Goodly and Grave in a Bad Case of Kidnap – Justine Windsor

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goodly

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780008183530

Imprint: HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks

May 2017

Lucy Goodly has been won in a game of cards against the strange Lord Grave, despite the fact that she has a  magical card to help her win. Her parents are inveterate gamblers – unsuccessful ones at that – and this time they have lost their only child who is now to be the new boot girl at Grave Hall.

Lucy finds some weird characters at the Hall including the bearded cook Mrs Crawley and Vonk the butler but also discovers a new friend in Violet the little scullery maid. However, there are strange things happening at this grand estate with its grounds filled with exotic animals.

As Lucy tries her best to figure out a way to escape her circumstances, news reports of missing children are increasing and when Violet too goes missing, Lucy decides it’s time to act. Little does she know she’s about to become embroiled in a war of magic – good against evil – and she has a hard time figuring out which side is which.

Why is the Red Lady from whom Lucy ‘acquired’ her magic card locked away in a remote tower with a little boy and two of the missing children? And what has the odious Havoc, once an enchanted raven, have to do with it all?

This is number one in a new series which children from around ten years up will enjoy both for its mystery and its humour. Illustrated throughout by Becka Moor the reader will get a very clear idea of just how strange Grave Hall and its occupants are as well as satisfaction with justice well served.

Recommended for middle primary to early secondary readers.

Nursery Rhymes

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In the times when I was in the classroom I was for the most part an ‘Infants’ teacher as we were known then. I mostly taught Year 1 or 1/2. We knew the importance of nursery rhymes and they were always our entree into the world of language. From my observations it seems that less children are coming to school with a familiarity with these so this article is useful and revealing.

 

Penguin Random House Teachers’ Catalogue

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The amazing and oh so knowledgeable folk at PRH have produced this super catalogue for teachers and teacher-librarians. Stuffed to the gills with the most marvellous information, books, teaching ideas, activities, author insights and more.

This is like poring over the best book porn ever really. Divided into sections for ease of reference it includes feature articles, suggestions for Stages, DK books and curriculum resources. Of course, because these are BOOK people there is an index to help easily locate the desired item.

The very best thing you ask? It’s free!! Simply sign up to the Penguin Random House newsletter at penguin.com.au/teachers and get your copy! You won’t regret it because there is a wealth of sharing here.  Get yours now – meanwhile, I’m off to peruse and sticky note pages or circle book covers or even – OH NO! – dog ear pages!

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Paper Cranes Don’t Fly – Peter Vu

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Ford St

August 2017

ISBN 9781925272765

RRP $19.95

Exquisitely poignant and so beautifully written this is a young adult book which will touch the hearts of every reader. There have been other books that look at the lives of young people with life-threatening or terminal illnesses but this is the first I’ve read that really offers the reader true insight from the point of view of the patient.

Three young adults have grown up together as the closest of friends. From their first meeting in Prep they have been inseparable.  Adam, Ambrose (AJ) and Tess are the trio who form the centre of this novel. Their love for each other is deep and without reservation.  They are more bonded than some siblings and even in high school when they are at different locations they still are as close as ever. Except for the all times that Adam is in hospital but even then AJ and Tess are by his side as often as they can be either in person or via technology.

Adam has grown up with a small benign brain tumour but over the years the tumour has started to become more troublesome often causing extensive hospital visits. He is quite the favourite there as he has developed close relationships with staff. Just as these young people are about to step over the threshold into their adult lives, Adam’s tumour becomes even more aggressive and ultimately serves him a life sentence.

In the final long months of his life, Adam has started to write down his story from the first beginnings of friendship with his two closest companions to his daily life in the hospital. It is this which we read giving us an intimate and warming insight into the care of patients for whom hospital is a second home.  This is not only another ‘young cancer victim’ narrative but a deeply personal look at how unconditional love, support, patience and compassion can transform the unspeakable into something beautiful.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As we seek to model to our students the transformational effects of love and empathy, this is exactly the sort of book which can demonstrate this without preaching.

Highly recommended for readers from around 13 upwards.

Opposite Land – Charlotte Rose Hamlyn

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Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143780816

July 31, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

$14.99

Having a really bad first day at a new school and mother/daughter conflicts are nothing new but this new graphic novel for younger readers presents these in a completely fresh style.

Readers who enjoy cartoons of the Adventure Time ilk will really get into the comic style of the graphics as well as the strangeness of Opposite Land.  Steve has a terrible argument with her mum and storms off into her room with some stupid book that was her grandfather’s. It’s so ridiculous you can’t even read the writing in it. That is, until she happens to let it fall in front of the mirror and realises that the writing is all reversed.

