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Six of the best young teenage stories

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ARABELLA, THE MOON AND THE MAGIC MONGONGO NUT by Hamilton Wende (Tafelberg 2013)
A modern, magical story full of unexpected creatures with hadedas as the baddies. There’s a night flight over the city of Johannesburg, a magical book, plenty of suspense and surprise, and a final air-borne battle, a bit like the coming of the eagles in The Hobbit. There is also a wise warning: “Even magic has its limits.”

BIG UPS! Fundza short stories No.1 – various authors (Cover2Cover Books 2013)
Eight short stories about real teenagers in the reality of South Africa today. Topics include train surfing (this story by Jenny Robson), avoiding rape, desire for musical fame, families without an adult, sudden teenage affection, untrustworthy teachers. Each pithy story is related with plenty of with-it slang and cell phones. Full of action, genuine characters and unglossy detail.

BROKEN PROMISES by Ros Haden (Cover2Cover)
One in the popular Harmony High series. Ntombi’s father has left home and her mother has a boy friend, Zakes, who is not to be trusted. So Ntombi has to stay at home and look after her younger sister instead of being at school singing practice. And there’s chommies and soapie stars and not enough food and all the school pressures of Harmony High, building up to a climax full of tension. Competent, interesting writing with real characters.

MY FUNNY BROTHER by Robin Malan (Junkets Publisher)
In a setting of modern South Africa, meet Donovan (or Donnie or Donna when he feels that way) who is gay. The other members of his family have to come to terms with this. They do so, most sensibly, because his parents are ready to understand, accept and above all love their children. From a home in which they turn the TV off at supper time and actually talk to each other, to school not ready yet for gay students, to the outside world which becomes violent – an absorbing story, full of tension and interest.

HEARING HELEN by Carolyn Morton (Human & Rousseau 2013)
Helen and her family live in a world we all know, with the fridge to be defrosted, the car to be mended, jealousy, untidiness and a shortage of money. She loves her piano and music can offer an escape magic – but her music teacher, Madame Pandora, takes no nonsense from anyone! Helen and her brother are edgy; both have their own best friends; home, school and music clash alarmingly. Plenty of twists and surprises and emotional gulps before flowing harmony comes, eventually.

HOTWIRE by Jay Heale (Shuters 2011)
Imagine that your mum’s damaged car is in the hands of a crooked repair-man who won’t
give it back. So Ben and his friend Tarif decide to get it back! But they meet more crooks than one. Set in the streets of modern Kenilworth and Claremont, this is a real story about real people which builds up to a fine fighting finish.