Tag Archives: new releases

Novels – about Life and Death

Books – what better way to learn about life and death situations? Whether real or fictional, historic or futuristic, these books can help readers reflect on feelings, emotions and learn about life situations.

Cleaning Up, Leanne Lieberman. This was a YA novel I really enjoyed. The writing is great and brought the characters and settings to life. Jess is coming of age despite her druggie mother and alcohol addicted father. She has common sense and a plan for the future. 

What she had not planned on is spending the summer in a tent away from the jobs she had lined up. But Jess stays grounded, finds a new job that helps her save money for college but also has her meet new friends and a lost diary. Who wrote this diary? Based on what she knows, Jess starts to create a much needed friend in her head. When reality turns out to be quite different, Jess can reply on those around her. A great read for teens who can recognize themselves in the character. ISBN 978-1-77306-806-0, Groundwood Books

Jacob’s Dilemma by Daphne Greer is a story that draws you right in. Jacob struggles with the death of his father but has recently been reunited with the grandparents he didn’t know he had. And he has Maggie who plans on adopting him. Until his birthmother unexpectedly shows up, complete with all the struggles that made her give him up. Starting at a new school, in his new home town, is hard enough but Jacob soon makes new friends and, eventually, finds out where he belongs and how strong he really is. A well written story that will speak to young teens struggling to find their own way in life. ISBN 978-1-77471-152-1, Nimbus

When The Dikes Breached by Martha Attema is an admirable, realistic historical fiction novel for teens. This book focuses on real events that had a major impact in Europe for years to come. Placed in 1953, the southern provinces of The Netherlands are under storm watch. Klara is the oldest daughter in a large Christian family. When the unthinkable happens and the dikes break, Klara and her family find refuge on the second floor of their farmhouse while the water continues to rise. Will the family suffer the same fate as the nearly 2,000 others who drowned during this flood? Tied to a strict religion, the family copes with the hardships that follow and Klara discovers a dark family secret that will change her life forever.

In the book’s back pages, the author gives websites to see real, historic footage of this devastating flood. In the Netherlands a museum is dedicated to the catastrophe. ISBN 978-1-55380-674-5, Ronsdale Press

Catch Me If I Fall by Barry Jonsberg is reminiscent of Tomorrow When The War Began, which is aimed at older readers. This dystopian novel is set in Australia after it has been ravaged by climate change’s wild fires and storms, leaving the population distinctly split between poor and rich. Sheltered by their parents’ wealth, twins Ashley and Aiden are turning 13 as they become aware of problems facing others. A series of unsettling events lead to a shocking discovery that will change their lives forever. Readers who like dystopian tales combined with futuristic settings and a sprinkle of AI will enjoy this riveting story.ISBN 978-1-77306-891-6, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She conducts author visits to International Schools.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Summer is a good time to curl up with a novel. These newly released, as well as slightly less new, novels are great reads for all ages.

Berani

Berani by Michelle Kadarusman is a perfect book for international schools. This is a novel takes place in Indonesia and is told in 3 voices. One is a girl who attends a private school and completes a school assignment that gets her into trouble. The other one is a local boy lucky enough to receive an education through sacrifices of his family. The third voice is that of a captive orangutan kept in a cage by the boy’s uncle to entertain visitors to his restaurant. Each one of them needs courage to stand up for their convictions and follow their hearts, despite the consequences this may have. A fantastic read that shows kids (and readers of all ages) to believe in their values and that they, too, can change the world. ISBN 978-1-77278-260-8, Pajama Press

The Last Mapmaker

One of my latest favourite books is The Last Mapmaker by Newbery Honor Book author Christina Soontornvat. The map on the first page shows the fictional land and seas where Sai lives. She is apprentice to a mapmaker and hopes to climb the ladder in her society to escape the slums where her pick-pocketing father lives. Unexpected adventure whisks her away aboard a sail ship to the fabled Sunderlands. Do dragons truly live there? And what is the impact explorers have on “new found” lands and their environment? A fascinating blend of fantasy with a sprinkle of historic fiction, adventure and the passion to follow an uncharted path. A great page turner that shows, especially girls but any reader, that they can be anything they wish. ISBN 978-1-5362-0495-7, Candlewick Press

These Are Not the Words

These Are Not The Words by Amanda West Lewis is a poetic novel for middle grade readers or older. If a book allows you to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins, then this book can be an eye opener. Missy has a loving but abusive father who struggles with drug addiction. Her mom struggles to get her life on track and keep Missy safe. Written as an (almost) biographic story, the text is lyrical and sweeps the reader along to 1960’s New York. Because so much of the story really happened, the details and descriptions are vivid and realistic as is the resilience of a child. The book almost feels like a free verse novel complete with poems written between father and daughter. I think adults will also enjoy reading this ‘memoir’. ISBN 978-1-77306-792-6, Groundwood Books

Cress Watercress

Gregory Maguire is already pretty famous. He wrote Wicked, a fairy tale told from the point of view of the wicked witch, which got turned into a musical. Now he has written Cress Watercress, a book for middle schoolers about Cress, a rabbit whose father didn’t come back from his honey-gathering trip. Cress’s mother has to move everyone to an apartment in an oak tree with a bunch of funny neighbors who are also animals: owls, mice, and squirrels, and Cress has to make the best of it. This book also has many beautiful illustrations by David Litchfield that really make it different and even more enjoyable. It feels a bit like The Borrowers and a bit like Redwall but it is also unique. Anyone who likes books with animal characters, a lot of humor, and a lot of heart will love this book.  ISBN 978-1536211009, Candlewick (reviewed by 10 year old Beatrix Colvin)

Mythos

And finally a novel for highschool students and educators. If you are a teacher (or any booklover!) looking for a good read during your summer holidays, try Mythos by Stephen Fry. I had always wanted to read the Greek myths but never managed to struggle through them. British actor Stephen Fry has managed to retell these important stories in common, every day language that shows their origins, their relationships and their morals. I loved finally getting to know Zeus and his crazed behavior, learning more about Pandora and Psyche and their lasting effects on our lives today. Did you know that words like Atlantic, Titanic, Europe, crocus and hyacinth come straight from these Greek myths? Couldn’t put it down! ISBN 978-1-405-93413-8, Penguin

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author who conducts author presentations at international schools. www.margrietruurs.com