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Category: Lists Page 1 of 5

From the Vaults V: Books Around the World

This next piece in our From the Vaults series, being an exploration of some of the hidden gems of the library’s vast collections, is a personal favourite of mine. Whether you’re looking for books to add to your reading list for your Connections internal in English, or are just hungering for a range of cultural perspectives and experiences to add to the pile of books waiting to be read on your bedside table, don’t worry folks — we got you. Our Books From Around the World booklist has just undergone its most comprehensive update in *checks notes* a whole decade, and our ambition is for it to contain at least one book by an author from every country in the world. No biggie.

 Just as Lisa doesn't wish to eat solely at Americatown, we don't want to read solely from Aotearoatown all the time either! (Okay yeah it's a stretch but look this is the best I've got)

So anyway, we’re gonna be straight up with you — though our ambitions are great, we haven’t yet lived up to them. There are around 40 countries (Andorra, Azerbaijan, etc.) that, despite our best research, we just can’t find books from — at least, not books that have been translated into English (if you find a book from a country we’ve missed, let us know!). But the vast majority of countries around the world have representation in our master list — from Bolivia and Uruguay, Vanuatu and Kiribati, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, to Albania and Ukraine, Yemen and the UAE, the Philippines and Kazakhstan, Uganda and Angola; and many more besides. We’re pretty chuffed with it, if we’re being honest, and really recommend you check out the full list!

Some of the books we have tracked down are among the first books written by an author from that country to have ever been translated into English — for example, Return to the enchanted island by Johary Ravaloson from Madagascar, published in 2019. Others are part of a long-standing tradition of literary translation that dates back decades or centuries — The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (France, 1844) for example, or I am fifteen and I don’t want to die by Christine Arnothy (Hungary, 1955). Others, like Consuming Ocean Island by Katerina Martina Teaiwa (Kiribati, 2015) or Legends, traditions and tales of Nauru by Timothy Detudamo (Nauru, 2008) are collections of stories drawn from the world’s various oral traditions, written down with permission from indigenous storytellers.

‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what sets your list apart from the myriad of other such lists I can find online?’ Well, for starters, these are all books that you can actually get your mitts on from your local library — just click the title, then ‘Place Reserve,’ then choose the library closest to your house, and the book will soon be yours! But beyond that, there is something else that makes this list special — you! Not you you, but teens in general — we’ve done our best to try and make sure that every book that makes it onto our list is in some way, shape or form about the experiences and lives of teenagers and young people. Taken together, you could see this list as a pretty comprehensive repository of stories about what it means and has meant to be a young person around the world and through history. And we reckon that’s pretty cool.

Anyway, here are some of my favourite books from the list — but don’t forget to check out the whole list (currently sitting at about 250 books!) for the complete picture.

Here the whole time / Martins, Vitor
Country of origin: Brazil
Setting: Metro Brazil; contemporary
Original language: Portuguese
Format: Novel
Themes: body positivity, bullying, coming-of-age, LGBTQ+, single-parent families, school, self-esteem

Year of the rabbit / Tian
Country of origin: Cambodia
Setting: Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 1970s
Original language: French
Format: Graphic novel
Themes: family, government and society, history, political refugees, war

Aya / Abouet, Marguerite
Country: Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Setting: Yopougon (Yop City), Côte d’Ivoire; 1978
Original language: French
Format: Graphic novel
Themes: adventure, community, family, friendship, neighbourhoods 

The field guide to the North American teenager / Philippe, Ben
Country of origin: Haiti/Canada
Setting: Montreal, Canada – Austin, Texas; contemporary
Original language: English
Format: Novel
Themes: coming-of-age, culture shock, friendship, moving countries, relationships, school, single-parent families

Moonstone : the boy who never was / Sjón
Country of origin: Iceland
Setting: Reykjavík, Iceland; 1918-19
Original language: Icelandic
Format: Novel
Themes: coming-of-age, epidemics, globalisation, history, LGBTQ+, masculinity

The forest of wool and steel / Miyashita, Natsu
Country of origin: Japan
Setting: Hokkaido, Japan; contemporary
Original language: Japanese
Format: Novel
Themes: careers, coming-of-age, music, small-town vs. big-city

Things fall apart / Achebe, Chinua
Country of origin: Nigeria
Setting: Àlà Ị̀gbò, Southeastern Nigeria; 1890s
Original language: English
Format: Novel
Themes: British imperialism, colonisation, government and society, history, justice, masculinity

Afakasi woman / Young, Lani Wendt
Country of origin: Samoa/New Zealand
Setting: Samoa (various)
Original language: English
Format: Short stories
Themes: community, everyday life, folklore, Pasifika culture, people and society, relationships, womanhood

It’s Seaweek!

