Jack has a problem. George Hamel, the school bully, has started calling him Bum-head. Soon, the whole school is calling him names, spitting at him, even hurting him physically. Jack can’t tell his mum because she has too many other things to worry about. He will have to work it out for himself.
I am Jack, by Susanne Gervay is a special story about bullying, and one child’s experiences of it. Gervay deals with a sensitive topic with insight and gentle humour, so that younger readers are being educated while they are being entertained, rather than being preached at. There are no quick-fixes or bandaids to fix Jack’s problem, but rather an awakening on the part of those around Jack as his family and his school work together to tackle the problem for Jack and for all other victims of bullying.
I am Jack should be compulsory reading for every parent, teacher and child aged 8 to 12. It is a truly wonderful book.
I am Jack, by Susanne Gervay
Angus and Robertson, 2000
Sam isn’t keen on going on school camp. For eight days he and a group of boys he doesn’t particularly like are going to trek through the bush, over mountains and even into caves, on a survival camp that is supposed to be a physical and personal challenge.Sam’s friends are in a different group and he has nothing in common with the ones he’s with.
The camp has all the challenges Sam expects – no toilets or showers, gruelling walks, not enough decent food – and plenty that he doesn’t. As well as dealing with these, he must also deal with the memories evoked by the camp – memories of happier times, camping in the bush with his grandfather before he died. The camp will reveal many things he didn’t know before, about himself and about the people around him.
The Cave is much more than a story about a school camp. It is an exploration of modern male youth culture. Violence, bullying, drugs and sex mingle with more positive elements such as mateship and loyalty. As Sam learns, so does the reader.
Susanne Gervay has a style which allows readers inside the minds and emotions of her teen characters to reach understanding of the complexities of their lives. Teen readers will learn and grow, but there is much here for older readers as well.
The Cave, by Susanne Gervay
Angus and Robertson (An imprint of Harper Collins), 2002.
How would it be if farts came out coloured blue, so that everyone could see – in the middle of assembly? And how would it be if a boy swallowed fish eyes and blue vein cheese and pigs’ hearts and lambs brains and then vomited all over the floor at McDonald’s? What about a boy with a collection of boogie, all labelled and nicely displayed? Sound a bit gross? Well, that’s the idea.
So Gross, by J. A. Mawter, is a collection of stories sure to make the most with it adult say “ewwww” very loudly, but equally sure to make young readers laugh out loud. From booger collections to blue farts and techni-coloured vomit, and lots more, kids aged 8 to 12 will find plenty to laugh about and share with their friends.
Each story in So Gross is several chapters long, so that kids can satisfy themselves with a well-developed read in each sitting. This format makes the bok ideal for reluctant readers (especially boys), who will love both the subject matter and the sense of achievement with actually finishing each story.
A fun book.
So Gross, by J.A. Mawter
Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2001
Allyso of Torm is nearly fourteen, but doesn’t look older than eleven. Even those who know her have trouble remembering her age. Yet Allyso is the heir to Torm, and knows she will one day have to lead as Merritt, her uncle, does now.
Merritt is known for his generosity and good nature, but this generosity is pushed too far when a stranger comes to their home. Soon the castle is under siege and Merritt is dying, cursed by the very stranger he so generously gave lodging.
Only the Gem of Time can save Torm and its inhabitants, but Allyso is the only one with opportunity to leave the castle and find the gem, and the sorcerer who can use it, The Master of Time. Does this slip of a girl have the courage and the strength to survive this dangerous quest and save Merritt and her inheritance?
Candle Iron is an outstanding fantasy novel, combining the best elements of the genre – a quest, an adventure, strange and unknown lands, and a satisfying ending. It is little wonder that author Sally Odgers was the recent recipient of the Aurealis Award for Best Long Fiction (Children’s) for this novel.
Although not a sequel, Candle Iron is set in the same reality as two of Ms Odgers earlier books, Amy Amaryllis and Shadowdancers. Though billed as a young adult title, the book will appeal to fantasy lovers of all ages.
Candle Iron, by Sally Odgers
Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), 2001.