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Boring Old People Books That Are Good Actually™


“It’s a classic”

“What an influential novel”

“This is high art”

“You’ve got to read these 10 million classics before you die”

“Welcome to English class”

We’ve all heard it before. Some geriatric white dude wrote a novel about important things™ hundreds of years ago and we’re expected to care. In some cases, we even have to read it, due to the unfeeling cruelty of our education. When we finally start to read this “lifechanging™” book, all that we gain is a desire to sleep.


But all is not lost. While it seems an insane thought, some classics are actually good. And not in the way that some literary snob who appreciates all the artistic intricacies and fancyness thinks so, but just as good books.

Just so you know I’m not talking out of my rectum because I’ve been paid off by Big Literature (I’ll have you know I’m being paid off by the library, which is a notable difference) I’m going to actually tell you about books I’ve actually read. I can tell you from personal experience why you’d want to open up these dusty tomes and why you’ll maybe even end up enjoying them.

However, because I am a sham and a charlatan who hasn’t actually read that many classic books, I have acquired the assistance of some of the other bloggers to supplement my recommendations. They’ll be talking about some of their favourites just like I will.

So! Without further ado (and quite definitely not much ado), let us see which Boring Old People have written Boring Old People Books that are Good Actually™!

William Shakespeare

“Ooooh la dee dah, Shakespeare, aren’t you so fancioux and cultured.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it. Shakespeare is the English literature author that is inevitably inflicted upon innocent youths by the school system. But some of his stuff is like genuinely good. And not just in a prestigious, high class, literary way, but in a genuine “this is enjoyable” way.

Something that can get lost in history about Shakespeare, considering the grand acclaim his works get, is that these plays weren’t made to be some high intellect academic exercise in storytelling. These plays were public entertainment, the ye olde version of tv shows or blockbuster movies. These were made for us plebeians, to amuse the people.

Twelfth Night


Twelfth Night, also known as What You Will, is my personal favourite Shakespeare play. To let you know why, first we need a little context, a history lesson.

Because the past was the worst, ye olde theatre didn’t allow women to be actors, so every character in a play was played by a male. Yes, even the female characters. Often younger boys would be playing women due to their more slight frames and higher voices.

Now why am I bringing this up? Well you see Twelfth Night is all about gender bending weirdness and is generally super queer. When the main character Viola finds herself shipwrecked alone in Illyria, she disguises herself as a man for safety and maybe other reasons who knows. This means our main character is a man (the actor) playing a woman playing a man, hilarious stuff.

The basic conceit of Twelfth Night is that Viola, under the guise Cesario, is sent by the Duke Orsino to woo the mourning Countess Olivia. The problem is Viola does her job too well, making Olivia fall for her, while she is falling in love with Orsino, who has a “great fondness” for his nohomo best guyfriend Cesario. Love triangles abound! There’s also all sorts of juicy romcom shenaniganry: identical twins, secret weddings, doing anything for your “bro”, mistaken identity, pranks, and manipulation. Everything your heart could desire!

Much Ado About Nothing 


Do you love enemies to lovers? Are you fond of witty snark battles among people who love to hate to love each other? Why, how about you try Much Ado About Nothing. This play feels so modern in its bantering love interests Benedick and Beatrice, who are tricked by their friends into gradually falling in love. There’s also some other story about this lovey dovey couple of Hero and Claudio but they don’t matter as much. Back to the important bit, look at this delightful dialogue:

BENEDICK :  What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet

BEATRICE:  Is it possible disdain should die while she
 hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come
 in her presence.

BENEDICK:  Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain
 I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and
 I would I could find in my heart that I had not a
hard heart, for truly I love none.

BEATRICE : A dear happiness to women. They would
 else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I
 thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor
 for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.


Now, I’m going to say something extremely out of character for a librarian:

Don’t read the book.


“Then what the @#$%&! am I to do then?!” The poor and clueless cry.

Let me finish. So Shakespeare plays are, well, plays, not novels. They are best experienced live. Don’t get me wrong, reading the plays can be great, but sometimes it’s better to watch and/or listen. The problem is that it’s gonna be a rare moment you get to see a production, let alone an exemplary production, in person. Plus that’s expensive, not a very library recommendation. However we do have some recordings of such plays: BBC’s Twelfth Night, BBC’s Much Ado About Nothing and an audiobook version of Much Ado About Nothing. There are lots of versions of these hundreds of years old plays around. If you can get your grabby little hands on it, The Globe’s traditional all male version of Twelfth Night featuring Stephen Fry is really good. Another good choice is a more modern adaptation of Twelfth Night: the film She’s the Man.

Edgar Allan Poe


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

Now in a bit of a change of pace from fluffy romcoms, is the master of gothic horror himself: Edgar Allan Poe. His stuff is just so delightfully creepy and a must read for any lover of horror and the macabre. In addition to his excellence, this is also the guy who is considered to have invented the detective genre with “The Murders of the Rue Morgue.”  Poe wrote short stories, a form I have sung the praises of before, which makes his work easy to pick up for a microdose of fright.

But Poe was no one trick pony, no no. Unsurprising, considering his name, Poe also is famous for his Poetry. Poe’s try is absolutely wonderful, having this brilliant rhythm that practically makes the words flow out of your mouth when reading. Because poetry is excellent as a vocal medium, if you were to read his work I’d suggest reading them out loud, or finding a recording of someone else reading them.

For some odd reason we at the library don’t have any readings of his poetry, but we do have readings of his short stories. Because these tales were written by an old fart, like all the books in this blog, there are many readings available online for free due to the lack of any pesky “public domain”. A personal favourite reading of mine is one of my favourite stories The Tell-Tale Heart, read by the YouTube channel Overly Sarcastic Productions, who also read The Masque of Red Death and other stories.

Whether you are more interested in his short stories or his poetry you can’t go wrong with Poe.

