A single shard by Linda Sue Park

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Tree-ear, an orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated–until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labour of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself–even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard. (goodreads.com).

What I enjoyed most about this book was learning about the laborous process of celadon pottery making. The careful selection and gathering of the grey-brown clay, intricate detailed incisions and finally firing of the vessel that would later transform into a delicate green glaze.

I thought I would share with you the magnificent craft of twelfth century Korean Celadon pottery.

Every page was an absolute pleasure to read! Suitable for all ages.

Ms Ambrosini.

About the author:  Linda Sue Park is a Korean American author of children’s fiction. She has written six children’s novels and five picture books for younger readers. She received the prestigious 2002 Newbery Medal for her novel A Single Shard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Review: The Wrong Boy

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Students who seek to read books similar to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne) and Morris Gleitzman’s Once series will not be disappointed in Suzy Zail’s The Wrong Boy. Australian born Zail is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, whose first person account features Hanna Mendel, 15, living with her family in theDebrecen Jewish ghetto inHungary. Hanna is a talented pianist and has dreams of being a famous musician like her idol, German pianist Clara Schumann. However, her dreams and that of her family, along with the dreams and lives of other Jewish families, are shattered by the Nazis.

When the Nazis arrive and close the ghetto, Hanna and her family, along with other Hungarian Jews living in the ghetto, are being “resettled.” A long and arduous train journey in a cattle car takes them to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp inPoland. Hanna, her mother and sister Erika are separated from her father. Life atAuschwitzis harrowing with Hanna’s mum becoming mentally ill and Erika slowly starving to death until they are taken away ‘somewhere’. But Hanna is chosen to be the camp commander’s (Captain Jager) pianist in his house and while there meets Jager’s son, Karl. The more time Hanna spends at Jager’s house the more she discovers about what is really going on atAuschwitzand the more she falls in love with Karl “the wrong boy”.

The Wrong Boy is a well-written novel that keeps the reader hooked until the end. With a fast-paced and vivid storyline thanks to Zail’s descriptive language makes Hanna and her family’s plight (and those of the other captured prisoners atAuschwitz) seem so real. This is truly a moving and compelling novel, yet is accessible for students from Year 7 onwards.

 

Mrs Morris.

 


Review: War Horse

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Joey, a thoroughbred horse, starts off life as a working horse in England but quickly finds himself confronted with the battlefields of Germany during World War I. War Horse is a re-released novel by British children’s and young adult author Michael Morpurgo and is a tie in with the movie directed by Stephen Spielberg. It is a tale of the special bond between Joey and a young boy named Albert and is told from Joey’s perspective. 

 

Joey as a colt is sold to an often bad-tempered and drunk farmer. Luckily for Joey, the farmer’s son Albert loves and cares for Joey. However Albert’s father sells Joey to the British Army to be trained as a cavalry horse during World War I. Albert is devastated and pledges to find Joey. At 16, Albert enlists in the British Army, but lies about his age in order to find Joey.

 

War Horse is a beautifully written story and is an engaging read for students in Years 7 and 8, but is equally enthralling for adults. The 182-page book is broken up into 21 short chapters making it easily accessible to students.

War Horse the film will be released on DVD on May 2, 2012. Check out the movie trailer below.

Mrs Morris.

 


Review: The Horses Didn’t Come Home

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The Horses Didn’t Come Home by Pamela Rushby is a beautiful story of loyalty and courage that highlights the bond between the Australian Light Horse soldiers and their horses. This Australian novel tells the story of the victorious cavalry charge at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917 during World War I, which is in contrast to the horrific events at Gallipoli.

The story begins with 16-year-old Harry and his family on aQueenslandproperty in 1914. Army officers arrive at Henderson’s Run seeking horses for the Light Horse regiments forFrance,England,Egypt and the Middle East. Harry and his friend Jack decide that they want to serve in the Australian Army as Light Horsemen. When Harry’s horse becomes lame prior to departure, Harry’s sister Laura allows him to take her beloved horse Bunty.

The story is told through two characters’ points of view – Jack and his sister Laura. Much of Jack’s story is told though letters to his family, even letters to Laura from Bunty informing them of his training and battles during his two year deployment in Egypt and the Middle East.

