Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Carnegie”

sevenstories’ 2012 Carnegie Summary

Sorry to hijack for something that is not strictly Cannonball but I’ve been reading the eight books on the Carnegie Medal shortlist over the last six weeks or so and have reviewed them all as part of Cannonball.

I’ve just posted a summary of the shortlist on my blog with the books in my personal order with a few thoughts on which will win which I’m linking to here. So please have a look if you’re interested in children’s/YA fiction or the Carnegie medal.

I’m beside myself with excitement that I managed to get some tickets to the ceremony tomorrow in London so I’ll be tweeting about it @acaseforbooks (it’s protected, sorry, but I work in a school and use it for personal things as well but I accept anyone except students!) and will hopefully do a blog post as well, particularly if I manage to get some good photos.

Normal reviews will now continue…

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #46: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

“One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother, are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle carts and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose… Will hope keep Lina alive? Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.”

First Line: “They took me in my nightgown.”

Why I read it: It is the last of the eight books on the current Carnegie shortlist.

Who I would recommend it to: If you appreciated The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and are prepared for harrowing and upsetting details of horrendous things that really happened.

Whilst I was very impressed  by this, I did feel that its strength lay in the importance of the story being told rather than Sepetys’ skill as a writer. Whilst she is obviously a very capable writer, her words themselves didn’t uplift and inspire me with the way she captured her story. The story itself though is a traumatic one with moments of hope and happiness few and far between and plenty of moments of heartbreak and tragedy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this win, and apparently its been very popular at lots of school but for me, and for many of my students, Sepetys isn’t at the top of the pile.  I’m not sure that I’ve convinced that Sepetys’ writing is quite worthy of pushing this above novels such as A Monster Calls or My Name is Mina which are transcendent and written so beautifully as to give you goosebumps and soaring moments, regardless of the nature of the subject being sad.

The full review is on my blog.

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #45: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett

“The wolf turned an ear a little, and Andrej wondered what the animal was hearing. Tanks churning through burning cities perhaps, or whales talking to one another in the sea. “There’s no limit to what a wolf can hear,” Uncle Marin had said. “A wolf can hear your heart beating even before you’re born.” Can you? Andrej longed to ask it. Can you hear my heart? Under cover of darkness, two brothers cross a war-ravaged countryside carrying a secret bundle. One night they stumble across a deserted town reduced to smouldering ruins. But at the end of a blackened street they find a small green miracle; a zoo filled with animals in need of hope. A moving and ageless fable about war and freedom.”

First Line: “If the old bell had been hanging in the steeple it would have rung to announce midnight, twelve solemn iron klongs which would have woken the villagers from their sleep and startled any small creature new to the village and unaccustomed to the noise.”

Why I read it: It is on the current Carnegie prize shortlist.

Who I would recommend it to: If you like the Once series by Morris Gleitzman or The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Fans of lyrical, haunting writing.

Well, this has been another pleasant surprise on the Carnegie shortlist. As I’m not generally a fan of animal stories, I was not expecting to particularly enjoy this but I wasn’t expecting a moving and haunting story of family and loss. Hartnett’s writing is truly beautiful, I am in awe of her talent and would definitely like to read more of her work. This is familiar territory, being set in World War II, but Harnett offers a totally unique take on it which balances fantasy and magic with the cruel truths of the war. This is a wonderful novel that surprised me with its beauty and is definitely in contention for being my favourite on the shortlist. It is a love story to the strength of human spirit and to loyalty and love itself.

The full review is on my blog.

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #44: Everybody Jam by Ali Lewis

“Danny Dawson lives in the middle of the Australian outback. His older brother Jonny was killed in an accident last year but no-one ever talks about it. And now it’s time for the annual muster; the biggest event of the year on the cattle station, and a time to sort the men from the boys. But this year things will be different: because Jonny’s gone and Danny’s determined to prove he can fill his brother’s shoes; because their fourteen-year-old sister is pregnant; because it’s getting hotter and hotter and the rains won’t come; because cracks are beginning to show…”

First Line: “I’d known for ages how a baby was made.”

Why I read it: It is currently on the Carnegie shortlist.

Who I would recommend it to: People who like gently paced family dramas, animal stories or are interested in the Australian outback.

