Monday, August 29, 2011

Dead Average by Moya Simons

This book is written by Australian author Moya Simons who likes to write about family situations. (I was pleased to find out that we both have something in common; we don't like people who whinge.) It is an easy read for the 9-12 age range and has no pretentions whatsoever. It is a simple plot about twelve year old Danny Thompson, the average boy next door, who lands himself a role in a television commercial for an "essential pharmaceutical product." He thinks he is about to make a fortune, something like between five hundred and a thousand dollars for one day's work... but... of course there wouldn't be a story if things pan out as he he expects. This book is a sequel to Dead Meat which I actually haven't read but it reads well as a stand alone novel. Danny's dad owns a delicatessen just down the road and his mum helps out there when she can. His baby sister whom he calls Bub Tub keeps everyone fairly busy, especially her infatuation with keeping dead cockroaches as pets. You have to love the Australianisms in this novel: "My face is hotter than Bondi Beach.""I'm just an average kind of bloke." Each chapter basically encapsulates a witty story about the family.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

McMummy by Betsy Byars

This novel by Betsy Byars is a little bit dated, telephone booths still rule, and there are no mobile phones. Messages from overseas still arrive by telegram and the two main characters ring each other up from home lines; they don't text. There are many elements of the modern day novel missing, but if you like Betsy Byars as an author this book won't disappoint. The main character Mozie has lots of character (his adopted cat which fell out of a plane is called Pine Cone and he calls his house Crumb Castle), and it's fun to follow his adventures when he has to look after the plants in Professor Orloff's greenhouse which is located near a forbidding forest. His best friend, Batty has been grounded and he must make to visits to the spooky greenhouse to water and fertilise the plants there by himself. The scary thing is the huge pod tucked away in the far corner of the garden and it hums; it's downright weird. Mozie is both fascinated by it and scared of what could be inside. The huge thunder storm which wreaks havoc on the town adds to the intensity of the plant drama. There is no cast of thousands, the only two other significant characters are Mozie's mum, who sews dresses for a living and Valvoline, one of her clients. Then there is Richie, whom he babysits and Richie's mum, Mrs Hunter. It is a straightforward read, probably a good book to put between two challenging reads.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

This novel comes next after Over Sea, Under Stone, which is also in the Little Library of Rescued Books. This series will get you in once you start reading it...and there is the film which can watch. I have The Seeker: the Dark is Rising DVD for any student who wishes to watch it. You can have a sneak preview by watching the trailer below. In this book the main character is eleven year old Will who is the seventh son of the seventh son, and he learns that he is an Old One whose destiny is to struggle for The Light(the good) against The Dark(evil). It contains elements of realistic fiction as well as fantasy. If you liked Harry Potter series, or books by the author C.S. Lewis, then I imagine you will enjoy this series too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Own the Racecourse by Patricia Wrightson

Andy Hoddel is different from other boys but he is well-liked and is very friendly. He is duped into buying a Beecham Park Racecource from a tramp for $3 and firmly believes he owns it and is excited about the prospect of sharing it with his mates. His friends are not quite sure how to break the neews to him that he doesn't own it. This novel was made into a television movie in 1986 but so far I haven't been able to get a copy of it. Patricia Wrightson is an Australian writer who sadly passed away last year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindren

This book is a classic and is popular across the world. Eight-year-old Pippi Longstocking (Pippi L√•ngstrump) is somewhat eccentric, knows her rights and has superhuman strength. For example, she can lift a horse without any trouble, and that's only with one hand! She isn’t always respectful of her elders and frequently mocks them, especially those adults who are condescending, unkind or just plain stupid. You know when she’s angry as she turns white around the nose. She never wants to grow up, in many ways she is like Peter Pan. This book has been made into many a movie and television series. You may wonder why the lip-synchronization is so bad in the clip below, it’s because it has been dubbed in English. As always, the original language, Swedish, is the best. There are three full length Pippi Longstocking books.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Do You Think Feezal? by Elizabeth Honey

There are now two copies of this book in the library so you could read it with a friend. This is a tale about a girl called Bean, a skyscraper called the Blue Boat, big business, some horrible robbers, a Harley-Davidson motor bike, abseiling, family, friends, computers, babysitters and many other things. But mostly it is about a poor little rich girl who outwits her kidnappers. Oh, and she desperately wants a dog. Read about the book in an interview with Elizabeth Honey done at the time of the release of the book.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Brand New to the Little Library of Rescued Books is this brand new books which is one of my all time favourites. It is one of the easier classics to read and has been made into a beautiful film. Below you can take a sneak preview. I am thinking of bringing in my Video player so students can individually watch some of the videos I have kept; this could be a new experience! Originally this book was published as a serial format and it was published in its entirety in 1910. The central character, Mary Lennox is a snotty-nosed, middle class brat who you could almost classify as narcissistic. She has recently been orphaned and has been given a home by her uncle in a remote and quiet country house. Her uncle, Mr Craven, doesn't seem to have visitors, in fact, he has almost completely cut himself off from people since his wife died. Mary is intrigued by the garden and finds a hidden side to the house when she hears a crying child. She discovers an overgrown garden which is walled off from the rest and her curiosity gets the better of her and soon she urgently seeks the key to unlock the secrets of the garden.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jezza Sez by Libby Hathorn

