Wayward Son (sequel to Carry On)

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Yup, I still love Rainbow Rowell…

Tell Me

Tell Me: What Children Really Want To Know About Bodies, Sex And Emotions

This book is brilliant! Emily Writes posted it on Instagram as she’s writing a review, so of course I quickly ordered a copy… It’s fantastic. I think it’s translated from a European author (it’s published by Gecko Press in English), which perhaps explains how frank and no-nonsense it is.  Having said that, it’s also incredibly funny and totally age-appropriate for a book about sex and puberty aimed at children! Every page has a hand written picture below an entertaining cartoon illustrating the issue, then the reverse page has the answer.  It’s open, honest and non-judgmental, without ever being unnecessarily graphic; totally worth having around the house for kids to find out answers to life’s burning (and mortifying) questions!

Violence 101

Image result for violence 101"I read this one a month or two ago at the encouragement of one of my NCEA students, and I can totally see how it would appeal to a teenage boy! It follows a 14 year old called Hamish, whose life of crime has led him to a juvenile detention centre, where he quickly establishes himself as king pin.  Unlike most books about troubled teens, Hamish doesn’t have any underlying trauma that has led to his offending – unlike the other kids at the centre – and basically he’s just too clever for his own good (and fancies himself as too badass).  Ultimately he is able to face up to his past behaviour and start to reflect on how he can turn his life around, but not before putting everyone around him through hell first!

Mrs Battleship

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What a spectacular, tiny little book. Tim Tipene is a kiwi author who survived a childhood of devastating abuse at the hands of his parents. As the result of some truly exceptional teachers, he came to understand what love and kindness look like, and was able to make the choice as an adult to live a completely different life to the one he was born into. This short, incredibly easy to read novel delivers what could in another context be called horror stories, in a humourous, touching way.  It’s so easy to read my daughter, who is 7, polished it off in one sitting; her takeaway was that life is hard, but it’s also funny, and you can overcome anything if you have kind people to show you how.  Not a bad message…

Orbiting Jupiter

 

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Oh what a heartbreaking, page-turning, perfectly formed little book! I couldn’t put it down and now I think I need some ice-cream to right the world… This tiny gem of a novel is told from the point of view of 12 year old Jack, whose 13 year old foster brother, Joseph, changes his life completely. Joseph clearly comes from terrible trauma, and has had a hideous time in the juvenile detention system, but his heart remains 100% focused on finding the daughter he’s never had a chance to meet, Jupiter.  The story of how the two boys come to love and trust each other is so perfectly told, and every fiber of my being just ached for Joseph…. A fantastic novel, really easy to read – beautifully paced, written like it could have been told by a 12 year old, nicely spaced out lines – and just unputdownable.

Legacy

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This was kind of amazing but also quite confusing and maybe a little hard to get into… And I’m still not 100% sure what happened in the end. It’s essentially about a teenage boy who falls into his great-grandfather’s story during WWI, after being hit by a bus in the present day.  It didn’t really grab me from the outset, and even once I got into it I was still largely reading to find out how he was going to get back to the present day – let’s just say that it didn’t end how I thought it would! I think I’d recommend this, but it’s definitely complex and you’d want to give it to young people who are interested in war, because they do have to work for it, it’s not an easy read.   Weird. But good. But Weird.