Jane Austen


Pride and Prejudice:  It’s funny.  REALLY funny.  Lizzie Bennet is really relatable as a heroine – she’s smart, has little tolerance for stupidity or men that think they’re better than her.  Mr Darcy is HOT.  I always find it a quick read, one I can knock over on a rainy afternoon, giggling at the sassiness of it and holding my breath that Lizzie and Darcy stop being such boneheads and finally get together.  Jane Austen is the reason that Bridgerton exists too.  Extra points if you go on to read Sense and Sensibility, which is just as delightful.


Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest :  Another book (originally a play) that is really funny.  If you like witty wordplay and sharp clapbacks, this one is for you.  It’s full of knotty situations that the main characters need to talk their way out of, and a hefty twist towards the end.  It can also be interpreted as a bit gay, which is fun too.


Mary Shelley


At age 19, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley adapted a ghost story she told during a writer’s gathering and turned it into Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, a tale of scientific hubris that results in one of the most iconic monsters ever imagined. While the book’s language is extravagant and the story-within-a-story framing device is a bit of a hurdle, once we meet Victor Frankenstein, a young man who pays a terrible price for his intellectual curiosity, the book fully takes off. It has everything a great genre book should have: action, romance, mystery, suspense, tragedy, even farce, as Victor spends the back third of the book chasing his creation across Europe like the Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, while the monster cruelly taunts Victor all the way. Far from the inarticulate brute of the movies, Frankenstein’s monster himself is a eloquent, sympathetic being; a lurching, nine foot tall wretch who chews out his creator at every opportunity for bringing him into a world that is repulsed by him. It’s an indispensable book if you have any interest in Gothic literature or science fiction (being the earliest example of the genre), and once you read it, you start to see its influence on everything from Blade Runner to Barbie.

Bram Stoker


Dracula: You probably are thinking “Why should I read Dracula? I already know the story” but that is exactly why you should. Even the most faithful of adaptations have significant differences, and the most popular versions omit entire characters and subplots and introduce storylines antithetical to the original text. Dracula by Bram Stoker is not a gothic romance or love triangle, but instead a story told through diary entries and journals, letters, and newspaper articles about a group of people who through determination, research, science, and teamwork manage to bring an end to an ancient and evil being who has come to prey on all they love – at the cost of their sanity and their lives.

-The Dracula Enthusiast, our resident Vampire Expert

Charles Dickens


A Christmas Carol: You probably don’t need any introduction to this story but it is truly worth the read, especially since the festive season is upon us! If you’re in your self-reflective era then A Christmas Carol is basically that but make it ✨Victorian man✨. Scrooge gets confronted with the fact that he hasn’t been on Santa’s “Nice” list for quite a while and realizes (with the help of a few ghosts) that he can be a better person. Basically I love this story because it gives me slim hope that one day billionaires will wake up and donate all their money to the poor, and I guess Christmas is quite fun too.


Numerous Authors

One Thousand and One Nights – The Arabian Nights: It has a little bit of everything. If you like stories within stories, you’ve got it. Self-fulfilling prophecies? There’s plenty. Pop culture references before they were pop culture. You betcha (Aladdin is based on one of the stories in this classic). Plus, it’s all framed with the story of one badass heroine trying to escape a murderous maniac by telling him stories interesting enough that he’ll keep her alive till the next dawn. And, if you don’t want to read all the stories you don’t have to. Honestly what more could you ask for?


Editor's Note: So The Arabian Nights is written in Arabic, not English, shock horror. This means that any version you read will be a translation, each translation slightly different. You may want to have a look at the multiple options there are, or not, do whatever, I'm not your mum.

Someone, We Assume, We Don’t Actually Know Who


Beowulf: Look, I won’t lie to you. The story is as basic as they come. There’s this dude called Beowulf, he’s a big ol’ guy with big ol’ muscles, and he kills a big ol’ monster called Grendel for the crime of eating 30 Danish party-goers… every day for like 20 years (you would think the Danes might have called in the cavalry a little earlier but I guess they didn’t want to look like lil nerds who couldn’t even take down one monster). Then he kills another big ol’ monster who happens to be Grendel’s mum. Then he gets to sit around being king for a while before he has to kill — you guessed it — a third big ol’ monster.

Except this one is a dragon and it sets him on fire and bites a hole in his neck, thus ending Beowulf’s story (though being the badass he is, being on fire and bleeding out doesn’t prevent him from killing the dragon anyway — his last words are basically “at least show me the sick loot I got for beating this boss” before dramatically dying all over his new pile of gold-plated dinnerware). So if you like monsters, magic, epic journeys and lots of blood and gore, Beowulf is the story for you! It’s basically LOTR but without all the filler.

It’s not all doom and gloom though — the sċop (bard) who wrote this version of the poem down devotes a weird amount of time to dunking on this loser Unferth who keeps trying and failing to talk down to our buddy Beowulf. Not cool, Unferth — in Beowulf’s words, “in helle sċealt werhðo drēogan, þēah þīn wit duge” (basically, “go to hell you big nerd.”) Classy!


Editor's Note: (Haha, imagine, Stephen, the editor, getting edited by moui. Oh how the turns tabled)

So Beowulf is a super duper old poem, written in English so old it's called Old English. That means you can't really read the original. "But we read Shakespeare, that's in Old English right? We can vaguely understand that." 


Shakespeare's stuff is actually written in early modern English, Old English is an entirely different thing. Behold! The first lines of Beowulf, untranslated! I mean, look at this gobbledygook:
Hwæt! Wē Gārdēna     in ġeārdagum,
þēodcyninga     þrym ġefrūnon,
hū ðā æþelingas     ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scēfing     sceaþena þrēatum,
moneġum mǣġþum     meodosetla oftēah,
eġsode eorlas,     syððan ǣrest wearð
fēasceaft funden,     he þæs frōfre ġebād,
wēox under wolcnum,     weorðmyndum þāh,
oðþæt him ǣġhwylċ     þāra ymbsittendra
ofer hronrāde     hȳran scolde,
gomban ġyldan.     þæt wæs gōd cyning!
I'm sure you can read that easy peasy. 

