Artichoke hearts is a book to make you cry. With laughter as well as sadness. It is Sita’s first book and it is brilliant. Mira is entering her teens and is dealing with the usual growing up problems, boys, best mates and periods. There is also a bit of bullying chucked in. She is dealing with so many changes but on top of that her beloved nana Josie is dying.
Nana Josie is a great character. She is strong, wise, funny and fiesty. Mira and her are really close although sometimes she is a little outspoken for the quiet Mira. She’s an artist with a wide group of friends who used to go on political demonstrations. Josie has a love of nature which she has passed on to her granddaughter.
Mira’s family life is chaotic. Mum and dad are always busy, little brother Krish is a pain and there is baby Laila to add to the mix. There are bullies at school but she does have her best friend Millie. So why has she started to keep secrets from her? She’s discovering boys and is somehow drawn to Jide, a boy who has secrets of his own.
This is a beautiful story. It feels very true to life and except for the fact that it is set in London it could be a family we know. The pace and mood of the characters change so much through the book as they come to terms with more than the fact that Nana Josie is dying. It is an emotional roller coaster ride but a pleasurable one as we get to know Mira better.
The book has just won Waterstones Books childrens fiction award which I think it highly deserves. It’s going on my list of best of 2011. Find a comfortable spot and curl up with this wonderful book and get to know the Levenson family, especially Mira.
Take two cousins Danny and Nick, eco tourists Brio and Roost, Harriet the Parriet, Albatross and Penguins colonies and what do you have? The latest page turner by Des Hunt – The Peco Incident.
Danny lives on the Otago Peninsula and is dreading his cousin Nick coming to stay. He’s ok if he takes his Ritalin but guess what he forgot to pack. The boys become involved with an outbreak of bird flu which threatens the birds of Taiaroa Head. Did the outbreak come from the Peco chicken farm or are Brio and Roost more sinister than they seem?
Des has written a great read. As you’re reading you can imagine the wild rugged landscape of the Peninsula. The relationship between the boys allows for some wonderful humour throughout the book. There is also plenty of adventure as it becomes a race against time among the cliff tops of Taiaroa Heads to save the rare birds.
‘Maybe we should check her out on the web,’ suggested Nick. ‘She might be one of those eco-terrorists.’
It was a good suggestion. That was the thing about Nick. He could be real dumb at times, but he was actually quite intelligent. The problem was recognizing the clever bits in amongst all the rubbish.
Linda Sue Park has weaved two stories into one in this great book. Nya has to walk for two hours each way to get water for her family. She does this twice a day every day. Eight hours a day!
Salva is also walking. Away from his war torn homeland. His journey across Africa from his homeland Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya is a journey that will take many years. Along the way he encounters many dangers.
This book is a novel but it is based on a true story. It is based around the Second Sudanese Civil War which started in 1983. Millions of people were displaced often unable to return to their homes. Among the displaced there were large groups of boys who becam known as the Lost Boys. This is the story of one of those boys.