A whole new country for tweens

image of girl with black hair and glasses in jean jacket giving thumbs up inside green circle. box underneath reads Miss Mahee's Booklist. light blue background around white.
Booklists for you

Hi everyone, this third week’s booklist post features a selection of seven titles where the tween heroes have to adjust to a brand new country of all things. Can you imagine it?? I mean, you’re hitting puberty and your parents have decided to move you across the world!! Well… if you can’t imagine it then press the button below to find out what our young characters in these reads experienced…

A Song for Bijou boy and girl looking at each other on street corner
Lovely tween read

My first selection is a lovely title I found some time ago called A song for Bijou by Josh Farrar. This tells the story of two seventh-graders, Alex Schrader and Bijou Doucet. This beautiful story of first love and friendship begins with the moment when Alex sees Bijou Doucet outside the local Peas ‘n Pickles on a Wednesday afternoon. From that moment on, life itself changed for Alex. Bijou has recently moved to New York after the devastating earthquake in Haiti to live with her uncle and aunt. She is still adjusting to the changes in her life; new school, new friends and now, even boys. I really liked this book and thought that Josh Harrar’s portrait of life in New York City intertwined with the description of Haitian culture and music sublime!! Young Bijou’s experience of experiencing American culture and the attention of Alex is expertly described and make this story an excellent read!!

cover image of red cricket ball shattering against glass. yellow letters below reads The Year my life broke and red letters below that reading John Marsden.
An engaging sporty read

The next read is a story called The year my life broke by John Marsden. Our hero Josh and his family move into the most boring street in the most boring town in Australia. The last thing you expect is to have action all around you, dangerous strangers in the backyard, and bullets flying past your ears. At Josh’s new school, everyone thinks he’s the biggest loser in Grade 6. When they realise the truth, teachers and students alike are in for the shock of their lives. This was an abnormally normal story by an extraordinary author!! If you were after a school story based somewhere in Australia with a dash of adventure and peppered with cricket and a cast of cool characters, then this is the read for you!! 

cover image of two different lunch trays with different foods inside compartments. top tray blue with white fork and Sarah Weeks in top tray. bottom orange tray with spoon and Gita Varadarajan in bottom compartment. dark green letters in between read Save me a seat.
An interesting collaboration

This collaborative project Save me a seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan gives readers a school story that will have you laughing most of the time. Joe lived in the same town his whole life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi’s family has just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common – but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week. Told in alternating voices, we see a week of elementary school as both Joe and Ravi try to find their place in it all. I found this story filled with some awesome writing and loved the inclusion of all those Tamil terms, it made me imagine their accent in my head. Although it had funny parts scattered in this read, readers will also find themes of tolerance and acceptance explored. 

cover image on dark blue background. border has swirly patters and red flowers. bottom half white letters reading Midnight in the Piazza and image of book and turtle. top half image of girl in red dress holding torch onto painting of woman across large fountain.
An interesting read

My next read is Midnight in the piazza by Tiffany Parks. We meet young Beatrice Archer who has been taken across the Atlantic to Italy by her father for a new job. In Rome, she explores her new city as much as she can in between Italian lessons, gelato runs, and embarrassing attempts to make friends with the locals. But it isn’t until she hears talk of a strange neighbourhood legend that Beatrice perks up. With the help of her new friend Marco, she navigates a world of unscrupulous ambassadors, tricky tutors, and international art thieves to unravel one of Roman history’s greatest dramas – before another priceless work of art is stolen! I think fans of Blue Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer and Deron Hicks’ The Van Gogh Deception will love this read!! Filled with descriptions of Roman architecture, art history, this is an adventure like no other!! 

Shooting Kabul letters inside photo negative strip N. H. Senzai underneath night sky behind large moon small buildings in foreground with people behind a truck
A story of ocurage

This next one Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai had me in tears and gripping the pages well into the night. Adjusting to life in the US isn’t easy for Fadi’s family, and as the events of September 11 unfold, the prospects of locating his little sister Mariam in war-torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize of a trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home? Based in part on Ms Senzai’s husband’s own experience fleeing Soviet-controlled Afghanistan in 1979, Shooting Kabul is a powerful story of hope, love, and perseverance. This story had me hooked from the beginning. Young Fadi’s heartache of leaving his sister behind in Afghanistan mixed with his experience of bullying in his new school had my heart aching for him. Although poignant and packed with some powerful messages, this was a lovely read of family, tolerance and standing up for what you believe. 

cover image of two African boys running on ground barefoot. red hills behind them and orange and yellow sky above them. white letters across sky reads Running on a patchwork of Earth.
A captivating read

Running on a patch of earth by Jonny Zucker is a delightful read of sports and family. A delightful read of fresh starts in a foreign land. Told in thirteen short chapters, this story will take you from the hot, dry Kenyan countryside to rainy London when AK’s family moves there. Although he hates it at first, by making friends with two of the coolest girls in school, AK finds himself liking it there. A great read of acceptance, friendship and determination and drive.

cover image has four kids standing behind man in middle in orange coat with creatures around him. light coloured background. blue letters at top read The Kensingtom Reptilarium.
An engaging read!

And lastly, The Kensington Reptilarium by N.J. Gemmel is a historical read set sometime after World War Two had ended. This is the story of how four loud, grubby urchins from the Australian outback find themselves in London for the first peacetime Christmas after years of war. But their new guardian hates children. He prefers the company of the hundreds of snakes in his home – the Kensington Reptilarium. Fate lends Kick, Scruff, Bert and Pin a helping hand when outraged citizens call for the Reptilarium to be shut down. With the police about to descend, can the Caddy kids warn Uncle Basti’s heart – and have their Christmas wishes granted – before it’s too late? A rip-roaring, funny, adventurous and often ‘scary of the scaly’ kind of story!! Reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Eents’ series with lovable characters and quirky story. Great for kids who love animals – of the scaly variety!!

So there you have my favourite seven reads!! If anyone has read any similar titles with a change in country I’d love to hear from you!!

Stay safe and keep reading

Miss Mahee

six-grid box. top left image of two boys running with orange sky. white letters above them read Running on a patchwork of earth. top right image of girl and boy standing on street corner. blue sky above them with dark letters reading A song for Bijou. middle left image of girl in red dress with torch light falling on painting. blue fountain in middle. white letters below that reads Midnight in the piazza. middle right box orange-brown background with black letters reading My favourite reads on moving country. bottom left image of red ball and yellow letters below reading The year my life broke. bottom right image of lunch boxes with names of authors along long trays. Sarah Weeks on blue and Gita Varadarajan on orange. middle space has title Save me a seat in blue letters.
My reads on moving country…

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