Tag Archives: Blended families

The Light in Everything – Katya Balen

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Bloomsbury Australia

Bloomsbury Publishing

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

July 2022

ISBN 9781526647405

RRP: $14.99

This is the third of Katya’s books I have read and honestly, I love her writing more each time. She has such skill in creating believable characters with whom the reader can easily connect and her deft hand in giving them such natural and authentic voices is wonderful.

Two very different children, each with a single parents, find themselves forced together and totally at odds. Their conflict is epic really and their complete disparity would seem an insurmountable obstacle to any kind of peaceful resolution.

Zofia lives with her dad by the sea in a small village where everyone knows everyone and Zofia’s classmates number not much more than a handful. Her mother died when she was just a baby, so she’s never known anything different to just being part of a pair with her doctor dad, Marek. Their life is busy and fun and sometimes wild, with Zofia being like a shaken bottle of fizzy drink – always effervescent and often messy and noisy.

Tom is quiet and fearful, and only just regaining some feeling of safety. He and his mum, Fiona, endured some cruel domestic violence but now his father is in prison and though he has been for two years, Tom is still frequently anxious and there are some things that he just cannot stand – like being shut in the dark.

When Marek and Fiona become not only a couple but a baby is expected, both children must face enormous upheavals in their lives. Fiona and Tom move into the little cottage, where the box room becomes a nursery and the spare room is turned into Tom’s bedroom. While both children fervently wish there was no baby and that things would go back to the way they were, they each have very different ways of responding. It will take a lot of time and learning to trust and, most of all, understanding for this family to consolidate.

While the specific circumstances may vary, there would be many children who find themselves in this same kind of predicament with a blended family situation and a new half-sibling arriving and each child will react differently but there is no doubt that this narrative will resonate with many.

It is a thoroughly splendid read and I highly recommend it for readers from around ten years upwards.

Which Way to Anywhere – Cressida Cowell

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Hachette Australia

September 2022

ISBN 9781444969047 | RRP $22.99

Well, if there’s anything more exciting in MG fiction than a new Cressida Cowell title, it’s a new Cressida Cowell series and this one is going to skyrocket I can assure you.

K2 O’Hero (yes, he is named after the mountain) would appear, to all intents and purposes, a very ordinary little boy. He and his twin, Izzabird, are from a very extraordinary family it’s true, but that’s a deep secret which is not revealed outside said family – and especially not, to the Stepfather and the world’s most irritating stepsiblings, Theo and Mablel. But not even Izzabird knows that K2 has an incredibly rare and powerful gift. In fact, K2 doesn’t know he has this particular gift but that’s all going to change.

K2 knows he can draw amazing maps of strange, marvellous and, at times, frightening places but he has no idea that he can in fact create these maps as portals to the worlds he believes are just his own imagination.

When bizarre happenings start to accelerate around them: a weirdly creepy faux Geography teacher, a robot assassin, a very odd and seemingly magical person named Horizabel, and their mother and great- aunts (all witches) taking off into the night on a secret mission – and that’s all before baby Annipeck is abducted! – the four children must somehow work together to figure out the Alternative Atlas and conquer the obstacles they face including the vile and ravenous beast, the Abhorrorghast.

I loved this from start to finish. It has all of Cressida’s fantastic creativity: her wonderful skill with humorous secondary characters (the ones that almost steal the show) and an ability to weave a spellbinding adventure with heart-stopping moments, truly horrible villains and children who, in spite of any talents or gifts, are very normal in their ferocious loyalties, their unswerving determination, their sniping and bickering and their persistence.

Your readers from around Year 4 will adore this – particularly those who loved The Wizards of Once – and my suggestions is that you order more than one copy!

Highly recommended for boys and girls who are able readers from mid-primary upwards.

The Year the Maps Changed – Danielle Binks

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Hachette Australia

APR 28, 2020 | 9780734419712 | RRP $17.99

What a glorious book with so much richness as it reveals not only a tragic episode in recent history but explores the pain but beautiful bonding in a family and community.

1999 in Sorrento is a difficult time for Fred (Winifred). Her mother died when she was very little and since then she’s lived with her adoptive dad Luca and her Pop but now everything is changing and not for the best. Pop has had to go away for a while into a rehab/nursing home and Luca’s new girlfriend and her son, slightly younger than Fred, move in. To add to that distress, and her ever-present grief, as Fred struggles to re-adjust to the changing dynamic, Luca and Annika announce that they are having a baby.

For Fred it seems like the end of everything and not even her life-long friends can help to make her feel better about the whole situation. Then a major upheaval for their small community brings unexpected connections, dramas and emotional situations which ultimately bring not only Fred’s family back into focus and closeness but forces the entire country to re-evaluate their beliefs and values.

A group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees fleeing the deadly warfare in their splintered country are brought to a centre near Sorrento in an humanitarian exercise that the then government referred to as “Operation Safe Haven”. While there are many whose compassion is extended to these displaced persons there is division within the community. Fatefully the lives of the refugees, a few in particular, become entwined with Fred and her family testing the boundaries of family trust but ultimately bringing this very different blended family into a stronger bond.

Beautifully – indeed, exquisitely- written Danielle Binks provides the reader with not only an understanding of the largest humanitarian effort provided by Australia and it’s less than humanitarian outcome but also an insight into a family’s own personal tragedy and their journey to becoming a whole.

This is a coming-of-age story that will appeal greatly to readers from around 12 years upwards as Fred deals with the immense changes in her life. These same readers will also be exercised in their own compassion and empathy which, in light of recent events, can only be a good thing.

Highly recommended for your readers in upper primary to secondary.

I Knew You Were Trouble A Jessie Jefferson Novel By Paige Toon

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  • i-knew-you-were-trouble-9781471118807_hrSimon & Schuster Children’s UK |
  • 336 pages |
  • ISBN 9781471118807 |
  • November 2015

List Price

AU$ 16.99

NZ$ 18.99

 

The second in a series this is a light read for your senior girl readers. Full to the brim of parties, jetset lifestyles, rock and roll and hot boys this will appeal to girls from around 15 up.

Jessie Pickerill has had a very ordinary life so far, living with her mother and stepfather, going to school, gossiping about boys – all the normal things. But since her mother died in a freak accident, she has discovered the truth about her real father who is none other than Johnny Jefferson, possibly the most famous rock god of them all.

After a six week stay in L.A. experiencing life with her father, his wife and two little boys not to mention some exciting new friends, especially a certain young up-and-coming rocker called Jack, Jessie is attempting to settle back into her regular life while trying to keep the secret of her true parentage.

A visit to England from her dad and his family sees that secret blown apart becoming a media frenzy and Jessie needs to get away from school, her home and stepfather and new boyfriend, Tom. Can she sustain her home relationships while living in L.A. till the storm blows over? Which place will she decide is her true home? And which boy will she choose?

A holiday read for your older girls who might be looking for some escapist respite from assessments and assignments.