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  • Writer's pictureJulianne Negri

June Reading Round Up

Updated: Jul 22, 2019

Sick Bay by Nova Weetman

Two grade six girls, Meg and Riley, meet in Sick Bay. Why are they in Sick Bay? Well -they each have their reasons. Ever since Meg’s Dad died and her mother is consumed by a deep depression Meg goes to sick bay to get fed by office lady, Sarah, and has time out with her two emotional crutches – a brown paper bag for breathing into and her well-thumbed copy of Anne of Green Gables. Riley is new to the school and is type 1 diabetic and hates the monitoring it requires – especially how that impacts on her ability to hang out with her new friends. But if her friends don’t understand her diabetes are they really friends? It’s the end of grade six and so much is about to change. Both girls are caught in a gap between their home lives and school lives, their truths and their lies. Maybe it is only in sick bay that you can truly be yourself? Nova Weetman is a writer of incredible sensitivity. She mines emotional gems from even the most gentle of moments and does so with such authenticity it makes your heart pound. With each chapter from the alternate girl’s POV, the plot is absorbing as we see how these two lives intersect as they head towards grade six graduation and finding the strength to be themselves.

Frankie:Dream Riders 1 by Laura Bloom with Jessie Blackadder

Confession 1: I was never a horsey girl. Horses and me? Well it just didn’t work. So you’re going to think I wouldn’t like a book like Frankie (Dream Riders #1) right? WRONG! I have learnt in the past not to judge a book by it’s horsey cover after making the mistake of NOT reading Penny Pollard’s Diary series because I thought they were horsey! So stupid. And you know what? Frankie is a book that defies expectations precisely because it is about not making judgements. It's about being open to listening and learning and being tolerant. It’s about finding your truth. And it is a brilliant book for any middle grade reader on the cusp of growing up and navigating grey areas of relationships, change and life in general – with or without a pony.

Frankie is about so much more than horses. And Frankie herself is an inspirational protagonist – a kid navigating a move from the city to the country, a difficult family break up (her mum has left for another woman) and a long term friendship that has changed. Frankie is whipsmart and a problem solver as well. She handles the secrets from her city friend Kai and the custody arrangements with her mum and dad with maturity. But it is the pony club issues that really stump her. You see she had a dream to be horsey – and now she has a pony, Zen, and is going to pony club- but it’s not working out quite as she dreamed.

Enter the horse whisperer Pam and her horse stud Dream Paddock. Here, Frankie finds a way to understand Zen and through it, find her people and her own understanding of the changes in her life. The parts of the book with Frankie learning the language of her horse Zen gave me goosebumps. I couldn’t help feeling that if I had have met someone like that, I would have found my way to be horsey too.

Written with insight, Frankie shows us that to be open to listening to the truth, even through the cacophony of our own expectations. This is the first book in a series and there is a hint at the end to the second book and I can’t wait!

*Thanks to Walker Books for my copy of this book.

The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Gold

This creepy dreamlike narrative was intriguing. It was a bit dense language wise for me but a totally strange and original fantasy idea.

All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison

Best book I have read this year. I could have sat down and read this again immediately upon finishing. The language, narrator, the era, the sense of place and the voice meld into something so intrinsically accomplished.An historical story that is also an analogy for modern Britain,a coming of age story with an unreliable narrator -a girl on the cusp of womanhood in a community on the cusp of modernity. This book is powerful for what it doesn't say and the shape it leaves behind in the crushed stalks of barley.

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Conner classic. Amazing. A wonder. Short stories that pack a punch and stay with you. Each story drags you straight inside a a world of characters in a deft,sparse way that leaves you reeling. I'm seeing stars.

A non-fiction that explores the archeology of indigenous history in this country the uncovering of the many tens of thousands of years that indigenous people have been here and how that relates to world wide deep time exploration. Fascinating and enlightening, well written.

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