Tag Archives: children’s fiction

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis

Clueless detective Timmy Failure is back on the case in his latest book, Now Look What You’ve Done.

He doesn t like to pull rank. To reveal that he s this guy: Timmy Failure, founder, president, and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, perhaps the nation. But he is. And he s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. It s his ticket to bringing home a $500 prize, which is guaranteed to set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to game the system. Hoodwink. Con. Defraud. So it s up to Timmy Failure, with the dubious help of Total, his lazy polar-bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, to find a way to avenge these shenanigans. Defeat this injustice. If he can only get his entry form in on time.

If you’re looking for a book full of ‘greatness,’ ‘shenanigans,’ quirky characters and antics that will make you laugh out loud, then Now Look What You’ve Done is the book for you.  Timmy’s latest shenanigans have everything I loved about the first book, but even sillier.  There’s more Molly Moskins, more Total (Timmy’s 1500 pound polar bear partner), more Corrina Corrina (aka The Wedgie or The Weevil Bun), but there are also hilarious new characters, like Timmy’s Great-Aunt Colander (inventor of the Boom-Boom Shoe Wheel).  Stephan’s cartoons are hilarious and add extra humour to the text.  I love the way that they capture Timmy’s somewhat strange outlook on the world.

The thing I love the most about the Timmy Failure books is the language that Timmy uses.  He sounds like a hard-boiled detective, even when he’s talking to his mum.  Kids who read these books will certainly increase their vocabulary.

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.  It has been kid-tested and passed with flying colours.  I read both of the Timmy Failure books to my 10 year old boys and they absolutely love them.  I often hear them quoting things from the books.

Grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

 

 

 

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John Boyne talks about Stay Where You Are And Then Leave

The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight – but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission.

Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name – on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realises his father is in a hospital close by – a hospital treating soldiers with an unusual condition. Alfie is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place

I’m loving John Boyne’s latest book, Stay Where You Are And Then Leave. Here’s John talking about the book

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave is out in bookstores and libraries now.

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My Most Anticipated September New Releases

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy

War has finally come. But it’s not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it’s a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they’re going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making. But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

The Last Thirteen by James Phelan

I click my fingers and everybody dies.

Sam wakes from his nightmare to discover the terrifying reality. It will come true.

Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren’t who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again.

With his life and identity shattered, Sam’s salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all.

He alone can find the last 13.

Are you one of them?

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again…

More Than This by Patrick Ness
A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonising memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this..

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale
Archie Barrington, fifteen, is the third generation of his family to drive karts competitively. He’s good, and this is the year he and his dad have decided he’ll have a shot at the Challenge series of six races. If he comes out the winner overall then he wins the chance to race in Europe.However, he’s not the only good driver after the prize. Craig is his main rival, and Craig’s father is wealthy and prepared to spend whatever it takes to help his son win the Challenge.

Archie doesn’t let Craig worry him, but Silver Adams is another matter. She’s come back into karting after a two-year break and her ambition seems to be to drive her kart like a weapon of destruction to others on the track, Archie in particular.

His life isn’t the smoothest at home either, thanks to Dad’s new girlfriend Erica who, in Archie’s opinion, is ridiculously overprotective of her seven-year-old son Felix. Karting is the last thing in the world she intends for him to do. However, shy, reserved Felix is fascinated by the whole world of karts.

Archie and Craig dice all year – first Archie wins at a Challenge meeting, but next time Craig does. Archie must win the sixth and last meeting if he’s to win the series. All is going well until disaster strikes in the pre-final, when he’s pushed off the track and breaks an axle. That’s it. Craig will go to Europe but he won’t. Then Silver comes to the rescue unexpectedly and Archie is able to drive the race of his life.

Meeting Cezanne by Michael Morpurgo
When Yannick learns that he is to stay with his Aunt Mathilde in the South of France, he cannot believe his luck. If the paintings of his mother s beloved Cezanne are to be believed, surely Provence is paradise itself. So begins an idyllic month for the young boy: roaming the gentle hills and rolling valleys of Aix-en-Provence, daydreaming about his beautiful cousin Amandine; helping in his aunt and uncle s bustling village inn in the evenings; feeling that he has come to the most wonderful place in the world. Then one evening the idyll is spoilt when an important local comes for dinner and Yannick accidentally destroys a precious drawing the man leaves behind. He could never have imagined that his mother s hero, the world-famous Cezanne, would come to his inn, and sit at one of his tables! Yannick is devastated by what he has done, and resolves to make things right. But in so doing he makes a surprising discovery.

