How will humans survive after we've destroyed the environment and not a tree remains? This is the setting of Breathe. In this post-apocalyptic world,How will humans survive after we've destroyed the environment and not a tree remains? This is the setting of Breathe. In this post-apocalyptic world, survival depends on living inside a man-made dome that has ducted synthetic oxygen or by carrying tanks and breathing through a face mask. Not everyone is equal in this world, and if you are a Premium living in Zone One, you have an abundant supply of oxygen and living standards are comfortable. If, though, you are an auxiliary living in Zone 2 or 3, your access to oxygen is limited as are other life opportunities.
Best friends, Bea and Quinn, live in this world controlled by Breathe, the organisation overseeing the dome and responsible for protecting the citizens. On the verge of finishing high school and looking forward to exciting futures, Bea and Quinn do not question the status quo and are accepting of the hand that fate has dealt. There are others, though, who are not so "gullible"/"unquestioning" and who believe in alternative possibilities. These "dissenters" are labeled RATS and terrorists by Breathe. Alina belongs to this group and when fleeing persecution and possible death, she crosses paths with Bea and Quinn and all their lives are changed .... following this encounter.
The main theme explored in this novel is sustainability and the impact of human action and inaction. This novel explores a number of other themes, including: social responsibility interconnectedness of life in ecosystems disrupting balance in ecosystems philosophy – values – the intrinsic value of the environment methods of activism to achieve change – collective action/political campaigning/ lobbying/protesting/boycotting/ imagining alternative constructs of life ...more
This is the tale of a beautiful land of plentiful bounty where creatures live in harmony and happiness. Until the Once-ler arrives with his drive to iThis is the tale of a beautiful land of plentiful bounty where creatures live in harmony and happiness. Until the Once-ler arrives with his drive to industrialize. His greed results in pollution and environmental destruction and continues until there is nothing left. The Lorax beseeches the Once-ler to stop his destruction of the natural resources a number of times but he refuses. All hope is not lost entirely though, because even though things seems to be at their worst, “the Once-ler indeed, has in his Lerkim just one special seed, and with hope and some love, and with you and with me, could take this small seed and bring the world back to speed?”...more
This is the story of a little prince who has been left in charge of the kingdom. When he is approached by the kingdom’s children to solve their enviroThis is the story of a little prince who has been left in charge of the kingdom. When he is approached by the kingdom’s children to solve their environmental problems he consults library books and develops creative and inventive solutions. It is a book of possibilities for a future in which humans triumph over problems by dreaming big and working together. All of the illustrations in this book are made from recycled materials....more
This is a cautionary tale of what may happen if the Great Barrier Reef is not protected. Each double page spread in the book juxtaposes an environmentThis is a cautionary tale of what may happen if the Great Barrier Reef is not protected. Each double page spread in the book juxtaposes an environmental countdown in the form of a child’s counting book with information pieces about human threats to the Great Barrier Reef. The illustrations use a silk painting techniques that reflects the colour and beauty of coral reefs....more
I was given Egg & Spoon as a gift from Riverbend books at the conclusion of the Young Adult Bookclub that I had participated in. Having not chosenI was given Egg & Spoon as a gift from Riverbend books at the conclusion of the Young Adult Bookclub that I had participated in. Having not chosen the book and having never read a Gregory Maguire novel, I didn’t know what to anticipate. Therefore, the pure joy of this book was a delightful surprise.
Full of magic and mayhem, this book is part fairytale, part mythology, part prince and pauper tale and part grand quest. This mashup of style is a lot of fun and achieves success through the well-paced plot and the masterfully written prose that is funny, eloquent and often poignant.
The story begins in a poverty stricken Russian village called Miersk. In this village, misery is rife, the ruling noble family have abandoned the place, the majority of daughters were drowned in a tragic accident and the Tsar has conscripted the sons. Here lives Elana, who is all but starving and whose mother is dying. The monotony of this misery is interrupted one day when a rare train passing through on the way to St Petersberg is waylaid. Aboard this train is Ekaterina, or Cat, who could not be more different. She is pampered, educated and on her way to the social event of the year – a ball being held by the Tsar to find a bride for his godson, Prince Anton.
