Title: Assassin’s Creed: A Walk Through History (1189-1868)
Author: Rick Barba
About the book: Have you ever wanted to know what life was like in the time of the Crusades or the Italian Renaissance?
Filled with fun facts, historical artefacts, snapshots of important dates and people, then this book is for you. Based around the hit video games ‘Assassin’s Creed’, the book aims to bring the worlds to life.
What I thought: I really loved the way that this book was presented. It’s got lots of little pieces of different information, which add up to build a big picture. The time periods it looks at are interesting because they’re very big events in the world’s history, and it takes an in-depth look at them and the people who made them happen.
Making it based around the video game helps to get kids, particularly teenagers, interested in history, which I think is a very good thing.
I’d recommend this book for ages 10+, as you don’t need to have played the video games (which are rated at least M) to enjoy the book. If you have played the game, you’ll probably get even more out of it because you’ll understand the world’s in which your characters are moving.
Buy Assassin’s Creed: A Walk Through History (1189-1868) here.
Title: 50 Shades Of Grey Matter
Author: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
About the book: Have you ever wondered why it is dark at night? Have you ever walked into a room and immediately forgotten why you are there?
Well this book holds the answers. Learn about the wonderful ways of science and impress your friends with knowledge such as why the sky is blue, all thanks to Dr Karl.
What I thought: I really loved this book because Dr Karl makes science fun and funny. As well as the science facts in the book, some of the general knowledge in it can be useful and clever to show off! For instance, I was able to tell my mum why she’d forgotten why she’d entered a room…
Having read one Dr Karl book, I immediately searched out others.
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as some of the science in there, although being presented in a fun way, can get a bit confusing. If you like Adam Spencer, then you will love Dr Karl.
Buy 50 Shades Of Grey Matter here.
Author: Helen Chebatte
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
About the book: In a school divided into racial gangs, there are three unspoken rules:
- Stick with your own kind
- Don’t dob on your mates (or your enemies)
- Respect the family.
But fight clubs, violence and racial prejudice get in the way of these rules. Romeo Makhlouf knows to follow these rules, but when he gets into a fight with another boy, the rules become so much harder to follow.
What I thought: This confronting book feels like a modern-day version of The Outsiders, with its gangs, love and engrossing plot line. Set in Australia, it feels realistic and very close to home.
I didn’t really connect with a lot of the characters, possibly because they were the tough guys of the school, who started a lot of fights, but I still really liked the book. It was an interesting insight into racism in teenagers.
I think a lot of boys would really enjoy Bro, although Romeo is in year 10 so it feels like an older book. I would recommend it for ages 14+. Anyone who enjoys reading books by S.E. Hinton, or very Australian books, would like this one.
Buy Bro here.
Author: Lizzie Wilcock
About the book: Fourteen-year-old Karanda Hooke is on her way to her sixth foster home when a crash leaves her stranded in the Central Australian desert with a backpack, a bottle of water and an old picture of her mother.
She realises that this could be her escape from the foster system, but there is one slight problem. Eight-year-old Solomon wants to tag along.
What I thought: I thought this book was really well-written, because it kept me interested, unlike most ‘wandering through the desert’ books. I hesitated before picking it up, because I thought it might be long and boring. But I was hooked before I knew it because the writing was so good.
I particularly liked the character of Solomon, with his knack for survival and vast knowledge of plants and animals.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+ as some themes in it might upset younger children.
Title: The Amateurs
Author: Sara Shepherd
Publisher: Hot Key Books (Allen & Unwin)
About the book: It’s been five years since Aerin’s sister disappeared, and a year since she was found dead in the forest near her house. Police have long-since closed the case but her murderer was never caught. Then she meets, via an amateur sleuth website, Seneca and Maddy, amateur crime solvers, who turn up and put the case on its head.
What I thought: This book was full of so many secrets and twists, it was impossible to know who the murderer was until the end. I really enjoyed having that element of trying to match your wits against the characters to see who could solve the crime first, but I admit I didn’t see the twist coming!
