Posts tagged Fantasy

Little brothers

web cover low resI have two brothers, both younger than me, but only one that I think of as my ‘little brother’. He’s called Andy and he was born when I was six and going to Karori Normal School. My brother Pete is so close in age I can barely remember a time in my life without him (he was my first best friend), but I remember the day Andy was born. I drew a picture at school of what looked like a tadpole with a baby’s face – Andy in his white blanket. You couldn’t see his fuzz of red hair. I wrote underneath about ‘my baby’, and about how I liked bathing him and looking after him.

When he started walking I was Andy’s unpaid protector, dragging him from the edges of bush tracks and wharves, sure he’d die a terrible death (and convinced my mother wasn’t paying enough attention.) Later, I rolled my eyes when his little friends came over and played cars and Lego – brmmm, brmmm etc. Boys!

Andy liked collecting things, small things. He ate the cuffs of his jerseys. He was loud and sticky. His hair got redder and redder, and he got taller … and taller.

When I was writing Dappled Annie and the Tigrish, I gave Annie a little brother called Robbie. He’s six years younger than Annie – he’s 4 and Annie’s nearly 10 – and like my brother Andy, he’s loud and sticky, and likes collecting small things. He collects them in his pockets so that when he walks he rattles. His father calls them the shinies.

I hadn’t expected Robbie to be such an important character in the book. When I first wrote it, he stayed at home with his mum while Annie went on her adventure with the tigrish. But he didn’t like that. Neither did I. I kept feeling something was missing.

So I rewrote the book and found that (without being asked) Robbie charged off on the adventure too. Much to Annie’s annoyance at first – because he is loud and he is sticky and he is 4 … but, like all little brothers, she discovers he has his moments. When they’re stuck in the Giant Wood with all sorts of scary things going on, Robbie’s collection of shinies and ‘commando moves’ help save the day.

Robbie has a lot of my brother Andy in him, but he has other important little boys wrapped up in him too: especially my son Adam and godson Ned – who were/are both loud and sticky and smart and adventurous. There are glimpses too of my brother Pete and son Paul who did less of the loud, sticky, physical thing and more talking, and two little boys who came regularly to my house when I was writing: Lincoln and Carter.

Boys! Who’d be without them? As a big sister of two, and a mum of two (and a girl too, my youngest), I know I wouldn’t. Above all else these lovely boys have given me a lot to laugh about. Here’s a taste of Robbie in the book. He and Annie are visiting Mr and Mrs Hedge who are part of the hedge at the end of the garden. There’s a nest of baby fantails for Robbie to see, including Bud, the smallest …

Robbie climbed up so his blue shorts were level with Annie’s eyes. She could see his back pocket had bulgy bits where he’d put his little things, what he called his shinies: small stones and bottle tops and dice and Lego bricks and walnut shells. They weren’t all shiny, really, but their dad said Robbie was a magpie and magpies liked shiny things, so that’s how they came to be called that.

Annie could see the way Mrs. Hedge had cupped her branches around Robbie and was watching him closely. Just a glimpse of her eyes, and then they were gone.

“Bud’s the littlest one,” said Annie. “The one with the wobbly head.”

“Getting bigger,” said Mrs. Hedge, “and noisier—listen to that squeaking! They think you’ve brought worms, Robbie.”

“One, two, three, four, five,” said Robbie, counting. “There are five baby birds.”

“They’re hungry,” said Mr. Hedge. “Bud especially—he misses out. He’s small and the other babies push him aside.”

“Worms,” said Robbie, and he pushed one hand into his back pocket. Out came a broken rubber band. Robbie wiggled it in front of his nose, sniffed, then pushed it back where it had come from. He fiddled around some more. A cotton reel. String. Then a fat thing that was brown and pinkish. It wriggled.

“Here, Bud,” Robbie said, and dropped it into the nest.

All Annie could hear were the cicadas. Then:

“He did eat it!”

“Yes, he did,” said Mrs. Hedge. “Thank you, Robbie.” And the leaves parted, and there were the leafy eyes. Robbie didn’t see them—he was too busy watching the nest.

“In one gulp!” said Robbie.

“I would think so,” said Mr. Hedge. “That was a nice fat worm.”

“I’ve got my worm-hunting tee-shirt on,” said Robbie, “that’s why I found it,” and he waved towards the rose bush. “You know, Mrs. Hedge, birds are cute dinosaurs, too.”

