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Amazon Customer "Reads Carnegie Medalists For Fun" (Geneva, Switzerland)

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Josh
Josh
by Ivan Southall
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the churning mind of angst-ridden adolescence, 22 July 2008
This review is from: Josh (Paperback)
Josh Plowman is fourteen years old and visiting Ryan Creek, the town founded by his great grandfather for the first time. He stays with his Aunt Clara, considered to be the Plowman family matriarch. While meeting an exacting relative is formidable enough, he also has to contend with the youth of Ryan Creek, who seem to be bent on condemning and shaming him for whatever he may do or not do.

The book description says that "mutual bewilderment" arose from the encounter between Josh and the people of Ryan Creek. But for this reader, it was a three-way confusion. Was the book trying to say that small town hicks could not tolerate people who were different, like poets and dreamers? Or was it that big city snobbish sissy boys took the world too seriously and could never understand the simple, hardworking folk, the salt of the earth?

At the very least, the book conveyed to me very clearly why I never want go back to teenagerhood. The story is written from a very closed Josh-point-of-view that even the sentence patterns seem to careen across the page with only verbs and no nouns nor pronouns to drive them. The effect, while exciting and dynamic, conveying the churning mind of angst-ridden adolescence , gave me a headache and made me want to shout, "WHOA! You need some tranquilizers, boy!"

Though I won't read it again, I would say this book deserved its award. Any teenager who feels maltreated and misunderstood by the world and wondering why people can compromise their principles just as easily as changing underwear, will see themselves in Josh. This is for you, young dreamers, book-readers, poets - all you social outcasts!


The Twelve and the Genii
The Twelve and the Genii
by Pauline Clarke
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it up in the attic with your toys., 16 July 2008
What a delight it was to read the story and say, "But this was exactly what I wanted when I was a child!" I wanted my little Skipper doll to comb her hair; I wanted my little plastic farm animals to baa and moo on top of the dining table. If I had toy soldiers like in the story, I'd love for them to do little parades and to tell me tales of campaigns in Africa. I wanted my toys to surprise me, speak to me, have ideas of their own!

Children will surely see themselves as Max, playful eight-year old, benevolent protector and guide to the Twelve - wooden soldiers each with their own histories and temperaments. Max, after finding them under a floorboard of their new home in Haworth, quickly became enamored. But their days of playing couldn't last too long. A Bronte scholar from America just offered a huge sum to buy twelve toy soldiers that belonged to the family of writers. Now the whole town is bent on finding them. How will Max keep his wards safe forever?

Not only does this book fire up the imagination, like a good story should, but it also encourages further reading especially for those who have not read The History of the Young Men. A wonderful book to be enjoyed up in the attic with your toys.


Dear Nobody (Puffin Teenage Books)
Dear Nobody (Puffin Teenage Books)
by Berlie Doherty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start a discussion with your teenager, 14 July 2008
Chris and Helen have got everything going for them. They are young, university-bound and in love. This story starts from one afternoon of shared, unprotected intimacy to its almost inevitable result nine months later.

Both points of view are given equal time. Chris narrates his euphoria at the beginning, which turns to confusion and desperation when Helen becomes secretive and pushes him away, which turns to resolve to be responsible come what may. As for Helen, her series of letters to the 'Nobody' growing to life inside her expresses her fears, her alone-ness, her need of her mother's support and her final decision to see this through.

This is a layered, nuanced story where there is no villain nor hero. We are shown teenagers rising above themselves, mothers and fathers being human, friends and others giving support depending on their characters and maturity.

This story is for the young adult, starting from 13, who is old enough to understand about differing ways of seeing one event, consequences and responsibilities. I'd even go so far as to recommend it for classroom discussions, perhaps to be followed by a book on the experiences of teenage parents.


Tom's Midnight Garden (Puffin Books)
Tom's Midnight Garden (Puffin Books)
by Philippa Pearce
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let your imagination soar into your own midnight garden, 13 July 2008
Tom, quarantined from his brother's measles and sent off to relatives, faces several weeks in a house converted into flats with no other kids, no playground and nothing at all for a boy of his age to do. A grandfather clock that tells the correct time but clangs different hours stands in the hallway of the house. One night, when the clock chimes a mysterious thirteenth hour, Tom goes down to investigate.

What he finds is an entirely different house with rich decorations and carpeting. And, behind the back door that in the daytime gives out to an alley, is his fondest wish - a vast garden to play in and a friend with whom to explore every tree and hedge and even the meadow and river beyond.

Time is the great mystery in this book. For Tom only 24 hours may have gone by since his last visit but seasons have passed in the garden. As for his friend, a girl named Hatty, sometimes she appears younger than he is and sometimes, she is almost an adult. And while he may spend a whole day in the garden, the grandfather clock shows that he only spent a few minutes out the door.

As with all good stories, the reader is not only immersed in the mystery and the enjoyment while reading, her imagination is stirred. And who knows what kind of concoction boils up when that happens? Oh to find one's own secret garden and a good friend behind a seemingly mundane door!