Jezza (Jeremy Smith) is a popular kid and he want to make money to buy a rubber dinghy. His close friends Arnold, Florence and Costa readily agree to help him in his money making adventures. However, the baby sitting doesn't work, the paper run doesn't work out too well either, but despite some setbacks the money sock is steadily filling up. Then, suddenly his mum urgently needs the money for something else and Jezza has to make some decisions. This little novel is now out of print. It is an easy read and each chapter has a detailed ink drawing by Donna Rawlings. Have a look at Lauthor Libby Hathorn's colourful website:

Selby Speaks by Duncan Ball

Selby is a dog, a very unusual one. You see, he can speak. Yes, he has the gift of the gab and but he has to keep it a secret just in case his owners, the Trifles, ask him to do chores like answering the telephone or doing the shopping. But worst of all they might even hand him over to some well-meaning scientists and then he’d have to spend the rest of his life being studied and subjected to stupid questions. But when he is caught in a cage with Two-Tooth Tina and is about to be dumped over a cliff he has no choice but to talk. This is an easy enjoyable read with humorous cartoon pictures by Allan Stomann scattered throughout. Duncan Ball has a well-develped website where you can read more about his books and also find out more about Selby the talking dog:

The Haunted Mask II by R.L.Stine

Steve Boswell is not happy about having to coach the grade one soccer team as punishment for releasing a squirrel in the girls' locker room. He says they are nothing but animals! His best friend, Chuck, hasn't exactly been helpful either. Anyway, Halloween is fast approaching and Steve wants to have the scariest outfit in town. He wants a mask like the one Carly Beth had last year which had everyone running for their lives. So he decides to purchase one from the store where she bought hers. The only trouble is that the store is no longer open for business so he steals one from the basement; a creepy old man mask with stringy hair and spiders bursting from the ears. However, this evil mask start to suffocate him and take over his body. Check out the video clip below to find out a bit about the horrors that await Steve:

An Uncommon Friend by Lisa Shnookal

So far there are no reviews of this book on the web. This is Australian author Lisa Shnookal's first book. Lisa, who has a teaching background, has worked mainly with disadvantaged teenagers and this book reflects these experiences. The story is set in Melbourne and spans the years 1970-1976, and the action is seen through the eyes of thirteen year old Lucy Runelli who lives with her younger brother Andy and her older sister, Gina. When, as a 13 year old she first meets Scott Allen (Scotchie), she is not impressed; he may well be the son of a judge but he has far too many bad habits for her liking. The fact that her dad is an Italian party boy certainly doesn't help matters. This book is definitely for a mature high school reader and deals with many issue which face students in their mid-teen years.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pizza Features by John Larkin

This novel continues the story of loser and westie Eric Underwood, a grade 9 student, whom we first met in Spaghetti Legs. It is followed by Lasagna Brain which can be found in our Little Library of Rescued Books. Eric believes he didn’t get the looks and he has been battling with acne. He is unlucky in love and has just been abandoned by Veronica, whom he’d thought was the love of his life. He has to move out into the shed after his younger brother nearly decapitates him. To top off all his woes he has been told he has to accompany his grandmother to England, just what all teenage boys love to do! To find out more about John Larkin, the author, visit his webpage:

Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left by Robin Klein

Another good read from Australian author Robin Klein. If you like Science Fiction you might like this book. It is all about a a family who have been exiled from planet Zyrgon after Father deviously won the government lottery 27 times in a row. They come to live on Earth and are finding the adaption difficult despite their extraterrestrial powers. The customs on Earth cause all sorts of problems for them, especially Father's compulsive gambling habits, Qwrk's amazing intellectualism at age five, and Dovis' absentminded levitation of things. Then, to top it off, Aunt Hecla arrives unexpectedly with her home-made space raft and things get even trickier. The book was turned into a television series with 28 episodes. They were all filmed in Melbourne. Below you can view part one of the series.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wavelength by Daryl McCann & Debbie Forbes

This short novel is written by husband and wife team Daryl McCann and Debbie Forbes. It's all about Jude Hollit who thinks he will be famous one day. The school prefect, David Warbridge, who he likens to a "huge, blonde surf Nazi," gives him a hard time at school and his middle-aged parents act like teenages. Yet, he firmly believes that when he's playing NBA basketball at St Andrews College that he will finally get the respect he deserves declaring, "I'll be a zillion times more famous than my father, that old has-been." However, things don't really go to plan and Jude has to find another way to make it to the top. This book is fairly dialogue-driven and is a relaxing and enjoyable read.