As soon as she starts to read the words aloud Stevie is weirdly transported to Opposite Land where indeed everything is opposite!

Where socks wear feet,

Broccoli is meat,

Behind is ahead, and people

Poop from their head!

But that’s not the real problem with this crazy place. The country and its people are all in real danger from Emperor Never who took over when the last of the princesses disappeared. Now the Opposites believe that Stevie is that princess and she needs to save them.  Will Stevie be able to help and get back to her own land?

And more importantly, will her experience help her to sort things out with her mum and the new school?

Recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

The Teenage Guide to Friends – Nicola Morgan

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406369779
Imprint: Walker
July 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

Nicola Morgan is a recognised expert on the teenage psyche and has already written successful and well received books. Now she turns her hand to dealing with the issue of friends and friendship.

Her engaging and conversational style will certainly appeal to the teenage readers for which this is intended but I can see it being an important resource for adults and teachers in those times of addressing this topic through the medium of personal development classes (whatever these are called in your school).

Divided into sections on; making friends, peer pressure, toxic friendships, social media, conflicts and personality types, there are quizzes and interactive exercises which would be perfect for either the individual or as discussion starters in classes and groups.

Being a teen has never been particularly easy and arguably it can be even more difficult in our contemporary society where pressures and stresses abound but a guide such as this can go a long way to helping young people examine and reflect upon their feelings and needs.

I highly recommend this for addition to your collection – perhaps several copies would be useful! – and certainly direct your staff towards it for use with those sometimes awkward or even hostile situations which can arise when friendship groups are forming.

Pretty Girls Don’t Eat – Winnie Salamon

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Ford St Publishing

Jul 2017

9781925272772

AUD$17.95, NZD$22.99

 

“Body image is one of the top concerns for young people in Australia right now,” Dr Vivienne Lewis, associate professor and clinical psychologist at the University of Canberra told The Huffington Post Australia. November 2016

 

Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population.

http://www.nedc.com.au/eating-disorders-in-australia

Eating disorders are common in young people, especially in female adolescents and young women, although males can also be affected (1). In their lifetime, about 0.3% of adolescents aged 13 to 18 years have anorexia nervosa (same % for males and females), 0.9% have bulimia nervosa (males 0.5%; females 0.9%), and 1.6% have a binge-eating disorder (males 0.8%; females 2.3%) (2).

https://headspace.org.au/health-professionals/understanding-eating-disorders-for-health-professionals/

With statistics like the above Pretty Girls Don’t Eat is a very timely book which will empower young people to approach their own body image more positively and illustrates the potential dangers of eating disorders.

That being said it is in no way ‘preachy’. Winnie Salamon has written a beautiful warm and engaging narrative that will have a great appeal because of its inherent readability.

Sixteen year old Winter is a highly talented fashion designer and sewer. She is also very smart and very funny. She is also deeply disturbed by her size. Living in a dysfunctional family with a mother obsessed with her own body it is no wonder that Winter has taken on board the feeling of guilt and shame she carries around. While her two best friends – slender and stunning Eurasian Melody and geeky and gay George – both fervently assure her she is gorgeous and support her in all she does, when Winter meets Oliver she is convinced she needs to be thinner to hold his interest. And so begins a real rollercoaster of terrible weight loss ultimately fuelled by laxatives.  Winter is adamant that she needs to be skinny to achieve her dream of working in the fashion industry and to be attractive and risks everything to be so. Fortunately, her new job with a beautiful and fat – yes, fat – independent designer goes a long way to help her begin to question her own weight loss methods. But it is not until the laxative abuse lands her in hospital and she begins to work with Rosie, a sympathetic counsellor that she really starts to heal.

Fifteen years ago I too lost a lot of weight – though not by Winter’s drastic methods – and it is exhilarating to feel that you are no longer the fattest person in the room. Yet no matter that I had lost around 25 kgs all up I still saw a fat person when I looked in the mirror so I can totally relate to Winter’s mindset.  These days I really don’t care but then I don’t have the pressures by which Winter and other young girls, particularly, are continually bombarded. We have a long way to go in this journey to convince our young people to embrace themselves for who they are and not what they look like but there are moves to do so. The link here will demonstrate an initiative that is just one way in this serious issue is being addressed. Other programs such as that supported through KidsMatter are also in place.