That’s when the leaves around Robbie shivered and shivered. Then they shook and shook. And a sound like a huge wave rushed towards them. Annie tugged hard at one of Robbie’s back pockets.               “Let’s get down.”

Robbie stayed as he was.

Annie tugged again—sharper this time—and the pocket wriggled. A cute something was in there. She let go.

The wave of sound made her feel like she’d jumped into a pool of icy water—there were goosebumps all over her arms and neck. Whatever it was, it was coming closer, sweeping the wire fence and crashing across the lawn…

Wind. Sending the wire fence twanging, billowing the sheets on the line, pushing and shoving its way between Annie and Robbie and the Hedges, roaring in their faces. Mrs. Hedge’s mouth moved but didn’t make a sound as she struggled to keep a grip on the nest. Mr. Hedge gripped Mrs. Hedge.

“Robbie,” yelled Annie over the torrent of air, “get down!”

from Dappled Annie and the Tigrish (Gecko Press 2014)

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Flight of Fantasy

dappled annie and the tigrish coverKia ora! On the cover of my book Dappled Annie and the Tigrish you can see the tigrish flying. You can’t? Are  you sure? Check out the word ‘Tigrish’ …. anything there?

Ah yes, the tiger stripes (they’re lovely to stroke too when you hold the cover), and what’s that slipstream effect  on the page, wooshing silkenly past the ‘grish’ of ‘tigrish’, in front of Annie and into the hedge? That, my friends,  is the tigrish.

There are illustrations inside the book, too – by illustrator Annie Hayward – but nowhere do you see the lovely  tigrish. Not even a peek. Okay, maybe a feather. You see Annie  Hayward and Gecko Press and myself decided  we’d prefer to leave the reader to imagine the magical, glowing  tigrish all for themselves.

When I started writing Dappled Annie, I knew I wanted to have a large magical creature in it. Why? Because I  love characters like the Luck Dragon in Neverending Story and Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  And because my daughter, Issy, loved the dragon in Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider, and because I know so    many young readers like my niece Libby and goddaughter Daisy who love love love stories with animals in  them, and even better if the animals are kind, magical creatures  that befriend the main character who might be  called  Issy or Libby or Daisy or Annie …  all well and good, but there don’t seem to be enough of such stories.

So somehow, as happens when you write, the tigrish appeared in my story. I can’t even remember how I came by the name. I guess he brought it with him. I didn’t intend for him to fly, but when I was talking to Annie Hayward about him (we talked a lot as I wrote the book), she said, ‘Of course he flies.’

Annie’s like that, she lives in the world of the imagination, and flying, magical creatures are as real to her as her pet dog, Ruby. In fact, I started writing Dappled Annie because I saw a painting Annie did of some magical hedges, and then it seemed absolutely right to call the main character Annie.

So should the tigrish fly? I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course the tigrish flew! And what fun it was to write. Not only do people love big, kind, magical creatures in stories, they also love when anything and anybody flies! Think of characters like Peter Pan and Mary Poppins … and on to the Luck Dragon and beyond.

I had to think hard about how the tigrish would fly – would he have wings all the time or just when he flew? how would he take off from the ground with them? how would the children hang on? what would they feel up there? what would they see? This is the fun of being an author, answering questions that only your imagination can answer.

I am going to invite a bunch of children at Wellington’s Capital E to give it a go over the holidays with me. I’m running a writing class on October 9 called Flight of Fantasy where 8-10 year olds will work with me to invent their own flying creature and write a story around it. I am very very excited about this. Read about it here. 

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of the tigrish taking off for the first time, with Annie (9) and her brother Robbie (4) on his back. They’re scared because they don’t know what’s happening. The tigrish has run through Annie’s garden and is leaping over the fence into the field beyond  … and beyond that are the Giant Woods …

Landing on the other side of the fence, there was no heaviness or jolting—the tigrish just seemed to glide into the grass, and the grass let him in.

Annie leaned over to see, and when she did, she tipped slightly and her hands slipped, and Robbie gripped, and she had to sit up quickly to keep balance. She held more tightly to the fur. That’s funny, she thought, is it softer? It was thicker around the shoulders, anyway, but now it was as if her hands were sinking into a feather quilt. She stared at the golden back with the slashes of black across it like black crayon, and the way the fur fell away in long sweeps, flaring out on either side of the powerful shoulders like…she cried out. Wings! The tigrish had wings!

