This sweet, old-fashioned historical romance for teens introduces some characteristically Ibbotson elements: a strong female character who—though born...moreThis sweet, old-fashioned historical romance for teens introduces some characteristically Ibbotson elements: a strong female character who—though born into the aristocracy—isn't afraid of hard work; an interesting hero who is sensitive enough to value character above empty beauty; a Downtown Abbey-like setting; and an evenly paced and pleasantly readable narrative.
A few passing references could have been omitted, but for the intended readership they could be passed over without too much notice: a man finds a woman bathing in a lake and sees her without clothes—not much attention is given to it and there is no description; and an older man makes passes at housemaids.(less)
Sent to live with distant relatives on a rubber plantation in Brazil, Maia must leave her cosy boarding...moreA girl, a jungle, and a missing inheritance...
Sent to live with distant relatives on a rubber plantation in Brazil, Maia must leave her cosy boarding school in London for the unknown wilderness of the Amazon jungle.
Contrary to expectations, however, this inspires neither dread nor fear in Maia who is captivated by the land, the people, and in particular, by one adventure-loving boy. It is the thought of being cooped up in a British colonial house with her impossible twin cousins that Maia really fears.
Ibbotson’s tale is brimming with the joy of life characteristic of her best children’s stories. Her characters inspire a love for learning and a passion for exploration, whether they are canoeing through the wild Brazilian jungle or delighting in a treasured book of poetry. They also make dear the refined simplicity of true friendship against the comical misery of selfishness.(less)
Another series by this gifted author looks at the world from the perspective of second-grader Alvin Ho. Alvin is scared of everything: trains, bridges...moreAnother series by this gifted author looks at the world from the perspective of second-grader Alvin Ho. Alvin is scared of everything: trains, bridges, substitute teachers, girls, school... everything.
Thankfully, he still manages to get up to mischief, catching chicken pox to get time off school, and scaring himself speechless by believing that his elderly piano teacher is the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel...
But he’s also working hard to live up to his father’s gentlemanly standards which include ‘no hitting, no insulting, no making anyone cry – even if she is a girl, and no Shakespearean style curses, unless they’re just for fun’.
Alvin Ho has the same appeal as Wimpy Kid but for a slightly younger audience, and I'd say it’s even better.(less)
This book goes deep into the heart. Berra doesn’t have a grandfather, though he’d really like one. So his friend Ulf takes him to the local retirement...moreThis book goes deep into the heart. Berra doesn’t have a grandfather, though he’d really like one. So his friend Ulf takes him to the local retirement home where they meet Ned, who “looks about old enough”, they reckon.
Old Ned is a bit surprised to learn he’s Berra’s grandfather, but it doesn’t stop him welcoming them with open arms, “There I was, just sitting and feeling a bit lonely, and then you came along!”
They come back day after day, taking tea in the cafeteria to the delight of the other residents. Swedish author Ulf Stark writes with raw and childish spontaneity of their adventures, from flying a handmade kite in the park to learning to whistle, and even climbing a tree to steal cherries (and almost getting caught!).
Berra spends all his savings on a heartfelt gift for Ned’s brought-forward birthday, and Ned is moved: “Imagine me getting a grandson like you”...
When Ned is taken up to heaven you really learn how much love has been shared, and how much of it has entered our own heart too. This book might not be for very sensitive young readers—to be honest you’ll probably cry more than a little—but it’s such a profoundly human story that anyone who reads it will be deeply enriched.
(Be warned, however, Ulf Stark's other books are not so child-friendly. None of what I've read of his other books are recommendable.)(less)
A book for every teacher, and for every student that wants to grow their heart.
Spinelli's wisdom cries out in this novel: to make the world a better p...moreA book for every teacher, and for every student that wants to grow their heart.
Spinelli's wisdom cries out in this novel: to make the world a better place it's often enough simply to adjust the way we look at it. We fall into seeing problems where there are no problems, dissapointments where there are great achievements, deficiencies where there are so many qualities. And this story, like so many of his others, draws our heart out enough to enjoy a clearer, warmer vision of the world and its people. Spinelli is the master of teaching empathy.
Life is never going to be easy for six year old Donald Zinkoff who is as good natured as he is clumsy and awkward. But Donald doesn't concern himself about this, his eyes and heart are too much open to others to close in on himself.
Even by the end of this story, when we've gone through so much with him, not everyone will change their attitude towards young Donald. But those who do will find a new depth in their heart that was never fathomed before.(less)
Crash Coogan is cool. He’s the star of the school football team... and he’s a bully.