Because such a cool story is hidden behind this witchcraft (what in the world is a þ or a ð??!?!?!??!?!!??!!?) we have to deal with translation.

First we have Papa Tolkien's translation because we have to respect our elders and Tolkien was a fricken nerd when it came to language. His version is written poetically, so it's all pretty noises and such. If you just want to read it like a novel, we have this prose version by some rando who's probably a cool guy but didn't happen to practically invent the fantasy genre so he gets no name recognition. There's also a summarised version with illustrations by a lead artist on the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. Once again you don't have to do what I say, I'm not your mum, so feel free to find and read whatever version you want, we have plenty more at the library. For all I know maybe you can read Old English and have been looking for some reading recommendations in that language.

Super editor's note out!

Happy Reading!


Soft Apocalypse for Beginners: The Summer Round-Up!

Folks! Friends! Fellow humans living on this nice crispy earth!

The year is 2023. The global is warming, the 1 are %ing and things are looking iffy… Enter the Soft Apocalypse! It’s time for us to give capitalism the finger, and return to our humble roots as a pastoral society that bakes bread and sings Kumbaya way too often. AKA my escapist daydream when the Stresses of Life get a bit too much (my Soft Apocalypse plan includes joining a commune and becoming the cryptid I want to see in the world).

Welcome to Soft Apocalypse for Beginners, where we will be embarking on a journey of Learning to Look After Ourselves Even if the World is Ending (and saving the bees while we’re at it)!

Believe it or not, it’s summer! Since it’s an established fact that you can’t beat Welly on a good day, how exactly can we make the most of the sunny season?? If you’re the type with access to a letterbox, then you will have hopefully received Wellington City Council’s summer edition of Our Wellington – Tō Tātou Pōneke which outlines some of the nifty and magical events that will be taking place in the capital over the next few months. I’ve taken it upon myself to highlight the (in my opinion) niftiest and most magical activities on offer, for your perusing pleasure:


Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Exhibition

  • What: Explore the stories and characters of the Marvel Universe at the world-premiere exhibition.
  • Where: Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre
  • When: 14th December 2023 – 28th April 2024
santa at Waitangi Park
  • What: The last of WCC’s Christmas in the Quarters series of events, come along to meet Papa Tinsel himself and make the most of the activities on offer, including ice skating, a foam pit, face painting, food trucks and more!
  • Where: Waitangi Park
  • When: 11am-5pm 16th December
Summer Solstice
  • What: Celebrate the 2023 summer solstice with music, bonfires, and a solstice ceremony!
  • Where: Island Bay Beach
  • When: 8.30pm 22nd December 2023
New year’s eve
  • What: More live music, more food trucks, and – most importantly – fireworks! Come along to welcome in the New Year with ✨pizazz✨
  • Where: Whairepo Lagoon
  • When: 8pm-12am 31st December 2023

Gardens Magic

  • What: Live music! Lights! Sleepy pigeons! Explore the botanical gardens after dark with the astounding concerts and light displays on offer.
  • Where: Wellington Botanic Gardens
  • When: 9-28th January 2024
island bay festival
  • What: I opened up the website and immediately saw bagpipes and horses, so you know it’s going to be good. Come explore the best of Island Bay!
  • Where: Island Bay
  • When: 11-17th February 2024

Wellington pride Parade

  • What: Celebrate our rainbow whānau in style this summer with the annual Wellington Pride Parade featuring floats, performers, music and more!
  • Where: Courtenay Place, Dixon Street and lower Cuba Street
  • When: 5.30pm 9th March 2023

Not too shabby, eh? And that’s just what’s on offer through WCC – explore the wider Wellington region with local berry picking, flower farms, camping spots, and more. Plus –  keep an eye on the Wellington Advent Calendar for neat vouchers and nifty inspo for the sand season!

Have a beautiful summer, and meri kirihimete from all of us here at Wellington City Libraries!

Summer in the city of roses / Keil, Michelle Ruiz
“All her life Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. This summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it is time for Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When he brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away. Furious at his betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
This one summer / Tamaki, Mariko
“Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different […] It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Fat girls hiking : an inclusive guide to getting outdoors at any size or ability / Michaud-Skog, Summer
” Equal parts empowering and impassioned, personal and practical, this book adds an important voice to the conversation about diversity in the outdoors, raising visibility of hikers who have too long been marginalized. As the Fat Girls Hiking motto goes, “Trails Not Scales!””” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Camp / Rosen, Lev AC
“At Camp Outland, a camp for LGBTQIA teens, sixteen-year-old Randall “Del” Kapplehoff’s plan to have Hudson Aaronson-Lim fall in love with him succeeds, but both are hiding their true selves.” (Catalogue)
Summer days and summer nights : twelve love stories
“Summer meets love in both fantasy and reality in this anthology featuring renowned writers of both teen and adult fiction. Summer is the perfect time for love to bloom, and these short stories of teenagers facing the confusing maze of first love will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake.” (Abridged from catalogue)

The girl’s guide to summer / Mlynowski, Sarah
“Sydney Aarons is leaving her Manhattan townhouse for a summer backpacking around Europe with her best friend, Leela. They’re visiting London, France, Italy, Switzerland and everywhere in between – it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
All summer long / Larson, Hope
“Thirteen-year-old Bina faces her first summer without her best friend, Austin, who has left for soccer camp.” (Catalogue)
Unbored : the essential field guide to serious fun / Glenn, Joshua
“Vibrantly designed and illustrated, it’s crammed with activities that are not only fun and doable, but get kids engaged in the wider world–and provides information to expand their worldviews, too, inspiring them to learn more.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Lumberjanes [1] : beware the kitten holy / Stevenson, ND
“Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp… defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons… what’s not to love?! Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Recipes from an Italian summer
“380 summer recipes for all lovers of Italian food.” (Catalogue)
Paper planes / Wood, Jennie
“After a life altering incident, Dylan and Leighton are sent to a summer camp for troubled youth. They both need a good evaluation at the camp. Otherwise, they’ll be sent away, unable to attend high school with their friends […] Can Dylan and Leighton save their friendship and protect their future while trying to survive camp?” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Ugly Christmas sweater party : Christmas crafts, recipes, activities / Shay, Brandy
“Put on your ugly holiday sweater and get ready to PARTY! Whether you’re planning your own wacky celebration or contributing to someone else’s festive affair, here are the most deliciously ugly (in a good way!) ideas for making Christmas merry. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Easy vegan Christmas : 80 plant-based recipes for the festive season / Beskow, Katy
“Easy Vegan Christmas is a 80-recipe cookbook showcasing simple vegan recipes, for a fuss-free festive season.” (Catalogue)

