ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Jun 22 2018

Blue Window by Adina Rishe Gewirtz

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Candlewick Books, 2018. ISBN 9780763660369
(Age: Older adolescents - Adults) This powerful novel, epic in scope, presents an undiscovered world that seems to be both predictably human and terrifyingly inhuman. Seeming to fall into a new world through a blue glass window, five imaginative siblings find themselves caught in an unexpected place where what they have known as normal does not exist. Their aim is to escape but they cannot understand how they have been caught in the new world, so the possibility of leaving seems to be physically impossible.
This is a world of upheaval, violence and fear, a world where the inhabitants are oppressed, bullied and subjugated to rules that dominate their lives. They are largely unaware of a possibility of a world that offers freedom, peace or love. We are aware that Gewirtz subtly suggests changes in our world that mimic that of her dystopian society, such as control of free thought, of liberal education, or of equality and justice. Both disturbing and violent, this world suggests that some of the present and past worlds that we have known or inherited are the result of the potential for human beings to allow those with power to overrule others to the extent that all known freedoms cease to exist, and dominance, in all aspects of life, to quash the spirit.
In this dystopian world, the inhabitants, strange-looking and with quite different ideas about life, seem to follow many of the ways of the children's own world, yet their world runs on different rules. It ought to be terrifying but the children seem to find the strength to analyse the way this world works and the strength to resist further exploration, and to realize the power of their own individual strength. The power of their minds to dream up a scenario seems to be one avenue of enabling change, as they discover, and it is this positive thinking that offers escape but, paradoxically, alerts the inhabitants to their presence and endangers them.
This novel is about the power of goodness, decency, kindness, intelligence, and the capacity of the human spirit to overcome extreme repression. It speaks of aspects of societies that our world has known, but placing the children in one such world evokes both our empathy and our fear of the power of thought and persuasion. I found it disturbing and unsettling to read, with such young people, unable to reach their own family and known world, plunged into such a harsh and violent world. The characters, somewhat ingenuously, appear to not realize the actual threat of that world, and their strength of character, loyalty and love, appear to enable them to find the means to flee.
Qualities such as persistence, kindness and decency are important in the interactions of the children, both within their little group and with the locals. Their return to their family home is a satisfying ending, but plunging such young people into such a violent and oppressive world evokes a disturbing response in the reader. Beautifully written, this book is suitable for older adolescents or adults.
Elizabeth Bondar



More Reviews

Jun 21 2018

In-between things by Priscilla Tey

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763689834
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Words. Adventure. Curiosity. A sumptuously presented picture book which humorously plays with the word between, inviting readers to see what is in-between the everyday. Between marvelously attractive end...
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Jun 21 2018

A thousand perfect notes by C.G. Drews

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Orchard Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408349908
(Age: 13+) Recommended. The Maestro reigns in Beck's house in much the same manner as Miss Trunchbull does in Roald Dahl's, Matilda. An internationally acclaimed and now incapacitated pianist, the physically imposing matriarch intimidates...
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Jun 21 2018

The lemonade problem by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson

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Peg + Cat series. Candlewick, 2017. ISBN 9781536200614
(Age: 3-6) Themes: Problem solving. Girls. Cats. Small business. Mathematics. Peg + Cat is a popular animated cartoon series for pre-schoolers that features a little girl and her indigo cat working on mathematical...
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Jun 21 2018

The mystery of the colour thief by Ewa Josefkowicz

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Head of Zeus, 2018. ISBN 9781788546492
(Age: 12+) This is the story of a girl called Izzy, a cygnet called Spike and the power of feathers gathered from strong winds. It is a beautifully written debut about hope, healing and new beginnings.
First there was the accident, then came...
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Jun 20 2018

A shout in the ruins by Kevin Powers

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Sceptre, 2018. ISBN 9781473667785
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Powerfully written and well crafted, this novel draws together two strands, one set during the cruel times of slavery plantations and the American Civil War and the other, ninety years and more later, as George Seldom sets...
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Jun 20 2018

Stink: Hamlet and Cheese by Megan McDonald

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763691639
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Stink: Hamlet and Cheese is a great way to introduce Hamlet and Shakespeare to younger readers. The main character, Stink, may not be too happy about being the only boy at Shakespeare camp but it sure beats...
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Jun 20 2018

Peter Rabbit: Hello Peter! by Beatrix Potter

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Warne, Puffin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780241324332
(Age: 1-3) Highly recommended. Board book. What a wonderful introduction to Peter Rabbit and the delightful illustrations by Beatrix Potter. This board book is for very young children, but adults reading the rhyming words and looking at the...
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Jun 20 2018