This is comfortably my least favourite book on the Carnegie shortlist. Whilst it was okay and covered some interesting and important themes, it was just a bit dull and does not compare well to the excellent other seven shortlisted novels. Nothing really happened until half way through and if I hadn’t been reading it for Carnegie, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. It has some appealing elements but the endless descriptions of cattle just got a bit boring for me.  I think that Lewis has a great deal of potential as a writer but this is just too boring, particularly for a children’s novel. The characters needed more backstory and the story just needed more variation and action and less description of cows.

You can read the full review on my blog.

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #42: My Name is Mina by David Almond

“Mina’s a rebel. She can’t be controlled and she won’t fit in. People say she’s weird. Some says she’s just crazy. But all she wants is to be free, to be happy, and to be herself. One night, as she sits in the moonlight, she picks up an empty notebook, and begins to write. And here is her journal, Mina’s life in Mina’s own words; her stories and dreams, experiences and thoughts, her scribblings and nonsense, poems and songs. Her vivid account of her vivid life.”

I read Skellig when I was much younger and didn’t really like it so when My Name as Mina was announced as being on the Carnegie shortlist this year, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about reading the prequel to Skelling. However, I was totally unprepared for how much I loved this. Almond’s writing is beautiful and Mina is a truly remarkable creation. The word I would use to sum this up is uplifting, I felt really inspired and moved reading this and I would highly recommend this. I think it is going to be a battle between this and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness for my pick for the Carnegie win. This book is magical and wonderful. It inspired me to work harder to nurture the students I have responsibility for and to try and make sure that they see the world to be as magical a place as Mina does, filled with endless opportunities and beauty.

The full review is on my blog.

First Line: “My name is Mina and I love the night.”

Why I read it: It is on the current Carnegie Prize shortlist.

Who I would recommend it to: Fans of quirky yet lyrical writing and you don’t mind a story not driven by plot. If you don’t mind precocious child narrators.

 

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #40: Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

“Stuart Horten – ten years old but small for his age – moves to the dreary town of Beeton, far away from all his friends. But in Beeton begins the strangest adventure of Stuart’s life… He is swept up in a quest to find his great-uncle’s lost workshop – a workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realise that he can’t finish the task by himself.”

This is a lovely and fun book that is written with charm and wit and heart. The story of the below-averagely height Stuart as he begrudgingly moves to a new town and ends up solving a family mystery full of puzzles and tricks, magic and mystery. I feel like this would make a great children’s TV show as Stuart races around Beeton, managing nosy triplet neighbours, quirky parents and a scheming enemy with a hapless magician sidekick. Despite all of this though, I found it difficult to consider it is a viable contender for the Carnegie prize just because its intended audience is so obviously much younger than the other shortlisted novels which are definitely aimed at the firmly young adult, older teens audiences. It is difficult to compare this to something harrowing like Between Shades of Grey or something lyrical and meandering like My Name is Mina. So, whilst I’m not sure  it is a good novel for Carnegie, I do think it is superbly written and incredibly charming.

The full review is on my blog.

First Line: “Stuart Horten was small for his age – the smallest boy in his year at school – and both his parents were very tall, which meant that when he stood next to them he looked about the size of an ant.”

Why I read it: It is on the current Carnegie Prize shortlist.

Who I would recommend it to: Fans of Rebecca Stead or Frank Cottrell Boyce. If you like quirky stories full of heart.

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #39: Trash by Andy Mulligan

“Three friends. Raphael, Gardo and Rat. Living on a heap of trash, a lifetime of sifting rubbish. One day they find something extraordinary – a deadly secret. From that moment they are hunted without mercy. With danger snatching at their heels, the boys are chased from the city’s dirty gutters to its wealthy avenues. But they can’t run forever. They need a miracle.”

I was far more impressed with this than I was expecting and it has gone down very well with my teenage readers as well. Whilst easy to read and relatively simple, it is filled with excellent storytelling, exciting twist and turns, wonderful characters and much to think about. A really worthy contender for the Carnegie prize this year and a novel that will be read and loved for years to come, I imagine (although it was written nearly two years ago so I’m a little confused as to why it is on this years shortlist). . It has a great mystery story as well as plenty to challenge teenage readers about the way children their age live in other cities.

The full review is on my blog.

First Line: “My name is Raphael Fernandez and I am a dumpsite boy.”

Why I read it: It is on the Carnegie shortlist which I am currently reading and shadowing with my Book Club students at school.

Who I would recommend it to: I can hardly think of anyone who wouldn’t fall for this book. An easy read with real depth, it’s perfect for its intended audience.

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