Gracie and Josh by Susanne Gervay and Serena Geddes

My name is Gracie

Today, I’m a squiggly black spider.

My brother Josh helps me make my spider legs

They look like fat sausages.

Josh gives me his woolly black beanie.

His favourite one has green stripes.

My name is Gracie

Today, I’m a squiggly black spider.

My brother Josh helps me make my spider legs

They look like fat sausages.

Josh gives me his woolly black beanie.

His favourite one has green stripes.

Gracie makes a spider costume with the assistance of her older brother, Josh. He’s happy to share one of his beanies, and today he wears his favourite one. Together the pair play. Gracie acts and sings, and Josh captures it for his film. Shooting a film takes some time and the reader follows the pair through the days and weeks as Josh captures footage for his film. There are good and bad weeks as Josh battles cancer and has a visit to hospital. There are appointments to do with his treatment, and every day events like visiting the dentist and attending school. And then there is the grand premiere of their film. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour set in plenty of white space. There are dark days when Josh’s is less well, and brightness when they can temporarily put aside their worries in the joy of living each day.

Gracie and Josh is the story of making a film, with Gracie on stage, and Josh recording her antics. It is a portrait of normal things in a time of great challenge, as Josh and his family do what they can to fight his illness. Gracie’s observations are simple and direct as they reflect their life, and the passage of time is marked by Josh’s ups and downs. ‘Gracie and Josh’ seems simple but the depiction of family is powerful without any glossing over of the seriousness of Josh’s illness. It is a moving story of love and laughter, written and illustrated with realistic and delicate style. Recommended for early primary readers and any family who may be experiencing the trauma of serious illness.

Gracie and Josh

Gracie and Josh, Susanne Gervay ill Serena Geddes Ford Street Publishing 2013 ISBN: 9781921665851

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Greylands by Isobelle Carmody

‘That’s not the beginning,’ Ellen said, pointing to where Jack had written about the sky.
‘Stop reading over my shoulder,’ he ordered.
‘But you said you were writing about how it was after Mama died.’
‘I am, but I’m telling it my way.’
‘What does that mean? You’re making stuff up?’
Jack thought about it. ‘You have to. Real life isn’t like a story with a beginning and a middle and an end. It’s everybody’s stories all muddled together. But this will be my story and I’m starting with me dreaming that Mama told me she had wings.’
She did tell us she had wings,’ Ellen said.
‘I know she did. That’s why I put it in.’

‘That’s not the beginning,’ Ellen said, pointing to where Jack had written about the sky.

‘Stop reading over my shoulder,’ he ordered.

‘But you said you were writing about how it was after Mama died.’

‘I am, but I’m telling it my way.’

‘What does that mean? You’re making stuff up?’

Jack thought about it. ‘You have to. Real life isn’t like a story with a beginning and a middle and an end. It’s everybody’s stories all muddled together. But this will be my story and I’m starting with me dreaming that Mama told me she had wings.’

‘She did tell us she had wings,’ Ellen said.

‘I know she did. That’s why I put it in.’

Jack, his sister Ellen and their father are mourning the death of their mother. Their world seems to have lost all colour. Ellen has questions he can’t answer, and their father won’t. Their father is retreating more and more into unrecognisable and impenetrable sadness, while Jack is being seduced by the curiosities and questions and potential answers in Greylands. There he encounters Alice, a unknowable girl who carries a precious bundle that she will not relinquish, and a sad laughing beast. There are cats and towers, wolvers and those who can fly. Greylands is fascinating and compelling and Jack finds himself pulled into the unfamiliar world.

<a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665677&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”>Greylands</a> inhabits the world of grief. Each character who enters Greylands must make their own journey through, without being sucked into the wanting. Jack, like so many children, nurtures a hidden guilt that his mother’s death is partly his fault. Readers will see much that Jack cannot. ‘Greylands is a portrait of grief, but also of the strength and clarity that can be found by navigating through difficulty. It is a picture of family bonds and love. Recommended for upper primary and secondary readers. Some readers will enjoy the fantasy, while others may unpack the symbols and metaphors.

 

<a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665677&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/affiliate_show_banner.php?ref=271&affiliate_pbanner_id=46298769″ border=”0″ alt=”Greylands”></a>

<a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665677&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”>Greylands</a>, Isobelle Carmody Ford St Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921665677

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

 

Available from good bookstores or <a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665677&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”>Online</a>.

Riggs Crossing by Michelle Renee Heeter

I wake up with the sun shining through the cracks in the dusty, crooked blinds. Down the hall, other girls are using the showers and toilets. I need to go, but I closemy eyes and hold it in. I usually wait until everyone’s been gone a while before I go to the bathroom, because fat Karen always leaves the place smelling like a sewerage treatment plant. Considering how much she eats, she probably drops a huge elephant turd every morning. Wouldn’t that be the definition of a home, a place where you don’t mind the smell of the other people who’ve gone to the toilet before you?

I wake up with the sun shining through the cracks in the dusty, crooked blinds. Down the hall, other girls are using the showers and toilets. I need to go, but I closemy eyes and hold it in. I usually wait until everyone’s been gone a while before I go to the bathroom, because fat Karen always leaves the place smelling like a sewerage treatment plant. Considering how much she eats, she probably drops a huge elephant turd every morning. Wouldn’t that be the definition of a home, a place where you don’t mind the smell of the other people who’ve gone to the toilet before you?

