It’s quite a few years since Carrie Tiffany wrote her first book which was a best seller at the time. It was called Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living and was about a train that travelled in country Victoria with ‘experts’ in fields as varied as housekeeping, child rearing and all manner of agricultural pursuits. It was partly based on a real story of the ‘Better living train’ which actually toured country Victoria in the 1930′s. The book was terrific.
Her new book is again set in the country and is about lust, loneliness and the constrictions of living in a small country town. Betty is a single mother with two children Michael and Hazel. Harry is a dairy farmer who quietly lusts after Betty and tries to become a father figure to Michael in particular in relation to females. Harry was a very naive man when it came to sexual matters, and he doesn’t want that to happen to Michael. I laughed out loud at one of Harry’s snippets of advice about the need to cut one’s toenails before any sexual activity. I won’t spoil the line but it’s a gem. The rhythms of country life and the harshness of it are part of the book and in some ways I was reminded of Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears. Both books take us to a time and place in Australia’s history that most of us never experience. A life which can be unforgiving, but which has it’s own joys.
Carrie Tiffany doesn’t waste words so the book is short. Short but perfectly formed. Highly recommended. Excellent for book groups. $20
R.J. Palacio has taken a difficult subject matter and turned it into an entertaining book about friendship, loyalty and acceptance. Wonder is the story of August Pullman, a young man of just ten years old who was born with severe facial deformities, various. He’s had 27 surgeries in 10 years to make his life as normal as possible. Just things like not one but two surgeries to fix a cleft palate (but his still has a hole in the roof of his mouth). And his lower jaw bone used to be part of his hip. So just you know, minor stuff like that.
Wonder is a year in the life of August, an important year as he’s just started school. A real school. Year 5 is the first year of middle school so it’s decided he’s going after years of homeschooling, even though no one is entirely convinced he’s ready, including him. This book is honest about how cruel kids, not to mention adults, can be when faced when things they don’t understand. But it’s also about how the inside is what counts in the end and (most) people will figure that out given the chance. With chapters from the perspective of August’s sister, her boyfriend and a couple of August’s friends you get a great insight to August from all sides. A devise that’s on the verge of being overused in the young adult genre the varied perspective is actually a really useful and well placed here. How other people react to August is pretty much the biggest side-effect of his disfigurement as he’s isn’t physically or mentally delayed in any way. Getting the other people’s point of view is valuable and I was particularly struck by the sadness and truth in a statement made by his sister.
“Here’s what I think: we’ve all spent so much time trying to make August think that he’s normal that he actually thinks he’s normal. And the problem is, he’s not.”
A wonderful spirit with wonderous amounts of determination, strength and humour, it’s no wonder August Pullman wins everyone over. A tear-jerker that teaches an important message whilst being a really really entertaining, funny, even lighthearted read. Not for 10 year olds as such but suitable for a wide range of ages, I hope this book gets the recognition and readership it deserves. Paperback, $21.95.
George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire has caused a sensation with the HBO TV series and the re release of the books. Ahead of the paperback release of #5 Dance with Dragons there’s a box set of the rest to get you started. The first four books are confusingly actually five books as number three is in two volumes. Hope you kept up there but it means there’s physically 5 books in the box set but book #5 is not in paperback until April. Phew. The box set is great value at $65, the paperbacks are $17 each.
“…I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
John Green’s new novel is a romance about teenagers. Before you switch off, these teenagers have cancer. Serious cancer. It is sad but it’s also laugh out loud funny, beautiful, witty and interesting. If you ever wondered what its like to have an obviously debilitating, chronic, terminal disease, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters will give you an idea. But they’ll also give you an idea of what its like to fall in love, meet your hero and be a teenager. And there’s talk of existentially fraught free throws. I mean come on.
John Green always has memorable, intelligent and slightly badass main characters which make his books the kind of books you remember and look forward to reading the next one. I will admit his female main character sounded a lot like a dude right at the beginning but all was forgotten very quickly.
I’m not sure I can pull of the label ‘Young Adult’ anymore but despite not being the target audience, I still got excited when I saw this book arrive and I wasn’t disappointed. Every new book is a chance for new fans to get on this fantastic bandwagon. The Fault in Our Stars is out now, Paperback $19.95. Also by John Green is Will Grayson, Will Grayson co-authored with David Levithan and a constant seller from our recommended Books All Teenagers Should Read.
This wonderfully whimsical, adventurous book is being, deservedly, turned into a movie set for release in January 2012. Martin Scorsese is directing a star-studded cast in his first foray into movies for children and it looks like this film will more than do Brian Selznick’s book justice. A truly ‘buzz-worthy’ film inspired by a treasure of a book, read it this Christmas then see the movie and be the one telling all your friends…”It was a book first you know.”
Set in Richmond, Melbourne in 1959, The Cartographer is about an 11 year old boy who is wandering the streets occasionally seeing things he shouldn’t. Having seen a murder take place his imagination runs riot with possibilities of being caught by some dodgy characters he may have upset. Along the way he is making a map of where he has been, so he knows where he shouldn’t go return so staying out of trouble. Aided by his grandad, who has some dodgy friends of his own, all of Richmond is his back yard. A back story of the death of his twin, and the unhappy marriage of his parents add to the boy’s troubles. Set firmly in the time, with the colourful Aussie language of working class Richmond, The Cartographer is funny but tells a serious story. It is part mystery, part coming of age and part social history. I enjoyed it immensely. $30
Our sale starts today with 10% off everything and up to 50% off on selected items. Beanie Kids are 50% off. Until the end of February.
We have 10% off everything and two tables groaning with stock we need to move. We are planning a significant rearrangement for the inside of the shop and want to make room for it all. So help up out and come and grab a bargain. The stock on the sale tables will be 20%, 30%,. 40% and some will even be at 50% off the marked price. For a short time only.
This book is just as hilarious, if not more so, than its predecessor Awkward Family Photos. Not only do you get the photos but some of them come with backstories so you can get to know these awkward families, and their pets, just that little bit more. Just what you’ve been waiting for. A cheeky, entertaining gift for that person who loves their pet maybe a little too much. Beware the matching outfits. Hardback, $24.95.
When we had small people in our household, some of our favourite stories were about the Large family of elephants which comprised Mr & Mrs Large and their children. My personal pick is Five Minutes Peace where Mrs Large is trying to escape the family hubbub for some quiet time on her own. Suffice to say, she has trouble and it is a story that any parent will relate to while the children hearing it concentrate on Lester’s recorder playing and Laura’s reading practice.
Other titles are Mr Large in Charge, A Piece of Cake and All in one Piece.
They will bring a smile to your face.