This book is not only for children but for adults as well. I would translate Tom's adventures to Zoe's Mid-afternoon Caribbean Cabana in which a cubicle-dwelling computer programmer enters a supplies closet in that hazy time between lunch and tea and finds a white sand beach, a hammock, a chick-lit novel and a cold, umbrella-decorated cocktail.


The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler
by Gene Kemp
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler should be read by all girls and boys, 8 July 2008
Once in a while, a story with a simple but brilliant twist comes along and says, "Now why would you think that?" Such is the case in this story of best friends Tyke Tiler and Danny Price, who wreak havoc wherever they go. Not that they always do it intentionally. Danny, not being the brightest crayon in the box, doesn't always know not to take ten pounds from a teacher's purse. Fortunately, Tyke is always there trying to set things straight.

The whole term is a trial for Tyke who has to, at one time or another, fish a sheep's skeleton from a stream, perform chores around the house, steal a test to make sure Danny passes it, deliver electoral leaflets around town and beat up either slimy Martin Kneeshaw or his henchman Kevin Simms. But the real challenge is ringing the broken school bell that was last rung by an ancestor of Tyke's a long time ago. Climbing the roof without a ladder and pushing the bell without falling off or damaging the school will be the real test of Tyke's daring.

Tyke, of course, is a nickname and the subtle hints all over the book of how horrible the real name is sets the reader up for the surprise.


The Ghost of Thomas Kempe
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe
by Penelope Lively
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts are no match for little boys, 8 July 2008
Dr. James Harrison, FRS, MP, D.Phil, OBE, writer of The Life Cycle of a British Beetle is a pirate of the Seven Seas, first conqueror of the earth's highest peak, captain of a World-Cup-winning football team and professional hole-digger. In short, he is a normal boy. And if in his made-up adventures windows get broken, cups shatter and his arm gets stuck in a grate - well that's not really his fault, is it? No matter what his father, mother and, sigh, sister think.

After moving into an old house, James discovers that he is sharing a room with a literate poltergeist,Thomas Kempe, who resorts to banging doors and hiding glasses for attention. Of course, it is James who gets blamed and whose allowance has to pay for damages. Things take a turn for the worse for James when Kempe, a sorcerer, leaves notes all over the place offering his magicks and accusing people of witchery. Can he successfully exorcise Thomas so that he can finally eat dessert and not have to be sent to his room all the time?

Penelope Lively takes us to a time in our lives when the world was bright and wide; when every nook, cranny and hole can yield buried treasure and unfettered possibilities. Through James we remember climbing trees, running through grass, cartwheeling, and of course, telling ghost stories among friends. We also remember times when we couldn't ask adults for help because they wouldn't believe us and sadly, neither did our bestfriends.

This is the perfect reading material for children who will certainly know what it's like to be James and for adults who want to be like James again - at least for a short time.


The Owl Service
The Owl Service
by Alan Garner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow Alan Garner into the magical world of Mabinogion myth., 7 July 2008
This review is from: The Owl Service (Paperback)
Mabinogion myth meets the 'modern' day in this tale of recurring rivalry in a Welsh valley. Three young adults start out as friends until a curse love and revenge from unknown eons ago of descend upon them. Time and time again, century after century, one man kills the other for the affection of the woman. Will it be the same pattern for Alison, Roger and Gwyn?

I must admit to reading the Owl Service twice, as I could not fathom it the first time. Welsh legend combined with language from four decades ago left me frequently perplexed. Take the title, for one. I thought it was about owls delivering messages. My fellow philistines, it pertains to a complete dining set decorated with stylized floral owls. (With this tip, this review is already helpful!)

The atmosphere of the book is heavy, brooding, eerie and leads you to expect, like the Welsh villagers, that something is coming down from the mountains. Alan Garner weaves magic that you suddenly realize you are at the center of a storm. Let this story blow you away.


Stone Cold (Puffin Teenage Fiction)
Stone Cold (Puffin Teenage Fiction)
by Robert Swindells
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychopath meets the homeless: the outcome seems bleak, 7 July 2008
As any serial killer knows, the easiest targets are those who wouldn't be missed - prostitutes, the homeless, the poor and alone. As for the homeless, no matter how streetwise, who can resist a couch for a night and a bowl of tomato soup? The book alternately guides us through the minds of a psychopath and a boy who has lost his way in life. On another level, it also shows how the System can spit out two human beings, turning them into something less. This is not a fairy tale and may leave your child cowering under his duvet. And yet, it may lead him to appreciate shelter, a warm bed and food in the fridge. And yes, to remember to have good friends and never to talk with strangers.


The Little Bookroom
The Little Bookroom
by Eleanor Farjeon
Edition: Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to be read until it is torn, tattered, dog-eared and candy-stained, 16 Sept. 2007
This review is from: The Little Bookroom (Paperback)
If I ever have children, I would make sure that Eleanor Farjeon's "The Little Bookroom" will be part of their library and their childhood. Happy days could end with a story of a "Young Kate" who sang and danced and planted flowers, then a good night kiss and then a tuck into bed. Difficult days could be made better with the story of the Little Dressmaker and her dresses , a tight hug and a warm glass of milk.

