Monday, May 20, 2013

Beach Party by R.L Stine

This is the first R.L Stine book I have read for teenagers, and whilst I enjoyed us, all I kept thinking the whole time I was reading the book, "I am glad that my daughter didn't have the attitude and self-righteousness of the two teenage girls depicted in this book. "It is essentially a softened-up crime novel for older kids. The two main protagonists, Karen Mandell and Ann-Marie ( a bit wishy-washy) are childhood friends who meet up again when Karen  invites Ann-Marie,who had moved to New York some years before,  to  spend some time with her back in her old stomping ground  in Venice Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles. The more physically-striking of the two, Karen finds herself sought after by two young attractive males, Jerry a seemingly well-balanced guy with great friends, and the other Vince, a leather-clad member of a gang. Karen soon discovers things are not as straightforward as she initially thought, especially after discovering that Jerry already has a girlfriend  called Renee who is non-to-pleased about their blossoming friendship, and that Jerry recently lost his brother in unfortunate accident. Karen starts getting threatening messages to stay away from Jerry, then her friend Ann-Marie starts behaving in an odd manner, and suddenly Karen finds herself being questioned about a murder. The plot,  even if slightly contrived, is not too obvious, and I think most teenage readers would enjoy this book. The only thing I find about R.L.Stine's characters is that they are not very well developed so it is hard to feel an attachment to any of them, but then again like James Patterson, he is known for his racy page-turning publications.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Little Versailles by Marie Sellier

I was reasonably keen when I saw this book up for grabs in an op shop having visited Versailles only two years ago. It is very simplistic but a great introduction to young students to  Louis XIII though to Louis XVI and also to the grandeur of Versailles and the revolutionary climate which existed in France, most notably in the capital city, Paris, in the 17th and early 18th century. There are stunning photographs of The Hall of Mirrors, the king's bedchamber, and the Letto Fountain among others. There are also many painting depicted, such as The Ballroom (circa 1688)and Ferdinand Elle's Madame de Maintenon with her Niece. The book is very staid in its prose delivery but is notable for the spectacular  images which dominate the book. Maybe it needs a little injection of  the "horrible histories" approach.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen

I only purchased this book on the account that I enjoyed Klassen's very witty picture book I Want My Hat Back so much. This particular picture book, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen, was released in Australia in April this year, and it will not disappoint.  Basically, it is about a boy, Laszlo, confronting his fear of the dark. In this new take on an old theme, the dark is the foil of the main protagonist, the scared little boy. The dark is adept at hiding, has many guises, is  unpredictable, and hides in the dark. Klassen's illustrations capably contrast the light and the dark, and also cleverly portray the different hues and moods of the day using overlapping panels of muted colours. There are also pages which are nearly totally black, save the details we see in the beam of Laszlo's torch. 

I am looking forward to sharing this book with Archie, my grandson, when he is old enough to understand it.
Click on the link below to see the trailer promoting the book..

A Ghost in The House by Betty Ren Wright

This is the first book by Betty Ren Wright novel I have read and I am sure it will appeal to some of the upper primary girls. Teenager Sarah is more than happy in her new house in the suburbs, especially her large bedroom dominated by a beautiful fireplace, just perfect for sleep overs with her best friend Lutie. After living in small dinghy inner city dwellings, this house is a welcome change and all the family are enjoying their time there.  However, six months on her father has been laid off and now her Aunt Margaret, the  invalid owner of the house, has moved back in, into Sarah's room. Ever since Margaret's  arrival the atmosphere in the house has changed dramatically. Whenever Sarah is left to look after Margaret alone in the house strange things happen, the room will become suddenly chilly, ornaments move around the room by themselves, and then there's the eerie singing. The image in an old painting is slowly changing and Sarah starts to fear for her life and that of her great aunt. Her mother believes she is just imagining it all and Sarah has no-one to turn to. The plot is uncomplicated and there is enough suspense to keep the reader turning the pages.