Outside In

Lynn’s life is full — choir practice, school, shopping for the perfect jeans, and dealing with her free-spirited mother. Then one day her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family — both more bizarre, yet somehow more sane, than Lynn’s own. Blossom’s family is a small band of outcasts and eccentrics who live secretly in an ingenious bunker beneath a city reservoir.

Always Jack

“Jack’s life is pretty good — he has great friends, everyone loves his funny jokes and he’s an awesome inventor. But things are getting complicated. Nanna’s older and wobblier, and why does his face turn red when he sees his best friend, Anna? And to top it off, Mum and Rob’s wedding seems to be taking over the world. Something really scary has also happened to his mum and it’s going to take all of Jack’s courage to deal with it”–P. [4] of cover.

A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk

In the little village of Duk Padiet in southern Sudan, a boy named Jacob Deng thrives on the love of his mother, the companionship of his sisters, the excitement of learning how to look after his uncle’s herds of cattle. The year is 1987, and suddenly in the night soldiers from the north invade the village, looting, burning, and killing. The war has arrived, and the life of Jacob will never be the same. This novel is based on the real life experiences of a Sudanese boy who, with thousands of other boys from the region, fled for his life and spent seven years walking through deserts, grasslands and forests, crossing crocodile-infested rivers, surviving life in massive refugee camps. The so-called Lost Boys of Sudan – as they were called by an American aid organization – numbered as many as 27,000, and while many died – from starvation, attacks by wild animals, drowning, or through the brutality of the military – many survived. Jacob never returned to his village, but though he was only seven years old when he had to flee, he somehow managed to live through an almost unimaginable ordeal. Throughout the seven years covered in this story, Jacob resists the temptation to join the liberation army. Steadily Jacob finds himself more and more adhering to his mother’s advice that getting an education is crucial to escaping the cycle of violence that afflicts his country. Jacob’s struggle, then, is to persist in seeking out teachers and eventually a school where his ambition to learn about the world can be met. Through it all he learns about loyalty and love for close friends who have been thrust together with him on this extraordinary journey, and also about the guiding light provided by the memory of his mother.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 4, Issue 2

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy

  An alcoholic mother, a distracted father, a best friend who spends all his time with his new “girlfriend,” and three relentless schoolyard bullies: Prinny Murphy’s past, present, and future certainly are “tense.” Adding to her misery, she still can’t read well enough to escape from remedial lessons with the dour Mrs. Dooks. But when a kindly substitute teacher introduces her to LaVaughn’s inner-city world in the free verse novel, Make Lemonade, Prinny discovers that life can be full of possibilities – and poetry.  

Noodle Pie

It’s Andy’s first trip on an airplane when he and his dad travel to Vietnam to meet all his relatives. Talk about culture shock! Everyone calls him by his Vietnamese name instead of Andy and he is stunned to discover the family restaurant. For Andy and his dad- a former refugee returning for the first time- Vietnam is full of surprises. Somehow though, it also becomes the place for learning how to see things in a whole new way.