Booktopia Six to Twelve Buzz
January 2010 | Edition Three
The end of the year seems to have crept up on me all of a sudden. In the flurry of buying Christmas presents, and sorting out holiday reading for all of you guys out there, I have yet to even think about what I am going to be reading on the beach this summer.  But never fear! I have got some top quality reads picked out for your perusal.  I've made up a list here of my Top Ten books from 2009 - you want adventure? You want fantasy? You want a girl with a skirt made from old circus tents and costumes? I've got you covered. You may notice I've included a couple of books from one of my earlier newsletters - I thought it would really be dishonest of me to do a 2009 Top Ten without either Kate DiCamillo or Scott Westerfeld getting a mention. I've also included a classic Ruth Park novel, pulled back into print this year (thank goodness!) and a book that plays a significant role in my fanatic love for Neil Gaiman. I should probably mention - these books are in no particular order - there is no way I could pick just one favourite from this selection!

We've taken 15% off each of these titles for a limited time only, so I think there's nothing left for me to say except...

Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

Amelia Vahtrick
Six to Twelve Buzz Editor

Trenton Lee Stewart

"Are you a Gifted child looking for Special Opportunities?"  Would you answer that add if you saw it in a newspaper?  Hundreds of kids write in and are called in to go through round after round of testing.  When the best of the best have been selected, four children remain - Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance.  They are called in to meet the mysterious Mr. Benedict who enlists them to help him prevent 'The Thing That Is Coming' (you want mystery? You've got mystery!)... They must go under cover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (L.I.V.E.) which is run by the evil Mr. Curtain, and somehow stop the Thing That Is Coming. Luckily, all four children are exceptionally talented and in possession of a wide variety of skills including (but not limited to): a photographic memory (Sticky), super-human agility (Kate), whimsical poetry writing skills (Constance) and being so average looking that people often think you are someone else (Reynie). 

This series has taken off in a massive way this year - you do not want these books to pass you by... a gripping holiday read if I ever saw one!  Great for readers aged 10+

The Mysterious Benedict Society
RRP: $16.99, Booktopia Price: $14.44 SAVE 15%
Matthew Skelton

Cirrus Flux was abandoned at a Foudling Hospital by his father who, overcome with grief at the death of his wife, decided the best course of action was sailing halfway around the globe and leaving his baby boy behind.  Cirrus has grown up with the only clue to his father's identity being a mysterious glowing token on a golden chain. When he is twelve years old, Cirrus' life is turned upside down. He is stalked by various rogues, clairvoyants, governors and con men who believe Cirrus has inherited the world's most divine power. 

Forced to escape from the orphanage he grew up in, Cirrus is alone and friendless in London, not knowing that the secret to the power being sought lies in the token left for him by his father. All he knows is that he needs somewhere to hide and he needs it fast. Add to this an old man with a phoenix powered hot-air balloon, and a pack of very suspicious acting crows and you have one enthralling read.  This historical adventure is set in London in the 18th Century and contains a marvellous mix of mystery and fantasy. For anyone aged 9 and up.

The Story of Cirrus Flux
RRP: $16.95, Booktopia Price: $14.44 SAVE 15%
Deborah Abela

Aurelie Bonhoffen has had an unusual childhood to say the least. Growing up in an amusement park ensured she was kept busy, whether it was helping out playing a Ghost for the Ghost Train, or (her favourite) being the back end of a cow in the circus show. On her twelfth birthday Aurelie's family let her in on the family secret - each person in the Bonhoffen family is able to come back from the dead. Aurelie's head is in the clouds more than usual as she comes to grips with what this means, but she is brought back to earth with an unpleasant thump when a plot against the Bonhoffen Seaside Pier is revealed.

Aurelie is just the kind of heroine girls want to read about - she is smart, spunky and resourceful - just imagine how you would use the ability to come back from the dead if you could! Oh, I almost forgot! Aurelie's fabulous skirt - old, worn costumes, and bits of the Big-Top tent have found a new home in Aurelie's patchwork skirt - so she is stylish too! Girls of 8+ are sure to enjoy this whimsical adventure.