The sea. There’s a lot of it. There are many things in it. Some things, unfortunately, should not really be in there. And there are many things lurking deep down that we only have the slightest inkling of. Which is pretty cool when you think about it!

But anyway, you may be wondering why I am writing about the deep, dark, insurmountable ocean that encircles and embraces our tiny islands down here at the bottom of the world. That’s easy to answer. It’s Seaweek!

Seaweek is an annual week-long celebration of marine science, of sustainable practices (check out our very own page on the environment), and (of course!) the sea. There are a whole lot of exciting events being run all over the country this week, and you’re encouraged to get out there and do your own thing as well.

You could go check out a marine ecology lab, organise your own beach clean-up, or just take some time out of your week to go connect with the sea.

It may now be officially autumn, but only just! I’d advise you to take advantage of what sun we have left to dive off one of the pontoons at Oriental Bay or just swim at your local beach. Or, you know, a not so local beach would do as well. And there are quite a few scattered around the Wellington coast.

Go swimming, or walk along a beach and count the seagulls, or collect a handful of seashells then realise that you have no reason to keep them and leave them behind on the sand. Take a kayak out, go sit on a rock along the south coast and watch the waves, or channel your inner artist and draw, write, or create something inspired by the ocean.

If you’d rather just sit inside away from the blustery sea-breeze (plenty of those in Wellington!) then here are some sea-themed titles to inspire you:

Children of the Sea / Daisuke Igarashi 

“Three sea-touched children are the only ones who can understand the strange message the oceans are sending.

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea that she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the ocean’s fish.” (Catalogue)

Ingo Series / Helen Dunmore  

“As they search for their missing father near their Cornwall home, Sapphy and her brother Conor learn about their family’s connection to the domains of air and of water.” (Catalogue)

Alone on a wide, wide sea / Michael Morpurgo  

“How far would you go to find yourself? When Arthur is shipped to Australia after WWII he loses his sister and his home, but he is saved by his love of the sea. Years later, Arthur’s daughter Allie has a boat her father built her that will take her back to England to search for her long-lost aunt. The lyrical, life-affirming new novel from the bestselling author of Private Peaceful.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the Drowning Deep / Mira Grant  

“Seven years ago Atagaris set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.” (Catalogue)

The Tricksters / Margaret Mahy  

“The Hamiltons look forward to their annual Christmas holiday on the New Zealand coast. Jack and Naomi, their five children and their guests are settling in to the chaotic family atmosphere at the sprawling home known as Carnival’s Hide when the world is thrown out of order by the unexpected arrival of three visitors. Charming, enigmatic and sinister, the three brothers have come to stay. Only 17-year-old Harry questions their strange ways, but even she isn’t sure what is real anymore: are they really related to Teddy Carnival, said to have drowned on that beach many years ago, or are they tricksters – conjured by her overactive imagination? This will be a Christmas to be remembered, where long-buried secrets will be revealed and no one will ever be quite the same.” (Catalogue)

Red Rocks / Rachael King  

“While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Red Rocks takes the Celtic myth of the selkies, or seal people, and transplants it into the New Zealand landscape, throwing an ordinary boy into an adventure tinged with magic.” (Catalogue)

New Non-fiction for People Who Care About the World

Dear readers, we understand that you are people who care about things. We are also  people who care about things — things like racism, climate change, the environment, mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, art and poetry. The absolute wizards who buy books for our collections — those to whom we humble blog administrators must show all due deference — have certainly not stopped buying the good stuff during this whole pandemic situation. Here’s a selection of recently-added non-fiction for you to really sink your teeth into.

Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you. / Reynolds, Jason
“A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.” (Catalogue)

Stuff that’s loud : a teen’s guide to unspiralling when OCD gets noisy. / Sedley, Ben
“Do you have thoughts that seem loud? Do your worries spiral out of control and then suck you in? Do intrusive thoughts show up and make you scared of doing certain things – or not doing things – a certain way? Do you ever get a feeling like something bad might happen? Does this loud stuff make you feel alone, or worse, crazy?

