In a world where kids are used to the kill or be killed mentality of video games, it’s a pleasure to find a story that demonstrates how the most obvious solution to a problem is not necessarily the best. So, too, it demonstrates creativity and compassion, and shows readers how that which is evident on the surface is not necessarily what lies beneath.
Fison’s writing is fresh, tight and easily absorbed. Action and humour abound, and are the reasons this series works so well. While the message in these books is clear, it isn’t in any way preachy—nor is the humour forced. The child characters are all well-developed, each with a distinct personality, which is something all too often glazed over in such short fiction.
After reading the above, one might be forgiven for thinking this is nothing more than an entertaining story aimed at an electronic game-mad audience. But don’t be fooled, Gamers’ Challenge is far more than that. What this story does is challenge our notions of reality. It raises all the big existential questions, offers some answers and then turns everything on its head.
Above all though, this is a book about courage, and Phoebe’s courage is present throughout the book, in her refusal to allow injustice, and her instinctual responses to danger and discord. Once again, Justin D’Ath has created an inspiring and engaging book that young readers will enjoy and parents will welcome (a combination that doesn’t always happen in sync!).
Author of the award-winning Mending Lucille, Poulter has constructed a pacy tale with an uplifting twist at the end—a story that young children will have no trouble relating to. Told in rhyme, which, of course, kids love, this is a story that at its heart is about family, highlighting such concepts as co-operation and cause and effect.
The Australian bush is vividly described as the team goes on their little quest, taking the reader through swimming holes, caves and Eucalyptus forests. Children will love little Pirate best of all, conjuring up the little barking bird in their imaginations – which makes a nice change from the video screens and televisions that tend to take over the modern household.
Jasper Jones remains a nobody – the silent, disappearing hero in Charlie’s life, but he is also heroic – the catalyst to change and growth. Although there are dark edges to Jasper Jones, this is a wonderful, beautifully written, positive story of personal transformation which lingers with the reader.
There are few things scarier than an evil clown, but coupled with a broken promise, a lost child, black and white film reels, a shipwreck, bad dreams, and a series of slightly Satanic symbols, the story takes on a serious resonance.
Its fast pace and relatively simple vocabulary makes it perfect for struggling readers, but it’s also a pleasurable and powerful tale for good readers of all ages, coupling action with deep characterisation and enough plot complexities to keep readers reading until the end.
Even for readers who aren’t reluctant, Terry Denton books have something extra to offer. For one thing, they’re utterly irreverent. His characters are always getting up to crazy hijinks, sometimes due to their own stupidity and sometimes due to their own cunning. For another, he has an almost post-modern style where the reader is continually brought into the story, winked at, nodded to and encouraged — never mind third person objectivity.