The great creature tensed its muscles and released them, and two enormous dappled wings—muscle by muscle, feather by feather—unfolded. Then the tigrish leapt forward—no, lifted off into the afternoon.

“Fly-ing!” yelled Robbie. He sounded excited now.

Annie shut her eyes. She could feel the air rushing past and around her like the windy days when she walked the hills with her dad. And she could feel the muscles of the tigrish tense and release each time the wings lifted and fell. Such a strong wide back.

Flying! Was there anything else like it? Slowly, she opened each eye.

 

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Guest Post: Juliet Jacka on Night of the Perigee Moon

Think up your best insult, and be in to win a copy of Juliet Jacka’s award-winning Night of the Perigee Moon.

Do you like magical talents, talking cats, dogs and bats? Or how about fantastical feasts, yo-yo masters and entomologists in the making?

Then my book’s for you. Here’s the blurb.

All Tilly Angelica wants for her thirteenth birthday is to be normal! But with her changeover party looming and her mad, magical family gathering from near and far, Tilly is set to inherit a terrifying or tantalising talent of her own. But what if she inherits Hortense’s talent of super-smelling, with an oversize nose to match?

As the enchanted Angelicas gather and Arial Manor becomes a madhouse, Tilly’s troubles are tripled by her creepy cousin Prosper, and his sinister plot to bewitch the family by harnessing the powers of the Perigee Moon.

Halfway through the book, my heroine Tilly has to come up with a hit list of inventive insults. Here are three of her favourite ones.

“You’re an ox, an ass, a slubberdegullion!”

“You belligerent fleck of llama spit.”

“Earth vexing hedge pig.”

Can you come up with something similar? Send me your best one-liners (no rude words, thanks!), and the winner gets a free, signed copy of my book.

Have fun! Get inventive. Then email me at nightofperigeemoon@gmail.com

Juliet
Night of the Perigee Moon, winner of the 2013 Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

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Author of the Week – Jonathan Stroud

Author of the Week is where we introduce you to some great authors whose books you’ll find in our libraries.  If you love the featured author and have read some of the books, we’d love to hear what you think.

Each of the author profiles comes from one of our really cool databases, called Novelist.  If you’re looking for some new books or authors you should really check it out.  This week’s author is Jonathan Stroud.

Jonathan Stroud is a master of intricate, inventive fantasies.  His lively, fast-paced stories burst with action, magic threads and fantasy characters from dragon to djinn. In his Bartimaeus trilogy, for example, the main character narrates with a sarcastic, flippant voice that adds a strand of humor.

The Amulet of Samarkand

The Djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by a young apprentice, Nathaniel, to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician, Simon Lovelace. Chaos and action ensue but the apprentice and the djinn save the day. First book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy.

Heroes of the Valley

Halli loves the old stories from when the valley was a wild and dangerous place – when the twelve legendary heroes, led by his ancestor Svein, stood together to defeat the ancient enemy, the bloodthirsty Trows. Halli longs for adventure but it seems these days the most dangerous thing in the valley is boredom. He tries to liven things up by taunting his siblings and playing practical jokes. But when one of his jokes goes too far reawakening an old blood feud, Halli finds himself on a hero’s quest after all. Along the way he meets a ruthless thief, a murderous rival, and a girl who may just be as fearless as he is. Halli may be about to make his own last stand and discover the truth about the legends, about his family, and about himself.

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in. For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

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Author of the Week – Emily Rodda

Author of the Week is a new feature on the Christchurch Kids Blog.  It’s where we’ll introduce you to some great authors whose books you’ll find in our libraries.  If you love the featured author and have read some of the books, we’d love to hear what you think.

Each of the author profiles comes from one of our really cool databases, called Novelist.  If you’re looking for some new books or authors you should really check it out.  This week’s author is Emily Rodda.

The Key to Rondo

Through an heirloom music box, Leo, a serious, responsible boy, and his badly-behaved cousin Mimi enter the magical world of Rondo to rescue Mimi’s dog from a sorceress, who wishes to exchange him for the key that allows free travel between worlds.

The Golden Door

At night the skimmers fly over the Wall looking for human prey and the people of Weld huddle in their houses, but after his two brothers set out through the magic doors in an attempt to find the Enemy and don’t come back, young Rye knows that he must follow and find them.

Tales of Deltora

A fantastical anthology that provides the stories behind the stories of the characters and events of the popular Deltora series.

