Half Bad, All Good

Half Bad by Sally Green is a book an older teen can really sink their teeth into.  This book is the first in a trilogy about Nathan, who is a half white, half black witch.  In a world full of white witches and the only one of his kind he is isolated and feared, which creates a mix of resentment and longing in Nathan that many teens may be able to identify with. In Nathan’s world when you turn seventeen you are bestowed powerful gifts by a blood relative, unfortunately for Nathan it is a constant struggle to survive long enough to be given his adulthood powers and have the ceremony performed. Being a ‘half code’ as they call it he is constantly watched by the council of white witches, checking to see if he will follow in his mother’s footsteps of a reputable white witch, or his fathers and infamous black witch, deemed a murderer who is constantly on the run from Hunters, witches from the white witch council charged with destroying black witches. When Nathan is taken away from his home and his accepting family due to council fears he will go black he must learn how to survive on his own in the wild and find his father, his only living relative who might be willing to perform his gift giving ceremony. This book was thrilling and wonderfully crafted with a hero who is genuine and resourceful.  This is definitely a recommended read.

Charming and Cosy

I found Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett delightful.  It was a book I was happy to read over and over to my three year old, as it was often requested, as it didn’t feel like a chore.  We follow Annabelle, a young girl who lives in a very black and white town.  She finds a box filled with colourful yarn and proceeds to knit sweaters for anything and everyone she can with it. I love that she shares this wonderful magical box of yarn and her talent for knitting with her town.  Jon Klassen’s use of colour is also wonderful, it starts out small, just a sweater for her and her dog Mars, but eventually everything in her town has a sweater, buildings, cars, trees- you name it, it has a cosy made for it!  The whimsy of this book is what makes it a real winner in my eyes.  I also enjoyed the sense of ‘what will be, will be’ and that you can be happy just being yourself despite others trying to bring you down.  It may seem like a heavy message for small children, but I feel it is uplifting and a wonderful thing for kids to hear.

Jump To It!

ool reads Bounce by Megan Schull is an enjoyable read and great for your burgeoning tween. The story is told by Frannie, a twelve year old girl whose family is rather disjointed and unaccepting of her.  The book is set over Christmas with her parents going on a trip leaving her and her older brother and sister alone for the holiday.  Her siblings are as bad as her parents, ignoring her and making her feel terrible, leading her to wish for a new life as someone else, and that’s just what happens.  She wakes up Christmas morning as a different twelve year old girl.  For the first time in her life she is experiencing what it means to be part of a caring and gentle family and learning what it means to be your own person without losing that crucial support from those around you. In Frannie’s day-to-day life she has no understanding from the people who are supposed to be the closest to her and having the love and warmth of the people around the girls she wakes up as each Christmas morning helps her to realise that she can be her own support person.  Each time she ‘bounces’ into another life she is met by a whole new circumstance and a host of different characters, each one teaching her something about herself.  She learns about confidence, in which she is sorely lacking, about belief in not just others but in yourself and this helps her build her inner strength.  A great read for those turbulent years rife with bullying and self-consciousness.