Books for Children / Teenage Fiction - Two

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Not Just Dancing by Helen Flint, Heinemann pounds 9.99. An amusing story, written at a 'dancing' pace. It describes one week in the life of Geraldine, a typical teenager; one week that changes her attitude to life completely. It is a lighthearted, witty and fast-moving story that is easy to read and entertaining, while, at the same time, containing a more serious interpretation. Helen Flint captures the thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl very well. Laura Fellowes (13)

A Place For Me by Robert Westall, Pan pounds 9.99. This book is, in some ways, like Orwell's 1984, only simplified. As in 1984, we see a man trying to stand out against the system. However, unlike Winston Smith, he is forced to announce to the world that the government is abusing its powers. He not only has to risk his own life but that of his daughter. I enjoyed the book but found the conclusion thoroughly frustrating. Recommended for teenagers of 14 upwards - it may perhaps serve as a way into 1984 and Brave New World. Holly Harris (16)

Night Fires by Joan Lingard, Hamish Hamilton pounds 8.99. This dramatic political thriller is an exciting read with a riveting plot. It is about two orphans who escape from their orphanage and join the rest of the city in protesting against the dictator of the totalitarian state in which they live. The book is at times very nerve-racking as there are many traitors who are not all what they seem. For 11 to 13s. Connie Allfrey (12)

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones, Methuen pounds 11.99. This book strongly resembles a dream where events are timeless and nothing happens in the correct order. The five Reigners once ruled the galaxy and all that exists. But events started to occur beyond their control and, eventually, all five came to Earth to sort out the dilemma. The main characters are the Reigner's Servant - Mordion - and his two young friends, Anne and Hume. As the writing moves backwards and forwards through time, one comes across dragons and danger, and a fictitious castle where knights in armour live in a fairy-tale fantasy, completely oblivious to the strife that surrounds them. Hexwood lets the imagination loose, prompting one to ask, 'How does this world work?' Joanna Skailes (15)

But Can The Phoenix Sing? by Christa Laird, Julia MacRae pounds 8.99. This vivid novel tells of the horrors of Second World War in Poland, and the life of a Jewish boy, Misha, who escapes from the Warsaw ghetto shortly before the extermination of its inhabitants. It tells of his dangerous childhood, and his courage in risking his life to give other persecuted Jews their chance of freedom. I knew nothing of the extreme hatred and fear that were part of Jewish everyday life in the war and this brilliantly written book brought it home to me. Kate Brooks (15)



Street Child by Berlie Doherty, Hamish Hamilton pounds 8.99. The story is set in the 1860s and follows the life of Jim, a young boy who loses his parents and his home, and is then separated from his sisters. Jim is sent to the workhouse from which he escapes and becomes a street boy. There are detailed descriptions of the horrors of life at that time, but despite the cruelty Jim suffers he does make friends and finds some happiness. An interesting and informative account of life: strongly recommended for up to 14s. Alistair Downes (12)

Galaxy Arena by Gillian Rubenstein, Heinemann pounds 9.99. Phew] Compulsive reading] Three children are kidnapped and taken off to the Planet Vexa, where they are made to perform death-defying feats of gymnastics and are kept as pets by the strange humanoid Vexans. There is only one exit - death - or is there? All is not what it seems. A very convincing style of writing making a good story and a terrific climax, but not one for the faint-hearted. John Marsters (13)

Dudley Shadow by Cara Lockhart Smith, Methuen pounds 9.99. Leo is shocked when he is forced to move to a large city and even more shocked when he encounters 'The Shadows'. When he meets Seraphine, though, he realises he must rescue her. However, Seraphine is inside Egypt House and what enters Egypt House never leaves. The book flows well and the last few chapters are enthralling and even scary. Brilliant for ages 12-14. Definitely one for the collection] Joe Sturge (12)

Lost for Words by Elizabeth Lutzeier, OUP pounds 8.99. This is a powerful book about a Bangladeshi teenage girl called Aysha. Her absent father returns to Bangladesh and takes Aysha and her mother back to London with him. To reassure Aysha, her nave grandparents tell her that she will go to school and live in luxury. It turns out that her family experiences poverty and discrimination and Aysha confronts feelings of loneliness and despair. An excellent but very sad book which made me more concerned about the effects of racism. Richard Bookey (13)