Posts filed under ‘Chapter Books’
They are many levels on which this story could be read when you know of Eva’s escape from Europe with her family but children will enjoy a good rollicking tale.
My Nanna wasn’t your regular nanna. There were no cakes baking in the oven, no large rounded figure that swept down at you for hugs when you visited and no soft purple hair that was very much the rage when I was a kid. My nanna was wiry, short and loved to tell me stories.
‘Do you want to hear a story?’ she would ask.
‘Yes,’ I would always answer.
‘Well sit down I’ll tell you a story.’
I would spend part of my holidays with my nanna in Warragamba, NSW, a town with identical fibro houses built especially for the men who were working on the famous dam. I used to sleep in a feather bed that was so tall, I had to step on a suitcase to climb into it and it was from there that my nanna used to tell me stories about ghosts.
My nanna could see ghosts, like many of the women in her family over generations. She would tell me about cousins who had passed away that she could see down the street, long-dead sisters sipping tea and men fishing in boats late at night whose hair turned stark white at meeting ghosts in the middle of lakes in the early hours while fishing.
I would sit frozen solid in fascination at her stories and never want her to stop. These nights with nanna, fired in me a life-long love of ghost stories.
I was fascinated by people who could see ghosts and weren’t in the last fazed by it. I’d also been playing with the idea of fear, what causes it and wondered whether the things we were afraid of were worthy of our terror. For this I needed a young girl who was initially afraid of something but in getting to know this thing better, found it wasn’t nearly as frightening as she thought it was. I then had to search for that other great ingredient of all stories….location. Where would I like to live if I were a 12 year-old-girl? I had it! An amusement park. The one I invented was very much inspired by Brighton Pier in England. These were the beginnings of The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, a story about a girl whose family ran an amusement park and who, on her twelfth birthday, spies something very unusual and after a few more curious sightings, is told that her family has a one-hundred-year-old secret….and it has something to do with ghosts.
But there was someone else who furthered my love of ghost stories.
This year was the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens and whilst idly ambling through research about this remarkable author and social reformer, I discovered he shared a love of ghost stories too. It was started by his nanny, Mary Weller, who used to frighten the six-year-old Charlie with penny-dreadful-style gore-fests like those in “Captain Murderer and the Devil’s Bargain”. Of his nanny he would say, “…Her name was Mercy, though she had none on me.”
I also discovered he not only claimed to see ghosts like my nanna but he was the founding member of a club called Ghost Club. One hundred and fifty years later, the club still meets today to talk about and investigate ghostly happenings in the UK. This would be the inspiration for my next book where I would create my own ghost club and have as its most successful ghost catchers, two 11-year-old twins called Angeline and Edgar Usher. Like the real clubsters, they would go to haunted sites, track down ghosts and convince them to stop their haunting ways. So in this way it would be more Scooby Doo than Ghostbusters and my Ghost Club was born.
As much as I loved my feisty, no-nonsense nanna and her lack of fear around ghosts, I always thought if I ever saw one, I’d go running scared.
But I didn’t.
I’ve only ever seen one ghost and it was late at night when I’d climbed onto another high bed that I had when I lived in an old warehouse. I’d knelt at the top of the bed, grabbed the curtains on either side of my window and was about to pull them closed when I saw the face of my nanna. She never said anything, simply stared straight at me. I didn’t run, I didn’t scream and I wasn’t the least bit scared. After a few minutes, she faded away. I calmly drew the curtains shut, feeling as if Nanna was still looking out for me and had a deep and restful sleep. Which was probably one more peaceful sleep than Dickens had after Mary Wellar paid him a visit and began his love of ghost stories almost two hundred years ago.
Visit the next stop on Deborah’s blog tour: http://bugreviews.wordpress.com/
Did you miss the previous stop? See http://westwords.com.au/
To see all the stops on the tour see http://www.DeborahAbela.com
I was attracted to this book because it is also illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark which really does add to this marvellous novel for 8 year olds. It would also make a wonderful book to read aloud as there is plenty of tension and some very funny parts. One day Lucie’s uncle comes to visit with an unusual birthday gift, a wolf! Actually a talking wolf but that is a secret. Everyone thinks it is a dog with some wolfish characterstics. Like sharp teeth and a hungry look and loves to eat raw meat. There is quite a tense scene with the rabbit next door but all ends well. So Lucie continues pretending the wolf is a dog until one day the wolf saves a child from crossing the road and a picture of the wolf gets into the local newspapers. So although the wolf has done a good thing everyone is frightened as it is obviously not a dog. When you think about it wolves have quite a bad name in lots of children’s books so it is nice to balance that out a bit with this extremely imaginative and wild tale.
Peter Nimbles is an orphan which is a good beginning for a children’s book, kids seem to love books about orphans. However he is also blind which seems to help make him the best thief, and picker of locks in the business but unfortunately because he is blind and nobody to care for him he falls into bad company. Upto this point the story could be another take on Oliver Twist but this is just the beginning. He meets a mysterious traveller who gives him a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. You can imagine when he first opened the box and felt three eggs and then broke them. Remember he cannot see!
These eyes take him on the most wonderful and magical adventures.
The cover of this book is dotted with awards, one in each corner. When you read this book you will understand why. This historical novel is set in 1968, Oakland, California at the time of the civil rights movement and the Black Panthers. It tells the story of three young girls who have been living with their grandparents and are now seeing their mother for almost the first time. She is a poet and involved with the Black Panthers and children were not part of that scene.