Silent but deadly by Pixel Kid and Zack Zombie

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Diary of a Minecraft Creeper series. Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742768724
(Age: 7-9) Themes: Bullying, School life, Minecraft computer game. Pixel Kid and Zack Zombie bring Jasper the Creeper back for another adventure in "Silent but Deadly." This junior novel is written in the...
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Jun 20 2018

Parvana - A graphic novel based on the original book by Deborah Ellis

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Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760631970
Highly recommended. "This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of the animated film, inspired by Deborah Ellis's beloved novel, tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana.
When soldiers burst into her home and drag her father off to...
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Jun 19 2018

Peg + Cat : The camp problem by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9780763699222
(Age: 5-8) Peg + cat: The camp problem is an engaging story designed for 5-8year olds. The Peg + Cat series has an undercurrent of mathematics equations which easily slide into the stories and essentially enable children to learn...
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Jun 19 2018

Crash landing by Robert Muchamore

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Rock Wars Book 4. Hodder Children's Books, 2017. ISBN 9781444914634
(Age: Secondary) "Jay, Summer and Dylan are fresh out of the biggest reality show there is. But they're about to discover what fame and fortune are really about. Jay's brother Theo is young, rich and famous: but...
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Jun 18 2018

The 13th Reality: Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

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Scholastic, 2018 (First published by Simon and Schuster, 2008). ISBN 9781742994789
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Truth and Reality, Courage, Quantum Physics, Adventure, STEM. Atticus Higginbottom (nicknamed 'Tick') is not a super-hero type. In fact he...
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Jun 18 2018

Jane Seymour. The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

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Six Tudor Queens series. Headline, 2018. ISBN 9781472227683
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. Jane Seymour is a wonderful read with Alison Weir convincingly bringing the Tudor Court of Henry VIII to real, exciting and tumultuous life both in the Court and in Jane's...
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Jun 18 2018

William Wenton and the Secret Portal by Bobbie Peers

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Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406371710
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Science Fiction, Adventures, Codes and ciphers, Secrecy. Norwegian film director Bobbie Peers' "William Wenton and the Secret Portal", the second novel is darker and slower-paced than...
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Jun 18 2018

Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera

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Candlewick, 2018. ISBN 9781536201406
"Can you walk and talk at the same time? How about Jabberwalk? Can you write and draw and walk and journal all at the same time? If not, you're in luck: exuberant, blue-cheesy cilantro man Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, is...
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Jun 18 2018

Alma and how she got her name by Juana Martinez-Neal

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763693558
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Alma is a little girl who believes her name is far too long, until the day her dad explains to her where her name came from. She then realized that her name had meaning and that each bit of it did fit her just...
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Jun 15 2018

Genesis by Brendan Riechs

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Project Nemesis 2. Pan Macmillan, 2018. ISBN 9781509869992
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Genesis is a whirlwind of a story full of thrilling experiences and mind boggling scenarios that will have you questioning your own existence. It's the sequel to Riechs' first book Nemesis,...
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Jun 15 2018

Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408869444
(Age: 13+) Recommended. "By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon's divorce as you've never heard it before - from the eyes of their daughter, Princess Mary.
More than anything Mary...
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Jun 15 2018

Miniwings - Firestorm's musical muck-up by Sally Sutton

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Scholastic New Zealand Limited, 2018. ISBN 9781775434863
(Age: 7+) Imagine having six gorgeous little winged toy horses that come to life when the adults aren't looking! Firestorm is the hero - or chief troublemaker - in this fourth book in the series.
Clara and Sophia are preparing...
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Jun 15 2018

Best buds under frogs by Leslie Patricelli

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763651046
(Age: 10+)Recommended. "For Lily, it's the worst first day of school ever. Who would want to be friends with the new girl, whose debut act is to throw up on the playground (on somebody's shoes!)? Fortunately, quirky Darby comes to the rescue....
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Jun 15 2018

Count with little fish by Lucy Cousins

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406374193
(Age: 2+) Highly recommended. Board book. This is a colorful counting book that has both the numerals and the number word and a little rhyme to go with each number.
This is a fun counting book from 1 to 10.
The bright colors engage the...
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Jun 14 2018

The outcast by Taran Matharu

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Summoner series: the prequel. Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9781444939095
Recommended. The outcast instantly had me hooked, taking me through parallels between Fletcher and Arcturus virtually from the beginning. It explained and fleshed out most of what fans of the...
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Jun 14 2018

Goat's coat by Tom Percival

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Ill. by Christine Pym. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408881019
(Age: 3-6) Themes: Goats. Coats. Helpfulness. 'Let me tell you the tale of Alfonzo the goat, who was terribly proud of his lovely new coat.'
Tom Percival's charming rhyming story begins with a rather proud goat Alfonzo,...
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Jun 14 2018

The Goose Road by Rowena House

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406371673
(Age: 12 and up) Highly recommended. "France 1916. Angelique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her...
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