✨Unsettling✨ nostalgia for your holiday reading

Ah, December. A time of things-slowing-down, the official start of Summer, and oh, that Christmas thing as well. With the warm* weather, many people going off on holiday, and the end of the year rolling around, I always start to feel nostalgic. And my nostalgia often manifests as reserving a bunch of my favourite books to re-read.

*Warm-er? Warm-ish? Not-as-much-rain?

Now I’m sure I’ve mentioned before my love for The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, and my almost-constant-need to be listening to one of the audiobooks**. So if you haven’t read or listened to those you should immediately go and do so! These books are wonderfully written, full of complex and real characters, political machinations, some excellent god/human interactions, complicated relationships, and very good depictions of characters dealing with trauma. But they’re also funny and all the characters tell stories to each other and care a lot about their people and ugh, they’re just so good.

**Yes, I really like them as audiobooks. I have had conversations about this with Teen Blogger Grimm who just cannot get into the audiobooks because magnificent narrator Steve West pronounces the names differently to how she says them in her head, but while we cannot agree on this point, we do agree that these books are Excellent and Everyone should read them.

A small cat lying in a box with all her legs hidden

You need a picture to break up all these words. Please enjoy this unsettled cat – where did all her legs go?!

Why am I telling you about these books again? Well, mainly because the books I tend to get nostalgic for are not books like this series***. I get the itch to go back and re-read some of those (dare I say it) simpler adventure stories**** I enjoyed when I was younger. But whenever I venture forth into the stacks to retrieve these particular books, I’m always surprised by how dark and grim they are, and by the unsettled feeling I’m left with.

***But I still wanted to tell you all about this series again! Go read them. Seriously.

****Ok, ‘simpler adventures’ maybe, but still often a bit twisty.*****

*****I apologise for the footnotes? Not sure why so many are creeping into this particular post.

So, obviously, I’ve decided to share some of these books that I love with you, in case you also want something to read over the summer that is vaguely unsettling, enjoyable, and not too long. So read on for books about bone porridge, many discreet murders, horrible family members, and a fair share of malignant spirits.

The stolen lake / Aiken, Joan
This is always the first one that comes to mind. Joan Aiken wrote a fantastic series of books that started with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase about an alternate history version of England where the Stuarts kept the throne, and it was never passed on to the Hanovers. Different books in the series focus on different characters. The Stolen Lake features Dido Twite, a girl who was swept out to sea and picked up by a ship in a previous book. She’s slowly navigating her way home, and in this book her ship is called to aid fictional New Cumbria in South America. Dido finds herself in a very grim place, where giant birds carry people off and the queen eats bone porridge (sourced from the bones of young girls she’s had thrown to the piranhas) to maintain her youth. Brilliant stuff!

Is underground / Aiken, Joan
Another in the same series as The Stolen Lake! No bone porridge here, just some pretty awful child labour. Children, including the Crown Prince of England, have been going missing in London and another young Twite is tasked with figuring out what’s going on. And what’s going on (and this is not a spoiler given the cover illustration) is that they’re being kidnapped and transported up North to work underground in a coal mine. And a foundry. And there may be accidents involving molten metal.

The owl service / Garner, Alan
Why yes, that character probably did murder that other character in the past. But what can you expect when a fragment of tale from the Mabinogion amplifies itself throughout history and keeps repeating and repeating and repeating? Owls are bad, flowers are not, but both are still creepy. I could say SO MUCH about this book, but that might put you off. Just let me tell you this: you don’t need armies of ghosts or witches with ovens to create something truly spooky and (I can’t forget my keyword here!) unsettling. Just some plates found in an attic, some pebble-dash, and a whole lot of interpersonal angst.

Under the mountain / Gee, Maurice
Ah, my most-read book in my primary school library. It’s set in Auckland and has been made into both a TV series and a movie over the years and is full of volcanoes and weird-worm/slug-mud-aliens that are set on total world domination and annihilation. It’s just one of those fun adventures with some red-haired twins with special powers, right? Err, not quite. It’s slightly scary, very unsettling, and not everyone comes out unscathed in the end.

Tripswitch / Gordon, Gaelyn
Another New Zealand author who has written something that is both kinda fun, and very unsettling the more you think about it. Three orphaned cousins are brought together to live with their aunt (coincidence? Or multiple sororicides on the aunt’s part?), and she’s just so …evil? Mean and nasty yes, but when you find out the reason she had her twins everything just gets much more serious. But there’s also a lot of humour in it (the sports team who just decide to steal a bus??), which possibly makes the grim details stand out a bit more.

Black Maria / Jones, Diana Wynne
Diana Wynne Jones is WONDERFUL. She’s written some marvellously fun and twisty books for children full of weird magic and quirky characters. But she’s also written some truly chilling books. This is one of them, and there’s just so much going on. From buried imprisonment, to not-really-dead fathers, a sweeter-than-ever Great-Aunt with a will of iron, to an entire town under one person’s thumb, it just makes you look at small town life in a different way. And Great-Aunts.

The time of the ghost / Jones, Diana Wynne
More Diana Wynne Jones creepiness. This time, we learn what happens when some kids mess with something beyond their ken or control. When the ghost comes back in time she knows that something awful is going to happen, so we also know this, but all the characters that the ghost is watching don’t know this so as they creep closer to disaster we just know that something will go wrong, but we don’t know what will go wrong… So there’s a lot of tension and trying to figure things out, and let me just say that I will not be going near any soft toys left outside to grow mildew after reading this!