First, you aren’t alone – even if it sometimes feels that way. And second, you are not crazy. But you might be struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). And while OCD can be difficult, you don’t have to let it have power over you. Instead, you can live a life full of meaning, great relationships and joy with the help of this book. Life doesn’t have to stay stuck any longer.” (Catalogue)

Pandemic : how climate, the environment, and superbugs increase the risk / Goldsmith, Connie
“How close are we to having another worldwide health crisis? Pandemic epidemiologists have identified one they believe is likely to happen in the next couple decades: the flu. Learn about factors that contribute to the spread of disease by examining past pandemics and epidemics, including the Bubonic Plague, smallpox Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Zika. Examine case studies of potential pandemic diseases, like SARS and cholera, and find out how pathogens and antibiotics work. See how human activities such as global air travel and the disruption of animal habitats contribute to the risk of a new pandemic. And discover how scientists are striving to contain and control the spread of disease, both locally and globally.” (Catalogue)

Have pride : an inspirational history of the LGBTQ+ movement / Caldwell, S. A.
“Have Pride gives an honest, chronological account of how life has changed for LGBTQ+ people and sheds light on the people that brought about this change. The heartfelt stories of LGBTQ+ revolutionaries are better understood as you realise what a revolutionary act it was to live openly as an LGBTQ+ person. In this book there is no hiding from the dark chapters of history and the persecution people faced for being true to who they were. But like Fred Rogers’ mother suggested, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping”, Have Pride highlights the LGBTQ+ heroes who ‘helped’ others, pushed for change and inspire pride in ourselves and our history.” (Extract from publisher review)

Hypnopompia: the thoughts of dawning minds : Re-draft’s 19th collection of writing by New Zealand’s young adults
The 19th in the brilliant Re-Draft series, Hypnopompia brings together New Zealand’s very best young writers in yet another dazzling collection. Wake up to the new world as seen by the most talented of our post-millennial writers. The 80 young writers featured in the collection have grown up with the century and Hypnopompia is their very woke report card on its perplexities, perils, passions and never ending variety. At times funny, at times dark, always engaging, their stories and poems are never less than perceptive and open-eyed. (Publisher summary)

Imaginary borders / Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl
“Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, Earth Guardians Youth Director and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez shows us how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa. Martinez visualizes a future that allows us to direct our anger, fear, and passion toward creating change. Because, at the end of the day, we all have a part to play.” (Catalogue)

Trans+ : love, sex, romance, and being you / Gonzales, Kathryn
Trans+ is a growing-up guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or gender-fluid. This book explores gender identity, gender expression, gender roles, and how these all combine and play out as gender in the world. Includes chapters on medical, health, and legal issues as well as relationships, family, and sex.” (Catalogue)

Wellington Pride!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHooray! Wellington Pride Week starts tomorrow and goes for a full two weeks. We’ve got an amazing selection of Queer YA fiction (check out our awesome display at Central) but I think the Non Fiction needs a bit more love.

Telling your own, authentic story is a central part of Queer culture. So we’re lucky to have a cool selection of memoirs: Finding Nevo : how I confused everyone by Nevo Zisin describes their own unique journey towards their understanding of their own place in the world. We also have Some assembly required : the not-so-secret life of a transgender teen by Arin Andrews with Joshua Lyon and Being Jazz : my life as a (transgender) teen by Jazz Jennings. A particular favourite is The full spectrum : a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities. It’s edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrell, whose names you probably recognise from their own writing.

There’s also a great collection of “big” names in Queer history, called (appropriately) Queer, there, and everywhere : 23 people who changed the world. I’d also recommend Queer: a graphic history.

Sometimes everyone needs a little bit of help and we’ve got some books that (hopefully) will help. Queer : the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke and The Trans teen survival guide by Owl and Fox Fisher are just two.

Stay safe, be kind, and have a wonderful Pride.

Webcomic collections

Webcomics are one of the best (although this may be controversial) things to come out of the internet. Creators has a direct path to new and diverse audiences, without meddling from publishers and often a better understanding of the current social climate than more mainstream titles. It seems that there’s a webcomic for any interest! WCL has to be a bit more…selective in the webcomic collections we acquire, but if the thought of clicking through hundreds of pages doesn’t appeal, we’ve got a decent selection.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHomestuck has been called the internet’s “Ulysses.” Possibly due to its length, possibly due to its devoted fanbase and its equally vocal detractors. It’s also incredibly hard to describe its plot. It’s also very hard to translate to a book format, as the author notes but he helpfully provides links to the actual pages where the plot is conveyed in gifs and flash animations. And it was created in MS paint, which is quite something. You’ll never read anything like it.