Just So Stories, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
“Once upon a time, O my Best Beloved …” So begins this classic collection of gloriously fanciful tales of how things in the world came to be as they are. Here is the story of how the lazy camel found himself with a hump and how the insatiable curiosity of the elephant earned him his long trunk. Of how the whale was given a throat, and why every rhinoceros has great folds in his skin and a very bad temper. Here too, we fi nd out about the cunning cat that walked by itself, and how clever little Taffy and her Daddy Tegumai made the fi rst alphabet. Rudyard Kipling first entertained his own children with these delightful, warm and humorous stories, which he later wrote down for publication in 1902.  Conjuring up distant lands and exotic jungles, they are bewitching for both children and adults. In this sumptuous volume, which includes the often missing thirteenth story, “The Tabu Tale” (which Kipling added for the American edition in 1903). Kipling’s unforgettable cast of extraordinary animal characters is brought to life in stunning new illustrations by the award-winning illustrator Robert Ingpen.

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape – both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life. The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths – and she’s about to live them both. Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…

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Guest Post: Justin Brown on Shot, Boom, Score!

Justin Brown is a New Zealand author whose first children’s book, Shot, Boom, Score! has just been published by Allen and Unwin.  Shot, Boom, Score! is a hilarious story about a boy who is promised a Gamebox V3 by his dad if he scores 20 wickets in cricket and 10 tries in rugby, but is foiled at every turn by the class bully.  Justin has written a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books about writing and how Shot, Boom, Score! came to be.

‘If you dedicate your next book to me I’ll give you $1.20.’

This opportunity, offered to me by a boy named Kit at a school talk in Nelson, sums up why I write for kids. They have no fear and no filters. Their heads aren’t clogged with mortgages, work woes or what to cook for dinner. Okay, so they’re not allowed ice cream for dinner, or to stay up past ‘X-Factor,’ but nothing tops climbing trees, licking the bowl or having a fist fight with your best mate.

For the past ten years I’d focused on writing non-fiction travel (‘UK on a G-String,’ ‘Bowling Through India’) as well as humour (‘Kiwi Speak,’ ‘Rugby Speak’). In truth, I wanted to write middle-grade fiction, like my hero Roald Dahl. But first I had to meet someone who knew what they were doing. That someone was Joy Cowley, who I accosted one day at the Story Lines festival in Auckland. A few days later – when she’d read my stories – she agreed to be my ‘Yoda.’ We worked together on many titles for McGraw Hill and Clean Slate Press. She is a very generous and smart lady.

Then one day I had the idea for ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’. It came while on the sideline at my daughters’ soccer match. Like many Kiwi kids, sport played a major role in my childhood. As did rewards for doing well. Many a parent has bribed their kids with a ‘pie for a try’ or ‘movie tickets for a wicket.’ With Toby in ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ I wanted to take this theme to a new level. Here is a boy who struggles with school, but excels at sport. When his father sets him the GameBox V3 Challenge Toby thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Sadly, he hasn’t accounted for class bully Malcolm McGarvy – who does his best to ruin the party.

Kids can be ruthless critics. If something stinks they’ll let you know. So it was with a certain amount of relief when my nine-year-old daughter Sophie (who was having ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ read to her class) came home and said, ‘Dad, even the bullies love this story – and they never share their feelings!’ Here’s hoping many other kids enjoy the book.

PS. I did end up dedicating a novel to Kit, but as of yet haven’t seen any money.

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My Top 10 NZ Read Alouds

There are lots of New Zealand books for children that are great read alouds, either to share one-on-one with your children or in a classroom.  Here are my Top 10 NZ Read Alouds, some old and some new (in no particular order).

Red Rocks by Rachael King

Red RocksWhile holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Can he put things right before it’s too late?

Suggested read aloud age: 9+

See Ya Simon by David Hill

Simon is a typical teenager – in every way except one. Simon likes girls, weekends and enjoys mucking about and playing practical jokes. But what s different is that Simon has muscular dystrophy – he is in a wheelchair and doesn t have long to live. See Ya, Simon is told by Simon’s best friend, Nathan. Funny, moving and devastatingly honest, it tells of their last year together.

