Wonder by R.J. Palacio published by Random House
When Augie finds out his mother wants him to attend school he is frightened. He likes being home schooled - at least there, he doesn't have to deal with kids making fun of him. Augie has a facial abnormality. His eyes are like diagonal slits and hang halfway down his face. His ears - also lower than they should be - resemble little cauliflours. He doesn't have cheekbones and there are deep creases running down both sides of his nose to his mouth. And that is after the surgery.
After a tour of the school 10-year-old Augie decides to be brave and risk going. For the first couple of months, he endures the stares, and people avoiding touching him but when he overhears his best friend saying he had to befriend him; it all comes crashing down around him. With the support of Summer, his sister Olivia , loving parents, and Jack who realises he is missing out on a real friend; Augie manages to navigate his first year of school. This is a heartwarming story of a boy coming of age. It's also about kindness, not judging a
Six Days by Philip Webb, Scholastic, UK
Six Days is part dystopian, part fantasy.
Cass and her brother Wilbur make a living with their father ransacking a devastated London. For hundreds of years the scavengers have been searching for a lost artefact. Wilbur believes he knows where it is. It is up to Cass to help him find it, help two strangers, and then save the Earth.
This first time author narrates the story through the main character's cockney voice. He skilfully introduces back story - the fight between father and grandfather, the death of their mother, into the story. There's a little bit of romance but not too much because Cass is a tough nut. But ultimately this is a quest story - finding the lost flinder before the Russians use it for evil purposes.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story but my 12 year old daughter became confused when it changed style (dystopian to fantasy). For some people this transition is unexpected. You couldn't call it unoriginal though. The characters are three dimensional and likeable (or not likeable as in the case of the bad guys). However, I'm not sure if I liked one of the main characters changing sides, and some of the characters were given a lot of introduction then they disappeared from the story. I thought it a bit old fashioned to have the bad buys as the Russians. The Cold War has long gone. Worth reading though.