Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Sunday 28 September 2014

School Days

 Despite frequent comments from students that they don’t “like” school, many do like books set in schools and even more so if they are part of a series.

Some of my favourite school based reads include Looking for Alaska (John Green), Lev Grossman’s The Magician, Maureen Johnston’s The Name of the Star, and Maggie Stievfater's Ravens Cycle series. My recent reading includes these newer school based books.

Esme Kerr The Glass Bird Girl (Knight Haddon series) Chicken House

This eloquent book has an old fashioned feel to it which will appeal to girls aged 9+ who like stories where school girls are school girls and where adults can be mysterious and duplicitous.  Her blind grandmother can no longer look after the orphaned Edie.  Instead Edie is sent by her awful uncle to Knight's Haddon School to keep an eye on Anastasia. The Russian princess is the daughter of one of the uncle’s clients.  Mysterious things are happening and someone is trying to undermine Anastasia. 

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Iron Trial (Magisterium Series) Random House

This fantasy (as do many fantasies set in schools) bears similarities to the Harry Potter series but ignore those initial doubts as the twists and turns will leave readers anxious for the next instalment.  Alastair Hunt tells his son, twelve-year-old Callum, to fail the selection tests for the Magisterium, a training school for mages. But Master Rufus chooses Callum anyway; if he cannot learn to contain his magic within the first year, the magic will be bound.

Pip Harry Head of the River UQP
The story is told alternately by brother/sister twins - both in the school’s firsts rowing team. Pip Harry describes the anxiety caused by parental expectations very well. Someone is bankrolling the use of steroids to ensure the rowing team wins. Cris, the brother, takes the drugs and is therefore a cheat, but Cris is always there to support his sister. Leni, on the other hand, is not so likeable; she is determined to be the stroke and captain, yet has to learn how to be part of the team.

Any suggestions for recent school stories?

Nella Pickup

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