Year 7

I grew up with dogs. Working dogs and pet dogs, and in my adult life I have had the pleasure of loving Pip, the border collie, and Kel, the red kelpie. So, to say I love dogs is an understatement! During this book talk I share several books about dogs, listed below. I finish with a book talk of Bren MacDibble’s The Dog Runner, one of my absolute favourites.

Spud by John Heffernan

This is my trusty go to book for boys, especially boarders from the country, have nothing to read. It is one of those rare Spud starts her life in the city, but her owners soon realise she should be on the land. So she goes to a farm, but when the farmer sells up she is passed to the new owner. This new owner is not a nice person and treats Spud terribly. She does the only thing she can think of to get away.

The Dog with Seven Names by Dianne Wolfer

Born the runt of a litter to a working dog in the Pilbara, the pup at the centre of this book img_0148starts her life with Elsie, daughter of a cattle station boss. It is 1939 and war and drought threaten life as the people who live on the station know it. Before long Elsie and her family evacuate due to the threat of war, and her older brother enlists in the army. Princess is unable to go with her beloved Elsie and is left in the care of Dave, a hardworking and kind stock man. However when tragedy strikes, Princess, now known as Dog, is looked after by the flying doctor.

And so begins her life during the war years, known by various names and cared for by multiple people. This is a wonderful read for lovers of historical fiction and dogs, as it shows what life was like in Western Australia during World War 2.

My review and suggested activities can be found at this link.

A Different Dog by Paul Jennings

A boy finds a dog when he investigates a car accident and takes the dog home with him. This is no ordinary dog, however, and circumstances for the boy and his mother improve dramatically. After a year, however, someone comes knocking, claiming ownership of the dog. They must convince this person otherwise.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Set in Russia, this is the story of Feodora and her mother who are Wolf Wilders, they wolf wildermake wolves that have been domesticated, wild again. But there are people who do not like the wolves set free into the wild, and when Feodora’s mother is captured Feodora goes to help her, with an unlikely ally.

Review and book talk can be found here

Caesar the War Dog series by Stephen Dando-Collins

This series is very popular with my students. I have not actually read a book from this series, but there is always someone in the class who has, and I let them tell the others about the books. There is nothing like recommendations from their peers to get the boys interested in books!

The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble

I finish the session with this book talk. the dog runner

A red fungus has killed all crops and grasses and very little food is produced. The country is in turmoil. When food ran out the city was divided into sections and ‘essential personnel’ were made to stay at work. Ella’s mother has been at the power company for eight months. But now there is no electricity, and she has not returned. Ella and Emery’s father decides to go looking for her, and when things worsen, Emery and Ella decide to go up country to Emery’s mother’s place. Emery trades their last batch of Anzac biscuits for equipment for travel, and two extra dogs. The equipment includes a dog-sled, something Emery and his father are very good at, as they already have three dogs.

With the cart, supplies and dogs, Emery and Ella set off across country. But things are tough and there is a lot of meat on five dogs. Ella and Emery must keep them safe, as well as themselves. They try and keep away from people but that is not always easy, as it is they are unable to hide their tracks in the dust. Not before long they are pursued by two men on motorbikes.

Read top page 96 to end of chapter, page 99.

It’s dark and they have to find Emery, if he is still alive, and get as far away as they can.

Year 8

This fortnight I am looking at verse novels with my Year 8 boys. Very few of my boys are aware of the verse novel format when I first start these book talks, which is a pity because they have so much to offer. Firstly, for struggling readers, the idea of reading a full-length novel is hard work. Verse novels, because of their very nature, have a lot of white space on the page, making it a, achievable read. Because of this they are also quick reads, taking less time than a prose novel. Being a slow reader, I once read an entire verse novel on a short flight from Melbourne to Brisbane. OK, so it was a Sarah Crossan novel and I always get lost in her writing, but I felt pretty good having read the entire thing in a short amount of time!

For this book talk I have a small selection from my own books to talk about, and I also grab some from the shelves for the boys to borrow if they wish.

Run by Tim Sinclair

Dee has moved cities and with few friends, he relies on his love of parkour. But he becomes involved with some nasty people, and he has to run for his life. A thrilling mystery.

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghanwe come apart

Set in the United Kingdom in the lead up to the Bexit vote, Nicu and Jess become friends. From very different backgrounds, they both have the goal to get as far away from their parents as they can, but will their plan work?

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Seventeen-year-old Joe receives a letter from his brother on death row. Ed has received his date, and needs his younger brother’s help. Is Ed guilty, and is Joe able to help?

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

This murder mystery is a thriller. Set in outback Australia, it is a mix of verse and prose. catching teller crow

Steven Herrick – Pretty much anything by Steven Herrick!