Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On our Bookshelf: For Teens and Tweens Christmas 2016

Miss 10 and I have been reading like crazy recently. So many great books out there that we decided to share a few of them with you. It can be difficult to find books for reluctant readers, for teens who think nothing relates to them and tweens who are lost trying to get away from fairies and dinosaurs to something more mature, but not to old.

So here you go, here's a list of great stuff to stuff the stockings with this year. Or just to read from the library when you get your hands on them.

by Aaron Starmer
This is a TEEN book.

Mara is in her senior year when a classmate actually spontaneously combusts. Bam. She's gone. But that's just the first of many students who just up and bust. Why is this happening? Who will be next? What does a community do when fear hits and they can't work out why only the senior kids are blowing up?

Well, if you're one of the teens then it won't take long before sex, drugs and a youtube channel take over.

This book is for teens right now. Or for parents who want to read about life as a teen right now. The characters are using snapchat, making a fortune from their story on social media, they are smart, scared and hopeful.

This book is ideal for a reluctant teen reader who needs something very modern, very now and makes them want to keep reading. The ending was a disappointment to me, but perhaps that's because I am not the audience for this book.

Highly recommended by me, who may have missed some of the references in this book because I am so old.

by Morris Gleitzman

Soon is the fifth book in this series that follows a boy called Felix.

We have previously read Once, Before, Now and After which share what happens to Felix, a Jewish boy left in a Catholic orphanage before the second world war. With Soon, the war is over, Felix is 13 and stuck in a city that is a shambles, coping with limited supplies and no law and order.

Gleitzman writes each of these books so that kids without prior knowledge only pick up what they can, and adults who know so much more can easily read between the lines and enjoy the books.

In Soon, Felix is older, and it's possibly presumed that his readers have aged with him. Unlike in the previous books, in this one, the concepts are discussed more, and we hear a lot more about medical experimentation and how totally vulgar and cruel such practices are. There is also a storyline about a young girl who has been raped by Russian soldiers and is now pregnant. Miss 10 was not prepared for these concepts to be in the book and I suggest parents of younger tweens read the book first.

Recommendation: 13 and up will enjoy this book as much as all the others, while those who have not started the series can easily read any of the books without reading them in any order. Adults will read it in a day.

Ruby Redfort: Blink and you die.
by Lauren Child

May all the book fairies bless the writing hands of Lauren Child. She gave us Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and also Ruby Redfort.  This is the last in this series and Miss 10 grabbed it and read it in a week. It's a longer book than some other novels but will keep readers tuned in.

Miss 10 provided the following review:

"There is no need to have read all the other books in the series to enjoy this one. At times the book seemed to be going in all sorts of directions and I couldn't work out why we had to read some bits that kind of made no sense, but it didn't make me want to stop reading it. Towards the end the pieces all started to come together and the parts that seemed so random made perfect sense. This is a really great book, the ending is just the best and totally makes me want to go and read the others in the series that I haven't read yet."

Recommendation: Great book for kids in upper primary school and above, teens and tweens will both enjoy reading the last of Ruby Redfort. Those who have been reading Ruby for the best few years will be very keen to read this one, even if they are now adults.

My Best Friend is a Goddess
by Tara Eglinton

This is a new novel in the Young Adult arena that is written possibly more with a female market in mind. I really enjoy novels set in Australia to help make them more relatable to Australian kids. In this book, we go through a lot of standard teen issues, school, boys, parents who don't understand and mostly friendship. It's written in a very contemporary way, some of it in diary form, some in Instant Messenger form. This is not going to be loved by most adults, simply because it is not written for you, you're too old, you don't get it, you don't understand. It will be loved by females over 14 and under 21 who may relate to the different conversations that occur.

Recommended: Grab this for the teen girl who you just don't know what to buy for this Christmas. She'll be surprised you picked a book so like her.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

How to do Halloween when you don't do Halloween.

Halloween makes some Australians cringe. The concept of a highly commercial sugar filled American custom becoming the norm here can be upsetting, eye rolling, frustrating.

Too bad.

It's arrived and it's growing and it's best that you jump on the scary train with your witches broom in hand and find a way to make it fun for you.

Go on, be a joiner. I promise it won't hurt a bit.

You will get to see kids in your street that you never even knew existed. Our kids are so cooped up inside their picket fences these days that this can be the only night of the year that they get to walk the streets, (even if there are still adults only five steps behind).

You don't need to buy pricey outfits. Turn the dress up box upside down, let the kids use what is in the house and you'll be surprised what's already there. Book day outfits, end of year concerts costumes, face paint, and creativity can go a very long way. Teased hair and an old tee shirt with red paint and rips is really all you need.

We called over some friends, dusted off the camp chairs and a bottle of red wine and while the Dads and kids walked the streets, the mums happily manned the treats to give out to local kids. We meet people from school, people from the next streets, the neighbours and more.

By the time 8.30pm came along we were all packed up and done. All I had left to do was deal with the glitter. So MUCH glitter, because every witch/devil/ghost/ghoul looks better with sparkly faces, yes?