As you can guess, the girls meet and when the inevitable accident occurs, their places are switched leaving Elana hurtling toward St Petersberg, masquerading as the daughter of wealth and privilege. Cat, meanwhile, begins to make her way back to her own life by foot. Along the way, she is tricked from the train tracks into the domain of the famous witch, Baba Yaga and here begins the true adventure.
The highlight of this book for me was the character of the witch, Baba Yaga and her wit and whimsy. She swings from melodramatic, to hilarious to insightful and is always entertaining. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time – I am an immediate fan of Gregory Maguire and my dream to see Wicked, developed from the book he authored, is stronger than ever. I give it five stars and highly recommend it for Middle School readers, YA readers and adults!
Some favourite quotes:
Sooner or later you realize that everythingyou experience, especially something like being arrested, is never only about you. Your life story is really about how the hands of history caught you up, played with you, and you with them. History plays for keeps; individuals play for time. p.2
Being vulnerable to desolation also arises from being unable to picture a set of choices with which to change your lot in life. p.96
That’s the beginning of heroism. The decision to try. p.107
It was the most enchanting thing Elana had ever seen. Often this feels true about whatever we are seeing for the first time, whether it be a newly discovered best beloved of steep mountains. Or justice. Whatever that is. p.172
“Perhaps.” A safe word. Perhaps the safest. p. 176
“The hoity are very toity in this town,” said the witch. p. 269
You leave home, I have learned, counting the trip day by day. If you ever get to return, you count the trip miracle by miracle. p.446...more
Written by teen author, Amy Zhang, this story starts with the attempted suicide of ‘it’ girl, Liz Emersen who deliberately drives her mercedes off theWritten by teen author, Amy Zhang, this story starts with the attempted suicide of ‘it’ girl, Liz Emersen who deliberately drives her mercedes off the road into a tree. Clearly depressed, Liz is unhappy but not a victim. She herself is a mean girl and a bully and having realised the terrible things she has done, decides the solution is to end her life. The novel then covers fragments from before, during and after the attempted suicide.
This story shows incredible insight into the lives of teenagers who can be unlikeable, decent, vulnerable and flawed all at once. Even though they may not have experienced the extremes of teenage behaviours portrayed in this novel, many high school students would be able to identify with the characters, events, emotions and certainly the issues dealt with in this book.
Amy Zhang has produced a story that is really well written and thought provoking, which makes the reader aware that our actions contain consequences for others and ourselves. I echo the sentiment of other reviewers that it is amazing to think she wrote this while being at high school. Both the standard of writing and the final success of being published, should be inspirational to the many aspiring writers I teach. An excellent debut novel. ...more
At the beginning of this book, Stella Montgomery is witness to a murder and her life is placed in danger as those responsible seek to capture both herAt the beginning of this book, Stella Montgomery is witness to a murder and her life is placed in danger as those responsible seek to capture both her and the object she has vowed to hide and protect. This is a most wonderful Victorian mystery and adventure that involves villains, trickery, magic, theatre, courageous children and many plot twists.
In the same vein as books such as The Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, and The Billionaire’s Curse, this book contains kids being orphaned among emotionally absent adults. These kids have to become the heroes in their own lives to solve mysteries of the past and present and to survive the dark scenarios afoot.
Not only is this book very well written, but it also contains a scattering of great illustrations reflecting the author, Judith Rossell’s abilities as an illustrator as well as writer. In particular, the illustration of the “elegant, spindly legs” of the peer, the “seething” Aunts, and the Hotel Majestic with its “towers and turrets and curlicues and columns and chimneys and balconies and lots of curly metal sprouting here and there” very much add to atmosphere created throughout the pages of the book.
A great read, highly recommended for Middle School readers....more
This book tells the story of Hayley Kincain who has led anything but an ordinary childhood. At the point where the novel begins, Hayley is entering heThis book tells the story of Hayley Kincain who has led anything but an ordinary childhood. At the point where the novel begins, Hayley is entering her senior years in high school. Prior to this she has been travelling the roads with her father in his truck, living an unconventional life while her Dad tries to escape the memories and post traumatic stress that haunt him as a returned soldier.