The book’s title pinpoints the story’s ending. The Horses Didn’t Come Home is an accessible and beautifully written historical war novel for students in Years 7-10. It is sure to provide readers with new knowledge and understanding about Australia’s Light Horse regiments during World War I and the infamous cavalry charge at Beersheba.

I highly recommend this book.

Mrs Morris.


Review: The Best Day of My Life Deborah Ellis

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Deborah Ellis’, best known at OLMC for her Parvana trilogy, depicts the disparity between Indian social classes in her latest novel The Best Day of My Life through the eyes of a young orphan girl, Valli. Daily life for Valli in the coal mining area ofJharia,India, is hard to say the least. She fights to overcome hunger, overcrowding and her uncle’s abuse. Valli earns a meagre living collecting coal and she is not allowed to attend school. Her greatest fear is being thrown to the ‘monsters’ in the nearby leper camp. This is truly a story of courage, hope and resilience.

On the best day of her life Valli discovers that the people she believed to be her family were not. Seeking a better life Valli stows away on a truck headed for Kolkata (Calcutta).  She calls upon her innate bravery and resourcefulness to survive by begging and ‘borrowing’, unaware that she too is infected with leprosy. Fortunately Valli meets a doctor to offers to treat her “magic feet” in a leprosy hospital. But first she must decide whether she can trust this doctor and overcome her fear of lepers who she once considered as “monsters”. Over time Valli becomes compassionate for her fellow leprosy suffers and finds her place in a community filled with support, love and care. Importantly Valli sees hope for her future.

The novel is a highly recommended read for students in Years 7-9. The author has included notes on leprosy and a glossary of Indian terms. With its short chapters The Best Day of My Life is an accessible and easy read for students and is a compelling tale of a person’s strength over adversity.

Mrs Morris.


Review: No Safe Place Deborah Ellis

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No safe place

No Safe Place emphasises the strength of human character and determination during times of adversity. Ellis, renowned for her Parvana trilogy, successfully captures the horrific experiences of young characters attempting to escape atrocities associated with war.

Orphaned 15-year-old Abdul flees war-torn Baghdad to a squalid, makeshift migrant community in Calais, France, with high hopes for a better life and opportunities in England. Following an altercation at the camp, Abdul escapes and in desperation sneaks onto a people-smuggler’s boat headed for England. He remains unseen until well at sea. On the boat Abdul meets Rosalia, a 14-year-old Romani girl who has escaped the white slave trade; 13-year-old Cheslav, a Russian military school runaway and 10-year-old Jonah, the people-smuggler’s abused nephew. Once isolated and hardened by their experiences, the four children form a friendship amid battling rough seas and a violent people-smuggler, who is eventually thrown overboard by the refugees.

While sailing toward England and enduring rough conditions, Abdul’s story merges with the stories of the other refugees, Rosalia and Cheslav, who dream of freedom and a life away from brutality and treachery. Flashbacks delving into the past experiences of Rosalia, Cheslav and Jonah draw the reader to a deeper understanding of their harrowing lives that now sees them with Abdul on the boat contemplating a brighter future. Together their myriad of stories of loss, despair and prejudice related in No Safe Place will evoke disbelief and sympathy from readers. During the treacherous boat journey the reader continually wonders whether the group will make it to England and what will happen if they get there.

No Safe Place is a story of courage and friendship based on the true experiences of refugee children seeking to find a place for themselves in the world. Strong and powerful themes emerge, including society’s attitudes to refugees, racism, desperation and hope, resilience, human rights and the importance of home. This well-written novel keeps the reader hooked until the end. With a fast-paced and vivid storyline, realistic characters that allow the reader to connect with their heart-felt stories and feel empathy for their plight, it is an easy-to-read and accessible novel for students in Years 7-9.

Copies of No Safe Place are available at the OLMC Library.


Review The Blood Countess

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pandora englishThe Blood Countess is the first book in the supernatural Pandora English series by supermodel and crime author, Tara Moss, where the paranormal and fashion worlds meet. Moss does not disappoint her readers; she captivates and draws them into the enchanted existence. 19-year-old Pandora English, an orphaned, quiet, country girl with dreams of being a fashion journalist, accepts the invitation to live with her mysterious Great-Aunt Celia in New York City.

