Chosen by 11 and 12 year old pupils at St Ronan’s National School, Dublin.
Thanks to teacher/librarian Mary Fitzpatrick and teachers Linda Hodson, Noel Morgan, Grainne McGeough and Joan Young.
Sisters …. no way!
Siobhan Parkinson, O’Brien Press, 0 86278 495 6, £4.50 pbk
This book is written as the diaries of two girls, Aisling and Cindy. It is unusual as each diary tells of the same events as experienced by the two girls. You just turn the book over to read the second diary! Aisling’s father left home some time ago. Aisling and her younger sister, Alva, live with their mother who is a teacher. Cindy lives with her father (her mother has died recently). I read Aisling’s diary first. Aisling is very popular and likes to do all the normal teenage things. The problems begin when her mother starts dating a man called Richard. This man is Cindy’s father. Cindy is not happy either. She does not like her father seeing another woman so soon after her mother’s death To make matters worse, this woman is one of her teachers! Each diary describes how the girls feel about one another and the developing relationship. Their worst nightmare comes true. The couple decide to get married! The on-going war between the girls gets worse when they all move in together!
One of the reasons why I like this book so much is that it has a serious story-line but it is humorous as well. It is the type of book that makes you feel as if you were there as I have found in all Siobhan Parkinson’s novels. I like the fact that it is set in the present and that it deals with issues that are happening in everyday life.
I rate this book ten out of ten for originality. It is one of my favourite books and I would highly recommend it.
Romie Lambkin, Wolfhound Press, 0 86327 458 7, £3.99 pbk
la, an eleven-year-old girl, lives in Manchester. She is invited to stay with her grandmother (Greengran) in a place called Garriphouca in Ireland. The mystery begins when la discovers that she has an invisible grandfather! It all began many years ago. A wealthy lord decided to create Japanese-style gardens (after a trip to Japan). Greengran and grandfather take their two young children to visit the gardens in their pony and trap. They have a great time wandering around. Grandfather has left a booklet about the gardens in the Tea House so he goes back to collect it. He was never seen again! Back to the present. Tully, Ia’s cousin, takes her to visit the Gardens with some friends. There Ia meets Su Su, a Japanese lady, who has a very unusual gift; she communicates directly with people through the thought process. She is a ‘thought person’. Something wonderful happens. Su Su acts as a telephone between la and her grandfather. The story tells how Greengran eventually finds happiness in her life.
I liked this book, it was very interesting. The Japanese Gardens are in Co. Kildare so the story is set in a real place although the plot is very mysterious and imaginative. I liked the mixture of ‘make-believe’ and reality. I definitely recommend it to other book worms.
The Wreck of the Zanzibar
Michael Morpurgo, ill. Christian Birmingham, Mammoth, 0 7497 2620 2, £4.50 pbk
Michael’s Aunt Laura dies and she leaves Michael her diary which she had written in 1907. It tells the story of her twin brother who leaves home to travel the world. Home is Bryhen Island [near the Scilly Isles]. When he leaves everything starts to go wrong at home. In her diary, Laura describes a terrible storm which has a devastating effect on the island . Houses, crops and ships are destroyed. During the storm Laura and some children have to collect limpets on the beach. They notice something looming near the shore. It is a ship in distress. The crew is rescued and its cargo salvaged. This brings a change of fortune for the island and in particular for Laura’s family. The story has a happy ending which you will discover when you read the book!
The author has written the story so well that I feel I know Laura. When Laura was happy, I felt happy and similarly when she was sad, I felt sad. I’ve learnt what life was like on an island in the early 1900s. Everything was in short supply. The children had to work hard at home.
I really liked the pencil drawings. They helped bring the story to life. I enjoyed this book. It’s a great read and I would recommend it. Ten out of ten!
Under the Hawthorn Tree
Marita Conlan-McKenna, ill. Donald Teskey, O’Brien Press, 0 86278 206 6, £4.99 pbk
Under the Hawthorn Tree is set in Ireland around one hundred and fifty years ago. It is about the O’Driscoll family who are split up as a result of the famine. When Bridget, the baby, dies of hunger, her mother is distraught. Mr O’Driscoll is working (road-building) a good distance from home. Mrs O’Driscoll has to go in search of her husband to give him the bad news. The time passes and she fails to return. Now the children are alone. The landlord hears about this. He tells them they must go to the workhouse with all the other orphans The workhouse is a place people dread as it is full of sickness and disease. The children decide that they will travel to Castletaggart, the home of their great aunts. With a great deal of courage and determination they set off…
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a very touching story. It shows how courageous the children were in dealing with terrible hardship. The descriptions in the book give a very vivid picture of what life was like during the famine. It shows the love and support the O’Driscolls gave to each other. There was nothing I disliked about this book. It held my interest and was an excellent read. As this is the first book in a trilogy, I was able to follow the family as they grew older. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading in general and history in particular.
A definite ten out of ten. The other two books in the trilogy are Wildflower Girl and Fields of Home.