Rowan of Rin

Because only he can read the magical map, young, weak, and timid Rowan joins six other villagers to climb a mountain and try to restore their water supply, as fears of a dragon and other horrors threaten to drive them back.

The Forests of Silence

The evil Shadow Lord is planning to take over the land of Deltora and enslave all its people. In order to stop him 16-year old Lief and former palace guard Barda must find all seven stones from the magic belt of Deltora.

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Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die.
They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood.

The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

The House of Hades, the conclusion to the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, is due out next month.  Reserve your copy from the library now.

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School for Good and Evil book trailer

Every four years, two girls are kidnapped from the village of Gavaldon. Legend has it these lost children are sent to the School for Good and Evil, the fabled institution where they become fairytale heroes or villains. Sophie, the most beautiful girl in town, has always dreamed of her place at the School for Good while her friend Agatha, with her dark disposition seems destined for the School for Evil. But when the two are kidnapped they find their fortunes reversed

Reserve your copy of The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani at your library now

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W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin book trailer

The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run. Riley has been pulled into the FBI’s covert W.A.R.P. operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.

If you’re a copy of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series you need to grab a copy of The Reluctant Assassin, the first book in Eoin’s new W.A.R.P. series.  Reserve your copy at the library now.

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House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

Chris Coloumbus is the writer and director of some of my favourite movies, including Gremlins, The Goonies and Home Alone.  He’s a gifted storyteller for the screen who has now delved into the world of children’s books.  His first children’s book is House of Secrets, co-written by Ned Vizzini, and I was interested to see if his books were just as good as his movies.

A secret history… A mysterious family legacy… Dark magic of untold power… And three kids who will risk everything to bring a family back together. The Pagett kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games … But everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by a troubled fantasy writer with a penchant for the occult. Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Pagett family’s secret history and save their parents … and maybe even the world.

House of Secrets is an action-packed blockbuster of a book about three children who are transported into the world of fiction.  There’s something in this story to appeal to all kids – adventure, mystery, magic, witches, giants, warriors, pirates, and fictional characters coming to life. Most readers have wanted to actually be in the world of a story at some stage, and this is exactly what happens to Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor (even if it was the last thing they wanted).

Chris and Ned have said that the story was originally going to be a screenplay for a movie, but they thought it would be too expensive to make so they adapted it into a book.  I thought this came through quite clearly as the story really reads like it should be a movie.  It’s quite fast-paced and there is lots of action so it will definitely keep kids’ attention.  I can see why it would have cost so much to make this story into a movie, because it’s quite epic and there would be huge special effects involved.  The house that the children find themselves transported in is much like the Tardis (‘it’s bigger on the inside’), with lots of hidden passageways, and it gets battered about by witches, giants and pirates.  There are many different fictional worlds, filled with different creatures and characters.

The plot races along right to the end and leaves the story hanging for the next book in the series.  I’ll be looking forward to discovering what comes next for the Walker children.

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Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

Imagine that you were told that you woke up on a mysterious island, a place that few people know even exists, and told that you have six months to live.  You’re told that you have a special gene that gives you amazing powers, but the only way to keep those powers under control and keep you alive is to retrieve seven lost magical orbs.  These orbs have been hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and it’s up to you and your new friends to retrieve them before it’s too late.  This is the task that is given to Jack McKinley in Peter Lerangis’ new series, Seven Wonders. The first book in the Seven Wonders series, The Colossus Rises is out now.

The day after twelve-year-old Jack McKinley is told he has six months to live, he awakens on a mysterious island, where a secret organization promises to save his life – but with one condition. With his three friends, Jack must lead a mission to retrieve seven lost magical orbs, which, only when combined together, can save their lives. The challenge: the orbs have been missing for a thousand years, lost among the ruins and relics of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With no one else to turn to and no escape in sight, the four friends have no choice but to undertake the quest. First stop: The Colossus of Rhodes … where they realise that there’s way more at stake than just their lives.

The Colossus Rises is an action-packed blockbuster of a book. From the first sentence you’re hooked into the story and, like Jack, you’re whisked from your normal, everyday life into a strange new world.  You’re taken to a place of legend, home to mysterious creatures, and where a group of kids have amazing powers.  The mystery of the unique gene that Jack and his friends have and the magical orbs draws you in and you keep reading hoping to find the answers.  Peter Lerangis is very good at only revealing little details throughout the story to leave you hanging and we’ll find out more as the series progresses.  There is definitely more to the island and their quest that Professor Bhegad isn’t revealing to Jack and his friends (if you read the free ebook prequel, The Select, you’ll see what I mean).