Suggested read aloud age: 11+

The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

Suggested read aloud age: 8+

Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley

Snake is elegant and calm, and a little self-centred; Lizard is exuberant and irrepressible. Even though they’re opposites, they are good friends. With its wisdom, acceptance and good humour, Snake and Lizard captures the essence of friendship.

Suggested read aloud age: 7+

Steel Pelicans by Des Hunt

Sometimes friendship and loyalty can be dangerous things – especially when fireworks are involved. Inseparable Aussie friends dare-devil Dean and tag-along Pelly often get up to no good. That’s what makes them the Steel Pelicans. But as Dean’s homemade fireworks get increasingly dangerous, things start going wrong, and Pelly’s parents hasten a move back to New Zealand. After living most of his life in Australia, Pelly feels like he’s been dumped in a foreign land with no friends and a school that doesn’t care, until he joins up with Afi Moore and is invited to stay the weekend at the Moores’ seaside bach. Then the pair stumble on a smuggling operation and find themselves deep in trouble, which only gets worse when Dean comes over for the holidays. In no time at all, Dean’s obsession with explosives threatens not only the investigation but also their lives.

All of Des Hunt’s other books are great read alouds too.

Suggested read aloud age: 10+

Northwood by Brian Falkner

Cecilia Undergarment likes a challenge. So when she discovers a sad and neglected dog, she is determined to rescue him. No matter what. But her daring dog rescue lands her in deep trouble. Trouble in the form of being lost in the dark forest of Northwood. A forest where ferocious black lions roam. A forest that hides a secret castle, an unlikely king and many a mystery. A forest where those who enter never return. But Cecilia is determined to find her way home. No matter what.

Suggested read aloud age: 9+

Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale

Juno is young; she has no authority, no power, and to question the ways of Taris is discouraged. She knows what it’s like when the community withdraws from her – turning their backs and not speaking to her until she complies.The Taris Project was the brainchild of a desperate twenty-first-century world, a community designed to survive even if the rest of humanity perished. An isolated, storm-buffeted island in the Southern Ocean was given a protective dome and its own balmy climate. And now Juno is one of 500 people who live there – but what has happened to the outside world in the years since Taris was established? The island has not been in contact with Outside since the early years of its existence.Juno yearns to know about life Outside, just as she yearns to be allowed to grow her hair. It is a rule on Taris that all must have their heads shaved bare. But is it a rule that could be broken? Danger awaits any who suggest it.

Suggested read aloud age: 11+

Super Finn by Leonie Agnew

When Mr Patel asks his class what they’d like to be when they grow up, Finn (most famous for getting in trouble and doing stupid things) chooses ‘superhero’. With his friend Brain, the two boys make a list of things needed to be a superhero, including superpowers and saving someone’s life. Can Finn use his superpowers to help save his World Vision sponsored child? Sometimes, despite the best intentions, things don’t always work out as planned. Join the hilarity as the boys’ money-making scheme comes unravelled. Look out, world …here comes Super Finn!

Suggested read aloud age: 7+

The Wolf in the Wardrobe by Susan Brocker

Finn had seen those eyes before. They were golden yellow, like the colour of the moon hanging low in the sky. And they were full of pain. When Finn comes across a car accident, little does he realize his life is about to change forever. The huge, injured animal he discovers is no dog – but a wolf, escaped from the circus. Finn is bewitched. Instinctively, he knows he must save the wolf, Lupa, and prevent her return to the cruel circus. Where to hide the wolf, and how to feed her, are just the beginning of Finn’s problems. For the sinister circus clown, Cackles, is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to get Lupa back. But Cackles doesn’t even like wolves, so why is he so determined to get her? In a race against time to save Lupa, Finn gets help from unlikely quarters. But will it be enough?

Suggested read aloud age: 10+

2Much4U by Vince Ford

Summer. A time for swimming, tennis, picnics and fun for everyone.  Everyone, that is, except Davin.  Davin has to work.  He has to work to earn money to buy his mother a new car.  The other car had an accident, and although his mother believes she left the handbrake off, Davin knows that he is responsible.  Feeding fierce dogs, riding horses, spraying ragwort  – these are just some of the jobs he gets offered in answer to his advertisement.  2MUCH4U is a great way to make money, but The Great Car Challenge sounds like the perfect answer.  Bullies, cheats and first love conspire against him but Davin knows he must win.  Holding onto a car for the longest time – no problem.

