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: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey (Egmont)
About the book: When everyone over the age of 15 disappears, it is chaotic for everyone left behind. Sam Temple finds himself caught up in this mess, and must figure out where everyone has gone and how to get them back. This is the first book in a six-book series.
What I thought: This book was gripping and had me on the edge of my seat. The plot was fast-paced and you could really relate to the characters. I would really like to read the second book in the series (Hunger), but haven’t been able to find it yet at any of the libraries I frequent (I think everyone else must have loved it so much they kept it!).
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as it contains scenes of cruelty (to people) and violence. It also has supernatural themes. Readers who like The Maze Runner by James Dashner would probably like this book.
Buy Gone here.
Title: Jasper Jones
Author: Craig Silvey
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
About the book: When Charlie Bucktin, a nerdy bookworm of 13, is woken by Jasper Jones, the outcast in their mining town of Corrigan, his whole life changes.
When they discover a dead body, Charlie carries the secret like a brick, not daring to tell anyone for fear of punishment. The story is set in the 1960s and outlines what happens after this event.
What I thought: I think that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read because it is so well-written and the story captures so many elements of everyday life mixed with a horrible tragedy.
I particularly like the character of Charlie’s best friend Jeffrey, and the conversations that the two boys have. Some of the themes talked about in the book include coming of age, secrets, friendship, knowing who to trust, perception and judgement.
I think this book is probably best suited to readers of 14+ as it contains some disturbing thoughts and heavy themes. It is one of the best books of all time.
Buy Jasper Jones here.
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: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
Author: J.K.Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne (original story), Jack Thorne (play)
Publisher: Little, Brown
About the book: Written as a script, this book carries on from the original Harry Potter stories, but 19 years later. Albus Potter, Harry Potter’s son, is struggling, as is Harry.
Albus has found that he cannot do much magic and is finding it difficult to live up to his father’s legacy. While Harry tries to deal with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, both father and son will learn the truth, that darkness comes from unexpected places.
What I thought: This book has not failed to live up to the Harry Potter legacy and is as intriguing and captivating as the original series. I found that even though the book was a script it was not hard to follow.
I thought that the characters were nearly as good as the original trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione – although, during some parts of the book, I was left wondering how they would manage to do this as a stage production!
I think that kids will probably love the story and the format is not too difficult to understand. I recommend this book for ages 12+, but only if you’ve read the Harry Potter series first. It does contain some dark, scary scenes.
Buy Harry Potter And The Cursed Child 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 Outsiders
Author: S. E. Hinton
Publisher: Puffin Modern Classics
About the book: The Socs are the rich kids, the Greasers are from the poor side of town. The Socs’s idea of having a good time is beating up greasers like Ponyboy, who lives with his two brothers. Ponyboy knows what to expect and knows he can count on his brothers and friends, but one night things go too far.
What I thought: Even though this book was written in 1967, it is still a great book that I would recommend to everyone. It’s about gangs in the 1960s and I could really connect to the characters because they felt so real.
I really liked how well it was written and how even in the darkest of scenes there was still humour. I was surprised to learn that S.E. Hinton was only 17 when this book was published.
I would recommend this book for kids 12+ because it has some grown-up themes, violence, some coarse language and sad scenes.
Buy The Outsiders here.
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
About the book: Set in Nazi Germany, this is a beautiful but haunting story.
Beside her brother’s grave, young Liesel Meminger picks up one, single, life-changing object. A book: ‘The Grave Digger’s Handbook’. This is her first act of book thievery and definitely not her last.
Stealing from Nazi book burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library and anywhere else she comes across books, Liesel goes to extreme heights to read.
What I thought: I really enjoyed the way this book was written. It made me feel like I was actually in the story. The way it was narrated was mysterious, which made it even more interesting.
I recommend it for ages 12+, and I think you would like this if you like the author Jackie French, or any historical fiction set in this era.