Peter really keeps you on the edge of your seat.  There is danger around every corner so you never know what to expect next.  I wasn’t even sure that Jack and his friends were all going to make it to the end of the story alive, as they have some very close shaves.  The second half of the book is especially exciting and fast-paced and had me engrossed in the story.

Like the Percy Jackson books The Colossus Rises is a mixture of adventure and fantasy.  Jack and his friends have powers that help them in in their quest to find the orbs and the island is home to mysterious and mythical creatures.  They have to fight for their lives with these creatures, both on the island and on the other side of the world, in plain view of normal humans.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Lost in Babylon.  The Seven Wonders website is awesome and definitely worth a look too (especially for the free ebook prequel, The Select).

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Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.

Gregor the Overlander is about a boy named Gregor who lives in an apartment in New York with his mother, grandmother and two sisters. One day, he goes to the laundry room with his sister Boots, and they discover the Underland.  The Underland is a place hundreds of feet under New York filled with giant bats, cockroaches, rats, scorpions and strange people, who send Gregor and Boots on a quest searching for their missing father.

My favorite character is Luxa, the queen of the Underland.  She is a little arrogant but very brave.  Gregor the Overlander is the first in a five book series. I give it a 8 and a half out of 10. Gregor the Overlander is suitable for 9 to 13-year-olds; boys and girls alike.  Suzanne Collins is also the author of the best-selling trilogy The Hunger Games.

By Luka, age 11

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Wings & Co: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. It’s the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpella.

Operation Bunny is a magical story, filled with a cast of wonderful characters, plenty of mystery, and a sprinkling of humour.  It’s the sort of book that you sit down to read a few chapters and end up gobbling up the whole book because you’re enchanted by Sally Gardner’s storytelling and David Roberts’ hilarious illustrations.

I fell in love with the characters straight away and I wanted to be friends with Miss String and Fidget the talking cat.  Emily is a Cinderella-type character because she gets locked away and made to do all the housework for her horrible adopted parents.  Not only are they horrible, they’re also quite stupid.  Emily’s adopted mother lets a strange lady into their house who turns her triplets into zombies, and Emily’s adopted father is a slimy wee man who’s hiding a secret and always calls his wife ‘Smoochikins.’ However, Emily is much smarter and braver than these horrible people give her credit for, and with the help of her rather unusual neighbours she escapes and starts her new life as a detective.  Fidget is my favourite character because he is always happy to help and he has the best lines (which usually involve fish of some sort), like ‘Search my sardine tin, I don’t know,’ and ‘Twiddle my whiskers and call me tuna.’  I love the way that Fidget calls Emily ‘my little ducks’ too.  Even though she doesn’t have parents that love her, she has a giant talking cat that is looking out for her always.    There are lots of other interesting characters in the story, including a mischievous bunch of keys, zombie babies, a fairy policeman, a shop with legs, a magic lamp that talks, and lots and lots of bunnies.

David Roberts illustrations are wonderful as always and help set the tone of the story.  They’re both hilarious and a little dark, and they bring Sally’s characters alive.  I especially like the personalities that David has given each of the rabbits and the suave, charming look that he’s given Fidget.

I’m so pleased that we have more adventures with Emily, Fidget and the Fairy Detective Agency, Wings & Co. to look forward to.  I can’t wait to read the next book, The Three Pickled Herrings.

5 out of 5 stars

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Hugo Pepper by Paul Stewart

Hugo Pepper is a 12 year old boy who lives in the Frozen North. His parents, Phineas and Phyllida Pepper, were eaten by polarbears when he was 1, so Harvi and Sarvi Runter-Tun-Tun took him in and raised him as their own. Harvi and Sarvi are simple reindeer herders who leave gifts out for “the snowgiants”, and as Hugo gets older he helps them with the reindeer. One summer, Hugo was looking around the milking shed when he came upon a battered sled, the sled that his parents had arrived in the Frozen North on. With teary good-byes from Harvi and Sarvi, Hugo took off in the sled to Firefly Square, where his parents used to live. He makes friends with the occupants of Firefly Square, and ends up ridding them of a nasty magazine editor who continues to write horrible things about them.

This book is a great read for ages 9-13 because it uses descriptive language and the storyline is easy to follow. I couldn’t put it down, I had to keep reading because Paul Stewart made each chapter close with a hint of mystery, which leaves the reader longing to read on.

