ISBN: 9781406389333 Imprint: Walker Australian RRP: $16.99 New Zealand RRP: $18.99
It speaks volumes that this was read in just one night in the past week and that I was immediately talking it up the next day to my ChocLit group.
A verse novel that combines music and coding is not something I’d ever encountered before but this is a combination that works superbly and will undoubtedly engage many readers from around 12 years upwards.
Emmy has moved to a new state, to a new school and to a completely unfamiliar environment, when her parents take up new jobs in San Francisco, leaving Wisconsin behind.
While Emmy loves music she is not the least bit musical despite all efforts, unlike her parents – one a concert pianist and one an opera singer – and struggles to even initiate a conversation at the new school. But when she finds herself in the Computer Programming elective, a shift begins and the first tentative beginning of a new friendship develops. Of course, it’s not without hiccups as one boy in the group is openly resentful not only of Emmy and her new friend, Abigail, but also Ms Delaney, their passionate and expert tutor in coding. Misogynism starts early sometimes and the perception that some occupations or interests are suited to one gender or the other, still pervades.
Emmy’s immediate and intense immersion in the world of Java will be fascinating even to those readers who are unfamiliar with coding language, and could well be the prompt for some to explore this fascinating subject. her journey towards acceptance and real friendship is at times painful but ultimately a beautiful testament to faith in one self and building relationships with care.
It will come as no surprise that this outstanding debut novel is a direct result of the author’s passion for all three aspects – poetry, music and coding.
Highly recommended for your readers from around mid-primary upwards to at least Year 9 – I already have kids in my group waiting to read it too.
Exquisitely, compellingly poignant and haunting, I was so happy that I took this to the hairdresser’s yesterday. It meant I could read it one sitting without feeling guilty about neglected house chores!
I am not who I say I am.
Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.
I am a girl trying to forget.
Marla is a woman trying to remember.
Allison has never known her mother who died within hours of giving birth. She’s been raised by a father with major anger issues and has tiptoed around both his rages and his women all her life. The latest in this parade of women is Kelly-Anne, kind and caring, who took off but did almost beg Allie to go with her.
After years of mental abuse and finally physical battering which culminates in a hot iron smashed across her face, Allie also runs – to find Kelly-Anne but instead runs into problems. She finds herself, taking shelter, in a dingy garden shed but the house to which it belongs is not unoccupied. Marla lives there in a dementia-fog of her own. Marla mistakes Allie for her girlhood friend Toffee and so the two begin a tentative and touching relationship in which both look out for each other, bolster each other and ultimately rescue each other.
That summation does not in any way do justice to the beauty of this verse-novel or its command on the reader.
Allison and Marla become a team. Each in her own way helps the other to overcome their difficulties and insecurities as well as their basic needs for care, companionship and safety.
This is truly a beautiful book which will bring the reader to tears, but also laugh and rage and empathy.
It is more suited to older readers – around 13 years+ – but is so worth promoting to your sensitive and discerning readers. I highly recommend it for students in Lower Secondary and upwards.
Format: Paperback Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens Books Publisher:Bloomsbury Publishing Plc Publish Date: 2-Jan-2018 Country of Publication: United States
RRP AU $14.99
Joylin Johnson has an uncomplicated life at 12 years old as she has had all her life. Baggy jeans and t-shirts, plain ponytail and a passion for basketball which she regularly plays with the neighbourhood boys make her completely happy. But stuff is changing; her body, her sudden attention to cute boys, her best basketball buddy’s ‘different’ attitude towards her and her bestie’s interest in her best basketball buddy. It’s all very confusing as is trying out make up, pierced ears, skirts and heels.
Nikki Grimes uses short poems to perfectly capture Joy’s adolescent anguish in a very easy to read and engaging verse novel. It is in turn heartfelt and humorous with some real laugh-out-loud though cringe worthy moments.
Though very American it is still easily accessible and relevant to tweens in this country as Joy struggles with her identity issue until finally realising that actually being just you is the best plan.
Grimes is an award winning author of several books and this one earned a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. Read more about Nikki Grimes here.
Highly recommended for middle to upper primary girls.