Book Club Books Part 2

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Part One of this series is here. So why a ‘Girl Zone Book Club’ I hear you ask? Well the easy answer to that question is that I work at a girls school! I’ve previously run  a similar club for boys when I was at a boys school, and I’ve also run mixed gender book clubs for Year Four – Six students. My main aim is the inter-generational (is that a term?!) reading; I love seeing the connections that can be made through discussing and debating books.

I have worked in a girls school for ten years now and have two daughters of my own and as a result, I really have become rather fascinated with the reading habits of young girls and I definitely find the upper primary – lower secondary years a time of reading no mans land. By Year Six, I rather hope they have moved on from the blasted colourful fairy books (*#$!@!&*) and onto something with substance, but I often see problems with moving from ‘safe’ books with lovable characters, to books with more mature themes. And while I adore young adult fiction, especially Australian #loveOzYA, there is no way most 11 year olds can deal with the adult content in many of these titles. So I feel like it leaves them floundering, and we see a marked drop off in reading around this time. My idea with book club is to transition young readers from upper primary content, to more middle grade fiction and non-fiction – and discuss the more mature (but appropriate) themes with a trusted adult.

My second list of loved titles for my Girls Zone Book Club is below. You can ‘add to cart’ (love this term!) in one swift click here or purchase individual titles by clicking on title links or cover images below.

List Two: Book Club Titles

A Single Stone‘ by Meg McKinlay
The Peony Lantern‘ by Frances Watts
The Simple Things‘ by Bill Condon & illustrated by Beth Norling
Kerenza A New Australian‘ by Rosanne Hawke
Speed of Light‘ by Joy Cowley
The Red Pencil‘ by Andrea Davis Pinkney & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Nightbird‘ by Alice Hoffman
The Book of Secrets: Anteban Cipher Book 1‘ by A.L. Tait
The Forgotten Pearl‘ by Belinda Murrell
Allie McGregor’s True Colours‘ by Sue Lawson
Flora’s War‘ by Pamela Rushby
The Nelly Gang‘ by Stephen Axelsen
Pennies for Hitler‘ by Jackie French
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making‘ by Catherynne M. Valente & illustrated by Ana Juan
When You Reach Me‘ by Rebecca Stead
Pookie Aleera is not my Boyfriend‘ by Steven Herrick

A Single Stone‘ by Meg McKinlay

Every girl dreams of being part of the line – the chosen seven who tunnel deep into the mountain to find the harvest. No work is more important. Jena is the leader of the line – strong, respected, reliable. And – as all girls must be – she is small; her years of training have seen to that. It is not always easy but it is the way of the things. And so a girl must wrap her limbs, lie still, deny herself a second bowl of stew. Or a first. But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question everything she has ever known? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything?

The Peony Lantern‘ by Frances Watts

When Kasumi leaves her remote village for the teeming city of Edo, her life is transformed. As a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion she discovers a rare talent for art and falls in love with a young samurai. How could she ever return to the life of a simple mountain girl?

But Kasumi must set aside her own concerns. Her country is on the brink of change and Edo is simmering with tension. And her mistress has a dangerous secret-a secret that Kasumi is gradually drawn into. A powerful story of art, love and friendship.

The Simple Things‘ by Bill Condon & Illustrated by Beth Norling

Stephen has never met his great aunt Lola, and he doesn’t want to. She sends him money twice a year and he always writes back, but Lola is almost eighty – what will they have to talk about? When they arrive at her house, Stephen discovers she’s grumpy, scary and really, really old. He wants to turn around and go home, but his mum says they have to stay until Lola’s birthday – three weeks away.

Left to his own devices, Stephen learns about the simple things in life – like fishing, and cricket, and climbing trees – and the importance of family. Soon Lola entrusts Stephen with a great secret, and he realises that Lola has become more important to him than just an aunt who sends him money – she’s now a friend.

Kerenza A New Australian‘ by Rosanne Hawke (plus companion novels)

Kerenza isn’t sure about leaving her village in Cornwall and taking a ship to Australia, but she can be brave for her dad’s sake. Where he sees a farm, she and her Mam see endless bush and flies – millions of them – and hard work from dawn to dusk. It’s almost too much to bear, but the Mallee has its own beauty, and family and new-found friends might just make it her home.

