quirky talents. I definitely would not like to turn into a rock every day though! I like Ms Starr’s enthusiasm and confidence, she is an interesting character, whom I am sure will never give up on any of her pupils. And of course, there is the requisite mean kid/bully in Lacey and her group. They were horrible, especially to Elliot, who thought they were his friends.

Upside-Down Magic is a great read for primary school children. I am recommending it to both my 7 and 9 year olds. I am also keen to read the next book in the series, Sticks and Stones.

Nobody’s Story: The First Kingdom by Stephanie Mayor

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1stkingdomcoverNobody’s Story: The First Kingdom by Stephanie Mayor, paperback novel, 248 pages, published by This Story is Mine Publishing in 2016.

The First Kingdom is the second book in the Nobody’s Story series. This book follows on from The Golden Locket, which saw Stephanie, and her cat, Angel, arrive in the land of Metilia after opening her locket for the first time. Now the Familian Princes have arrived in Metilia purporting to want peace between the nations. Whilst Princess Stephanie and her friends are showing the Princes around Yorkyin Land, Stephanie suddenly disappears seemingly into thin air. She finds herself alone in a strange and unknown land. Her journey home is full of danger, excitement and new friends.

I was super excited when The First Kingdom arrived! It had been a long wait, and I was looking forward to a trip into Metilia. It seems first I had to visit with those awful Familian princes, Kirk, Joel and Nathaniel. They are such a scheming lot. Then back to Metilia and beyond, a beautiful country full of talking animals, Princes and adventures. Within this book, you will find clans of big cats and wolves, mysterious strangers, kidnapping witches, giants, exciting new lands to explore and even a dragon!

This fantasy novel is beautifully written with witty characters and an exciting plot. I really enjoyed learning the history of Artinear and Metilia through Zanir’s teachings. Mayor has created a fantasy world rich in culture and history, with many layers still yet to be unravelled. The landscapes are stunning, and the inhabitants intricately described. It was quite eye-opening to visit Camtra and Famila, two countries that are very different from Metilia!

I really loved the new characters, Zanir and Icha. The sly fox, Icha, was particularly funny, while his two little kits were very cute. Zanir was more serious, but still had her moments of humour, and I enjoyed the conversations she had with Stephanie while they travelled. The skirmishes between Angel and Chitchat also made me laugh a lot. Deep down, the feisty cat, Angel really adores Chitchat, despite his squirrelyness, I’m sure of it! Angel generally makes me smile with her sassy attitude and her dislike of all things princely, her fierce loyalty and love for Stephanie and her ability to sleep at the drop of a hat. She was rivalled by the newcomer, Zanir, who also becomes dedicated to protecting Stephanie. It will be interesting to see what sort of relationship Zanir and Angel will develop in the future.

The chapter titles gave me a kick. There were some great puns there, which made me snort-laugh more than once!

The First Kingdom is suitable for middle and upper primary through to high school students, and will appeal to anyone interested in fantasy and adventure. I was ripping along through this book, but I forced myself to put it down, as I just didn’t want it to end yet. Oh, the wait for the next book will be too long…. but it will be oh so exciting when it’s here!

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

Megan’s Brood by Roy Burdine

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megansbroodcoverMegan’s Brood by Roy Burdine and illustrated by Shawn McManus, paperback, 105 pages, published in 2016.

At the start of summer, Megan and her parents moved into a new house, leaving their old home, her school and friends. Megan is not at all happy about the move, but things look up when she discovers a clutch of strange eggs residing in a crack in the wall of her attic bedroom. After watching and waiting for weeks, the eggs hatch revealing a motley crew of small imp-like creatures, each with it’s own distinct look. Megan treats them like her babies, but as they grow some disturbing and unique abilities appear among them.

Megan’s Brood is a quick fantasy read that I knocked over in one session. The pace was good, and the plot interesting. I think I would have freaked out if I located a pulsating, luminescent cocoon in my room, but Megan takes it pretty well. She really cares for the strange little creatures that hatch, attaching to her like chicks to a mother hen. They reminded me of a cross between gremlins and imps, though some were cuter than others. I liked that they were different, and developed various abilities, such as fire-breathing or colour changing. However, I would try very hard not to upset the little fella that uses sulfur as a defense mechanism, euwww!

Each chapter began with a lovely black and white full page illustration. Other pictures were distributed throughout the story, all of which are very nice. I like how Megan is portrayed, just how she is described. The last picture was a bit scary though!

The format and length suggests chapter book, yet I found this incongruous with the characters and storyline. Megan is about to enter year seven, along with her new friends Cutter and Casper, which makes them older by several years than the characters I normally encounter in chapter books. Megan is a teen (or close to) and does things that teens do, suck as thinking about Cutter being her boyfriend, going to a party, and reading horror novels. I don’t think these are things that kids reading chapter books are up to yet. Some elements of the story are also more suitable for an older or more mature audience, such as the deaths of some of the little creatures and the disturbing nature of a few of them. So, I think Megan’s Brood is more of a short novel for kids from upper primary school to lower high school. It may be well suited to older reluctant readers as well, as it has short chapters, broken by the occasional black and white illustration.

