8 April 2016 | Children's Fiction

Holiday reading for kids

I took Miss 9 to the library twice in two days this week – it is a terrible burden to have kids who like to read! Thank goodness for our local library. Otherwise, I would be broke from buying books to keep up with our family’s reading habits. And I am definitely the worst offender here!


Over the holidays, Mr 12 has been reading Two wolves by Tristan Bancks. I thought this book was original because in this story, the parents are the baddies. It reminded me slightly of Roald Dahl stories where the adults are incompetent and mean. However, Two wolves has a more realistic tone, and I found the Dad character horribly inadequate as a father as he uses shaming techniques towards his thirteen-year-old son, Ben. Ben is in the awful position of wanting to believe in his parents, that they are capable of change and knowing deep inside that his parents did the wrong thing and there is no turning back from their crime. While the story is fast-paced and full of action, there is room for reflection. Here’s the story which runs as a theme throughout the book –

‘An old man tells his grandson that there is a battle raging inside him, inside all of us. A terrible battle between two wolves.

One wolf is bad – pride, jealousy, greed. The other wolf is good – kindness, hope, truth.

The child asks, “Who will win?”

The grandfather answers simply. “The one you feed.”‘

A really powerful book about growth and gaining courage and making choices.


Miss 9 has read Iris and the tiger, a new book by Leanne Hall, published earlier this year. Again, Iris has parents who put their own interests above hers. (Clearly a theme here for my kids – not sure what it says about me?) Iris is sent to stay with great-aunt Ursula in Spain. Things are not how they appear – music notes turn into ants, there are shoes which take Iris into mysterious places and even the people around Aunt Ursula are not who they seem. Like all the best fantasy books, this book has realistic characters who behave like real, flawed people which makes the magic seem quite believable.

Miss 9 would recommend this book because ‘it was an adventurous book which told a great story.’

Mr 6 is going through a Famous Five phase – again, more absent parents so that kid characters can get up to all sorts of adventures. He’s also reading the Usborne illustrated stories for boys – he views chapter books as grown-up so now I have to almost tie him down to read a picture book with him!

We are also listening to Matilda on audio book in the car, as we drive around looking at kitchen appliance places and seeing movies. I am impressed by the many voices from one actor.

And now Miss 9 has set up a home library, complete with borrowing system and printed receipts. Even though neither of her brothers want to borrow from her, she appears to be very busy on the phone, sorting out overdue books and recommending interesting ones. And as I write this, she’s running a class to teach children how to be a librarian!

I’m looking for recommendations – good books for kids, ovens and hotplates for our new kitchen or games to fill up the rest of the holidays! Happy to hear whatever you have!

Author interview – Victoria Carless



Books can be a life time passion, so early involvement is an advantage. Some children don’t get this opportunity at home, so it is up to friends, relatives, who love to read, to supply books as gifts. Losing yourself in a book is wonderful.

April 8, 2016 at 6:30 am

Nicole Melanson

Two Wolves sounds good. I just bought a truckload of books from the Scholastic sale and my almost-10YO devoured The Rig (Joe Ducie) in the first 24 hours. He’s now making his way through the latest Tom Gates. 11YO grabbed the new John Flanagan series (trilogy? our set is just 3 books but I don’t know if that’s the lot), Brotherband. Almost-8 is on a Goosebumps kick ATM. Almost-6 just wants to play Scrabble and cards. 🙂

April 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Karen Comer

    Love your literary boys, Nicole! Don’t know The Rig – will look for it at the library. Thanks for your suggestions.

    April 8, 2016 at 7:29 pm


wow – I love the struggle of our inner wolves! I certainly feed the bad wolf more than I should

April 11, 2016 at 7:59 am

Karen Comer

Mmm, food for thought, isn’t it?

April 11, 2016 at 8:44 am

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