The changeover / Mahy, Margaret
Margaret Mahy’s another author who can write joyful and fun, adventure and excitement, and also haunting and chilling. And this book is the latter. Laura’s day starts with a warning, and ends with her younger brother getting his soul slowly sucked out of him through a stamp on his hand. This is very understated horror, but there’s just so many very normal things in there that what happens really sticks in your mind. They even made a movie of it, set in post-earthquake Christchurch!

And I’ll even add a bonus book in, because how can you talk unsettling childhood stories without delving into the Brothers Grimm?

The complete Grimm’s fairy tales / Grimm, Jacob
We all know some of the Grimm’s fairy tales, but there are a whole lot more that not many people stumble across. And a lot of them are VERY weird!

Below, I have written out one of the shorter unsettling stories from this particular collection, under the Read more. If you want to feel incredulous that such a story was written, and really put the grim in Grimm, well then, just read on…

Read More

Our Best Reads of 2022: What Your Librarians Have Read This Year

2022 is (almost) at its end. It’s over and done with. We can hang it out to dry, wash our hands of it, and kick it to the curb.

Or we can cling to the last remaining hours of 2022 and look back over the year that has been. And by “the year that has been” I do of course mean “the books we have read”.

There are many librarians who work for Wellington City Libraries, and these librarians read many books, and many of these books are YA (or YA adjacent), and many of these YA books are actually very good. And people definitely like knowing what their librarians are reading, right?

So I have pestered and poked my colleagues until they have given in and sent me a review of their own personal Top YA Book of 2022. The books in this list may not all have been published in 2022, but they have been discovered by us lofty librarians over the last twelve months, and we think they are worth sharing. So read on, and judge not our reading choices lest you too be judged!


The gaps / Hall, Leanne Michelle
If you’re into psychological thrillers which are more than just psychological thrillers I recommend The Gaps! While I really wanted to know who kidnapped Yin, I also appreciated the characters of Chloe and Natalia, their interactions, and how they transform from what could just be school stereotypes into really real people.

Also available as an ebook.


Cinderella is dead / Bayron, Kalynn

Despite this book being out since 2020 I only picked it up this year, and I definitely did not regret it! In a world where the Cinderella story has become a tool of the patriarchy, women and girls are second-class citizens whose job is to be good wives and mothers. Sophia has grown up wondering why she can’t be the hero of the story, and when the sexist rules of society come between Sophia and her girlfriend Erin she is thrust down a path that will change her life. I loved the fairy-tale retelling vibe of this book because it wasn’t trapped by the original Cinderella story and instead created a captivating world in its own right. Would definitely recommend to YA readers looking for a fantasy book with queer romance, and anyone who loves to smash the patriarchy!

Also available as an ebook.


Superman, son of Kal-El. Vol. 1, The truth / Taylor, Tom

Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, must take up the mantle of Superman while his father is off on a mission in deep space. It’s a big burden to place upon a teenager, but not only is Jon up to the task, he sets out to be a better Superman than his father, one more willing to tackle today’s issues: climate change, refugee crises, journalism under threat, and the military-industrial complex. Writer Tom Taylor has a great handle on all the characters, and explores some genuinely fresh angles on Superman and his supporting cast that I’ve never considered; speaking as an emigree, I particularly loved Jon and Clark’s conversation about whether one should actively improve or simply make the best of your adopted home. Artist John Timms nails the emotional beats, particularly the landmark issue where Jon is confirmed to be bisexual and gets a new boyfriend in underground journalist Jay Nakamura, and the action scenes demanded of character who debuted in ‘Action Comics’. Superman: son of Kal-El gives us the Man of Tomorrow we need today, one who is unquestionably heroic, unapologetically queer, and always striving to improve.

J’shuall of Jackanapery

All summer long / Larson, Hope

This short little comic is just a wonderfully sweet coming of age story about how relationships and hobbies can change as you grow up. A young teen, having to deal with summer break without her best friend, becomes close to the friend’s sister over a shared love of music. It’s a very nostalgic story that can remind people of their recent past or show how you can deal with these oh so common problems. It has two sequels, about her efforts in making a band and the growing complexity of teenaged life. Great short read.

Also available as an ebook.


Firekeeper’s daughter / Boulley, Angeline
I must first admit that I did start this book under a slight misapprehension. I was browsing various queer-related subject headings on our catalogue to find some holiday reading and this book came up listed under “Lesbian teenagers Teen Fiction”. Unfortunately I did discover that there are in fact no lesbians in this book (and subsequently requested that a cataloguer remove this accidentally applied tag), but actually, I didn’t mind.

I listened to Firekeeper’s Daughter while camping with friends out of cellphone reception. At one point I had to walk half an hour along the gravel road back into reception to update my Libby app so I could continue listening. It was worth it: this is a brilliantly immersive book, and it really felt like I had to dig myself out of main-character Daunis’s world as she struggled with family tragedy, murder, Ojibwe tribal enrolment, and her precarious position as an FBI informant investigating a new drug that is harming her community. And that’s a lot to deal with! But this really is overall a heartwarming story as Daunis is a character who just embraces her identity and culture and community so fully and is in turn embraced back – that scene on the ferry with the elders and the cars? Read it and you’ll understand.

Also available as an eaudiobook and ebook.


The rest of us just live here / Ness, Patrick
Patrick Ness’s trademark poetic and slightly oblique style is really brought to bear in this YA sci-fi deconstruction to end all YA sci-fi deconstructions. What if something remarkable and improbable is happening in your town (dark and mystical forces colliding; people’s family members disappearing in the woods; extra-terrestrial beings descending from the Great Beyond to wreak terror and destruction, only to be stopped at the last minute by an ordinary teen who just happens to be the only one with the power to stand up to what may or may not be the gods of old made manifest in this realm), but you’re *not* the Chosen One? In fact, you’re just a background character. In most books like this, you’d be among the first to go, possibly before we even got to hear your tragic backstory. And frankly, you’d really like it to stay that way. You’re not trying to save the world, you’re just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself too much. A fun and quick read that has more than a little heart as well, thanks to Ness’s trademark lyricism in prose. Read this book only at night, ideally while listening to Radiohead (but not, like, Kid A or anything, this is more In Rainbows fare). 8.5/10.