Len, a young teenager, is in a children’s refuge house. She was found in a wrecked car in a gully after what appears to be more than a car accident. Len’s not even her real name, but a name that was on the jumper she was wearing when found. Her body is healing, but her brain has shut down some of the memories of before. She’s prickly and inward looking. She has little tolerance for those around her, and cleans obsessively. She’s resistant to the efforts of the live-in counsellor and even more reluctant to go to school, though she’s clearly bright. She’s a loner. Gradually, memories return, although she doesn’t tell her counsellor. This is her story and she trusts no one else with it. Not until she’s remembered the worst thing, the memory of how she came to be in that car. And that reminds her that she may still be in danger.

<a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665707&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”>Riggs Crossing</a>is the story of one girl’s road to recovery after severe trauma. It’s set in contemporary Sydney and also in the interior world of a young teenager. A teenager whose childhood memories return in unexpected flashes that don’t always make sense. Meanwhile she shuts out the world around her using all manner of anti-social but protective behaviours. Heeter shows the reader that everyone has a story and it’s impossible to engage with anyone without some sense of where they’ve come from. Len’s thirst for knowledge, both of her own history and of the world around her is clear, even when often camouflaged by her prickliness with her housemates and those who would care for her. Recommended for secondary readers.

<a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665707&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/affiliate_show_banner.php?ref=271&affiliate_pbanner_id=46298771″ border=”0″ alt=”Riggs Crossing”></a>

R<a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665707&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”>Riggs Crossing</a> Michelle Renee Heeter

Ford St Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921665707

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com
Available from good bookstores or <a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665707&affiliate_banner_id=1″ target=”_blank”>online</a>.

Gamers' Challenge, by George Ivanoff

Sequel to ‘Gamers’ Quest’

 

Zyra took aim, almost saying a prayer to the Designers out o habit, and pulled the trigger. She watched the crossbow bolt slice through the air, pinning all her hopes on it as it made its way to its target. Could this bold be different? Could the fact that it belonged to the monks from the Temple of Paths be the deciding factor?

But just like every other wean Zyra had tried, the bold did not do its job. It froze as it met its target. Pixel by pixel, it was deconstructed and absorbed into the grey, sizzling nothingness.

 

Zyra and Tark have been part of a game world. Now, although they’re still in the world, they no longer have the protection of the Designers. They are no longer invincible, their weapons aren’t working, they need food and sleep. In their new quest for survival, they must find the Ultimate Gamer. Only he has the skills to help them overcome the virus that is sending deadly grey balls of static after them. Even when they think they know everything there is to know about the game, they discover that there is so much more to learn.

 Gamers Challenge is a sequel to ‘Gamers’ Quest’. As in the first novel, there are many explosions, near misses and even bells and whistles! Zyra and Tark are keen to be together but events conspire to keep them apart. There are clues to be investigated, wrong turns, trusted figures who can not be trusted. There are also visitors from ‘Gamers’ Quest. <a href=”http://www.fishpond.com.au/product_info.php?ref=271&id=9781921665516&Gamers Challenge could be read as a stand alone title, but is much richer for the knowledge of ‘Gamers’ Quest. There are themes of trust, loneliness and family. This is a fast-moving novel, guaranteed to attract those who love video quest games. Recommended for 12+.

Gamers Challenge
Gamers Challenge;, George Ivanoff&
Ford St Publishing 2011
ISBN: 9781921665516

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

 

This book is available from Fishpond.

Gamers' Quest, by George Ivanoff

1: Tark
Tark perched in a tree and waited. He kept his eyes on the path that wound its way through the Forest. He knew it was just a matter of time. All he had to do was wait…and commit highway thievery. he wondered, as he sat on this branch, whether or not the term highway thievery still applied if the perpetration occurred on a path. Pathway thievery? Would that make him a pathwayman instead of a highwayman?

Tark and his friend Zyra are both thieves. It’s what they have to do to survive. Survival in their world is a daily challenge. As if having to thieve wasn’t enough, there is magic and illusion everywhere. They are always on guard, always aware that nothing is quite as it seems. There are rules for the likes of them, rules that preclude them ever becoming more than friends. Tark overcomes a dragon in his quest for riches, but inadvertently sets off a chain of events when he is challenged by the dragon’s wife. Simultaneously, Zyra upsets The Fat Man and the pair are in even more danger. All they really want is a chance to visit Designers Paradise for a short while, to experience a ‘normal’ life.

Gamers’ Quest twists and twists as reality and fantasy combine and separate. The reader is presented with a reality that feels like fantasy and then a fantasy that resembles reality. What if the characters in a computer game were real and the world in which we live was actually part of a game? Where there were tasks to be mastered, tokens of success to be gathered, rewards to be won? This is the rollercoaster of Gamers’ Quest. The only sure thing is the friendship between Tark and Zyra. Together, with their combined skills, they must pit themselves against a changing world, before it is too late. Gamers’ Quest moves at breakneck speed from challenge to reward, from one world to another. Pitched squarely at readers who are computer-skilled, and game fans, it is a wild adventure. Recommended for upper primary to early secondary readers.

Gamers’ Quest, George Ivanoff
Ford St Publishing 2009
ISBN: 9781876462864

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.