Monday, April 1, 2013

Sister assassin by Kiersten White

Would you do something you hated, something that made you feel like dying inside if it would save the life of your sister? Would you give up your own life, your own freedom, so she can spend the rest of her life in a gilded cage to keep her safe from you?  This is the choice Fia has made, as long as she does what Keane and his son James want, Annie will live a long life safe in the school, where they will provide everything she needs.  It seems like a simple trade, Annie is blind and will never live a truly normal life, and until recently she has been relatively happy at the school, but with each day it seems as though Fia is slipping further and further away from her.

When Fia is sent on a mission to assassinate Adam, things become incredibly complicated very quickly - because she can't kill him, even though she knows that failure means her death and Annie's.  Keeping the thoughts hidden inside her mind, Fia has to figure out how she is going to save them both when the Seers and Readers know how she is feeling and what she is going to do before she even knows it herself.  Her complicated relationship with James makes it even worse, she should hate him for what he has done, for the part he plays in her enforced servitude - but it is not that simple.

Time is running out for Fia and Annie, and as the net closes around them Fia may have to make the ultimate choice - her life, or Annie's.

If you like this book then you may also like Every other day by Jennifer Lynne Barnes, Revived by Cat Patrick, and Adaptation by Melinda Lo.

~ Reviewed by Elspeth Sweetman

The dogs of winter by Bobbie Pyron

When five year old Mishka finds himself lost and alone in the streets of Moscow it seems as though all hope is lost - especially when he can't find the beautiful read coat his mother always wore - but he seems to be safe in the care of the street children who call one of the train stations home.  But it is just an illusion as they are all interested in protecting themselves, in staying alive, they have no real interest in a small child who is too young to be living on the streets by himself.  It seems as though death is only a short time away, until Mishka discovers the dogs that roam the streets begging and stealing just like the street children.

When Mishka strikes up a friendship with a dog he calls Lucky, he has no idea that he is making the connection that will help him survive his first winter on the streets.  Lucky is part of a pack of street dogs, a pack with a strong leader that accepts Mishka grudgingly into the pack.  Working together, Mishka and the dogs may just find enough food for them all to make it through a harsh Moscow winter - even if they have to steal food to make ends meet.  As the world around them changes, Mishka and the dogs must adapt to survive, and they must always stay one step ahead of the people who believe that all street children should be rounded up and shipped off to an orphanage for their own protection.

A powerful and gripping novel based on the true story of a child from Russia, one that will have you laughing, longing, and grieving along with Mishka and his pack.  An unforgettable story.

~ Reviewed by Elspeth Sweetman

The game of red, yellow and blue by Herve Tullet

Books about colours are a great tool for teaching children about colours and what happens to different colours when you mix them, and too often they are boring books that just tell you to mix one colour with another to get colour number three - not so with The game of red, yellow, and blue.  The author has found a fun way to talk about where some of the different colours come from, and while there are only a few secondary colours in the book, they are enough to get little minds thinking about colours and how they are made.  The best part is that the story stands up on its own, so you don't have to worry about teaching colours through a good story, it is more a great story that just happens to have colours in it. 

The edition I have is a sturdy little board book just perfect for little hands and fingers to explore themselves, and there are some cut out sections that lead from one part of the story to the next which are great for encouraging little minds to keep thinking and exploring.  Definitely my favourite colour book of this year (yes I know it is less than two months into 2013, but I see a lot of picture books and board books at work).

If you like this book then try Yellow dress day by Michelle Worthington and Sophie Norsa, Nana's colours by Pamela Allen, How do dinosaurs learn their colours by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, and The splendid spotted snake by Betty Ann Schwartz and Alexander Wilensky.

~ Reviewed by Elspeth Sweetman