Welcome back for July and another round of great children’s and young adult books.
Five absolutely lovely reviews for this last month – I highly recommend going and reading them in full.
Two of our reviews deal with books about dogs. Jess looked at Oh, Albert! by Davina Bell and was thoroughly won over by this all too realistic story of owning a dog who can be frustrating at times, but it very completely part of the family:
“What I particularly loved about this book was the instance that pets of any kind are family. We treat them much the same as any other family member – yelling at them and growing frustrated when they interfere with something we’ve done/need or eat something they shouldn’t have – but the minute they are in trouble, we are there for them through thick and thin.”
Brona, who is looking at CBCA nominated books, reviewed My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester which is nominated for Early Childhood Book of the Year. She talks of the simple description and fun language that fill this book, great for a young listener.
Another Early Childhood nominee Brona looked at was Mr Huff by Anna Walker. Mr Huff depicts negative thoughts and what can happen if we let them take over. It sounds like a big topic for a young audience, but as Brona points out:
“There is something about the sensitivity and quirkiness of her books that appeal to young children (and their adult readers alike). Her pencil, ink and collage illustration are attractive and engaging. They subtly convey the various moods within the story.”
I really appreciated the way Brona looked at the judges criteria for the CBCA awards, particularly for picture books where there is a focus on the unity between text and pictures. This came up in One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly which tackles the weighty topic of landmines in South East Asia. Brona admits that she wasn’t sure how this book could work, or that it did at first, but multiple readings and the background information provided through a website helped her admire the book and its aims.
Finally, Brona looked at Flight by Nadia Wheatley, also nominated in the CBCA picture book category. This story matches the old and new stories of refugees:
“Wheatley and Greber draw many more parallels between the plight of the refugees of old and the current refugee crisis. They show the age old difficulty of all refugees in finding a safe haven, being turned away by the locals and locked out by authority figures. They highlight the worry, the danger, the hunger, thirst, fear, sickness and insecurity that is the lot of refugees of any era.”
Shaheen reviewed A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty, the final book in the Colours of Madeleine trilogy. She found it sad to have the series round up, but was pleased to have her questions answered.:
“There’s a lot going on this book. Secrets are revealed, mysteries are unravelled, and everything comes together in a beautifully complex way. Moriarty has handled the many elements of her narrative superbly. The pacing doesn’t falter, the richness of the characters isn’t compromised, and the author unravels her narrative to reveal her creative genius again and again. It’s brilliant, providing unexpected twists and turns that will have readers compulsively turning the pages.”
Shaheen also looked at Afterlight by Rebecca Lim, but although she found the story enjoyable, she felt that it did’t meet its full potential, with beautifully blended storylines that never reach their full conclusion.
Cassandra highly recommends The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil, calling it the perfect holiday read.
“She has this knack for capturing the issues that your typical teenager goes through (what will I do when I grow up, how do I handle this new relationship) while adding a touch of geekery that appeals to my nerdy heart.”
Shaheen brings us another highly recommended book with Waer by Meg Caddy, a story about people who happen to be werewolves in a well crafted fantasy world:
“The descriptions are lush and the prose is gorgeous! It’d be worth a read just for that alone, but the plot is amazing as well. There are lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing and Caddy pulls no punches in this story.”
Despite others hinting that I am supposed to ‘grow up’ at some point, books for young people continue to play a huge part in my reading life. This has served me well, when I became a teacher and was known for always having a book recommendation at hand. I’m currently enjoying the rich world of picture books with my three year old and newborn, revisiting some of my favourite authors and reviewing books when I manage not to lose my blog . . .