New Books in the Library

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Good reads

Here is a quick look at some great new books coming soon to your very own school library!

Why We Broke Up

This is a new book from Daniel Handler.  Never heard of him?  Actually you might have: Handler is the real name of Lemony Snicket, author of the cheerful yet grim Series of Unfortunate Events novels.  Why We Broke Up is an epistolary novel, which is a fancy way of saying that it is written in the form of a letter. 

According to Amazon, “Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.”

We have it on good authority that this novel is both hilarious and really really sad.  The word ‘bittersweet’ has been thrown around quite a lot in reviews.  This book, as well as having the usual book stuff like characters and a plot, also features beautiful illustrations by Maira Kalman, who is a visual columnist for the New York Times.  Awesomely, there is a website spinoff called the Why We Broke Up Project where you too can submit your tragic story of love lost, or just enjoy reading about the breakups of others!  You can also see Daniel Handler talking about the book here.

Eight Keys

This novel by Suzanne LaFleur, author of Love, Aubrey, is a tale of friendship, family, love and bullying.  The ellevn-year-old protagonist, Elise, lives with her aunt and uncle following the death of her parents when she was very young.  She is having a miserable time at school: schoolwork is hard, her best friend is a social liability, and she has to share her locker with a terrifyingly mean girl called Amanda who squashes her lunch every day.  Times are tough.

The story takes a turn for the mysterious when, after her twelfth birthday, Elise finds a mysterious key that turns out to unlock one of the eight locked rooms on the second floor of her aunt and uncle’s barn.  This key heralds the beginning of a transformational journey for Elise that, according to one reviewer, ‘may help her become the person she is meant to be’.

This book is aimed at a slightly younger age group – maybe Year 7 to Year 8 – and is a great exploration of the difficulties of growing up as well as an uncompromising look at the misery of being bullied.  Suzanne LaFleur also has a website that contains reviews of both this and her first book, as well as some great tips for aspiring writers.

War Horse

Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse is not, in fact, a new novel – it was first published in 1982! – but has recently been reprinted following the release of the film of the same name.  Unusually, the novel is narrated by the horse itself, Joey, who is bought by a drunken farmer and forms a close relationship with the farmer’s son, Albert.  Unfortunately the First World War happens and Joey is sold to the British Army and shipped off to France to be in the cavalry.  Albert is heartbroken and tries to join the army so he can be with Joey, but he’s too young, and Joey is left to fend for himself as he travels through wartime Europe.

One reviewer described this novel as “a poignant story with a strong anti-war message. Like Joey the horse, many of the casualties in this World War I novel understand little about why the battles are fought and lives are lost. To Joey, the fighting is cacophonous, chaotic, and random — an eloquent statement about the pointlessness of the violence. Horse lovers will sometimes be upset by War Horse, but they will also be moved by the kindness shown to Joey and the horse’s deep bond with his young master, Albert.”  Michael Morpurgo later wrote a prequel to this book, entitled Farm Boy.

If you’re interested in the film of this book, check out the trailer:

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