What makes this such a good novel? What makes a really good historical novel?
I learnt a lot. I laughed and cried a lot. But most of all I wanted those girls to be alright.
That is the way to bring history alive.
I have been reading the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON series to my six-year-old daughter all year since we watched the Dreamworks’ DVD. Apart from character names the books bear little resemblance to the movie but that hasn’t stopped us reading all nine books in the series and we are both already eagerly awaiting book ten which I presume (and hope) will be released late next year.
The series follows the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third who we meet as an 11-year-old (and who turns 13 in book 9). Hiccup is learning how to be a Viking, which he is not very god at. His training involves having a dragon as your obedient companion which he must train for hunting and other essential Viking activities such as being a pirate. Hiccup also has to deal with the fact that he is the heir to the Hooligan Tribe as his father, Stoick the Vast, is the chief which puts considerably pressure on Hiccup to be the best possible Viking.
The adventures Hiccup has are truly fantastic and a deeper, larger mystery slowly emerges over the course of the books as bits and pieces Hiccup picks up along the way slowly come together. Cowell combines well-balanced humour (silly and clever) with truly great original stories that even I am addicted to. Hiccup must overcome the odds in a number of different ways usually with the help of his two best friends; Fishlegs, an even more unlikely Viking and Camicazi, a girl from a neighbouring tribe who is the best burglar in the archipelago in which the Vikings inhabit. The best way I can think of to describe the series is that it is like Asterix goes to Hogwarts.
The books are great for reading aloud for a 5-7 year old and suitable for an 8-12 year old reader. And despite the movie baring no resemblance to the books it is pretty good too!
The series in order:
- How to Train Your Dragon
- How to Be a Pirate
- How to Speak Dragonese
- How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse
- How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale
- A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons
- How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm
- How to Break a Dragon’s Heart
- How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword
previously published on Bite The Book http://bitethebook.com/2011/11/10/colin-meloy%E2%80%99s-wildwood/
I am a massive fan of The Decemberists so when I heard earlier this year than Colin Meloy had written a book I was very excited. That fact that it was a kids book didn’t put me off and the fact that it had a magical world feel to only increased my anticipation. Especially considering my favourite album of The Decemberists is the rock-operatic The Hazards of Love which is a story told across the 17 tracks of the album.
A few reviewers have compared WILDWOOD to The Chronicles of Narnia and maybe in a way it is a modern day version of those stories but I personally think it is infinitely better than the Narnia books and doesn’t need the comparison. The book is set in modern day Portland and focuses on Prue McKeel who takes her one year old brother to the park only to have him carried off by a murder of crows. The crows carry her baby brother off into The Impassable Wood. An area of Portland that has never been settled or developed and is seemingly off limits to everybody. But Prue must get her brother back and with the help of her friend Curtis she sets off on a magical adventure through Wildwood, a land where animals and humans live together but where trouble has been brewing amongst warring tribes and factions.
Meloy has created a totally believable world and I was fascinated by the politics and hierarchies he created within it. I would recommend in for 10 and up only because it gets a little dark in places and a bit of blood spilt. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see where the series goes and if they ever make a movie I hope it’s a condition that Colin does the soundtrack!
No dragons and no time slips! I love a novel that is based on historical facts and set in Sydney. Four children start to poke around an old house and discover an underground world of tunnels. They have discovered the old mine shafts that used to give work to plenty of people in Balmain. They also find out about a world of servants and masters and of war and depression times. As they explore the tunnels they discover hidden doors and trapdoors, and encounter many hair raising adventures. I particularly liked the part when one of the four plunges down into a hole in the ground and the other 3 have to work out how to get her back out. It is a really exciting mystery with the thrill of the chase as the bad guys try to stop them discovering the secrets in the tunnels.
The best detective books for children have to have lots of mysteries to solve plus a believable main character.
Laura is an orphan who is not particularly unhappy or badly treated she just really wants a more exciting life. She loves reading detective novels and in a way these are her escape from a pretty mundane life. Unexpectedly an uncle comes to claim her and off Laura goes to Cornwell. Well she wished for a more exciting life and you know what they say? Be careful what you wish for.
The house is mysterious and rather spooky, her uncle though very nice is also very mysterious and secretive. Add to this the forbidden place of Dead Mans Cove, the silent Indian boy, a message in a bottle and a three-legged dog and we have a very mysterious book indeed with lots to keep us guessing.
Laura is a wonderful gutsy girl,her favourite word is why? Can’t wait for the next mystery.
Lauren St John has written other really good books set in Africa, The White Giraffe and The Dolphin Song to name a few.
I loved this title so I just had to read it. I also loved the part on the back of the book.
“Inside the lilac hedge, two sets of glittering emerald eyes observed Matilda through the heart-shaped leaves. It is the Princess whispered a tiny voice…” Matilda, a young girl is burying a coin at the time, that she is hiding from her sister. At first she is completely unaware she is being observed but is soon draw into another world.
I have always known lots of creatures live in hedges but pixies and fairies I was not quite prepared for but this story really pulls you into a wondrous world as it does Matilda and her sister.
It is not all pixies and fairies though and evil forces are at work which really make for an exciting read,
As well as that there is plenty of humour particularly when the sisters meet a troll and all communication has to be through questions!