Ask Pippa

2005: What's New in Fiction?

The ConvictsThe Convicts, by Iain Lawrence (Delacorte Press, $22.95Cdn)

This book is about a boy, Tom Tin, who lives in London, England in the 1800s. His family is poor, and when his father ends up in prison because he can't pay off his debts, Tom tries to find a way to help his family. Instead, he is mistaken for a boy named Smashy, a gang leader and real trouble maker. Even worse, he is accused of murder and ends up on a prison ship with hundreds of other boys all in shackles and chains. This is a powerful tale that is hard to put down. For readers aged 10 to 14.

The author: Iain Lawrence is a Canadian author who has lived in Sault Ste. Marie, Toronto, Calgary and other places. He is the authors of B for Buster, The Cannibals, Gemini Summer and other books for young readers.

Ingrid and the WolfIngrid and the Wolf, by Andre Alexis (Tundra Press, $12.99Cdn/$8.95 USD)

This is an inspired book that reads very much like a classic fairy tale, but with modern touches. The story starts with a girl, Ingrid, who lives with her parents in the tough Parkdale neighbourhood of downtown Toronto. She has bizarre dreams about a wolf. One day, a strange letter, along with an airline ticket, comes from a grandmother she knows nothing about, but who lives in the Old Country where her parents are from. Should Ingrid go? Why have her parents never told her anything about this grandmother? And who or what is this strange wolf she dreams of? The events are delightfully unpredictable and odd, making for an intriguing read. Recommended for readers aged 8 and up.

The author: Andre Alexis was born in Trinidad, but he and his family moved to Canada when he was young. He lives in Toronto.

Lone WolfLone Wolf, by Edo Van Belkom (Tundra Books, $12.99Cdn/$8.95USD)

This is the sequel to Wolf Pack, a story about four teen siblings who try to lead normal lives but can't because, guess what, they're werewolves. Both books are action-packed, and no matter how hard the teens try to keep a low profile, trouble finds them. In this book, they have to contend with a bully at school, a logging company trying to clear-cut the local forest, and a mysterious creature that lives in the woods. And will one of the brothers leave his sibling pack to live in the wild? While the story has lots going on, one character (a regular human) gets whacked on the head far too many times for him to realistically recover from. Aside from that, this is a pretty cool read for kids 8 to 12.

The author: Edo Van Belkom is a Canadian speculative fiction writer.

The Strange Voyage of the RaconteurThe Strange Voyage of the Raconteur by J.C. Mills (Key Porter, $15.95Cdn)

Seventeen-year old Joseph Allenby spends as much time as he can at the local marina watching the boats and gazing at the ocean. One day, he meets a weather-worn sailor named Zen who starts to tell him strange and exicting stories about the Holy Grail and the mysteries of where it is. But there are other mysteries too. Who is this sailor? Why does he pick Joseph to tell these stories to? And why does Joseph feel dizzy each time he talks to Zen? While the stories are about the Grail and the Knights who protected or hid it, don't expect a lot of action. The narrative has a nice storytelling feel to it and will appeal to readers who don't mind that the tales about the knights is in the background rather than up-front action. A good read that should appeal to teens.

The author: JC Mills lives in Toronto. She has written several books for kids including The Goodfellow Trilogy, The Painted Chest, While the Bear Sleeps, The Stonehook Schooner and Bridge 6.