Ask Pippa

2007: What's New in Fiction?

Being by Kevin Brooks ($20.99, Scholastic)

This book is definitely riveting reading, and the story itself is both thoughtful and exciting.

The action starts when a teen, Robert, goes to a hospital to get some stomach pains he's been having checked out. Normal, enough, right? But it turns out he's not so quite normal. In fact, parts of him are made of plastic and metal. Worse than finding out he may not be wholly human is the fact there are nasty people who want to lock him in a lab and study him!

This is no ordinary story about a teen who is trying to discover who he is. Robert is stuck with not knowing quite what he is either. And during all this self-discovery he is constantly on the run for his life. Lots of action, as well as thought-provoking stuff in this speculative-fiction book.

Note: don't let the uninspiring and boring-looking cover on this particular edition stop you from picking up this terrific book. For readers 11 and up.

The author: Kevin Brooks has written and published lots of books for kids and teens. He lives in Essex, England.

Cry Wolf, by Edo van Belkom ($12.99 Cdn, Tundra Books).

Special Review by Louise Nunn.

Harlan, Argus, Noble and Tora are a pack of werewolves, and are the main characters in Cry Wolf. They are also teens who live in a small town. This is an adventure novel about the four werewolves’ lives and what they go through. From keeping the pack’s secret of being werewolves, to somebody poisoning Noble, to a little girl getting lost in the forest. The pack struggle in a fight with real wolves outnumbering the werewolves 4-3, while Noble is still recovering from the poison.
The author has written other fantastic books involving Noble, Argus, Harlan and Tora In my opinion, this book has an equal amount of thrilling, awesome, and exhilarating quality as Wolf Pack, another book in the series-but both of them are on my list of top ten best books I’ve read. Cry Wolf is a thrilling and exciting book, and I would recommend it to people who love adventure books

The author: Edo van Belkom is an Ontario-based fantasy, horror and science fiction author -- for both adults and kids.

Nightwalker: The Warlocks of Talverdin, by KV Johansen ($9.95, Orca).

This is a fantasy novel for young readers who want a thinner sized novel to read. The story follows the classic story-line of a lowly, abused servant who turns out to be something he does not appear to be. In fact, Maurey (the teenaged servant in question) knows nothing about where he was born or who his parents were. And even mpore confusing is that he may even have connections to the frightening Nightwalkers – creatures who can become invisible in shadows. But there are mysteries about the human-like Nightwalkers -- are they really all that evil? This has a solid story and lots of action.

Fun for readers 9 to 14.

The author: KV Johansen is a Canadian fantasy and science fiction author.

Breaking Up, by author Aimee Friedman with art by Christine Norrie (Scholastic).

Graphic novels are all the rage now. They're supposed to offer more in-depth stories than comic books, but give you amazing artwork which novels lack. Breaking Up is aimed at young teen girls. It's about four teens who are close buddies, and begins with their first day in high school. The story reflects the melodramatic life of high school that most teen girls are familiar with. It touches on everything from what friendship is, whether it's worth being 'popular,' boy trouble, and the trouble with gossip and secrets. In fact, like wow, you feel like you're right inside the head of a teenage girl when you read this!

For readers aged 9 and up.

The author: Aimee Friedman is a New York based author who has written several popular novels.

The artist: Christine Norrie is a New York based comic book artist.

Shadow of the Moon, by Marina Cohen (Vanwell).

This is a light, fun for the young fantasy reader. This novel is about three 12 year olds who end up in another world where they must rescue Aura, the source of light for the universe. If they fail, well, the universe is doomed (big surprise). Some parts of the book are a little silly and a bit out of place when compared to the life-threatening, serious task the three kids must perform. There is a giant that doesn't talk -- he sings in silly rhymes; and a forest made of giant mushrooms. If you don't mind the silly bits, this is a fun read. But if you like your fantasy novels more intense, this may not be for you.

For readers aged 8 to 12.

The author: Marina Cohen is an Ontario author. Her second book, Trick of the Light, will come out in fall 2007.

Battle of the Bands by KL Denman, (Orca Sounds).

Special Review by Dominic von Riedemann.

Jay is the 17-year-old lead singer and guitarist of the Lunar Ticks. He has the usual problems: handling his parents, keeping his grades up, holding his band together and out of trouble, dealing with his bassist's annoying girlfriend, and trying to write great songs even though he knows he has no life experience.

Right now, the Lunar Ticks are practicing hard. There's this big battle of the bands coming up. The winner gets free studio time. Jay knows that if they win, the Lunar Ticks are on their way to the top.

But there's Rowan Raynor. She fronts the rival band Indigo Daze, who might even be better than the Lunar Ticks. Jay's supposed to dislike her, but there's something about the way she smiles . . .

This is KL Denman's first book and it shows. The writing is clumsy in spots, and a sharp reader can spot some of the plot twists a mile away. But the author knows and loves the feeling of playing in a band when everything is clicking, and there are times when she describes that feeling beautifully.

Battle of the Bands isn't that great, but if you love playing music, it's good to read a book by someone who understands it as much as you do. Its a good example of the Orca Sounds books -- stories aimed at readers (mostly guys) 10-14 who want a short book to read.

The author: KL Denman has had lots of odd jobs and lives in British Columbia, Canada. This is her first novel.

The reviewer: Dominic von Riedemann is a Toronto-based writer and musician who plays in The Kindly Ones band.

Little Squire: The Jumping Pony, by Judy Andrekson ($8.99, Tundra):

Special Review by Louise Nunn.

It all began in the 1920's, when eighteen year old Mickey Walsh arrives in New York from Ireland. In this realistic-fiction novel, Mickey tries to push away the thoughts of the row with his dad while he struggles to find a job in America. Even though he could follow in his father's footsteps and find a job as a horse trainer or a rider, he rebels and chooses to work as a ditch digger.

Finding little success, Mickey reluctantly but eagerly turns back to the horse world, telling himself that it is only a temporary change. But his horseman skills are recognized and very soon he is a well respected horse trainer and rider.

A few years later Mickey is steadily rising to the top in the show world on the wondrous pony who becomes known as Little Squire.

The author has written other true horse stories as well, look out for the next one in the series. This is an amazing book, and I'd recommend it to anyone!

The author: Judy Andrekson is a Canadian author who grew up with horse, and it still surrounded by them today.

The reviewer: Louise Nunn, age 11, is in grade 6. She is an avid reader.

(Ed. note: This book was inspired by real events. There are sections with lots of description, but with little dialogue or action. Still, it will appeal to horse lovers.)