Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Publisher: Vintage Children’s Classics
About the book: Christopher is 15 and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a lot about maths and he likes counting and prime numbers. He also hates the colours yellow and brown.
When Christopher is on one of his late-night walks, he comes across a dead dog with a garden fork stuck in it and his whole world is turned upside-down.
What I thought: I thought that this book was unique, funny and clever. I liked how the story unfolded as you read. I particularly liked the character of Christopher, and his unusual perspective of the world.
The book is a mystery – in more ways than one – and, while it doesn’t go out of its way to be funny, it is.
I recommend this book for ages 14+ as it contains disturbing images, adult themes and coarse language.
Buy The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
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.
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.
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.