There are several illustrations in this book, which I found good because you could use the illustrations as templates for what you imagine the characters to look like.

Paul Stewart is also the author of The Edge Chronicles, another set of books well worth reading.

Megan Blackwood (12)

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The Flytrap Snaps by Johanna Knox

The Flytrap Snaps is the first book in The Fly Papers series by Johanna Knox. It is an quirky yet cool tale. I even found the dedication page unique:

Dedicated to all the carnivorous plants that sit on our window sills and inspire us (you know who you are).”

Spencer Fogle is the hero of this story: he lives in the town of Filmington, which is famous for its variety of landscapes. For this reason it is used by producers all over the world to film movies, ads and videos. Spencer is used to hearing screams on his way to school. One day, Spencer hears a scream, and something tells him that this is not special effects in a horror film. He goes to investigate…and so begins a mysterious adventure, involving carnivorous plants, hench-women, wrestling and shampoo ads.

Dion is Spencer’s friend, and meets Spencer during the story. Dion is very theatrical, and dreams of becoming a movie star. He also happens to be a Venus Flytrap with four eyes. Yes…I think that Dion Horrible (his stage name) is definitely the most original element of the book!

I think that Johanna Knox has done a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters. I imagined each one very vividly…from Tora, a wrestling expert with amazing hair, to Spencer’s parents, who own a business that sells stuffed food, such as sardine-stuffed lemons. I also admire the way she writes in such a consistently humorous and strong way. There wasn’t a dull moment in the book, nor a moment when I wasn’t smiling at Dion’s antics.

The mystery gets darker as the book progresses. You will find yourself rooting for Spencer and Dion, hating Jimmy Jangle and his salami-breath sidekicks, Sybil and Cassandra, and turning the pages faster and faster as the pace of the adventure quickens. Will Jimmy Jangle find Dion? What is Tora’s secret? Will Dion get his change at fame? You will find the answers to these questions- and more- by reading The Flytrap Snaps.

By Tierney.

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The Queen and the Nobody Boy by Barbara Else

Last year, Barbara Else took us on a magical journey through the land of Fontania, with Sibilla and The Traveling Restaurant.  Now she takes us back to Fontania and introduces us to some wonderful new characters in The Queen and the Nobody Boy.

Hodie is the unpaid odd-job boy at the Grand Palace in the Kingdom of Fontania.  Fed-up, he decides to leave and better himself.

The young Queen, 12 -year-old Sibilla, is fed-up too.  Sick of gossip about her lack of magical ability, she decides to run away with Hodie, whether he likes it or not.

 

 

The Queen and the Nobody Boy is a magical story, full of adventure, danger, royalty, spies, flying trains, stinky trolls and poisonous toads. Trouble is brewing from the very beginning of the story.  The Emperor of Um’Binnia threatens war with Fontania and he hopes to destroy what magic there may be in the world.  The Fontanians have been looking for ‘The Ties’ for many years, but nobody really seems to know what they are, and for the Emperor to carry out his plans he must get his hands on them too.  Little do they know how important an odd-job boy might be.

Your favourite characters from The Travelling Restaurant return, including Sibilla and the pirate chef, Murgott.  Hodie is the main character of this tale of Fontania.  Even though he’s not treated very well in the Palace, he’s smart and brave, and determined to make something of himself.   My favourite quote from the book sums up Hodie, ‘Whether a boy was somebody or nobody, if he was normal he was expected to be curious.’  Hodie and Sibilla meet lots of other interesting characters on their journey, including a rather strange Um’Binnian spy called Ogg’ward, and a very persistent squirrel.  The Um’Binnians themselves are quite interesting.  They have a different way of speaking and their names look and sound strange.

If you loved The Traveling Restaurant you have to get your hands on The Queen and the Nobody Boy, but if you haven’t read it this book will make you fall in love with the land of Fontania.

4 out of 5 stars

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The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

The Brain Sucker is one of the coolest books I’ve read in ages!  The idea is original, the story is action-packed, the heroes are unlike any you’ve met before and the villain is sinister.  From the very first page, when the villain slinks onto the page, I knew I was going to love the story, and I greedily turned the pages wanting to know how it would end.

