The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius

By Maureen Tai, 1 September 2018

IMG_7673“Human beings have two names, a first name and a surname, but I’m a gorilla and I just have the one name – Sally Jones.” – The narrator, an anthropoid ape.

The beauty of this book is what strikes me first. It has a bright turquoise framed cover, gorgeous maps as endpapers, detailed black and white illustrations throughout the almost 600 pages of uncoated paper, and pleasing fonts.

Then I get stuck into Sally Jones’ story – an old-fashioned murder-mystery that is chock-full of fabulous characters, sea travel to exotic locations and suspenseful moments – and I am captivated. Continue reading

Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

By Anna, 30 August 2018

“It was a wonderful feeling, soaring and swinging, as free as a bird. I remembered Mum pushing me on the swings at the park when I was very little.” – Katy

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Katy is the oldest, so she gets to boss her siblings around. She is great at inventing imaginary games for her to play with her brothers and sisters. Katy loves swinging as high as she can go on swings, skateboarding and tree climbing. But when a tragedy occurs, she wonders if she will ever feel like flying again. Continue reading

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

By Maureen Tai, 17 August 2018

“I shake my head. 
I say, This America is hard work.”  – KekHome of the Brave

Kek is a Sudanese boy adrift in the world. He witnesses the murder of his father and brother. His mother’s whereabouts are unknown. A bewildering stint at a refugee camp is followed by an even more unsettling relocation by “flying boat” to America. Burdened by his losses, Kek learns to keep his hope alive as he adjusts to life in America.

Home of the Brave is Kek’s story.  Continue reading

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

By Ben, 27 July 2018

IMG_6358B: Are you going to write about The Boy in the Dress on the blog?
M: Do you think it’s bloggable?
B: Yeah, it’s good.
M: Ok then. It was fun reading this together, wasn’t it? Actually, I read this with your sister four years ago, and it was pretty good then too.
B: So you’ve read this two times now? You must really like it.
Continue reading

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

By Maureen Tai, 6 July 2018

img_5678.jpg“There is always something to miss, no matter where you are.” – Sarah

Anna and Caleb live in a lonesome house in the prairies back in the days before electricity and piped water and telephones. They pine for their Mama, who died a day after Caleb was born, and their Papa silently longs for a wife. So Anna and Caleb’s father, Mr. Jacob Witting, decides to put an advertisement in the newspapers for such a companion. And Ms. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton responds.

Continue reading

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

By Maureen Tai, 2 July 2018

“To the pond and back – to the pond and back – nearly a full day of walking altogether. This was Nya’s daily routine seven months of the year. Daily. Every single day.”

img_4151In A Long Walk to Water, not one, but two Sudanese children fearfully and desperately endure the worse conditions conspired by humans and nature.  Nya lives where water is scarce and seasonal, and access to this life-giving elixir is dictated by the vagaries of an ancient tribal war.  Twenty years earlier when Salva was Nya’s age, he fights for survival in his war-racked country.  Sudanese of one faith are aggressors, using violence to oppress, extinguish even, the lives of the non-believers and the less powerful.

Based on true events, these are stories that attest to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. These are stories about our common humanity.   Continue reading

Where The Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

By Maureen Tai, 26 June 2018

“It was planting season, which was especially gruelling. The mud stuck to their feet like glue and each seedling had to be painstaking planted by hand.  When the hot sun burned overhead, Minli’s knees shook from weariness.” 

IMG_5384Minli lives a hand-to-mouth existence in a dusty brown village, nestled in the shadows of the aptly named Fruitless Mountain. The little girl is barely nourished by the grains of rice that her parents coax from the poor land.  However, her spirit is sustained by the stories that her father regales her with each evening.  These stories have been handed down like precious family heirlooms from so many generations before that they sparkle with magic and the fantastical, and surely, must be ancient figments of an overactive imagination.

Or perhaps not.

Continue reading