I did enjoy this fast fantasy read, and I will be giving it to my fourth grader to read now. Megan’s Brood is the first book in a great new series, with the second book, Megan’s Brood and the Old One coming soon.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Run, Pip, Run by J. C. Jones

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runpipcoverRun, Pip, Run by J. C. Jones, paperback novel, 193 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2015.

On Pip’s tenth birthday her pseudo-grandfather, Sully, has a stroke and is taken to hospital by ambulance. As Pip has no other family, the police insist that they find her a place to stay while Sully is recovering. Pip is determined not to go to the ‘welfare’ people, so she gives them the slip and sets out on a big adventure that includes disguises, hiding, a psychic cat, a scruffy dog and a friendly but persistent cop on her tail.

A wonderful tale of courage, loyalty and adventure. I really got into this story, and ended up reading it all in one day. The plot moved along quickly, and I found myself completely immersed in Pip’s plight.

I loved the Australian idioms and slang scattered through the story, and Pip’s explanation of them. We use these terms in everyday speech, but they are not often translated into our literature. It made me feel very connected to the story.

I thought Pip was a particularly realistic character. She had been brought up by a grandfather figure with little money and was exposed to gambling and drinking at a young age. It seemed unusual to me that a ten year old would be studying the racing form, but it makes sense with Pip’s background. She may have been savvy with the horses, but she was typically ten in other ways! Misunderstanding the type of rehab that Sully would need, and not wanting to get her teacher in trouble, as well as managing to pick up a stray dog! She was also indignant when the papers reported her as being only nine, which made me smile. She was resourceful and full of determination, a very strong character. Matilda was also a good character. She could have easily given Pip up when she discovered her living in an empty house in her street, but she kept Pip’s secret and helped her, like a good friend should.

Matilda’s cat was an interesting addition to the cast. She helped Pip when she needed it the most, but otherwise remained rather aloof in typical cat fashion. Her psychic abilities were quite useful to Pip. I wouldn’t mind a cat like this, especially if she could help me locate my lost keys, phone, glasses, book…

Run, Pip, Run is suitable for middle primary through to lower high school students. It is a fantastic and enjoyable story, great for a range of young readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

* Run, Pip, Run is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Younger Readers category.

 

 

Diary of Anna the Girl Witch by Max Candee

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diaryannacoverDiary of Anna the Girl Witch by Max Candee and illustrated by Raquel Barros, e-book, 117 pages, published by Helvetic House in 2016.

Anna Sophia has lived in an orphanage since she was six. Her early years were spent in the care of Uncle Misha in the wilds of Serbia but she knows nothing about her birth parents or her family. On the night of Anna’s thirteenth birthday she is given some small clues about her heritage, including a carved hand that can come alive! Oh, and she’s a witch with developing powers that she must learn to control. Learning about herself is not the only thing on Anna’s mind though, her best friend was adopted by a rich couple nearby, and now she is acting very strangely. Anna decides to get to the bottom of things, but she may be facing more danger than she could have imagined!

I was captivated by this story from the first couple of chapters. The plot was interesting, engaging and flowed smoothly. I knocked it over quite quickly, enjoying the action and magic. The story was a little dark, but very good. It was short enough not to be intimidating for younger readers, but due to the themes of child slavery and kidnap, it may suit more mature readers, or require some adult guidance. I think it would best suit upper primary school and lower high school students.

I was surprised by the lack of surprise and fear form Anna’s friends when some of her powers were displayed. Instead of being scared or awed, Jean-Sebastien just thought it made her kind of cool in a weird way. I don’t think that’s the sort of reaction that most people would make on discovering their friend can perform magic.

There were some illustrations throughout the book. These were done as mostly black and white line drawings, with just a small part of each picture coloured. This really drew the eye to the coloured object, emphasising it. I liked this touch.

Anna was an interesting character. Each chapter began with a diary entry written by Anna, and then the story was continued from Anna’a first person perspective. I felt like I got to know her better with the addition of the diary entries. She was kind and protective of her friends, and I liked her. She developed much more awareness of herself through the story, learning about her past and about her capabilities. She also learns an important lesson about remaining kind and good, and not letting revenge or malice cloud her heart. This is a lesson we can all take on board.

Squire, the animated hand, was a little creepy! Who enchants a carved fist? He was very helpful for Anna though, and I’m sure he makes a good companion for a witch. He’s much easier to hide than a cat or a toad. I was glad he couldn’t talk though, that would have taken it too far!

Diary of Anna the Girl Witch finishes with and ending designed to lead onto a sequel. I was left wanting to read the next book soon; it promises to be an exciting series.

 

*I obtained this book as a digital copy from Netgalley. I did not receive any other remuneration, and this is an honest review composed entirely of my own opinions.

New Library Additions May ’16

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Added some books to my home library this month!

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Physical Books:

E-books:

What new books did you get in May?