Eleanor's stories are not just tales to be read then forgotten, they are springboards of the imagination and of lively discussion. In the tale of the "Seventh Princess," would you rather be one of the six princesses or the seventh? Do you love a toy as much as Célestine was loved in the story of "San Fairy Ann?" If you were one of the Princes in "Leaving Paradise," would you?

Some stories are funny, like "Westwoods," and some are heartbreaking, like "the Lovebirds," but all of them magically transport the reader to another world. I have no doubt this book will be read until it was tattered, torn, dog-eared and stained with sticky candy.

The King and the Corn - Simple Willie tells the story of a boy (or is he the boy?) who values his father's cornfield above all the riches of Egypt's Pharaoh.

The King's Daughter Cries for the Moon - The Disappearance of the Princess results in a comedy of errors where even night and day are turned upside-down.

Young Kate - Kate finds the freedom and time to sing, dance and plant flowers, for which she is rewarded 50 times over.

The Flower Without a Name - Adam forgot to name one of God's flowers.

The Goldfish - For some, happiness comes from a world more suited to their size.

The Clumber Pup - A young, kind-hearted woodcutter finds love with the help of a dog, a cat and an old woodcutter. Best love letter ever: "My Love! I love you because you are lovely like my Pup."

The Miracle of the Poor Island - A girl's sacrifice is repaid in kind by a miracle that saves the people of the island.

The Girl who Kissed the Peach-Tree - A girl's love of her peach-tree saves a village from a volcano's wrath.

Westwoods - A young Prince woos Princesses with funny rhymes. He finds his true love in the dream country of Westwoods.

The Barrel-Organ - A barrel-organ in an unlikely place lifts up a Traveller's spirit and helps him find his way.

The Giant and the Mite - When a giant with great strength is paired with a mite of great mind, catastrophe occurs.

The Little Dressmaker - What sounds like a traditional fairy tale love story twists into something more delightful. A queen giving her nephew pencil-cases makes me chuckle.

The Lady's Room - A lady keeps changing her mind about her room's decoration. Is this a fable about the dangers of discontent or a cautionary tale against fairies as interior decorators?

The Seventh Princess - Would you pass on to your child a beautiful park and castle or freedom in the wide world?

The Little Lady's Roses - Friendship is kindled with roses.

In Those Days - A soldier guards a barren spot. A fable about following orders when the reason is long gone.

The Connemara Donkey - Danny believes in his heart the tales of Finnigan O' Flannagan, his white donkey in Connemara.

The Tims - In times of distress, the villagers turn to the Tims for advice.

Pennyworth - How much fun can be had for a penny?

And I Dance Mine Own Child - This sweet story of how a book keeps a child and her grandma together is my favorite of the bunch.

The Lovebirds - A poor child's happiest moment is given her by a lovebird.

San Fairy Ann - A well-loved doll introduces a sad child to a foster mom.

The Glass Peacock - Kind Annar-Mariar shares her christmas tree ornaments with the children of the neighborhood. I love Annar-Mariar's love for her baby brother Willyum.

The Kind Farmer - A recognition of kindness transforms a hard, tightfisted farmer into the village philanthropist.

Old Surly and the Boy - A winter's miracle unites an old shepherd and a potential apprentice.

Pannychis - A story inspired by Andre Chenier's Pannychis. Don't hold a beloved too tightly.


The Wind on the Moon
The Wind on the Moon
by Eric Linklater
Edition: Paperback

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun romp with two very naughty girls, 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: The Wind on the Moon (Paperback)
"When there is wind on the moon, you must be very careful how you behave. Because if it is an ill wind and you behave badly, it will blow straight into your heart, and then you will behave badly for a long time to come." These words uttered by Major Palfrey, Dinah and Dorinda's father, is a foretelling of a year's worth of naughtiness for the two girls. With their father gone, they do their best to make mischief as when they try to do good they end up getting scolded anyway.

First the sisters eat too many pies, steaks and bread to blow themselves up into the shape of balloons. Then, after the village kids prick them with pins to see if they would burst, they cried themselves thin. Their real adventures begin with thoughts of revenge.

With the help of Mrs. Grimble, they bewitch themselves into kangaroos ("I have often wondered what I shall be when I grow up, whether a teacher of dancing, or a circus rider, or a mother of ten, but never, never, never did I expect to be a kangaroo."). With kicks, leaps and bounds they terrify the village people. But their rampage is short-lived. Lassoed by the zoo's owner and caretaker, they are caged and tended as other zoo animals. Here, they solve the mystery of lost Ostrich eggs and free two beasts who become their loyal friends.

Their appetite for naughtiness and cleverness whetted, they turn their attention to freeing their beloved dancing teacher from the county jail. All this is just preparation for the greatest escape adventure of all, rescuing their father from the castle dungeons of a far country.

Eric Linklater's humor shines and the plot zigs and zags unexpectedly. Dorinda and Dinah will be the envy of any child who yearns to take their naughtiness to a higher level.

Caution: Some sentiments in the book may be offensive to some: that fat people are ugly or a person whose face is blackened by dirt looks like a 'negro'.

Overall it is a fun romp with two very naughty girls. Just one thing boggles this reader's mind: Why doesn't their mother ever notice them missing for days or weeks at a time?


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