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‘India Dark’ by Kirsty Murray

India Dark, by Kirsty Murray

Age: 13+

Themes: childhood, theatre, travel, India, friendship, perspective.

Synopsis: Based on a true story, India Dark follows the dramatic events of the Lilliputian Opera Company in 1910 as they embark on a world tour, acting, singing and dancing their way from Australia to India. The Lilliputian Opera Company is made up of 29 youngsters aged between 7 and 18. Their boss is Arthur Percival, a lecherous, two-faced man who leads his band of youngsters on a traumatic journey that steals their innocence and leaves them irreversibly changed. Read the rest of this entry

‘My Name is Rose’, by Sally Grindley

My Name is Rose, by Sally Grindley

Age: 9+

Themes: identity, Gypsy culture, Western culture, oppression.

Synopsis: Rose is a ten-year old Gypsy girl from Romania. The story opens with Rose living a happy and content nomadic life with her loving family. However, in Chapter 2 Rose’s world collides with the rich, opulent world of the ‘gadje’ (non-Gypsy people). A rich businessman named Mr Luca crashes his car into the gypsy caravan, killing Rose’s entire family. Racked with guilt, Mr and Mrs Luca take Rose home with them to England. Read the rest of this entry

‘The Case of the Deadly Desperados’ by Caroline Lawrence

The Case of the Deadly Desperados, by Caroline Lawrence

Age: 9+

Themes: mystery; adventure; USA; historical.

Synopsis: This is the first book in what promises to be a brilliant new series from Caroline Lawrence, author of the Roman Mystery series. For her new venture, The Western Mysteries, Lawrence travels back in time and space to Virginia City, 1862 – the wild, lawless land of pistols, spurs and desperados. Read the rest of this entry

‘The Shadow Thief’ by Alexandra Adornetto

The Shadow Thief, by Alexandra Adornetto

Age: 8+

Themes: magic, humour, friendship, adventure, fantasy.

The Shadow Thief was written by Alexandra Adornetto when she was only thirteen years old. It is this remarkable fact that influenced me to purchase a copy whilst on holiday in Australia (Adornetto is Australian). Ironically, this remarkable fact also caused me to have some cynicism and rather low expectations when I began reading The Shadow Thief. However, I can honestly say that my cynicism was unwarranted. To write such a novel at the age of thirteen is a truly impressive feat. Read the rest of this entry

‘The Red Wind’ by Isobelle Carmody

The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody

Age: 9+ (independent reading), 6+ (adult reading to child)

Themes: friendship, fantasy, adventure

The Red Wind is an enchanting, whimsical story which will stay in the reader’s imagination long after they finish the book. I picked it up whilst in a bookshop in Australia, attracted by the beautiful illustrations on the cover and also the gold badge marking it as ‘Book of the Year’ (Children’s Book Council of Australia). Read the rest of this entry

‘No Use Crying’ by Zannah Kearns

No Use Crying by Zannah Kearns

Age: 13+

Themes: Family; multiculturalism; teenagers; friendship; inner-city.

Synopsis:  Set in Tooting, London, No Use Crying follows the life of 14-year old Niki, the daughter of a single, teenage mum. The story opens when Niki and her mother move from a sheltered, middle-class village near Bath, to a multicultural, working class community in Tooting.

Whilst Niki endures the unforgiving initiation to her new school, she also discovers the life-changing truth about her father. An emotional roller-coaster follows, which although painful, ultimately leads to healing.

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‘Dead Man’s Cove’ by Lauren St.John

Dead Man’s Cove, by Lauren St.John

Age: 9+

In this page-turning adventure, Lauren St.John transports her readers to the crashing waves and wild, rugged cliffs of Cornwall. (I was instantly gripped – Cornwall is my favourite place in the world.)

Dead Man’s Cove is the first in the Laura Marling series and opens with 11 year old Laura leaving Sylvan Meadows orphanage and going to live with her kind yet mysterious uncle in the Cornish village of St.Ives. There the life of adventure, which Laura has always yearned for, begins. Read the rest of this entry

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