Sunday, 26 November 2006

Kaitangata Twitch, Margaret Mahy, 2005

KAITANGATA TWITCH, Margaret Mahy, Allen & Unwin, 2005, paperback, NZ$18.99. ISBN 0-1-74114-485-X.

MILLIONS Frank Cottrell Boyce, Macmillan, 2005, 250 pages, paperback. ISBN 0-330-44130-2.

FRAMED Frank Cottrell Boyce, Macmillan, 314 pages, paperback.ISBN 1-405-0458-1.

BODIES AND SOUL David Hill, Scholastic, 2005, 222 pages, paperback, NZ$16.99.
ISBN 1-86943-658-X.

ONCE, Morris Gleitzman, Puffin, 150 pages, paperback NZ$17.95. ISBN 0-14-330195-0.

For Younger Teens

These five books are reminders that the best writing in the world today is being done for younger teenagers. Each of these skilfully written stories has interesting characters, convincing settings, unexpected activities and a remarkable ability to capture the authentic voice of young people. Although humour is often important in these stories, they all confront serious issues head on.

To say Framed is another story by the author of the Carnegie Award-winning Millions is enough. (If you haven’t read Millions, or seen the film, the handsome film tie-in edition is just out.) Framed is even better than Millions. It’s one of those books you carry round, reading out bits to people until they laugh. Dylan is the last boy left in Manod, a lively little Welsh town which has been in decline since its mountain slate quarry closed. Obsessed with cars, Dylan hopes his family’s garage business will improve when mysterious strangers start using the slate gallery to store precious objects. Instead, comic misunderstandings about pizza-eating ninja turtles and renaissance artists enable Dylan and his sister to carry out the art crime of the century.With lively dialogue and quirky characterisations, including the world’s most inept hold-up man, Framed is a joy to read. It will make a marvellous movie. And there are some classic paintings you’ll never be able to look at again without laughing.

David Hill’s characters have the same optimistic approach as Boyce’s. Not that young Cal in Bodies and Soul has much to be optimistic about. In his grim world, the poor – made redundant by technology - survive by scavenging in%

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