Also available as an eaudiobook and ebook.


Fat chance, Charlie Vega / Maldonado, Crystal

I’m always on the hunt for fiction that is relatable as well as entertaining.  Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is the story of a popular, funny, smart teenage girl who also happens to be fat.  A fact which people can’t seem to stop reminding her.  Particularly her Mum, who is constantly on her case about it, even cruel sometimes.  When her long time crush asks her to the big school dance, she’s thrilled, but it turns out he’s only trying to get at her best friend, the thin and pretty Amelia.  When Charlie finds out her friend Brian really likes her, she keeps it secret for a while, worried that everyone around her will think he’s pretending too.  Brian tries really hard to reassure Charlie that he really does like her, but when Charlie finds out he once had a crush on Amelia, Charlie isn’t able to cope, feeling like she’s a consolation prize.

Fat Chance Charlie Vega is a sweet, charming story that also holds the realities of living in a world where thinness and whiteness are held up as the ideal.  It’s a relatable story, because when you’re a young fat girl, you’re so conditioned to believing that no-one will love you as you are, that when they do, you can’t believe it’s true.  I also love that it shows how sometimes we’re so bruised by the world around us, that we take it out on the people closest to us even though we know it’s not their fault.

Also available as an ebook.


Alex / Duder, Tessa

Had I read this before? Yes. Did I know exactly what was going to happen to Alex? Yes. Did I still miss my bus stop while reading about Alex’s final race because I was so invested? Yes! Alex is about a 15-year-old swimmer working towards qualifying for the 1960 Olympic games. It’s compelling because Alex is so relatable, she’s dealing with school, boys, periods and friends all while breaking swimming records and training for hours a day. By the end of the book you’re just as desperate for her to succeed as she is because you’ve been right there beside her through all the training, hard work and struggles she’s had to deal with. 10/10 a New Zealand classic that’s worth (re)reading!

Also available as an ebook, or read the whole quartet in one volume.

Tell us about good books!

Dear readers, if you are between the ages of 13 and 18 and enjoy (shock! horror!) reading books, the editors of this venerable blog would like to invite you to share your thoughts with us in the form of reviews.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You read a book (physical or digital, whatever)
  2. Have thoughts
  3. Write them down and send them to us (click here to find out how)
  4. We publish your reviews on this blog
  5. ???
  6. Profit!!

How exactly does one profit, you may ask? You shall become rich in the eternal respect and admiration of your peers, of course, as well as gaining the widespread fame associated with writing for this most respected of publications.

Now, when you send us your reviews, make sure you include the important information: the title and author of the book, your name (or pseudonym, if you prefer), a haiku about yourself (it’s the law, if you want to publish on the Teen Blog), a promise to name your first-born child after one of our librarians — you know, the usual.

Remember, writing a good review entails more than just a plot summary. Give us some juice! Spill the tea! Tell us what you think about the book and why you think it! Did it make you cry? Did it make you laugh? Did it make you feel super weird? Did it remind you of another book, or a movie, or a song? Did it inspire you in some way? Would you recommend it to someone else? Would you re-read it? Would you rather yeet it into the ocean and never have to think about it again? All reactions valid, all reactions wanted. Just keep the language PG (this is a family site, after all!) and we’ll be all good.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get writing!

Podcast recommendations: Lore, Tanis, Limetown, The Black Tapes and Alice isn’t dead

Podcasts are just the thing for shelving, I find, but I often struggle to find good ones. So I was excited to find four that I really enjoy. Like a lot of my recommendations, they err on the side of the creepy and/or mysterious. All are free and all are available on iTunes. All have quality voice acting and excellent production values.

The Black Tapes

Borrowing Serial’s format, this (fictional) podcast follows Alex Reagan, a reporter investigation Dr. Strand, a mysterious figure who’s offered a million dollars for scientific evidence of the supernatural. The podcast takes its name from a mysterious collection of tapes that contain footage that Dr. Strand has never been able to definitively debunk. What seems a straightforward assignment takes Alex (and the listeners) on a strange journey involving mysterious deaths, sacred geometry and Dr. Strand’s missing wife.


Tanis is made by the same people who make The Black Tapes- both in real life and in universe. Like The Black Tapes, the podcast follows a single journalist, Nic Silver, as he investigates the mysterious concept or place or conspiracy known as Tanis. Nic is searching for a real mystery in the internet age – like Alex, he finds a lot more than he’s looking for. While TBT focuses on the supernatural, Tanis skews more to strange conspiracies. Nic relies on the services of Meerkatnip, a hacker who spends as much time wryly dealing with Nic’s naivety as searching for information on the hidden side of the internet.

Both are in their second season, so there’s a plenty to catch up on.


Limetown’s my pick for the best of the bunch – once again, a journalist seeks to find out the truth, this time behind the mysterious disappearance of over 300 people from a small town in America. Like Tanis and TBT, the journalist gets a lot more than she’s bargained for; the tense atmosphere starts at episode 2 and doesn’t let up until its shocking conclusion. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of a second season, but there may be a TV show in the future and the creators are working on a prequel novel.

Alice isn’t dead

Like the previous three, Alice isn’t dead follows a narrator chasing after a central mystery; what happened to her wife, Alice, whom she had presumed dead. Unlike the others, the narrator isn’t a professional journalist; instead, she’s a long haul truck driver, transporting mundane domestic items across America. The podcast consists of her audio diaries, which she narrates to Alice. Along the way, the narrator encounters many other strange occurances and people, some of which are connected to the central mystery of Alice, others which are not.

Some reviews written by you

WingsWings, by Aprilynne Pike (Young Adult Fiction)

I thought it was a really interesting book with lots of different genres like romance, fantasy, adventure and more. it changes your whole view on fantasy creatures and makes you wonder what could be out there. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait the rest of the series.

