A tragic kind of wonderful by Eric Lindstrom 

 

Author Eric Lindstrom understands teens struggles are real. Mel’s struggles are bigger than some but none the less normal. Especially for teens.

Mel is trying her best. Trying to pretend things are fine and she is fine. Mel is far from fine but she is loved and has great support. Sometimes that isn’t enough.

Teens are hard on each other partly because they are hard on themselves. Mel and her friends are no different.

Mel needs all the strength she can muster to navigate her reality.  The support is there but will she let them help her?

Realistic look at bipolar life in a family that has more than their share.

Funny, sad and uplifting.

“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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Tamar by Mal Peet

Tamar by Mal Peet

Carnegie Medal in Literature (2005)

A vivid story, switching between 1995 and WWII 1945. With twists and turns, action, espionage, romance and misunderstanding.

The first Tamar is a spy working in occupied France during WWII. It is a scary time and he is doing a scary job. Set in the horror and fear of WWII there is passion, jealousy and tragedy.

In the present, Tamar’s Grandfather left her a box of clues when he died. At first she is too upset to open the box. Once she does, she can’t take her mind off it. She enlists a family friend to join her on her quest for answers. They take a road trip through England following the map in the box. Will Tamar find the answers she craves on the way?

Good for 14+.

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

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Milkweed
by Jerry Spinelli

From Goodreads-
He’s a boy called Jew.  Gypsy.  Stopthief.  Runt.  Happy.  Fast.  Filthy son of Abraham.

He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.

Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan.

Mrs Salter’s Review
I was hooked from the start of this story, wondering how a boy with no name and no birthday is managing on his own in Poland as the Germans take control.  He joins a gang of vagrant kids who live rough and later ends up in a settlement and stealing what ever he can in the night.

There is heaps of action and adventure in this story and some very good people to balance out the bad world these orphans are trying to survive in.   The boy who narrates this story has very little concept of the war that rages around him which softens this tragic novel significantly.

I think this is a must read for Year 10 students and leads to much deeper thought and potential for discussion. 

 

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Book 1 of the June Blog Challenge- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusac

The challenge is to blog every day for a month.  While this blog is about the books, not the writer I think the idea will help make it more relevant, if there are more books on it to tempt the reader.  So I’ll start today and highlight the top 31 book in the library in no particular order and why I think so.  Starting with two today because it is the second!

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak  For ages 14+
From Goodreads.com:
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

From Mrs Salter-  I loved this book and it rarely fails to please my customers.  I have a much better understanding about how it must be to live in a country where you do not agree with your government but to stay alive you must appear to.  The hero’s in this book are people who protect others at risk of their own death and those who try to give children a childhood in a time of death and destruction.  I always wondered how life could go on for you if you are living in a war zone, in this book they are and they do it bravely and ordinarily, with no fanfare. 
This is a rare, compassionate book with the unusual twist of being narrated by death’s agent the grim reaper who amazingly is portrayed with a conscience and thoughtful, even commenting on being overworked during war.