August 31

The Colour of Trouble by Gerry Bobsien

Interesting cover and new author. It is always fun to try new things, but sometimes you can be disappointed. I know I started Surf Ache, Bobsien’s previous book, but stopped half way and never found an excuse to go back and finish it. However, this book arrived with my regular delivery of 6 of the best – so my self discipline demands that it get read cover to cover.

Maddy is a typical art student. She is always pushing boundaries, trying new things and experimenting with changes to old. For her art project she has a real idea for some original street art, although the owners of the building might call it graffiti. Right now she is living with her Grandparents! because Mum is working half-way across the country. Her best friend is acting strange and he is even dating a girl he used to pretend to dislike. Life is so confusing, but somehow within these 250 pages, Maddy is supposed to work everything out. And fall in love…

There are a lot of things I liked about this book. Maddy is a vibrant character who literally jumps out off the page. Over the years I have met many girls like her. I also loved the chapter titles. Each one worded as an art exam question, but still reveals meaningful information about what is about to happen. Fascinating, original and helpful. What more could one ask.

 

August 30

The Legacy of Lord Regret by Sam Bowring

Sam Bowring is certainly an exciting new writer for fantasy fans. I love the fact that Orbit are promising the second (and final) book in the series only a month after the first is released. We don’t have to wait a year for the next installment!

Bowring has left behind the world he created for his Broken Well trilogy. Instead he has created a wonderful imaginative place where magic and reality intermingle. Many years before this story begins, eight Wardens held the power that held this world together. Unfortunately with this power came great insanity. Eventually the Wardens realised that they needed to die in order to restore balance to the world. Suddenly now these ‘dead’ magicians, and you can really call them nothing else, are waking up, complete with their power restored. But have they learned their lesson? Is the real purpose of the magic world domination or healing and repair? And what about Rostigan? Has he really changed? All these questions are raised in book 1.

As with his previous series, this fantasy is totally readable. It never takes itself too seriously, and maintains a sense of fun. The names are all comfortable and manageable, not overly complicated and unpronounceable. Personally, I loved the character of Rostigan and really hope that he is as good as it appears.

I look forward to September.

August 30

After by Morris Gleitzman

Once, Then, Now – what more is left? We all thought Gleitzman was done with Felix and his adventures. But wait…there’s more…

This story is set back during World War II. Felix is in hiding, but then he is left alone in the barn with no outside support. Felix, being Felix does not stay still and wait like he was told. No, instead he heads off into the forest convinced that Gabriek is in trouble. From there he gets caught up with a group of partisan fighters and the adventure takes off.

I will admit that I read this in one sitting. I kept looking for a stopping point, but somehow it never happened. Once Felix hits the forest, the plot runs from one climax to another and it becomes very hard to wait for another day to find out what happened. I can imagine this would be a great read-aloud for upper primary students. They would be hanging out for the next installment.

This is certainly an engaging read, but that does not mean that I think it is a perfect book. Gleitzman may be one of the top authors for children in Australia, but sometimes I feel that he has real difficulty handling his characters once they reach adolescence. All the way through this I found Felix’s voice annoyingly childish. He is supposed to be 13 and living independently, but I am not convinced.

I have listed this as lower secondary, mainly because many reading lists put the whole series as appropriate for older students, simply because of the horrific underlying story. Personally I am afraid that older readers would lose patience with Felix and miss out on a superb reading experience. But be warned, the whole series has been written in Gleitzman’s response to the Nazi Holocaust, so the story is never going to be pretty.