Suggested read aloud age: 10+

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Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

Des Hunt is one of my favourite New Zealand authors because he writes action-packed adventure stories set in New Zealand.  The setting is always so important in his stories and Des has introduced Kiwi kids to parts our beautiful country that are both familiar and unexplored territory for them. In his latest book, Phantom of Terawhiti, Des takes us to Wellington’s wild southwest coast and introduces us to Zac, who stumbles on an interesting discovery.

It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.

Phantom of Terawhiti is an action-packed adventure story, packed with mystery,  armed and angry Russians, brainless hunters, wild weather, a car chase, and a race against time.  Des Hunt is a gifted storyteller who never fails to write a story that grips readers and makes you keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In Phantom of Terawhiti there are plenty of heart-stopping moments, especially when Zac and Jess clash with the Russians.  The mystery of the ‘Phantom of Terawhiti’ draws you in and, even when the creature is revealed, you wonder how it will survive in the wild with the hunters trying to track it down.

Like the main characters in his other books, Zac and Jess are just normal Kiwi kids, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time).  Zac gets dragged by his dad to come and live on the remote Terawhiti Station, and it’s while he’s here that he discovers the wreck of the yacht and the paw prints in the sand.  When they discover the Phantom of Terawhiti, Zac and Jess know that they must do everything they can to protect it.  Kiwi kids will relate to Zac and Jess and will imagine themselves in their shoes.

Phantom of Terawhiti is one of Des Hunt’s best books so far and I can’t wait to see where in the country he will take us to next.

4 out of 5 stars

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Introducing Timmy Failure and Total Failure, Inc.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis is the funniest book you’ll read this year.  With its mix of text and hilarious cartoons it’s sure to be a hit with Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans.  This book should come with a guarantee – “If you don’t laugh out loud at least once we’ll give you your money back!” It’s due out in March and you can watch these very funny videos below to meet Timmy Failure, his friends and his enemies.  There is also a really cool Timmy Failure website you can visit to find out more about the book and the author – www.timmyfailure.com

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My Most Anticipated March New Releases

A Necklace of Souls by R.L. Stedman (NZ)

In the Kingdom of the Rose only the power of the Guardian’s necklace can keep the people safe from the forces threatening to destroy it. In a hidden kingdom a mysterious Guardian protects her people with the help of a magical necklace. But evil forces are also seeking the power of the necklace, and as the Guardian grows weaker these forces threaten to destroy the kingdom. With the help of her best friend, Will, and the enigmatic N’tombe, Dana, the rightful heir, must claim the power of the necklace and save her people. But the necklace takes a terrible toll on whoever wears it – a toll that Dana may not be prepared to face. A NECKLACE OF SOULS was the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for unpublished young adult fiction in 2012.

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises

The day after twelve-year-old Jack McKinley is told he has six months to live, he awakens on a mysterious island, where a secret organization promises to save his life – but with one condition. With his three friends, Jack must lead a mission to retrieve seven lost magical orbs, which, only when combined together, can save their lives. The challenge: the orbs have been missing for a thousand years, lost among the ruins and relics of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With no one else to turn to and no escape in sight, the four friends have no choice but to undertake the quest. First stop: The Colossus of Rhodes … where they realise that there’s way more at stake than just their lives.

The Book of Doom by Barry Hutchison

Heaven has lost the most important object in existence and getting it back is gonna be Hell … The second hilarious book in Barry’s AFTERWORLDS sequence – comic fantasy perfect for fans of Pratchett and Douglas Adams. There’s panic up in Heaven. They have mislaid the BOOK OF DOOM – the most important object in existence. Oopsy. They think Satan might have stolen it, the sneaky little devil, so to save the world – plus, you know, quite a lot of embarrassment, fifteen year old Adam and his angelic guide Angelo are sent to retrieve it. Sadly directions aren’t Angelo’s strong point and they soon find themselves just as lost as the book, wandering through Afterworlds such as Valhalla and Hades and encountering some colourful characters along the way… Can the hapless pair make it to Hell and back?

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure – the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large
polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile – Timmy’s mom’s Segway – and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won’t have to stress out about the bills anymore.