“A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name! What will the name of this young man be?”
-Homestuck, first lines.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl Genius has been running since 2005. It’s still going, and updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That’s a lot of material. It is based around the adventures of Agatha Clay, who discovers that she has an ancient and mysterious birthright, as well as having the “spark” – a strange group of personality traits, which predisposes the person to acts of mad…genius. It’s one of the preeminent Steampunk works, although the author prefers the term “gaslamp fantasy.” At any rate, it’s a great webcomic but works so well in a printed format – it’s much easier to catch up! Here’s book one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou probably never thought of seeking out a comic written by a five year old and professionally illustrated and you never thought you’d need it in your life but Axe Cop is really something else. It’s silly, anarchic, and really nice to look at; the comedy webcomic holy trinity. It’s really funny as well. The plot is basically the title. An axe-wielding cop fights crime, which consists of whatever a five year old deems as criminal (hint: dinosaurs are heavily involved). As a side note, the writer and the illustrator are brothers, which is adorable.

Other webcomics we have in printed format include Gunnerkrigg Court and Hark: a vagrant.

Books for Pride Week

A bit late with this post, but better late than never! Here are some of the best books about living as a member of the LGBTQ community.

  1. Some assembly required : the not-so-secret life of a transgender teen, Arin Andrews
  2. If you could be mine, Sara Farizan
  3. Girl mans up, M-E Girard
  4. If I was your girl, Meredith Russo
  5. As I descended, Robin Talley
  6. Drag teen, Jeffrey Self
  7. Draw the line, Laurent Linn
  8. Boy meets boy, David Levithan
  9. Beyond magenta : transgender teens speak out, Susan Kuklin
  10. The boy’s own manual to being a proper Jew, Eli Glasman

Most Popular of 2015 at WCL

On the subject of best books of 2015 we thought we’d crunch some numbers and find out what’s been going out at Wellington City Libraries. Interesting results!

Of the books published this year The Heir by Kiera Cass went out the most (by far) but that’s partly because we have billions of copies. So, we thought, let’s make it interesting and see what went out the most per copy*. Here is an interesting Top 10 list of the hardest-working 2015 books in the YA fiction collection:

1. All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
2. I Was Here, Gayle Forman
3. Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard
4. Frostfire, Amanda Hocking
5. All That Glitters, Holly Smale
6=. Shadow Scale, Rachel Hartman
6= . Mind Games, Teri Terry
8. Love Hurts (short stories)
9. The Orphan Queen, Jodi Meadows
10=. Mosquitoland, David Arnold
10=. Love, Lucy, April Lindner

For people who like statistics, All the Bright Places went out an average of 13.2 times per copy which is a top effort considering books are issued for up to 3 weeks!

*And see what we need to get more of 🙂

Best Books of the Year

December is a competitive month, with lots of people writing about what was best and most popular. We’ve had a look at lots of these lists and made a note of some repeat offenders. Not very scientifically, and in no particular order, here are 10 noteworthy 2015 novels:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (more copies on the way)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (more copies coming too!)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Queen of Shadows by  Sarah J. Maas

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

All about Music

To mark the New Zealand Music Month why don’t we read books related to music? It’s a subject that I love and the first two books in the list are my favourites.

Syndetics book coverEleanor & Park / Rainbow Rowell.
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says. So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers. I’m not kidding, he says. You should be, she says, we’re 16 . What about Romeo and Juliet? Shallow, confused, then dead. I love you, Park says. Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers. I’m not kidding, he says. You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPlaylist for a broken heart / Cathy Hopkins.
“When Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop, she can’t help but wonder about the boy who made it and the girl he was thinking of when he chose the songs. The tracks tell the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl, a story of being alone, being let down, misunderstood and not knowing where to turn. Following the clues of the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. But will who she finds at the end of the trail, be the boy she’s imagined?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHold me closer : the Tiny Cooper story / by David Levithan.
“Especially for those of us who ordinarily feel ignored, a spotlight is a circle of magic, with the strength to draw us from the darkness of our everyday lives. Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say–and he’s going to say it in song. Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson , the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan. Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage . . . and the world will never be the same again.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCoda / Emma Trevayne.
“Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem-the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid. Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and freewill. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?” (Syndetics summary)

Magical menagerie

This week we have a list featuring animals – magical animals, to be precise. If you just want a taster, try a short story from the collection Unnatural Creatures curated by our fave Neil Gaiman. If you know what you’re in for, try the dark tale The Knife of Never Letting Go (Manchee the dog is the comic relief here) or perhaps an interpretation of the Grimm brothers fable The Goose Girl. Whatever you choose, expect a talking dog. Or bear. An animal will probably be able to talk.

