Teen Space - Book Review

What's New Teen Space

New and recommended books for young adults

1917: Machines of War. Brian Falkner
Falkner dedicates this book to "the valiant airmen who took to the skies in service of their country." The main character, 17 year old New Zealander Keith Sunday, is fictional but other than him the book is based on real characters and historical events of the Great War. The brave exploits of the airmen flying in planes of canvas and wood over the enemy line in combat with ace pilots like the Red Baron is exciting and interesting to read. But Falkner also makes plain the devastation of war with the maiming and loss of lives of so many young men. This book is part of the "Kiwis at War" series.

Frogkisser! Garth Nix
Princess Anya, known as frogkisser because of her ability to break curses with her magical kiss, is on a quest to free the kingdom from the clutches of her wicked stepfather. She enlists the help of a thief who has been transformed into a newt, an otter who has been partly changed into a human, a talking dog and a frog prince. This entertaining and humourous young adult fairy tale is a delightful read.

Ginger KidSteve Hofstetter
Comedian, Steve Hofstetter, shares his journey through the turbulent high school years. As a white, red-haired Jewish teenager he suffers at the hands of bullies but learns to use humour as a self defence weapon. He gives an honest account of his struggles with dating, his parents' separation and his eating disorder. Ginger Kid is a great read and Hofstetter's self deprecating humour gives the book a light hearted feel despite the fact that he covers some very serious issues.

The Librarian of Auschwitz. Antonio Iturbe
This is a story based on the real life experiences of 14 year old Dita Kraus. After being sent to Auschwitz with her parents, Dita is assigned the special task of caring for the camp's secret library of eight books. While it is a riveting story it is also a disturbing book to read as it portrays the cruelty and harshness of concentration camp life, sometimes graphically. For this reason I would recommend it as being suitable for mature high school readers.

Robyn Hood: outlaw princess. John Reynolds
This book, is based on a full-length musical for which the author, John Reynolds, wrote the storyline, dialogue, and lyrics. It is a quick and enjoyable read which re-invents the story of Robin Hood with a modern, female protagonist who is transported back in time to a medieval Sherwood forest. The story unfolds in a series of dramatic adventures centred around an on-going confrontation with the evil Sherriff of Nottingham (the school headmaster in present day) and his dim-witted soldiers, the Heavies. The final scene is a dramatic treason trial held in the market place at Nottingham.

You're welcome, Universe. Whitney Gardner
Julia paints graffiti on the wall of Kingston School for the Deaf to cover up nasty remarks about her best friend who then goes and tells the principal who did it. Overnight she is expelled from school, loses her best friend and the trust of her two disappointed moms. Worst still, she is sent to a "hearing" school where no-one can understand her. Her only solace is her art, and she is determined to make her mark ...even if it means breaking the law.