Posts tagged LibraryZac

Michael Morpurgo Month – Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.  We’re celebrating by highlighting some of our favourite Michael Morpurgo stories, including Shadow.

Life in Afghanistan is terrifying for Aman and his family and they want nothing more than to escape.  When a Springer Spaniel appears in the mouth of their cave, Aman nurses the dog back to health.  The dog is like a “friendly shadow” that stays with Aman and his family and so he decides to call her Shadow.  When life becomes more dangerous, Aman and his mother leave their home and escape, with Shadow leading the way.

One of the things I like about Michael Morpurgo’s books is that you often get two stories in one.  In Shadow you get the story of Aman and Shadow, but also the story of Matt and his grandfather who fight to free Aman from the refugee detention centre in England.  There are sad things that happen in the story but there are also plenty of good things that happen, like Aman finding Shadow.

This is the perfect book for anyone who likes animal stories, survival stories, and stories about people from other cultures.    Recommended for 9+         10 out of 10

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My Christmas traditions – Zac’s Kiwi Christmas

Christmas in New Zealand is the complete opposite of traditional images of Christmas.  Movies, books and Christmas cards nearly always show Christmas as cold and snowy, with people wrapped up in their warm clothes and gathered around a crackling fire.  In New Zealand though, it’s warm and (if we’re lucky) sunny, with people in shorts, t-shirts and jandals.

One of my traditions that I start Christmas day with is getting up early to watch cartoons and What Now.  If there’s nothing much on TV I bring out my old favourite videos, Red Boots for Christmas and The Santa Bears.  When I was younger my family would go and have a picnic in Hagley Park for lunch where everyone would bring something different to share.  These days my family brings lunch to my parents’ house.

Christmas can be a really expensive time of the year, so we decided a few years ago to just have a present exchange.  You have to buy 1 present for 1 person and there is a limit to how much you can spend.  You might get a serious present or something silly, and there’s not so much mess to clean up afterwards.

At night after we’re all full of turkey, ham, new potatoes, ambrosia and Christmas Pudding, we sit down and watch the Royal Variety Concert on TV.

What are your Christmas traditions?

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My favourite seriously spooky authors

Some of my favourite stories are ones that creep me out and send a chill down my spine.  When I was a kid there weren’t many authors who wrote horror stories or ghost stories.  R.L. Stine’s books were about the creepiest I could find and he’s still writing them today.  If you look up R.L. Stine in the library catalogue, you’ll find we have 97 of his books in the library!

If you like horror stories, ghost stories or stories about the supernatural there are now lots of authors who write these stories. Some of my favourite seriously spooky authors are:

Who are your favourite seriously spooky authors?

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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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Derek Landy heads Down Under this week

Derek Landy hits New Zealand this week!  If you’re a huge Skulduggery Pleasant fan like me you’ll be itching to meet Derek when he comes to Christchurch on Friday.  You can meet him at The Children’s Bookshop this Friday (10 August) at 4:30pm.

In 2010 I got the chance to interview Derek Landy, author of the Skulduggery Pleasant books.  He is a really cool guy and very funny.  I asked him lots of questions about his characters, his inspirations and writing.  Read the interview to find out the answers to these questions and more:

  • How do you come up with your names?
  • Was Skulduggery’s sidekick always going to be a girl?
  • What specific books, movies and music inspire you?
  • Would you consider making a Skulduggery Pleasant movie?

The latest Skulduggery Pleasant book, Kingdom of the Wicked is out now.  You can reserve your copy at the library.

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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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