Syndetics book coverDown the Mysterly River / Bill Willingham ; illustrations by Mark Buckingham.
“Max ‘the Wolf’ is a top notch Boy Scout, so it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat) – all of whom talk – and who are as clueless as Max. Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world…” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverUnnatural creatures / stories selected by Neil Gaiman with Maria Dahvana Headley ; illustrated by Briony Morrow-Cribbs.
The 16 short stories in this anthology contain accounts of delightfully fantastical creatures, ranging from the familiar (werewolves, mermaids, griffins, and unicorns) to the chillingly mysterious (an ever-expanding, flesh-eating blob; a strange bird that spurs unpredictable changes to its surroundings; and even Death herself). Classic science fiction and fantasy authors Anthony Boucher, Frank R. Stockton, Peter S. Beagle, E. Nesbit, and Diana Wynne Jones are represented, as are contemporary authors such as Nnedi Okorafor, E. Lily Yu, and Gaiman himself. Who would a griffin eat? What does a phoenix taste like? What happens when you question an invisible dragon? Why are there always too many coat hangers? All of these questions, and more, are answered here.” (School Library Journal)
Also available as an Overdrive eBook!

Syndetics book coverThe princess and the hound / Mette Ivie Harrison.
“He is a prince, heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the animal magic, which is forbidden by death in the land he’ll rule.She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from true human friendship but inseparable from her hound.Though they think they have little in common, each possesses a secret that must be hidden at all costs. Proud, stubborn, bound to marry for the good of their kingdoms, this prince and princess will steal “your” heart, but will they fall in love?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDarkwood / M.E. Breen.
“Darkness falls so quickly in Howland that the people there have no word for evening. One minute the sky is light, the next minute it is black. But darkness comes in other forms, too, and for thirteen-year-old Annie, the misery she endures in her Uncle’s household makes the black of night seem almost soothing. When Annie escapes, her route takes her first to a dangerous mine where a precious stone is being stolen by an enemy of the king, and later to the king’s own halls, where a figure from Annie’s past makes a startling appearance.” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverThe twyning / Terence Blacker.
“Thirteen-year-old Peter, who lives in a garbage dump with his younger friend Caz, scratches out a living catching rats for the local “sportsmen” and their dogs. He also works for Dr. Ross-Gibbon, a monomaniacal scientist who wants to wipe out all of the rats in London. Efren, an impulsive young rat living in the Kingdom of elderly King Tzuriel, is restless and has trouble following orders. When Peter captures the dying King for the doctor’s experiments, Efren reports this to his superiors, leading to outrage in the kingdom; matters worsen quickly after the doctor puts his deadly plan into action.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe knife of never letting go / Patrick Ness.
“Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?” (Goodreads)
We also have the Bolinda eAudiobook & Overdrive eBook versions.

Syndetics book coverWinter falls / Nicole Maggi.
“Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small Maine town. Things look up when a new family comes to town. But as she begins to fall for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals. Suddenly forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make, Alessia witnesses two worlds colliding with devastating consequences.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe goose girl / Shannon Hale.
“Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt’s guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny.” (Syndetics summary)
Also available as an audiobook on CD and Overdrive ebook.

Syndetics book coverPom Poko [videorecording] / a film by Isao Takahata.
A community of magical shapeshifting raccoons desperately struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.

Many Studio Ghibli movies contain magical animals of some find, including Nausica’a, Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke. Because who doesn’t love a good Ghibli film? (Hint: they are all good.)

Syndetics book coverTender morsels / Margo Lanagan.
“Liga’s life is filled with dark hearts and foul deeds. So she chooses a protective path of natural magic to find a safe other-worldly place for herself and her two daughters. But when magicked bears and mischief men break the borders of their refuge the girls must face the truth, and engage with the appeal and risk of the real raw world.” (Syndetics summary)
Also available as an Overdrive ebook.

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