4 stars

Reviewed by Nadya from Brooklyn, 11 years old


FirelightFirelight, by Sophie Jordan (Young Adult Fiction)

It is a well written book, but I found that not much really happens. The conflict is not really resolved, which I was slightly disappointed at. Apart from that flaw, it has its fair share of suspense and action.

3 stars

Reviewed by Julia from Brooklyn, 11 years old

Nik’s Picks: Young Avengers

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOh, Young Avengers. I love you. Let me count the ways. This is a relatively new title from Marvel, documenting the, well, Young Avengers. A group of teenagers fighting super villains while dealing with typical adolescent angst might seem like a tired concept, but the great writers on this title make it so much more than that. The line-up includes Miss America, a mysterious supe who is so strong she can kick holes into other dimensions, “Kid” Loki, a teen version of the villain from the Marvel Universe, who isn’t exactly the most trustworthy member of the team (for obvious reasons), the Wiccan, son of the Scarlet Witch, and many more besides. One of the things I love about this title is that the line-up changes every couple of issues, which keeps things fairly fresh while staying true to the original spirit of the series.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Young Avengers also have to cope with other problems, outside the usual teenage angst. They struggle with getting acceptance from the ‘real’ Avengers, ethical dilemmas and the changing roster of the team. Not all of their problems are easily solved by applications of their powers and they have to deal with the consequences. Another notable feature is the diversity of the team: Miss America is Hispanic, the Patriot is African American and there are several members of the team who are gay or bisexual. In fact, this series has won two GLAAD awards for its sensitive portrayal of their struggles. Although this may not be the most unique feature of these guys, since at least two of the teens are aliens and one is the reincarnation of a Norse deity.

Despite all these various problems, there’s plenty of light hearted moments; Loki’s tricks are often centered around his disinclination to pay for his food when he’s in diners. The team genuinely care about each other, despite their many clashes. But the series never feels like an after-school special. It’s well written, it’s funny, it’s action packed, and for a “cape” comic, it’s extremely believable. Even if you’re not a comic reader, this series is definitely worth picking up.

Here’s Volume 1: Sidekicks.

Nik’s picks: Graphic Novels

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn 2011, DC comics announced a massive overhaul of its superhero titles. All existing titles were cancelled, and 52 new titles were announced This was a controversial move, for many reasons, which you can read about on the wikipedia page. I’m hoping I’ll be able to take you through the continuity changes of both the Marvel and DC universes this year, but to start out, I’ll be discussing a few standalone titles that don’t require you to have extensive knowledge of the Marvel or the DC universes to enjoy. First up: The Demon Knights series, which was started by Paul Cornell. There are three volumes in the series; sadly it was cancelled in 2013. Smaller titles like this one often have a hard time reaching the sales numbers of the “classics” like Batman and Superman. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth picking up!

The heart of the “Demon Knights” is the character of Jason Blood AND the demon Etrigan. Two separate men, bound together by the great wizard Merlin to contain the latter’s infernal power. They, along with six other characters, ranging from an Amazonian fighter to a barbarian to a Knight of Camelot, are called together to protect a small village that stands in the way of an evil horde’s path.

What I like about this title is that the “heroes” all have to face the consequences of their actions; the damage they do to the people of this new land is not brushed aside. They often struggle against the differences between their “home” worlds and the new land in which they find themselves, as well as cultural differences between them. These are not the shining, pure heroes of much of the DC universe; the characters have done truly evil things and the question of redemption hangs over their heads. Are they better than those they are fighting? There are no easy answers. Definitely worth picking up if you see it in our graphic novel collection. It’s in DC under “other”.

Starters by Lissa Price

Set after a war where most adults have been killed by a biologogical weapon, the people remaining are mostly either children or teenagers (Starters) or the elderly (Enders). The Starters are unable to work and if an adult doesn’t claim them they can’t get accommodation, and can be arrested if they are caught. Enders are at the other end of the scale. They have health care to keep them alive until well into their hundreds, near limitless wealth and live in huge mansions.

Callie lives in an abandoned building with her friend Michael and her younger brother Tyler. Tyler is only seven, and unwell but they have no access to any kind of health care and no way of getting help. However, Callie has heard of one way she might be able to earn enough to get them a house and some safety. Prime Destinations run a body bank where Enders can rent the bodies of Starters, be young again, play sports, all that sort of thing. Callie should be asleep while the Ender is having fun being her, but the chip used to control her is defective and she wakes up to find out that the Ender who hired her wasn’t just planning on playing tennis or going dancing – she wants to use Callie’s body to kill someone.


Starters is a really good read, highly recommended if you are looking for more dystopia, and especially if you liked Scott Westerfelds Uglies trilogy.

Lissa Price’s blog is here.

An unbecoming review!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

How is it that Mara escaped the totally destroyed building with a sore head and all her friends died? Who bashed in the head of that dog-beating hulk of a man near her school? What strange things are happening to the wildlife in their new home town? So many alligators dead all at once! Could these incidents be related? And why does she have to be attracted to the best looking guy at school who can only mean trouble!

A strange and haunting tale of life with amnesia and self discovery.

~ Raewyn

Reader Review: The Fault in our Stars

We all know the feeling of having very high expectations for something, and then being disappointed with an unfavourable outcome. It seemed quite likely that this would happen with The Fault in Our Stars. I’m a big fan of John Green (whether it be his books, video blogs, or general being), I’d had this book pre-ordered for six months, and I’d listened to the pre-released first and second chapters many times. But, even with my sky-high expectations, this novel exceeded them beyond what I could have imagined.

The Fault in Our Stars is amazing. The blurbs from authors on the back and reviews from critics say much the same thing: That TFiOS is both extremely funny, extremely sad, and extremely thought-provoking. This is so true. The transition between quotes and scenes that have you in stitches, tears, or pondering the meaning of life seem so unexpected, yet never misplaced, and keep the wonderful pacing I’ve always found Green’s books to have.

