Lyla Through My Eyes by Fleur Beale

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Lyla is a gripping and personal story about one girl’s experience of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and its aftermath.

Lyla has just started her second year of high school when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shakes Christchurch to pieces. Devastation is everywhere. While her police officer mother and trauma nurse father respond to the disaster, Lyla puts on a brave face, opening their home to neighbours and leading the community clean-up.

But soon she discovers that it’s not only familiar buildings and landscapes that have vanished – its friends and acquaintances too. As the earth keeps shaking day after day, can Lyla find a way to cope with her new reality?

This is a page turner of a book exceptionally well written by Fleur Beale. A young person’s life turned upside down with the major earthquake and then made even worse as the shakes continue and liquefaction of the soil makes moving around incredibly difficult.

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As she finds herself alone, with her parents helping others, Lyla establishes a friendship with Matt, who she has previously thought of as a real loser. She rescues her friend’s documents by entering a building about to collapse.

The book is great to read, with references to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake plus a timeline, and a glossary, the reader will be well-informed plus an understanding of life through this natural disaster.

Fleur Beale is author of many award-winning books for children and young adults – with 40 books published in New Zealand, plus books published in the United States and England. She is a former high-school teacher and lives in Wellington.

Fleur has won many awards including; the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book: with Slide the Corner in 2007, and I Am Not Esther in 2009, the Esther Glen Award for distinguished contribution to children’s literature for Juno Of Taris in the 2009 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards, Fierce September won the YA category in the 2011 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards and the LIANZA Young Adult Award in 2011.

In 2012 she won the Margaret Mahy Medal for her outstanding contribution to children’s writing, and in 2015 she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature. In 1999, Fleur was Dunedin College of Education’s Writer in Residence Series editor and series creator

Allen and Unwin, Australia publish Through My Eyes series created and developed by Lyn White. Her work with refugee children motivated her to create the acclaimed Through My Eyes series of books set in contemporary war zones.

Lyn created and edited  Through My Eyes – Natural Disaster Zones series to pay tribute to the courage and resilience of children, often the most vulnerable in post-disaster situations. Lyn continues to teach EAL and is an education consultant and conference presenter.

We loved reading Lyla, a captivating book about this recent disaster.We recommend for children from 9-10 years and all ages.

Sue Martin

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