Friends by Michael Foreman

13154200Friends by Michael Foreman

A very sweet story of friendship between a cat and a goldfish. Clever, funny and cute.

How can the cat take the fish out to see the world beyond the fishbowl?

Great illustrations.

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Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

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Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose Howard is on the autism spectrum but is verbal and bright. Her family life is a bit tricky. Her solo Dad has vowed not be like his own father. This is a struggle for him. He has a sometime job and spends time at the bar on the corner. Rose spends afternoons by herself and cooks dinner every night. Sometimes her Dad is home to eat with her, sometimes he doesn’t eat at all.
Her Dad’s single brother Wesley is Rose’s ally. When Rose is no longer allowed to ride on the school bus he offers to drive her each morning and afternoon. He also takes her places on the weekends sometimes.

One day her Dad arrives home with a stray dog for Rose. She names him Rain because it was raining when he came into their lives. They don’t look for the previous owner because Rain doesn’t have a collar or tags. Rose and Rain become the best of friends.

Rose doesn’t have friends at school. She struggles with her autism and OCD. She confuses the other children by her outbursts of prime numbers and her obsession with homonyms. Her teacher aid stays with her all day and is helping Rose discover how to relate to others.

A superstorm hits and Rose’s Dad lets Rain out without her collar. Rain becomes lost. It is up to Rose to find her. Uncle Wesley helps her but Rose has to make some big decisions. Rose finds out along the way that she is brave and strong and smart.

Recommended to readers 8+ especially fans of ‘A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”

Earwig and the Witch by Dianna Wynn Jones

 Earwig and the Witch by Dianna Wynn Jones

A cute story about a happy orphan who doesn’t want to be adopted, especially by the strange couple. It turns out the lady is a witch who wants Earwig to work for her. The man is only around at meals, which are mysteriously delivered from local eateries. With the help of the pet cat, Earwig works at turning things around.
I read this in one sitting and think readers 8+ will thoroughly enjoy.

Dunger by Joy Cowley

Dunger by Joy Cowley

New Zealand author alert!

This is a gem, I think Joy Cowley nailed this one, five stars for sure.

The world financial crisis has reached Will and Mellisa’s house and the promised summer trip to Queenstown must be postponed. Instead the brother and sister accompany their elderly grandparents to the old family bach in the Marlborough Sounds. This seems like genuine hardship to the kids considering long drop toilets and zero cell phone coverage, but what happens makes them appreciate life more. Told alternatively by Will and Melissa, you see their confidence, character and relationship develop as they explore a very precious and beautiful part of New Zealand.
This is great for 9+ readers and will appeal to boys and girls.

Lost Riders by Elizabeth Laird

Lost Riders by Elizabeth Laird

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Rashid’s young uncle convinces his widowed mother that her little boys will have a better life overseas.   Unfornatuatly he doesn’t realise until it is too late that the boys are being taken to work as jockeys in the lucrative camel racing business.  Separated, starving and exhausted they

are forced to into the grueling life of  jockeys in the lucrative camel-racing business. They have no choice but to work hard and hope things will improve.

This engaging story about children in harsh conditions with greedy adults who take advantage of them.   Many not nice things happen to the boys but there is enough kindness smattered

throughout the books that hope is not lost.

This book will appeal to younger readers (8+) who like a ‘real’ story.

“Once” series by Morris Gleitzman

Once, Then, Now and After by Morris Gleitzman

A children’s holocaust story.   Not something that everyone could write about,  yet the author of the funny boy books titled Bumface and Toad Away has told Felix’s story in a compassionately readable and well informed way.

Felix is a Jewish boy in Poland during WWII, his parents have done their best to keep him safe but as circumstances change he ends up fending for himself in a hostile world.  He rescues Zelda, a younger girl and their adventure takes realistic turns for the worse with tiny bits of hope along the way.

Felix’s life story is told over the four books.  He is a boy to be admired as his terrible war life is endured.  Morris Gleitzman has presented a story we can read, and not forget. Somehow filled with hope in a hopeless time.

Recommended to readers Year 6, 11+.  Anyone who would have read The Diary of Anne Frank will be absorbed in this series.

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
5 Stars for readers 10+

August, who is 10,  is starting school for the first time.  In and out of hospital all his life, before now he has been home schooled.  He has a facial deformity which he explains by saying no matter how bad it sounds, the reality is worse.  Inside he is just like the other kids, but will the other kids attempt to get to know him, or will they look away and snicker?

This is an uncomfortable yet uplifting story with pages where you laugh and some where you want to cry.  Very thoughtfully  presented for readers of all ages.  Once you look inside August you will be changed forever.