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.

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.

The Brain Sucker by Glen Wood

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Callum lives with his Grandmother, he’s not sure where his Mum is she left a few years ago.  The story opens on his 13th birthday,  his Gran has bought him the Thunderkit X5 All-Terr
he meantime the dastardly Lester is trying to suck the goodness out of society.  Lucky Callum has his inventive and feisty friend Sophie and his other best friendain wheelchair, he had wanted one for ages.  His Gran is the best at looking after him, but they need to prove to social services that she is up to the job.  In t
Jinx to help him.
I really enjoyed this book and recommend to readers 9+. Strong kid characters, what was especially refreshing about it was that the hero is a boy in a wheelchair. Very empowering, relating how he tries to be independent as much as possible.

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

Barnaby floats, he can’t keep his feet on the ground for more than a few seconds. His parents don’t like it, they just want a ‘normal’ life. They decide that they must let Barnably go and the Mum takes him for a walk and ‘loses’ him along the way. This is where Barnaby’ s adventures start. While this could spell disaster, Barnaby has some luck, meets some kind people, learns about other people who aren’t ‘normal’, gets helped, helps others and runs into an old friend. Over time Barnaby starts to wonder what is ‘normal’ and is it really such a good thing to aspire to.

ImageEven knowing what his mother did he wants to get home, he misses his brother and sister. The family pet Captain W E Johns hasn’t been the same since Barnaby left, he knows what happened on the ‘walk’. Barnaby is a thoughtful and forgiving boy, he faces his challenges bravely and learns character along the way.

I liked this book and think readers 10+ will enjoy Barnaby’s story. It’s message is simple and rings true- it’s okay to be different. Author John Boyne who also wrote “The Boy With Striped Pajamas” takes a light hearted look at society and we all can learn from Barnaby’s story.