Well written narratives such as this one should be heavily promoted in our school libraries so that we can create positive and helpful discussions around this issue.

I highly recommend this to you for your libraries and will definitely be promoting it to my readers.

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Raymie Nightingale – Kate DiCamillo

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406373189
Imprint: Walker
May 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $14.99
New Zealand RRP: $16.99

 

I know that most folks will already know Raymie Nightingale but this paperback edition has been my ‘waiting for child pick up’ read for a few weeks so it did take me a while to get through in the short snatches. It comes as no surprise that this is another successful book for Kate DiCamillo bursting with warmth and love as well as poignancy.  If you didn’t manage to catch Kate on her recent tour you certainly should put it on your bucket list as she is just a delightful, engaging and genuine speaker. Kate puts her heart into every book she writes and perhaps none more so than Raymie. The parallels between her own life and that of Raymie are open for all to see and certainly her conversations about the book confirm this.

Raymie is devastated when her father takes off with a dental hygienist. She devises a plan to get him back – or at least call her. So she enters the Little Miss Central Florida competition and upon advice from her father’s sympathetic ex-secretary takes up baton twirling as her ‘performance’. She doesn’t like the twirling lessons at all and at first she doesn’t like the other two girls with whom she is learning. Beverley is a very cynical and embittered little girl with a pushy bullying mother and Louisiana is an odd little girl living with her eccentric grandmother and in fear of being put in the state home. Despite all odds the threesome become the firmest of friends and with many interludes of comradeship of somewhat dubious nature goes on to create their own happy – or happier than before – endings.

This is a warm and inspiring story for girls who may be having some difficulties in their own lives, showing them that though life may throw curve balls, friends can bring you just the support you need to get through it all.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards. Find activity notes here.

Chook Doolan series – James Roy. Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford

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Walker Books

Sometimes it can be tricky finding those transition type books for the little ones who are ready to take on their first chapter books. I have found the Chook Doolan series to be ideal for this and I know that many people will already have some in their collection. Now we have four brand new titles to share with these excited emergent readers as we support their journey into independent reading. These all firmly focus on topics relevant to the readers: family, friends, school and particularly becoming confident. Although the main character is a boy I have found that little girls equally enjoy the stories so this is a great series to have for both.

On the Road

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ISBN: 9781925381566
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99

Chook’s mum says she needs a break so the family is off the country for a few days to visit Aunty Liz.  A mini-holiday is usually quite fun but Chook and his brother Ricky are less than keen to be told they need to be nice with their cousins who are tiny twin girls. They each have their favourite toy – Ricky, his soccer ball and Chook, his chess set but neither is interested in the other’s games. What a surprise is in store for them when they get to know their cousins again!

Unhappy Camper

unhappy

ISBN: 9781925381573
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99

Everybody is excited about the school camp. Well, except for Chook because as we know Chook isn’t very brave. He’s terribly worried about snakes and really anxious that he’ll be homesick. He really doesn’t want to go on camp at all! But things move along with Mum buying what he needs like a torch and a beanie and Ms Rashid explaining things like activities. Chook is still resistant but his friend Joe is persuasive and when Mum tops off his packing with a huge bag of jelly snakes for a midnight treat, Chook is suddenly keen. And what a surprise when he finds out where the camp is!

Up and Away

upaway

ISBN: 9781925381580
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99
Chook really wants to be a pilot like his dad when he grows up but how will he ever cope with such scary things as talking to strange people and flying to new places?

Dad has a great idea and takes Chook to visit his work and find out a lot more about flying and aeroplanes. Since Chook loves to know how things work this is a super idea. Once he knows more about the ins and outs, he is able to use his knowledge in just the right way to soothe a little girl taking her first flight – just as a real pilot would!

Let’s Do Diwali!

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ISBN: 9781925381597
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99

This is my favourite and I think lots of people will be able to use this when you are looking at festivals from other cultures. Chook’s class are pairing off to do presentations on festivals. Normally Chook would work with Joe but he has chicken pox so Chook teams up with Praj Patel instead. Praj is very softly spoken and Chook, well Chook is just scared of talking in front of everybody. But Praj loves Diwali and he invites Chook to go to the celebrations with his family. Of course, Chook is nervous about that as well! But the boys have a fantastic time and Chook really enjoys seeing new things, wearing different clothes and eating delicious Indian food. Their presentation is a huge success!

 

I highly recommend this series to you for your readers from around six years upwards. Perfect for developing emotional intelligence, good fun to read and totally relatable to kids.