But not everything is as it seems for Pandora, nor is New York what she expects. For one, Pandora’s great-aunt’s gothic mansion is in a dark and misty Manhattan suburb, Spektor, that does not exist on any maps nor has anyone heard of it. Celia, formerly a Hollywood Golden Age fashion designer, is strangely young and vibrant and constantly wears a black veil.

After landing her dream job at the aptly named Pandora magazine, Pandora covers the launch of the miracle beauty cream BloodofYouth. Feeling ill-at-ease with BloodofYouth, Pandora sets out to find the truth about the miracle cream, but her search for the truth leads her to dark, unknown places.

The Blood Countess is a beautifully-written novel that kept me hooked from the first until the last page. It is not a vampire novel, but contains paranormal themes and human, superhuman, supernatural and mythological characters and elements of mystery, romance and action. It is an easy-to-read and accessible novel for both teenagers and adults without any exaggerated morbidity. Pandora’s first person narration reads as though she is talking directly to the reader.

The Blood Countess clearly establishes the characters and setting for future novels in the Pandora English series, in particular the mystery surrounding Pandora’s past. The sequel The Spider Goddess is due for release on December 1, 2011. The novel is bound to suit the ‘tastes’ of supernatural and vampire genre readers.

I enjoyed The Blood Countess so much that it is one of the best books I have ever read, even rivalling Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. I eagerly wait to get my hands on The Spider Goddess.

Mrs Morris.


New YA Thriller!!

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This was a novel I have been excitedly waiting in anticipation for – Harlan Coben’s first young adult thriller Shelter… and I wasn’t disappointed! Coben is well known for his masterful suspense and plot twists in the best selling adult crime series starring part-time detective Myron Bolitar.

Shelter is the first book in this new young adult series and is a clever spin-off with the protagonist being Myron’s nephew Mickey Bolitar (who appeared in his last novel Live Wire). Mickey is fifteen, level-headed, daring, gutsy, and all this with a conscience.

He forms an unlikely trio with unique and very likable side-kicks who assist him in solving the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend and the cryptic messages from the strange ‘bat lady’ in his street. Intrigue and mystery spiral out to reveal a complex web of crime solving action that is linked to a major historical event. With moments of laugh-out-loud humour, there are twists, red-herrings, multiple plot lines, and a sense of very real danger. However, the story isn’t as dark or sinister as the cover appears to be.

A fast, page-turning, edge-of-your-seat-the-whole-time read with suspense and shades of noir hard-boiled crime.  I thoroughly enjoyed Shelter, and I’m eagerly waiting for the next book in the series. Although pitched at Yr 9/10 readers, this novel will appeal to all young adults, and adults looking for a different fast paced crime mystery. It’s the perfect introduction for a life-time love of crime fiction.

Go to the Mickey Bolitar website and watch the book trailer – http://www.mickeybolitar.com/

Book  Blurb:

“Mickey Bolitar’s year can’t get much worse. After witnessing his father’s death and sending his mom to rehab, he’s forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.


A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey’s train-wreck of a life is finally improving – until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a gritty underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn’t who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey’s father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury – and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.”

Interested in sharing authors with your daughter?

Recently we’ve seen a flux of adult crime writers spinning off into young adult territory …

John Grisham author of The Pelican Brief , The Firm and many many more … writes his first young adult novel Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. The teenage son of lawyers solves the crimes and mysteries of his classmates. The second book The Abduction has just been released. Yr 7/8.

Kathy Reichs—author of the novel series that have rise to the TV series Bones. Reichs has written her first YA novel Virals starring Tory Brennan, the niece of her print-famous adult protagonist, Temperance Brennan. Crime solving filled with forensic science and action. The second book Seizure has just been released.  Yr 7-9.

James Patterson— branches more into the adventure genre with YA three series—Maximum Ride (urban fantasy), Daniel X (aliens), and Witch & Wizard (fantasy). Yr7-9.

All of the above YA books are available in the College Library.

Happy reading!

Ms Cross.