Title: Counting by 7s
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
About the book: Willow Chance is 12 years old and a genius. She is obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions. She also finds it comforting to count by sevens.
Adopted as a baby, Willow is independent and not concerned about her oddness at all. When her supportive adoptive parents die in a car crash, her life is turned upside down, meaning she can no longer avoid interacting with other people.
What I thought: This is a very touching and heart-warming book about overcoming challenges and accepting who you are as a person. I really loved the character of Willow Chance, and also Dell Duke, her bored counsellor. The book is written in the first person, so we get a close look at what Willow experiences and her thought processes as she tries to work things out.
I recommend this book for ages 10+ as younger children may not get to grips with the themes. If you like ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio you will probably enjoy this read.
Buy Counting by 7s.
Author: Julie Hunt
Illustrator: Dale Newman
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
About the book: In this graphic novel, KidGlovz is a musical prodigy with a gift so precious that he is kept under lock and key by his manager (also his uncle). When a thief helps him to escape, Kid must go on a dangerous journey, through which he will discover the terrifying nature of his talent.
What I thought: I thought that this was a great graphic novel because the illustrations are beautiful and the fact that it is all in black and white just adds to the texture of the book. The story is interesting and feels like a magical fable. Being a lover of music myself, I could really connect with the book.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+ as it contains some dark scenes. Kids who like music will love it, and even kids who don’t will still enjoy it.
Buy KidGlovz here.
Title: The 78-Storey Treehouse
Author: Andy Griffiths
Illustrator: Terry Denton
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
About the book: Andy and Terry are back at it again in their ‘spectacular 78-storey treehouse’. They’ve added 13 new levels, including an all-ball sports stadium, a combining machine, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre.
When a big-shot Hollywood director decides to make a movie without Andy in it, trouble inevitably results.
What I thought: I thought that this was a good, light read. I’ve read all of the Treehouse series and this one does not fail to live up to the Andy Griffiths/Terry Denton humour, although I have to say that the illustrations are my favourite part of the books (sorry Andy!).
Fans will love the new book, and new readers will probably be begging to read the other five books in the Treehouse series. I recommend this book for ages 7+.
Buy The 78-Storey Treehouse here.
Title: The Other Christy
Author: Oliver Phommavanh
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
About the book: Christy is in a class with another girl called Christie. Christy doesn’t get noticed much whereas the other Christie is popular … and mean. Christy would like for just once to be noticed, and to have a real friend.
What I thought: This book was touching, funny and well written – it touches on themes of friendship, understanding and inclusion. I have read some of the author’s other books and thoroughly enjoyed them, mostly because of the humour and the themes of the story.
This book was similar, but written from the perspective of a girl, which gave it a different feel and would have been hard to do, given the author is male.
I would recommend this book for girls and boys, ages 9+.
Buy The Other Christy here.
Title: Steve Jobs: Insanely Great
Author + Illustrator: Jessie Hartland
Publisher: Random House
About the book: This graphic novel is about the life of the creator of Apple technology, Steve Jobs. I thought that it was really clever putting it into graphic novel format because it makes it easier to understand and it makes a biography fun.
What I thought: I loved all the little illustrations in the book and how it was set out in different chapters for each few years of his life. I learnt a lot that I didn’t know about Steve Jobs and I found the information very easy to understand.
I would recommend this book for ages 11+ as there are references to adult themes. I think that kids who are interested in electronics and the history behind computers would really like this book.
I found Steve Jobs to be an interesting and even inspirational person.
Buy Steve Jobs: Insanely Great here.
Title: The Turners
Author: Mick Elliott
Publisher: Lothian Books
I’m handing over to Book Boy Junior (aged 9) for this review.
About the book: Leo Lennox has an epic problem. You’d think that growing a tail in the middle of the school library would be the worst thing that could happen to you, but Leo is about to discover that things can always get worse and a whole lot weirder… (in a really funny way).
What I thought: Leo is funny – he’s not crazy, in fact, he’s sensible (kind of), but the way he thinks is funny. He’s surprised when a family secret comes out on his birthday, and the story is really adventurous.
I thought this book was really exciting because there were always shape-shifters and different surprises just around the corner.
Mick Elliott has a great imagination and I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
I recommend this book for kids aged 8-11.
Buy The Turners here.
Title: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Tournament at Gorlan
Author: John Flanagan
Publisher: Penguin Random House
About the book: This book is a prequel to the very popular Ranger’s Apprentice series. It is about Crowley as a young ranger who is trying to thwart the plans of the evil Lord Morgarath. He is accompanied by Halt, a gruff Hibernian, and picks up other rangers along the way.
What I thought: I thought this book was really good. It keeps the same qualities of the other Ranger’s Apprentice books – adventure, good vocabulary, humour and a good story. I have often been disappointed by prequels, but this one really stood out. I really liked finding out more about Halt before he became a Ranger. You could start the series with this book, or you could read it after you’ve read all the others.
I would recommend it for good readers of 8+ and, really, anyone who enjoys a good fantasy adventure would love this book.
Buy Ranger’s Apprentice: The Tournament at Gorlan here.
Title: My life and other massive mistakes
Author: Tristan Bancks
Illustrator: Gus Gordon
Publisher: Random House Australia
About the book: My life and other massive mistakes is a series of short stories, much like the Just series by Andy Griffiths. Tom Weekly is the main character in these stories and some of the hilarious antics he gets up to include: extracting his teeth for money, helping his Pop escape a nursing home and using someone else’s nits to try and shut down his school.
What I thought: This is an extremely funny book by a fantastic author. I particularly like how the stories are funny, flow well and are easy to read. I would recommend this book for ages 8+, though good readers of 7+ would also enjoy it. I give this book 8/10 and am looking forward to reading others in the series.
Buy My Life And Other Massive Mistakes here.
Title: The Impossible Quest series
Escape from Wolfhaven Castle
Wolves of Witchwood
The Beast of Blackmoor Bog
The Drowned Kingdom
Battle Of The Heroes
Author: Kate Forsyth
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
About the books: ‘The Impossible Quest’ is a series of books about four children, Tom, Elanor, Quinn and Sebastian, who must go on an impossible quest to save their people from the wicked bog-men. They must find four items: a unicorn’s horn, a griffin’s feather, a dragons tooth and a sea-serpents scale, to awaken the heroes that will save them.
What I thought: I thought that this was a really adventurous series that had me on the edge of my seat at every page. I loved how descriptive and interesting the books were, and the touches of humour. I liked the series so much I went as one of the characters (Tom) for Book Week last year!
I really loved the books and would recommend the series for ages 8+.
Buy The Impossible Quest series.