Book Reviews from Students
“The Invisible String” provides children a gentle and relatable way of conceptualising love, loss and loneliness. Written by Patrice Karst, “The Invisible String” tells a heart-warming story of a pair of twins learning of their everlasting connections to loved ones despite physical separation.
The story begins with twins, Liza and Jeremy, awoken by a thunderstorm. They run to Mum for comfort and are sent back to their beds to rest. The twins protest. “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” Mum coaxes them. Liza asks how this is possible since they would be in bed and Mum would be in the living room. This is when Mum tells the twins about the invisible string.
Mum explains how the string cannot be seen, but can always be felt in the twins’ hearts. She tells them that whenever they are missing her, their love travels along the string to reach her and she then feels a tug on her heart. When Mum tugs back, the twins will be able to feel her love too.
The twins are intrigued with the story of the invisible string. They ask Mum how far the string can reach – to the depths of the ocean or heights of mountains? – and who the string can reach – their cat, best friends or uncle who passed away? The twins also ask whether the string goes away when they are angry at each other. Mum emphatically tells them that the string will always be with them, no matter where they are and no matter how they are feeling. Comforted, the twins go back to bed and dream of all the invisible strings that exist in the world.
“The Invisible String” was initially written for the purpose of helping Karst’s son, Elijah, overcome his separation anxiety from starting pre-school. Now, “The Invisible String” is a best-selling children’s book that brings support to children worldwide with its particularly compelling message – love is the unending connection that binds us all.
“The Invisible String” is suitable for readers aged 4 – 9 years.
“The Invisible String”
by Patrice Karst
Set in the Depression-era of the 1930s, “The Gardener” tells the story of young Lydia Grace Finch who moves into the city to live with her uncle following both her parent’s loss of job in the countryside. Told through a series of letters young Lydia writes home, “The Gardener” is a story of a girl passionate about gardening and all things flowers and her determination to share this love with her new neighbours. After moving into the city, Lydia initiates gradual transformation in the neighbourhood, by brightening her uncle’s bakery and making customer’s smile with the refreshing flowers she grows. Lydia’s exuberant personality shines through and transforms the ordinarily depressing neighbourhood into a beautiful sanctuary, providing her neighbours a brief escape from the Depression-era unease.
“The Gardener” is suitable for readers aged 6 – 8.
by Sarah Stewart
“Paper Planes” is a moving story about a young boy, Dylan, overcoming grief from his mother’s death and rekindling his relationship with his father and grandfather.
To distract himself from his loss, Dylan buries himself in the art of folding paper planes. He becomes so good at it that he stands a chance at winning the World Junior Paper Plane Championships. This hobby brings great change not only to Dylan’s life, but to his father’s as his father is coaxed out of withdrawal from his own grief to support his son in this new pursuit. Dylan also turns to his grandfather for encouragement and together, the three-generation-trio embark on a life-changing journey of healing, courage and hope.
“Paper Planes” also contains a 7-page instruction manual on how to fold paper planes and a 4-page writeup on little-known facts about paper planes. “Paper Planes” has also been adapted into a movie, starring Sam Worthington and Deborah Mailman.
“Paper Planes” is suitable for readers aged 9 - 12.
by Steve Worland
“A Necklace of Raindrops” is a series of 8 short fairy-tale stories. Filled with a wealth of magic – a raindrop that gives its owner special powers, a tiger that runs faster than the wind and a cat that grows to the size of a whale – “A Necklace of Raindrops” promises to capture young minds with fun colourful adventures and the triumph of good over evil.
“A Necklace of Raindrops” is suitable for readers aged 6 – 10.
“A Necklace of Raindrops”
by Joan Aiken & Jan Pienkowski
“The Pencil” tells the adventure of a pencil who creates a whole world from blank paper. The pencil draws a little boy Banjo, a cat Mildred and a dog Bruce. Some unrest ensues and the pencil creates a paintbrush to give his three characters colour. The three characters are happy for a short while, but they soon start complaining about their features. The ever-obliging pencil creates an eraser to start rubbing out parts of the characters. However, big trouble looms as the eraser runs rampant and rubs out the characters entirely! The pencil then redraws Banjo, Mildred and Bruce. He colours them again and decides to leave them as they are.
Ahlberg and Ingman keep the adventure of the pencil fresh throughout the book, from the running joke involving the pencil’s creations insisting on names and the nonsensical names the pencil chooses. Comical and intricate, “The Pencil” is a sure to captivate young reader’s imaginations to guess what new invention the pencil will draw next.
“The Pencil” is suitable for readers aged 6 – 8 years.
by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman
“Those Shoes” is an expressive affirmation of what is truly important; It tells a realistic story of a young boy’s navigation of a world filled with materialistic attractions, and how he is ultimately overcome and grounded by the values of selflessness and generosity.
“Those Shoes” follows Jeremy on his quest to get his hands on the trendiest high-tops which everyone in school seems to be wearing. When Jeremy’s old shoes fall apart and the school counsellor gives him a kiddy hand-me-down pair, he is more determined than ever to have those high-tops, even a too-small pair from a thrift-shop. But blisters and cuts aren’t much fun, and Jeremy comes to realise that the things he has — winter boots, an understanding Grandma and the chance to help a less-privileged friend — are worth more than the high-tops he wants. Giving the high-tops away to a classmate Antonio, Jeremy experiences the warmth of being generous and kind to someone in need.
“Those Shoes” is suitable for readers aged 6 – 8.
by Maribeth Boelts
“The Wishing Spell” is the first of 6 books in the “The Land of Stories” series which follows twins Alex and Connor on their adventures in the world of fairy tales.
In “The Wishing Spell”, Alex and Connor first receive a special family fairy tale book from their Grandma. The twins have no clue what powers the book holds, and they are soon transported to a magical foreign land – home to every known fairy tale character, both good and bad.
The twins soon find out that this magical land may be scarier than they thought, as they encounter the Evil Queen, goblins and trolls. With these evil characters hot on their trail, the twins hurriedly navigate the fairy tale kingdom with the help of their new friends Goldilocks, Cinderella, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood.
Imaginative and descriptive, “The Wishing Spell” promises a fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern world with the enchanting realm of fairy tale classics.
“The Wishing Spell” is suitable for readers aged 9 - 12.
“The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell”
by Chris Colfer