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen

RRP: $15.95, Booktopia Price: $13.55 SAVE 15%
Richard Newsome

When Gerald finds out his great aunt has died he is not that upset, after all he never actually met her. He is more concerned with the fact that instead of spending his holiday skiing, he has to go to England to her funeral. His money obsessed parents on the other hand, are ecstatic about Aunt Geraldine's death - she was one of the richest women in the UK and they are sure they'll have inherited a sizable portion of her fortune.  Surprises are dealt all round when it is Gerald alone who inherits all twenty billion pounds of the fortune. While Gerald is still getting his head around this news, he is handed a letter from his late-great-Aunt which says 'if you are reading this, then I have been murdered'. 

Not only does Gerald have to contend with jealous and bitter relatives, the sudden interest of the press in his new billionaire status and a mysterious and strangely clingy butler, but he must also solve the mystery of his Aunt's death. 

Meanwhile, the largest diamond in the world has been stolen and it's security guard lies unconscious in the British Museum foyer, two tranquilliser darts protruding from his backside. What does the world's largest diamond have to do with Gerald?  You'll have to read this to find out! A page-turning mystery that will enthral readers of 9 and up.

The Billionaire's Curse
RRP: $19.95, Booktopia Price: $16.95 SAVE 15%
As I said above - I think I'd be dishonest if I made a top ten without either of the following books!  So check out two of my reviews from the very first 6-12 Buzz.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.  For those not in the know, Scott Westerfeld is one of the greats of Young Adult fiction, and this is his first foray into the primary age group.  Leviathan marks the beginning of a new series, set in an alternate past.  Europe is on the brink of World War One, but the technology at play is like nothing we have ever seen.  In England, Darwinists splice the DNA strands of different animals to create living, breathing machines, like an airship which is whale-like in structure.  On the European continent however, the industrial revolution played out differently.  Clankers are obsessed with the mechanics of gears, pulleys and the like, and have built giant walkers which mimic the steps of the person 'driving' them.

The book opens following the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  His son (and possible heir) Aleksandr is living on the run in a stolen walker with two of his professors and a handful of mechanical skills to recommend him.  Meanwhile, in England, Deryn Sharp has always longed to take to the skies, but girls are forbidden from applying to the aeronautics academy.  Deryn decides to take matters into her own hands; by cutting off her hair and re-naming herself Dylan, she gets a job as a midshipman aboard the Leviathan.  When the great airship is shot down over Switzerland, the lives of Alex and Deryn collide, sparking an adventure that will go down in history.
A great thing about this book is that the technology, which could have been too complicated, too confusing and too difficult to visualise, is brought to life by Keith Thompson's amazing illustrations.  The images work perfectly within Westerfeld's perfectly crafted world, making this a series not to be missed.  This isn't just an amazing story (which it is!) - it is the whole package.  Great for readers 11+

RRP: $29.95, Booktopia Price: $25.45 IN STOCK SAVE 15%

Kate DiCamillo

October was a
really exciting month, with new books coming out from a couple of my favourite authors - including the incomparable Kate DiCamillo.  Her books are like fairy tales for older readers, and include The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - two perennial favourites.  October saw the release of The Magician's Elephant - the story of an orphan boy from the town of Baltese who is told by a fortune teller that an elephant will lead him to his long lost sister.  Like DiCamillo's other stories, you will get chills reading this magical and touching story.

The Magician's Elephant
RRP: $24.95, Booktopia Price: $21.20 IN STOCK
SAVE 15%
Neil Gaiman

I am sure just about everyone reading this knows about Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Well imagine that instead of a boy called Mowgli, who is raised by the animals in a jungle, we have a boy named Nobody (Bod for short) who is raised by the ghosts in a graveyard. As I am sure you can imagine, the adventures to be had growing up in a graveyard are numerous. Bod spends his days hanging out near the witch's grave, getting lost and ending up in a city of ghouls and going up against the menacing sleer. All of this is good fun without being TOO dangerous, but you cannot even begin to imagine the trouble Bod is in when he wanders off and ends up in the world of the living.  In a reversal of the traditional roles, Bod is completely at ease around ghosts, ghouls and all manner of supernatural creatures, but among people who are still alive he is ill at ease, and finds it hard not to slip back into his old habits of haunting those who annoy him.