Fearless by Cornelia Funke

After saving his brother, Jacob Reckless faces death from the fairy’s curse burning in his heart. In search of a cure he returns to the Mirrorworld, where he is reunited with Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting girl. He has one more chance: a golden crossbow, with the power to both save and destroy life, buried in a dead king’s tomb beneath an invisible palace. Jacob must cross continents, face monsters and men – including a dangerous rival – and learn what it means to stay alive.

A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (NZ)

Taken from their home, forced to leave their country, put to work in labour camps, frozen and starved, Adam and his family doubt that they will ever make it out alive. Even if they were to get away, they might freeze to death, or starve, or the bears might get them. For the Polish refugees, the whole of the USSR becomes a prison from which there is seemingly no escape.

Zom-B City by Darren Shan

How many survived the zombie apocalypse?
Where do the living hide in a city of the dead?
Who controls the streets of London?
B Smith is setting out to explore…

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A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo has written some of my favourite stories – Private Peaceful, Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, and Shadow.  He one of the best storytellers around.  Michael’s latest book, A Medal for Leroy, is inspired by the life of Walter Tull, the only black officer to serve in the British Army in the First World War.

Michael doesn’t remember his father, who died in a Spitfire over the English Channel. And his mother, heartbroken and passionate, doesn’t like to talk about him. But then Michael’s aunt gives him a medal and a photograph, which begin to reveal a hidden story.

A story of love, loss and secrets.

A story that will change everything – and reveal to Michael who he really is…

A Medal for Leroy is a story of war, love and family secrets.  Like many of Michael’s other stories, it’s told from the point of view of someone who is old (in this case Michael) looking back at his life and telling the reader the story of what happened.  I really like this style of storytelling because it makes you feel like you are just sitting down for a cup of tea with the main character while they tell you the story.  Michael tells us that he never knew his father because he died during the war, but his mother and his aunties love him very much.  When one of his aunties dies, she leaves a special package for Michael, full of family secrets.  In this package, Michael learns about his auntie’s life and about the father he never knew.  Her story is heart-breaking, but with moments of happiness and hope.

Once again, Michael Morpurgo has written an emotional story that you get caught up in.  Even though the war is happening, you hope that everything is going to be fine, that Martha will meet Leroy again, and her father will welcome her home.  As always, Michael presents the realities of war to portray what life was like during this horrible time.  Even though Michael has returned to a topic that he has written about many times before, A Medal for Leroy, is a different story and just as wonderful as his other war stories, like Private Peaceful, War Horse, and An Elephant in the Garden. You can read more about the person who inspired this story, Walter Tull, at the back of the book too.

4 out of 5 stars

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 3 copies of A Medal for Leroy to give away.  Enter here for your chance to win a copy.

 

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Shrunk! by F.R. Hitchcock

Have you ever made a wish on a shooting star?  Tom has, but his wish has gone horribly wrong.  Now he can shrink anything he likes and it’s going to get him in a whole heap of trouble.  Read about Tom’s misadventures in F.R. Hitchcock’s wonderful new book, Shrunk!

After Tom moves in with his grandmother next to the Bywater-by-Sea Model Village, he makes a wish on a shooting star and gets the curious ability to shrink things. The first thing he shrinks is Jupiter, then some sheep and a boat.

But without Jupiter in place, the Earth is slowly being drawn towards the Sun. With the angry (and miniaturised) school bully yelling from his pocket, Tom has to return Jupiter and save Earth — all while trying to make friends in his new home.

Shrunk! is a wacky, weird and wonderful little story full of hilarious antics.  It’s so nice to read a story for children that feels really fresh and completely different.  There’s something for everyone in this wonderful story – wishes gone wrong, missing planets, meteors crashing to earth, shrinking animals and people, horrible little boys, a race against time, and lots and lots of laughs.

I love all the characters in the book, from Tom who ends up with a rather useless and annoying power, to his Grandma who knows more than she’s letting on, his unfortunate, geeky friend Eric, Eric’s dad who believes he has been abducted by aliens, and Jacob the big (or should that be small) bully.  The hilarious antics of the characters will have children cracking up laughing, especially Jacob vs. the squirrel.

Shrunk! is F.R. Hitchcock’s first children’s book and I hope I get to read many more of her stories.  Shrunk! is perfect for children who like funny stories or stories with a touch of magic or science.  It’s a great book for children to read themselves and it also works really well as a read aloud (for around 8 years and older).  It’s a short read too so it’s great for reluctant readers.

5 out of 5 stars

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