“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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Tough Enough by Tania Hutley

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New Zealand Author Alert!

I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up this book.  I’m glad I finally did.  Set in New Zealand, Matt and his solo Mum go to a caravan park on the beach for the summer.  He meets the locals, and sets out to prove himself with surprising consequences.
This is a believable, fast paced story with a young adult character who has character. I will be pushing this on EVERY boy ages 10 – 14 and maybe even the older reluctant reader.  Girls will like it too.

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Green is on her own, the world is ash around her and her family is gone.

This apocalyptic story engrosses my readers (12+).  The girls especially like it.  While it is a slim book it gives the reader a lot to think about.  Because it is a slim book more are willing to try it.

I once I read this review on Goodreads I realized that I could never do a better job of explaining the nuance of this book.  

The Recruit – CHERUB #1 – Book 10

SAM_8579The Recruit

CHERUB #1

By Robert Muchamore

From Goodreads-

CHERUB agents are all seventeen and under, and look like regular kids. But they’re not. They are trained professionals who are sent out on missions to spy on terrorists and international drug dealers. CHERUB agents hack into computers, bug entire houses, and download crucial documents. It is a highly dangerous job. For their safety, these agents DO NOT EXIST.

James is the latest CHERUB recruit. He and his sister were recently orphaned, and James has been in a lot of trouble. But he is brilliant in math. And CHERUB needs him. After one hundred days, the grueling training period is over. But the adventure has just begun.

From Mrs Salter

The CHERUB series is very popular in the library with intermediate students and it’s a gateway for those who do not enjoy reading.  For many it is their first positive reading experience.  I took the first one home, The Recruit, after a couple of years to see what it was all about, I was back the next day to get some more and finished the first nine books in just over a week.  Before that I only recommended to boys, not realizing all the really strong girls in the stories, now it is just as popular with the girls.  I have four copies of the first and multiple copies of the rest because once a student starts enjoying it they want their friends to as well.  What more could a school librarian say to endorse a book?

A few years ago I read that some libraries were concerned with the subject matter, the violence and that the rape made it unsuitable for students – there is no rape in any of the books.  Yes, the kids do go undercover and do witness and become involved in the seedy side of life, but that is part of the appeal to my readers, to see sides of life they will never experience (I do hope so anyway).  What makes these books better than others is they are well researched and inform the reader of topics in the headlines i.e. using animals in science, being lead into a powerful cult, becoming a victim of human trafficking, all real life dramas with life lessons thrown in.  

Personally I think Mr Muchamore has created a realistic, believable fantasy for my readers to enjoy, learn from and share with their friends.  Parents could also enjoy the series, I did.

The Game Butcher: Wild About Meat by Darran Meates


I have quite a few boys in my library who will read anything about hunting.  The have devoured  Barry Crump, All Lester,  guns and rifle books  and themed magazines.  I discovered The Game Butcher: Wild About Meat by Darran Meates and thought it could be an addition to my collection.

Well, I underestimated how passionate these boys are about expanding their  hunting know-how, they LOVE this book. The caretaker was the first to put his hands on it and he quickly asked me to purchase a copy for him. The first student I showed it to took it without issue in his excitement (yes, it was a genuine mistake).

Blurb from Huia Publishers-

This book on processing wild pigs and deer is written by Darran Meates, one of the country’s leading butchers of game meat.

With practical down-to-earth text and over 250 photographs, The Game Butcher shows how to field dress, skin and butcher pigs and deer, caping techniques, food safety information for game hunters and even recipes for venison and wild pork.

It also tells the inspirational story of The Game Butcher, Darran Meates, from leaving school at fifteen and taking up a butchery apprenticeship to running his own business and fronting a television hunting show, and his lifelong passion for hunting.

A review from one of my readers favorite magazine- NZ Pig Hunter –     Two words describe this book very nicely… totally comprehensive.  It covers everything you need to know.  This would have to be the best illustrated hunting type book I have ever come across.  Apart from the obvious quality of the contents, the format and arrangement of the material is brilliant…’ Review NZ Pig Hunter June/July 2011

As a border line vegetarian  I will never read this book, a quick skim shows many action shot photos of butchering. Although there is nothing blood and guts about the photos there is plenty of blood and guts, as well as  recipes, food safety, all wrapped up in an inspirational biography of a boy who didn’t do well in school making a success of his life.

I’m excited that this is a New Zealand story, I expect that it will have an audience well beyond our borders.

Lauren Kate – the girls love her

Fallen Torment, Passion and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove are new favorites in my library.  I hadn’t even heard of them when a non-reader who had been given Torment, asked if I could get Fallen for her. As I never want to miss the opportunity to hook  a new customer I ordered straight away.  Before it had arrived I had other girls coming to ask about the series, so the book was reserved before I even had it.

I now have the first three of the Fallen series and Natalie Hargrove and they are never on the shelves. Some prefer Natalie but most are completely taken by the romance of the Fallen Series.  My readers and non-readers are all enjoying the series, which is a great accomplishment for an author and makes the experience more enjoyable for the readers being able to share a book.

I finally took Fallen home for the weekend.  I’m sorry to say that I didn’t love it. I wish I had.  While it is much more fun to enthuse about a book and fan the flames, I just can’t do it.  I do understand why the girls love it, I think this is a case where I am just too old to fall for the drawn out “will he won’t he, does he doesn’t he”.

That hasn’t stopped me from recommending the book- I just say  “so and so loved this”  and it hasn’t stopped the books from flying off the shelves because many times the students are better at recommending to each other and a word of mouth sensation doesn’t need the librarian to sell it.

So the countdown begins, they can’t wait for the conclusion to Fallen, titled Rapture due out in June 2012,  I will pre-order and encourage them to try other authors while they wait. Thank you Lauren Kate for grasping the teenage girl mind and talking to them, they do appreciate it.