Even during the pre-Christmas period life has been busy for me, with my first (and failed) NaNoWriMo attempt, reading, writing and submissions.
Good news is that I've finally chosen the books I read since the last Weekender post that I would like to give a shout out. Because there were so many across genres, I decided to group them and post them into HUMOUR, YOUNG ADULT, FANTASY and SCIFI, each with their own post.
So, please watch this space, if you like my first instalment. Let's start with Humour.
Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore
Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman
Toad Rage by Morris Gleitzman
by Nat Amoore (Puffin 2019)
This is a delightful book about dreaming of riches and fame. I mean, what ten-year old hasn't wished to become a schoolyard millionaire?
Tess Heckleston, heroine of this story, hits the jackpot when her dodgy, criminal neighbour hides a fortune in her backyard. When she finds a bag, filled with exactly one million dollars notes, the possibilities to spend the money seem endless. Toby, Tess' friend thinks it's brilliant too but suggests the money should be spend for just causes only. They soon find out that spending all that money isn't easy. What's worse, spending the money AND staying out of trouble turns out to be impossible.
The dynamic relationship between the two friends, whose approach to life are quite different, is beautiful played out in their finding/negotiating common ground. Tess is the daring, risk-taking, bold and aspiring entrepreneur, who ceases any opportunity to make money; Toby on the other hand is the measured, caring, responsible philanthropist, who makes sure that Tess isn't losing her moral compass. Tess frames her story with the philosophical reflections (the chapters contain tips on friendship, business practice, prejudice, how not to be an idiot, for example) which are hilarious and mark her growth throughout the adventure of becoming a schoolyard millionaire.
The story is funny and fast paced. Tess and her friend Toby are both well-developed characters, who demonstrate that friendship is about trusting and learning from each other, even when there is a difference in opinions. A hilarious debut novel that should bring in the money and make the author's dream come true (in a perfectly legal and well-earned manner!).
Recommendation: A book that's hard to put down. I'm certain it will be devoured by most readers with glee. 8years +
by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin 2007; 2016)
I'm a huge fan of Morris Gleitzman and have binged on his books in the last few months, which is why this is the first of two books in the one blog. Sorry! Couldn't help myself and narrow it down to one! Give Peas a Chance is a collection of fifteen short stories about all the important topics in life like greenhouse gas emissions, saving parents, school projects about dieting mums, strange names, a granddad's legacy, dogs, breakfast and microbes, germs, worms, text messages, prejudice and, of course, peas (and world peace).
The stories are very different and would be great for sharing in a reading group. Some of the characters also appear in other books or are linked to other stories and worlds by Gleitzman.
Funny and witty, the topics touched on in these stories would make for great discussion points.
Recommendation: A great book to read out aloud. The funny language and stories about sometimes serious topics are beautiful and gentle conversation starters. 8years+
by Morris Gleitzman Puffin books 2000)
This is the story of unlikely hero, Limpy, the cane toad. To make the reader see the world through the eyes of one of Australia's most destructive, and perhaps most 'hated' introduced species, is a bold move by Gleitzman.
And it definitely pays off. Through humour, wit and empathy, we learn that cane toads are no different to us: they care for their friends and family, they have dreams and aspirations, they wonder about life and - most importantly - they can be heroes against all odds.
What I like the most is that underneath the cute story about a not-so-cute animal lies another layer of meaning, usually found in fables: a moral that makes us see that a 'pest' - like 'beauty' - is in the eye of the beholder and that walking in someone else's shoes can change our perception of the world; a world that neither holds only right or wrong; good and bad. And there's a bit of political innuendo that the adult reader could read into this story of species invasion, too.
Limpy, the cane toad is an unusual, but convincing hero. If I ever come across a cane toad on the road, I'd have to thank Gleitzman to see, underneath the rather ugly, lethal exterior, a big, beating heart.
Recommendation: This book is fast and deep at the same time, with a lot of cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and therefore a guaranteed page turner for readers 7+.
>>There you have it: three very entertaining, witty books about the world as we (most of us) don't know it. Delights for young and not-so-young readers <<