In her return to a ‘normal life’, Hayley makes friends with Gracie and then meets Finn. Both have the potential to be good for her if Hayley would let them in. Hayley is, however, afraid of this - if others see what is really going on with her Dad, his mental health, inability to keep a job, use of drugs to anaesthetise his pain, his neglect of Hayley’s needs and his violent episodes, then her new, ‘normal life’ might be threatened.
As things spiral out of control in Hayley’s life, it becomes impossible to put this book down so worried are you for both Hayley and her father. A good read. ...more
A story that encapsulates what is like to be fifteen. In this coming of age novel, we meet Clover. She is talented, passionate and at risk of ‘crackinA story that encapsulates what is like to be fifteen. In this coming of age novel, we meet Clover. She is talented, passionate and at risk of ‘cracking’.
The plot of this novel follows Clover as she pushes everyone and everything, including herself, to the limit. She is passionate about the environment and decides to raise awareness about the loss of a local wildlife corridor through graffiti. In order to get her message across, she needs the help of her friend Keek and she draws him into her escapades. However, what some people deem art, others deem vandalism and she soon she and Keek are facing the consequences of being on the wrong side of the law. She also experiments with truancy, parties, smoking, drinking, and drugs and finds herself in trouble on a number of levels.
Throughout the story, Clover is also working out people - who are those she can trust, who are true and loyal friends, how do families function and what relationships are important? As a reader, you worry about her when she is hanging out with the cool girls, when she is flirting with one of the footy-boys who is after more than kissing and when she lies to her loyal and loving mother.
This book is a really good read, full of genuine characters and a protagonist who I could really identify with. I highly recommend it to students in Year 9 & 10....more
See you at Harry's is a book about a family who have to face a tragedy all of us fear. The characterisation in this novel is one of it's strengths andSee you at Harry's is a book about a family who have to face a tragedy all of us fear. The characterisation in this novel is one of it's strengths and Jo Knowles has created a family made up of people we can easily identify with. The family run a restaurant called Harry's and this dominates family routine and consumes the parents’ time. The other factor that dominates this family's life is Charlie - the youngest sibling, a 'surprise' child for the family and a bundle of energy, annoyance, responsibility, dirt and joy all in one. Like so many family's, the siblings squabble but are united in their embarrassment of their Dad's antics and at the end of the day, are loyal to each other. When tragedy strikes, things will never be the same and we are exposed to the grief of each member of the family and the feelings of loss, guilt, anger, and strangeness that comes along with it.
Fern, the twelve-year-old narrator of the novel wants to be other people's hero, just like her namesake from Charlotte's Web but feels invisible and often unable to help those she loves. One such person is her brother, Holden, who is trying to understand his own sexuality and find his place as a gay teenager. This subplot is an element of the narrative that is particularly engaging and portrayed with real insight into the acceptance of homosexual orientation.
This novel is highly recommended for middle school students. It is well written and the themes of identity, acceptance and healing are well portrayed....more
Based on the author's brother who was jailed as an IRA terrorist, Mark Mulholland's novel, A mad and wonderful thing, explores why good people do badBased on the author's brother who was jailed as an IRA terrorist, Mark Mulholland's novel, A mad and wonderful thing, explores why good people do bad things. Part love story, part thriller, this is a story that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
It is quite difficult to describe this book or to put it into a category. It is a most original story and put simply, it is a very Irish story. Set in Dundalk, a town very close to the border of Northern Ireland, this book follows Johnny Donnelly. Johnny is a young Irishman who is passionate about his country and dedicates his life to this Irish cause by becoming a sniper for the IRA.
A central theme in the book is the question of cause - what makes makes people do certain things; in extreme cases kill for a cause.
As well as a tale of war and the fight for Ireland, A mad and wonderful thing is a love story. A story about falling in love with a girl, in this case, the charismatic Cora Flannery. This is also a story about a love for Ireland. Irish language, folklore & scenery....more