I really liked how all the voices sounded very real and contemporary, and how the point of view changed, so you could see every character’s perspective on the case.
This book contains very strong themes, coarse language, references to drug use and strong violence. It’s definitely not for readers under 14.
Buy The Amateurs.
Title: Friday Barnes: Girl Detective
Author: R. A. Spratt
Publisher: Random House Australia
About the book: When 11-year-old Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country.
Friday is shocked to discover that the school is full of crime. Soon students are paying her to investigate everything from missing memorial clocks to a Yeti running around the school.
What I thought: I thought that this book was a very interesting, easy read. I could relate to the character of Friday because I, too, love detective novels. The story seemed to move along and there were no boring bits.
This is an entertaining, enjoyable read for both boys and girls of 9+ and fans of Encylopedia Brown will like it. There are six books in the series, with book 7 due out later this year.
Buy Friday Barnes Girl Detective.
Title: Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Yearling (Random House)
About the book: Kyle has never loved libraries, but he has always loved boardgames. When he discovers that the world’s most famous game maker has designed the town’s new library, and the winners of an essay contest will get to stay overnight in the library on opening night, he is determined to win.
During the lock-in, he will need all of his smarts, courage and determination to escape from Mr Lemoncello’s library.
What I thought: This book had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what would happen next and how the clues fit together. It’s a mystery and an adventure all wrapped up together. I particularly liked the character of Mr Lemoncello because he reminded me a bit of Willy Wonka.
I also liked the literary references scattered throughout the book. Let’s just say, the book was so interesting that I struggled to put it down and read it very quickly.
I would recommend this book for ages 11+. If you like mystery stories, adventure stories and puzzles, you will love this book.
Buy Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library.
Book Boy Jr (aged 10) is back this week to review a very funny book by David Walliams.
Title: Gangsta Granny
Author: David Walliams
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
About the book: This is a crime novel but with a twist because the criminal is none other than a Granny. Ben finds himself trapped in a world of surprises and mystery after he discovers his Granny is a thief.
What I thought: This book twists and turns from page one to the very end. It is very enjoyable because a) it’s good to find a new author that I like and this is the first David Walliams book that I have read (not the last!) and b) it is VERY funny.
There are some illustrations, to help keep things even more interesting, and the story is very fast-paced. My favourite character is Granny, because she reminds me of my Gran (not because my Gran is a thief but because she’s very exciting and fun to be with).
I would recommend the book for boys and girls who are aged 8-10. If you liked Artie and The Grime Wave by Richard Roxburgh, you would like this book.
Buy Gangsta Granny.
Title: The Doctor
Author: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
About the book: Have you ever wondered why alcohol makes you speak louder? Or how to tell which part of a movie the audience is watching – without looking? Well, Dr Karl is your man.
This collection of random science facts and questions, answered in an easy-to-read and understandable format, is sure to amaze you and leave you awestruck!
What I thought: I really loved how approachable this book was. It is not set out like a textbook or a big boring scientific volume. Instead, it is set out in sections, with each describing and explaining one concept.
Dr Karl has brought his signature humour to an otherwise not-very-funny subject, making it entertaining and informative. He is one of my favourite non-fiction authors, alongside Adam Spencer.
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as younger readers may find it hard to follow or be disinterested in the subject matter. If you’re looking to learn something new, or you just love science, you will enjoy this book.
Buy The Doctor.
Title: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Little, Brown/Hachette
About the book: Newt Scamander is on a trip to America with a case full of magical beasts. When some of the animals from the case escape, it is up to Newt, his non-magical friend Jacob and Tina from the American Ministry of Magic to find them.
This screenplay is about what happens next.
What I thought: I thought that this screenplay flowed very easily, although I didn’t think it would due to its format. J.K. Rowling has brought many of her famous writing elements to this screenplay, making it truly feel like another wonderful Harry Potter story.
I read this before I saw the movie, and it felt like I’d read a Harry Potter book and then watched the movie, not like the whole story had been given away in advance. I think that doing this showed me how much a filmmaker’s imagination develops the story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, as younger readers may find the story and format a little bit confusing.
Buy Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.