Neil Gaiman's fantastic story is written in an episodic style, echoing Kipling's Jungle Book. This edition is illustrated by the award winning (and amazingly cool) Chris Riddell, and really with Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell collaborating on a book... what more could I want? For ages 10 and up.

The Graveyard Book
RRP: $16.99, Booktopia Price: $14.44 IN STOCK SAVE 15%
Timothee de Fombelle

From the first sentence of this book you will be enthralled.  Toby is a small boy, just one and a half millimetres tall.  Toby lives in a tree and was once a loved member of a tight-knit community living on a branch together. When the book opens Toby is running for his life, chased by people who have turned against him and his family. Toby's father, an inventor, has created a machine which could profit many on the tree, but at great cost to the environment. He refuses to divulge the secrets of his machine, but his family are paying the price.

This quirky novel is just what an adventure should be, full of mystery, suspense and just the right amount of fantasy.  There is an ecological message which pervades the book, but it is not over-done, and is perfectly integrated into the story.  The author has created a marvelous world in miniature which will delight readers aged 9 and up.

Toby Alone
RRP: $18.95, Booktopia Price: $16.10 IN STOCK SAVE 15%
Odo Hirsch

This was a title I waited for eagerly - I've loved Odo Hirsch's books since I was young, and this latest offering was certainly no exception. Years and years ago the Bell family were awarded titles, gifts, honours and plots of land. In exchange for this, every twenty-five years they must give their village a gift. Darius and his parents have lived without taking rent, or paying people for their work, and instead have lived using a bartering system. This means that while they have food and clothes, they have no money for a grand gift like those in years past. In comparison with stained glass windows, and marble statues, Darius' father's humble offering is a wheelbarrow full of vegetables.

Darius is determined to preserve the family honour, and when he discovers a cave whose walls are lined with glittering minerals he thinks he has found the answer to his family's troubles. When you read stories like this one, you can tell why Odo Hirsch is an Children's Book Council Award-winning author. This fable is thought-provoking, and imparts a bit of wisdom onto all who read it. Wonderful for all those aged 8 and up.  

Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool
RRP: $15.95, Booktopia Price: $13.55 SAVE 15%
Ruth Park

The fact that this book was out of print for so long is, in my opinion, one of the biggest crimes in the publishing industry. This is one of the books I remember the most fondly from my childhood. I still have my old copy which I dig out every so often and read over a cup of tea and preferably a cupcake of some kind. Every time I read it I love it just as much as when I was young. This year saw the re-publication of Callie by Ruth Park and I, for one, could hardly contain my excitement.

Callie is actually a bind up of two books, Callie's Castle and Callie's Family, by Australian author Ruth Park. In Callie's Castle we are introduced to Callie Cameron. Callie lives with her mother, step-father and a number of younger siblings. All Callie really wants is a place she can call her own - she shares a room with a younger brother and sister who go through her things, read her diary and never give her any space. When she shares her worries with her Grandfather, he builds her a room of her very own in the cupola of the house. This is a simple but beautiful story. The sequel, Callie's Family, further explores the conflict between Callie and her younger brother Dan. Callie is growing too big for her cupola room, but cannot stand the thought of giving it up. For any girl who has ever wanted a room of their own, this magical story will be a much loved addition to any library.

RRP: $16.99, Booktopia Price: $14.44 SAVE 15%
In This Issue

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Story of Cirrus Flux

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen

The Billionaire's Curse


The Magician's Elephant

The Graveyard Book

Toby Alone

Darius Bell and the
Glitter Pool

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