Monthly Archives: April 2011

Plague by Michael Grant

The Gone Series by Michael Grant is one of the coolest series ever written. It’s just a normal day in Perdido Beach when all the adults (anyone over the age of 14) suddenly disappears and the town is surrounded by an impenetrable wall. You would think that life would be great without adults; you can do whatever you want, when you want to, and eat whatever you like. But when you’ve cut off from the rest of civilization, with a small supply of food and water, life starts to get worse. If that isn’t bad enough, some of the kids in Perdido Beach start developing super powers, including levitation, invisibility, healing, and super-speed. Two groups of kids form; Sam leading the kids from Perdido Beach and Caine leading the kids of Coates Academy. Their new home comes to be called The FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) and as time passes they have to deal with kids who suddenly disappear on their 15th birthday (Gone), a shrinking food supply (Hunger), the manipulation of The Darkness (Lies), and in the latest book, a terrible Plague.

In Plague the darkness has been foiled once again and the resurrected Drake has been contained. But the streets of Perdido Beach are far from safe, with a growing army of mutants fighting against the humans for power in the town. In a small room of a house near the edge of town, Little Pete lies ill on a bed. In his fevered dreams, he continues his battle with the hidden evil that seeks to use his power to bring about anarchy and destruction. The situation in the FAYZ is the worst it’s been but can Sam actually save them all this time?

Plague is a really intense book with some parts that will leave you cringing. I still can’t believe that the characters survived through their challenges. One thing that stands out about this book in the series is that there is some sense of hope, which made me want to read the next book right away (I can’t say any more otherwise I’ll ruin the surprise). I’m amazed at how Michael Grant keeps track of all his characters and how he comes up with new ways to test them in each book. I’ll eagerly await the next in the series, Fear, to see what he has in store for Sam and the kids of the FAYZ. The series is in the Young Adult section so they’re recommended for good readers aged 12 and up.    9 out of 10

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, books, young adult, young adult fiction

Angel Creek by Sally Rippin

Jelly has just moved into a new house, in a new neighborhood that’s far away from all her friends.  If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s having to spend Christmas eve looking after her cousins.  There are only two things she likes about her new home: the old apricot tree  and the creek at the back of the house.  Jelly dares her cousins to go down to the creek and it’s in the creek’s dark waters that they discover a baby angel with a broken wing.  They decide to keep it in a shed at the school and nurse it back to health.

But soon things start to go horribly wrong; her grandmother gets sick, a tree falls on her uncle’s car and there’s  some very strange weather.  Jelly realizes that you’ve got to be careful what you wish for, especially when there’s an angel around.

Angel Creek is a mysterious, spooky story that makes you want to keep reading to find out how it ends.  Like Jelly and her cousins, Pik and Gino, you wonder why there is an angel in the creek and why all these strange things seem to be happening.  Even though bad things keep happening to those around them, the children are really brave and do all they can to protect the angel.  I loved Angel Creek and I’m sure you will too. 

Recommended for 9+   10 out of 10

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children, children's fiction, fantasy

John Stephens talks to NZ about The Emerald Atlas

Stay tuned for our review of The Emerald Atlas tomorrow. If you think it sounds like a book you would love to read, make sure you enter our Week 2 Reading Crusade Challenge for your chance to win a copy (we’ve got 5 copies to give away).

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Do you miss Harry Potter and wish that there was another series you could read that’s similar?  Look no further thanThe Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, a magical new fantasy story and the first in The Books of Beginning Trilogy.

Kate, Michael and Emma have never really known their parents who disappeared in the dead of night 10 years ago.  They were taken by a mysterious stranger, left at an orphanage and have been moved around ever since.  When the children are sent off to another orphanage in Cambridge Falls they think this place will be the same as the last, but they are very, very wrong.  No-one seems to have heard of Cambridge Falls, and they discover that it is kept hidden from the world by a magic spell.   In their new home they meet the mysterious Dr Pym, who Kate seems to recognise.  While exploring their new home, they discover an old leather book and set in motion an ancient magical prophecy which will take them on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Emerald Atlas is a fast-paced, magical adventure through a world filled with dwarves, horrible creatures, a beautiful but sinister witch, and a mysterious book with the power to change the world.  The story will suck you in and keep you guessing to the very end.  I loved the dwarves who always seemed to be cursing and arguing, but pulled together to help the children.  If you love stories like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Series of Unfortunate Events and The Golden Compass, then you’ll love The Emerald Atlas.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children, children's fiction, fantasy

The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else

In the land of Fontania magic has been outlawed.  Ever since The Great Accident, even uttering the word ‘with five letters that began with ‘m’, had a ‘g’ in the middle and ended with ‘c’ was completely and utterly forbidden.’  The land is ruled by the Provisional Monarch, Lady Gall who keeps herself beautiful by injecting a special fluid called Beauteen into her wrinkles.  Jasper’s father, Dr Ludlow, is the inventor of Beauteen and works for Lady Gall, but when Jasper discovers that his sister, Sibilla was poisoned by Lady Gall, the family must escape.  When Jasper falls asleep on the docks, his family leave him behind.  While he’s looking for their ship he finds the Travelling Restaurant, a colourful ship run by Polly and Dr Rocket.  On the Travelling Restaurant, Jasper embarks on a wild adventure across lakes and oceans.  He faces raging rapids, troublesome monkeys and hungry pirates in the search for his baby sister, who might just be the key to saving Fontania.

The Travelling Restaurant is a magical story, set in a magnificent kingdom filled with colourful characters. My favourite character was Jasper, who is an incredibly brave boy who gets into some dangerous situations, in the hope of finding his sister.  The descriptions of the food that they prepare on the Travelling Restaurant will make your mouth water and your stomach grumble.  Barbara Else has created a world that you will never want to leave.  Recommended for 9+     9 out of 10

1 Comment

Filed under books, children, fantasy, New Zealand

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Finn!

Finn Marsh is just an ordinary kid who’s not very good at most things.  When his class has to do a homework assignment about what they’d like to be when they grow up, Finn decides he’d like to be a superhero.  But to be a superhero there are a few things you need, like superpowers, a nemesis, a costume, and you need to save someone’s life.  To finish his homework Finn needs to become Super Finn and, with the help of his friend Brain, he must figure out what it takes to be a superhero.  When Finn’s mum tells him and his brother that they can’t afford to sponsor their World Vision child, Umbaba anymore, Finn realizes that it’s up to him to raise the money to save him.  After their experiments to try and get super-strength and night-vision powers don’t go as planned, Finn and Brain turn to doing dares for money and running a black market junk food business during their lunch break to raise money to help sponsor Umbaba.  Are their crazy schemes enough to help save Umbaba’s life and become a superhero?

Super Finn is the funniest book I’ve read in a long time.  Finn and Brain are cool characters and you might even have kids like them in your class.  The things that they get up to are hilarious and one part of the book, when Finn is in assembly with bags of lollies strapped to his body, made me crack up laughing.  I loved the character of Finn because even though he keeps getting in trouble he doesn’t give up his mission to help Umbaba. Super Finn is Leonie Agnew’s first book and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.  Recommended for 7+     10 out of 10

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children, children's fiction, New Zealand