The two main characters, Hazel and Augustus, are both very witty and very intelligent cancer survivors. Even though their conversations are deliciously interesting and entertaining, it is continually stressed that suffering from cancer does not make them hold all knowledge and the secrets of the universe, a cliche that is far too embraced in the world of ‘cancer stories’. But even with the too-good-to-be-true aspects of their personalities many fictional characters possess, these characters also have flaws and shortcomings that make them real. I felt myself relating to them, even though the only thing I really have in common with Hazel is being a teenage girl.

A great way to sum up my thoughts and feelings on this book is said by Hazel herself:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all humans read the book.”

In short, I love this book insane amounts and everyone– teens and adults– should read it.

~ Lucy

[If you’ve read something good lately, then tell us about it! It’s easy! Plus we like hearing from you. Ed.]

Best of 2011: Rachel’s Pick

The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson

Rory (short for Aurora) moves to London from Louisiana to go to boarding school when her parents get jobs nearby in Bristol. On her arrival, Rory finds out there’s a murderer on the loose who is mimicking the murders of Jack the Ripper from over a hundred years ago. Shortly after she arrives, Rory comes into contact with the killer, but it seems as though she’s the only one who can see him…

There are a number of times when Rory is confused by British-isms somewhat endearingly, and while suspenseful the novel is also humorous. The first in a trilogy with the next one expected in late 2012!

~ Rachel

Best of 2011: Andrée’s Pick

The Golden Day, Ursula Dubosarsky

“The golden day is a novel set in Sydney in 1967, ending in 1975, about a group of schoolgirls whose teacher bizarrely goes missing on a school excursion, apparently murdered.”–Author’s note. 

The language in this was lovely, simple and well thought out. A little like Picnic at Hanging Rock.

~ Andrée

Best of 2011: Sarina’s Other Pick

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher

“Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a ‘Fresh New Start’. Five years ago his sister’s twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn’t cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory. Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his Dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.” (Catalogue description)

Best of 2011: Grimm’s Picks

Froi of the Exiles, Melina Marchetta

The second book in the Lumatere Chronicles (the first being Finnikin of the Rock). In Finnikin, Froi was a street urchin with no moral compass. In Froi he has become a model student and an efficient assassin in waiting, devoted to his code of conduct and to the Queen of Lumatere. When Froi is sent to Charyn to assassinate the king it seems like an opportunity to prove his worth, but he finds himself embroiled in a chaotic uprising reminiscent of the French Revolution (hangings instead of the guillotine), and in a mysterious curse whose repercussions reverberate around Charyn, and appear to be knocking on the door of Lumatere.

This book is wonderful and epic (600 pages, but you’ll hardly notice). At its heart are really real characters, great dialogue, keen observations of the way people are, and an awesome rag tag group of wanderers that reminded me rather a lot of Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca etc. from Star Wars. Plus: there’s a very twisty twist at the end (third book due next year).

Also great:

Blood Red Road, Moira Young. A fantastic futuristic journey through a wasteland world, with land yachts, cage fighting, an epic quest, and a cool bird. Made me think of the Mad Max movies. Good thing that it’s going to be a movie then, by Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator…).

The Floating Islands, Rachel Neumeier. A really successful, original fantasy world (with a mystical, Eastern element): had to try not to think of the movie Avatar with the floating islands idea, because it’s quite different. The potential romanceyness was well restrained, which is nice for a bit of a change.

~ Grimm

Best of 2011: Ada’s Pick

Beyond the dark journey: short stories and poems by young refugees in New Zealand

Eight young people from Burma, Aghanistan and the Sudan write about their journey to Aotearoa and coping with settling in. I especially liked the poetry and would like to share this verse with you:

I packed my bags throwing
My life into my suitcase
Not knowing where I was going.
Here I’m in windy wild Wellington.
A neglected human ~ Sonia Azizi

I was priviliged to meet the young authors and after reading this book it has given me a better understanding about our courageous refugee community. A great read.

~ Ada

Read about the evolution of the book here.

Best of 2011: Lauren’s Pick

Love is the Higher Law, David Levithan

“Three New York City teenagers struggle to come of age amid the chaos and aftermath of September 11. Peter’s, Claire’s, and Jasper’s lives weave together as they come to terms with a new reality. A welcome addition to any YA fiction collection where there are few examples on the topic.” (Library Journal)

Love is the Higher Law showed another side of the events of 9/11 – what teens actually went through in NY, where they were when the planes hit the world trade centre and the events that followed.

~ Lauren

Best of 2011: Katie’s Other Pick

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

If you loved the Vampire Academy series, then this is the book for you. Bloodlines is the first book in the spin-off series of the Vampire Academy series narrated by Sydney Sage, a teenage Alchemist, a human bound to protect other humans from vampires, whether they’re the comparatively normal Moroi or the pure-evil Strigoi vampires and who is in hot water with the other alchemists for helping Rose (the original narrator of the Vampire Academy series …). However Sydney is called back into service when Jill Dragomir, Queen Lissa Dragomir’s half-sister, is in danger of being killed and the best way to keep Jill safe is to put her in a human boarding school, with Sydney posing as her older sister, despite the objections of Keith, a slimy Alchemist with a personal vendetta against her.

Despite not having the original Vampire Academy series, I enjoyed it. Full of suspense, danger, drama, vampires being murdered, a little forbidden love thrown in… and even ‘illegal drug operations’… Can’t wait to read The Golden Lily.

~ Katie

Best of 2011: Sarina’s Picks

Half Brother, by Kenneth Oppel

“On Ben’s thirteenth birthday, his parents introduce him to his new sibling: a hairy, swaddled baby chimp that will be raised as part of the family in an experiment run by Ben’s father, a behavioral psychologist. At first, Ben resists calling Zan his brother, but as he begins to communicate with Zan through sign language, he develops a true, loving connection with the little chimp, even as he realizes that his father views Zan as just a scientific specimen. What will happen to Zan when the experiment is over? … A moving, original novel that readers will want to ponder and discuss” (Booklist review)

Also great:

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