Lester Smythe is a sinister villain, but there’s also something awkward about him.  He reminded me of a cross between Gru (from Despicable Me) and Professor Doofenshmirtz (from Phineas and Ferb) and I almost expected him to announce that his brain sucking machine was the ‘Brain-suckinator.’  Lester’s plan is to rid the world of goodness because anyone acting good makes him physically sick, due to a horrible experience when he was younger.  The machine that will help him with his task is the Brain Sucker, which sucks the goodness right out of people’s heads.  It’s up to the heroes of the story to save the day (and the world from becoming a miserable place).

The heroes of the story, Callum, Sophie and Jinx are unlike any heroes I’ve met before.  They all have flaws but they manage to overcome these to help save the day.  Callum is paralysed from the waist down so he’s wheelchair bound, but he’s really determined and doesn’t let his disability get in his way.  He’s also got one of the coolest wheelchairs around!  Sophie is Callum’s best friend and she’s incredibly talented and intelligent.  She has a mechanical mind, so she can make improvements to her toys or invent new gadgets to help her friend.  Her only problem is that she gets claustrophobic.  Jinx is the funniest character in the book, because he has really bad luck.  He’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether it’s a gas main exploding under his school desk or bird dive-bombing him.  You always know something bad is going to happen when he’s around, especially when his thumb starts to dance.

If you’re after a fun story, full of adventure, mystery, magic, exciting gadgets, and great characters, The Brain Sucker is the book for you.  I’d recommend it for 9+ and it would be a great read-aloud for Year 5-8.

4 out of 5 stars

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The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

There’s nothing unusual about the Brockets. Boring, respectable and fiercely proud to be as normal as normal can be, Alistair and Eleanor Brocket turn up their noses at anyone strange or different. But from the moment Barnaby Brocket comes into the world, it’s clear he’s anything but normal. To the horror and shame of his parents, Barnaby appears to defy the laws of gravity – and floats. Little Barnaby is a lonely child – after all, it’s hard to make friends when you’re pressed against the ceiling all day. Desperate to please his parents, he does his best to stop floating, but he simply can’t do it. It’s just not who he is. Then, one fateful day, Barnaby’s mother decides enough is enough. She never asked for a weird, abnormal, floating child. She’s sick and tired of the newspapers prying and the neighbours gossiping. Barnaby has to go. Betrayed, frightened and alone, Barnaby floats into the path of a very special hot air balloon. And so begins a magical journey around the world; from South America to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even a trip into space, Barnaby meets a cast of truly extraordinary new friends and realises that nothing can make you happier than just being yourself.

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is one of my favourite books of 2012.  John Boyne has crafted a magical, imaginative tale that celebrates difference and takes us around the world, introducing us to an interesting cast of characters along the way.  If you like Roald Dahl’s books then this is the perfect book for you.  The characters in Barnaby Brocket are similar to Roald Dahl’s characters, especially Barnaby’s horrible, selfish parents.  As soon as he is born, Barnaby is the bane of his parent’s life.  They are normal people who want a normal life, but Barnaby is anything but.  A son who floats and gets a lot of attention threatens their normal lives, so his mother does the unthinkable.  The worst thing is that they don’t even regret what they did! 

I love all the interesting characters that Barnaby meets on his travels.  There’s Liam (the boy with hooks for hands), Joshua Pruitt (the window cleaner with a hidden talent) and the imprisoned members of Freakitude.  They’re all different in their own ways and they not only help Barnaby get back home, but also help him to realise that nothing can make you happier than just being yourself.

Reserve The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket at your library now.

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Meet our August Star Author – Rachael King

Our awesome August Star Author is New Zealand author, Rachael King.  Rachael lives right here in Christchurch and is a great fan of our libraries.  She has written books for adults and recently had her first book for children published, called Red Rocks.  Grab a copy of Red Rocks from the library because it’s a fantastic book.

Rachael will be joining Gavin Bishop and Kate de Goldi at the Read Aloud sessions for the Christchurch Writer’s Festival.  If you’re lucky enough to be going you’ll hear Rachael read from Red Rocks.

Thanks for joining us Rachael!  We look forward to hearing all about your books and writing.

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The Spook’s Blood Book Trailer

If you’re a fan of The Spook’s Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, you’ll be excited to hear the latest book in the series, The Spook’s Blood is released this month.  To make sure you’re one of the first to get your hands on The Spook’s Blood, reserve your copy at the library now.

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Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian Book Trailer

The final Artemis Fowl adventure from Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian, comes out this month.  If you want to find out how the series ends and what happens to Artemis, reserve your copy at the library now.

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