Thursday, May 25, 2023

Always There For You by Miriam Halahmy


Holly is forced to spend a long time on her own, her parents are occupied with looking after her grandmother, her best friend Amy has gone to live in Canada.  She doesn’t fit in all that well at school; she isn’t part of the in-crowd but neither does she feel comfortable with needy Noah and animal-lovers Tim and Ellen.

Then she meets Jay in an online chat group. Their mantra becomes “Always there for you”. She arranges to see Jay and finds he is older than she thought.  He said he was fifteen but now confesses to being nineteen.  We eventually find out he is twenty-six.  He is a paedophile and has been grooming several young girls.   It all comes to a head when he makes Holly take a photo of herself in a bikini, photoshops  that picture and threatens to put it up on the internet if she doesn’t sleep with him.

He is taken to court, found guilty and imprisoned. However, it takes a while for the trial to take place and Holly has to live with the fact that she could bump into him at any time. During the trial, where she appears by video link, the defence barrister makes her feel that it was all her fault.

This it clearly an important topic.

The author gives us a note about internet safety at the end of the book.

There are 282 pages of blocked text with an adult font.  

This is a thought-provoking book for the young reader. It offers a stark warning. It clearly demonstrates how easily Holly is taken in.   

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Ning and the Night Spirts by Adriena Fong


Ning is shy and finds being with people very difficult.  He goes to the forest so that he can be alone. There he meets and befriends the night spirits.  The night spirits and the humans have misunderstood each other. They have been afraid of one another. Ning understands what’s happening: “Ning knew the townspeople were just afraid of what they didn’t understand.” To rectify the situation Ning has to force himself to ask the others for help. He is surprised and delighted to find out how much people are willing to help.     

This is a conventional picture book in that more story is packed into the pictures.    Adriena  Fong here skilfully portrays Ning’s emotions in the pictures.

The hardback edition has a very tactile cover. The picture on it is very busy.

The cover pages at both ends of the book have a map of Ning’s town.

The text is written in a simple font and new readers may manage to decode it without too much difficulty.      

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Torn Apart The Partition of India by Swapna Haddow


This tells the story of Ibrahim and Amar at the time of the partition in India in 1947.  Ibrahim, Muslim, is separated from his family as they flee to Pakistan. Amar is Hindu and lives on the streets of Delhi. Despite the fact that Amar’s best friend was killed by Muslims he decides to help Ibrahim get to the border. We don’t get to find out whether Ibrahim survives or meets his family again.   Neither do we learn whether Amar eventually gets a better life for himself.

Unusually for this age group we have two first person narratives.    

This book almost become a hi-lo.  It is short at just 119 pages but the text is blocked and uses an adult font with difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s.  It is quite a tricky subject.

There is a glossary of the most important words at the front of the book and a longer one at the back.

The author gives us a note about what happened in 1947 and there is also a useful time line.

This is a thought-provoking book for the young reader.   

A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal

2024   Spendthrift is an innocent tea room by day and by night a den for vampires, where they can enjoy a different sort of tea and indulg...