Speed of Light‘ by Joy Cowley

With a father more interested in money than family, a brother in prison, a sister with a secret and a mother in denial, it’s no wonder Jeff buries himself in the safe world of mathematics. When a storm hits, a strange old woman is blown into Jeff’s life, challenging everything he thinks is true. When things go very wrong, her influence is suspect.

The Red Pencil‘ by Andrea Davis Pinkney & illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Life in Amira’s peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when Janjaweed attackers arrive, unleashing unspeakable horrors. After losing nearly everything, Amira needs to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. She begins to lose hope, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind — and all kinds of possibilities.

Nightbird‘ by Alice Hoffman

Twig lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, baker of irresistible apple pies. A new girl in town might just be Twig’s first true friend, and ally in vanquishing an ancient family curse.

A spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town’s famed apple orchards.

‘The Book of Secrets: Anteban Cipher Book 1′ by A.L. Tait

Full review here. What’s the secret of the book, and why is it so valuable? These are the questions Gabe must answer when a dying man hands him a coded manuscript with one instruction: take it to Aidan. Gabe is hurled into a quest that takes him beyond his monastery home and into a world of danger, political intrigue and adventure.

As he seeks to decipher the code and find a mystery man who may not even exist, Gabe learns that survival must be earned and that some of life’s biggest lessons are not found in books. Gabe finds himself questioning everything he knows about right and wrong and wondering if he’ll ever find a way back home. He also discovers that the biggest secret of all may be his own.

The Forgotten Pearl‘ by Belinda Murrell

When Chloe visits her grandmother, she learns how close war came to destroying her family. Could Poppy’s experiences help Chloe face her own problems?

In 1941, Poppy lives in Darwin, a peaceful paradise. But when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and then Australia, everything Poppy holds dear is threatened. Terrified, she flees to Sydney – only to find that the danger follows her there. Poppy must face her war with courage and determination. Will her world ever be the same?

Allie McGregor’s True Colours‘ by Sue Lawson

Allie McGregor’s list of problems is longer than movie credits. House renovations have forced Allie to share her room with mouse-loving little sister, Sarah. Her dad, Will, calls Allie ‘The Hormonal One’ during his popular radio program. Her brother, Riley, is just plain gross. Her best friend Lou is fighting with Allie’s new friend, Romy. Oh, and Allie’s mum has cancer.

Flora’s War‘ by Pamela Rushby

It’s 1915 and sixteen-year-old Australian Flora Wentworth is visiting Cairo with her archaeologist father. She watches with growing alarm as first a trickle and then a flood of wounded soldiers are shipped into the city from Gallipoli.

Flora’s comfortable life is turned upside down when a hospital visit thrusts her into the realities of World War 1. She is soon transporting injured soldiers and helping out exhausted nurses – managing to fall in love along the way.

As Flora battles to save lives and find her own, a tragic misunderstanding changes everything.

The Nelly Gang‘ by Stephen Axelsen

Christmastown, 1860. Everyone on the goldfields wants to get rich. But when Nelly and her pa, Paddy, finally strike gold, bushrangers are ready to pounce. Will Nelly and her gang be able to rescue Paddy from their evil clutches?

Pennies for Hitler‘ by Jackie French

It’s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils heads to see which of them have the most ‘Aryan’- shaped heads. But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive.

Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too.

The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making‘ by Catherynne M. Valente & illustrated by Ana Juan (plus sequels)

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

When You Reach Me‘ by Rebecca Stead

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

Pookie Aleera is not my Boyfriend‘ by Steven Herrick

In a country town, in a school just like yours, the kids in Class 6A tell their stories. There’s Mick, school captain and sometimes trouble-maker, who wants to make the school a better place, while his younger brother Jacob just wants to fly. There’s shy and lonely Laura who hopes to finally fit in with a circle of friends, while Pete struggles to deal with his grandpa’s sudden death. Popular Selina obsesses over class comedian Cameron, while Cameron obsesses over Anzac biscuits and Pookie Aleera – whoever that is! For new teacher Ms Arthur, it’s another world, but for Mr Korsky, the school groundskeeper, he’s seen it all before.

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