Penn Webb is small and weedy. Penn Webb hates violence; he’s a ‘Pe...moreCrash Coogan is cool. He’s the star of the school football team... and he’s a bully.
Penn Webb is small and weedy. Penn Webb hates violence; he’s a ‘Peace’ badge wearing vegetarian. Crash and Penn are not destined to get along.
Crash’s story is funny, crazy: in all the action, the conversation, and even in his few backfiring attempts to show-off he always manages to be on top.
From the day Penn moves into the neighbourhood, Crash torments him mercilessly. But no humiliation seems to bring Penn down. Crash is intrigued. We are intrigued. And the question slowly dawns on Crash: could it be that in some way Penn is actually stronger than he is?
Spinelli is a master of books about character. In the selfish and conceited preoccupations of this kid’s life, Spinelli finds those hidden inklings of humanity which can grow into extraordinary strength and greatness.
While Crash doesn’t end up the same as Penn, he does discover a new best friend.
Upper primary and lower secondary boys have to read this. Teachers have to read this. And (boys, don’t look), even girls should read this.(less)
A jewel of a book! A most original plot, deliciously witty expression, delightful characterisation and surprisingly deep themes.
While aimed at 10-14 y...moreA jewel of a book! A most original plot, deliciously witty expression, delightful characterisation and surprisingly deep themes.
While aimed at 10-14 year olds, 8 year olds who can manage the sophisticated language won’t find anything unsuitable, and I defy older readers not to enjoy themselves.
A cheery but spoilt princess loses her parents to suspected assassins, and she comes under the care of her tyrant aunt, the Queen Regent, who reluctantly endeavours to prepare her for queenship.
Murdock’s talent for intelligently humorous expression shines in her descriptions of Ben’s sly observations and continual misadventures.
Yet the self-pitying and indulgent princess begins to show signs of maturing: courtesy towards others infl uences the way they treat her; she discovers a golden mean between overindulgence in food and vain concern for appearance; and even learns to appreciate table manners once she’s witnessed certain boorish soldiers at their meal... The one thing she does hold on to is her sense of humour.
Adventure abounds, the plot twists and turns, an unconventional romance blooms, and all is brought together in an ending that turns conventional fairytales on their head.(less)
Kate DiCamillo’s newest novel is characteristically charming. A glowing fable with wonderfully human characters, it has a most original plot that shin...moreKate DiCamillo’s newest novel is characteristically charming. A glowing fable with wonderfully human characters, it has a most original plot that shines with just a hint of magic.
Young Peter Augustus Duchene is an orphan. He lives in the cold and dreary house of an old soldier who fought alongside his father, and who is determined that Peter should follow in his footsteps.
Other characters are also sad: a magician regrets a terrible mistake, a married couple resign themselves to not having children, and a young girl in an orphanage dreams of an elephant that will come to rescue her.
But Peter’s secret hope that his sister still lives leads to events that transform the lives of everyone around him. While they are still swallowed up in their worlds of sadness, he helps them to hope ‘What if? Why not? Could it be?’
DiCamillo creates truly magical moments where tenderness and understanding turns shared sadness into joy. The good characters make your heart sing: cold and darkness soften in their presence and even the baddies are transformed in their glow.
This is a story to be read aloud or on one’s own. Just remember that Kate DiCamillo writes with lots of heart... best keep a tissue handy.(less)
Another deliciously nostalgic and hilariously charming story of four sisters and their adventures, making this sequel to the Penderwicks even better t...moreAnother deliciously nostalgic and hilariously charming story of four sisters and their adventures, making this sequel to the Penderwicks even better than the first!
Wonderful characters are an endearing combination of individuality, warmth and wit, with just the right touch of realism.
And while they’re not perfect, every one of them grows: impulsive Skye struggles with her quick temper on the soccer fi eld, star-gazing Jane learns to face reality instead of vanishing into her creative writing stories, and over-anxious Rosalind learns to talk instead of keeping things inside. Even Mr Penderwick has to learn to face his fears instead of hiding from them.
The interweaving story-lines allow you to become best friends with everyone, and you find yourself eagerly turning pages to discover what will happen next.
The Penderwicks sequel is a completely satisfying combination of child-like spontaneity and affectionate, common sense wisdom. Without wanting to overdo it, it’s the kind of book that makes you want to hug the author. (less)