Pages & Co [Book 2]: Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales – Anna James

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Harper Collins

September 2019

ISBN: 9780008229900

ISBN 10: 0008229902

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 19.99 AUD

Once more Tilly and Oskar are plunged into a whirl of adventure and mystery as their book-wandering travels continue. Their world and their families are in a state of flux as the British Underlibrary becomes embroiled in turmoil. The new Librarian Melville Underwood is decidedly sinister and unscrupulous and there is a veil of mystery about his long absence in the fairy tale world and the continued unknown whereabouts of his sister Decima.

When Tilly and Oskar visit Paris (and discover that Oskar is also a book-wanderer) they bravely venture into the fairy tale world and are dismayed by the instability of the stories there – large black abysses appearing in plots, various versions of the same story overlapping randomly and characters becoming lost. All this appears to be the work of some dark force and it seems that Tilly and Oskar are the ones to solve the problem and restore order.

This series is proving to be quite a delight with its fresh approach to plot and characters. Book lovers both young and old will relish the concept of becoming truly ‘present’ in the stories they read and will readily identify with Tilly’s favourites as well as being very cognizant of the ever-present dangers and villainous characters lurking in odd places. There are tense moments when ‘happy ever after’ seems elusive and there is no doubt that the evil characters are ruthless but Tilly and Oskar have proven their mettle already and will not rest until the fairy tale world is safe again.

My first readers to try out this series have been completely taken with it and I know they will be enthusiastically lining up for this second instalment. I highly recommend it for your kiddos from around Year 4 upwards.

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Beverly, Right Here – Kate diCamillo

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1560726444168

Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406391633
Imprint: Walker
September 2019
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Without a doubt this is the happiest review I’ve ever written. Not just because it’s another fabulous book from this much-loved author, nor just that it continues the story of Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly but for a far more personal reason.

My review copy arrived just a few days before my girl and I were going on our holiday to Tasmania so it was one of my first choices to take along with me. I read most of it in the Brisbane airport terminal then finished it off during the flight. The Kid was quite taken with the cover and then curious about the story so I handed it to her and before we landed in Melbourne for the first leg of our trip she had read the first chapter. Now for a 14 year old you may not think this a significant moment but for a child who was first assessed with an intellectual impairment at six and who has struggled for years with both spoken and written language it was a true milestone moment. In that first chapter there were just five words of which she was unsure – and after checking with me, three of them she had correct and the other two she had worked out but couldn’t quite get the context or meaning. TRIUMPH!

She is now halfway through the book and is really enjoying the story – and the effect of her success has been electrifying to say the least. Her ‘reading level’ (GRRRR) at school has escalated over eight levels at least since her last literacy group before the holidays. My heart is singing! It is such a breakthrough for her and her confidence is soaring.

So with that out of the way, let me tell you about the story itself. We know from the two previous books that Beverly’s life is far from easy and when her beloved Buddy dies she’s finally had enough and takes off. At 14 with no money and only the clothes she’s wearing she lands in a new town where she manages to find some work and is taken in by a quirky but kindly old lady who becomes Beverly’s entrée into an atmosphere of caring. As some time goes by Beverly begins to establish positive relationships and meaningful friendships and eventually is able to rationalize her old life and how she might overcome the obstacles she faces.  Her newfound insight into herself enables her to move forward with confidence and determination.

Once again Kate has given us a memorable book. For me it will always be the book that turned my girl into a ‘reader’. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Kate diCamillo.

MoonFish  [Poems to make you & Think] – Harry Laing. Various Illustrators

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Ford St Publishing

May 2019

9781925804256

RRP: $16.95

Sharing poetry with kiddos is one of my favourite things to do – and even the ones who kind of screw their noses up at first really get into it with the right selection. This will definitely be one of those and I know that many teachers will want to get their hands on it to add some pep to their poetry units.

Harry Laing has compiled a fabulous collection that is fun-filled with catchy rhythm and rhymes, chants, raps, word play, shape poems and more. The illustrators are a stellar cast of our best and brightest in the business, eighteen in all, making this a feast for the eye as well as the ear.

Whether it’s a yummy food poem about cheese or pizza or a city of chocolate or an introduction to some insect life like ants or termites or even a flea this has something to appeal to all children.

There will be many opportunities for kids to get up and use their hands or feet to clap to the beat and no doubt will quickly decide on their personal favourites.

If you are looking to give your poetry collection some updating or purely for the joy of it, this will make a valuable addition and is highly recommended for children from around 7 years upwards.

 

Shortlisted 2019 – Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year

I am So Clever – Mario Ramos

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Walker Books

August 2019

ISBN:  9781776572496
Imprint: Gecko Press

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99
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In my experience kids just love send ups of the Big Bad Wolf and this book will delight those from 4 years upwards with its humorous text and illustrations, along with the references to other fairy tales.

Little Red Riding Hood is out for a stroll in the woods on her way to Grandma’s house when the Wolf sees her and concocts a cunning plan.  He races ahead planning to devour the old grandmother and then LRRH herself. Grandma is nowhere to be seen in the house but her nightdress is so the Wolf – oh so clever! – decides to disguise himself and therefore trick Red. Sound familiar so far? Well yes, but in your traditional versions the Wolf does not find himself locked outside the house wearing a pink nightie which he cannot get off.

The derision of other fairy tale characters who encounter the hilarious sight of the terrible wolf wearing such a garment will send readers into fits of laughter.  Despite the ignominy the BBW remains convinced that he can still best little Red – but sadly the trip over the hem of the nightie is his final fall into shame and humiliation.

Whether just for a general read-aloud or as part of a ‘fractured fairytales’ unit this will amuse your readers and will undoubtedly be requested for repeat performances.

Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards.

Ravi’s Roar

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9781408892169

Bloomsbury

September 2019

ISBN 9781408892183

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $14.99

This is another of Tom Percival’s splendid picture books which help children to understand and self-regulate their emotions.

Many of us (educators) are finding it increasingly challenging to help children to identify and manage their own emotional issues (which also seem to be increasing – or is that just me?). So books such as this present an ideal way to lead into discussions in a gentle but open and clear way which in turn can assist us in guiding these small humans into ways that will help them adjust to situations without recourse to outbursts.

Of course, this is a topic which is of concern to many but Tom’s books enable us to enter into discussions without pointing the finger at anyone in particular and engender solutions for dealing with such emotions/feelings.

Most young children will readily identify that rising temper whether their own is extreme or not and will most likely offer triggers and solutions for such.

Ravi is the youngest and the smallest in his family and when one ‘catastrophe’ after another occurs his emotions implode and he becomes a raging tiger. While that may be solving problems in the short term, as others are intimidated by him, he soon learns that no one really wants to be friends with a vicious roaring tiger.

The trick is to find a way to manage such situations with an approach that will both resolve the anger and provide a way forward to better management and resolution.

Love this book and can think of several children for whom it will be of benefit – as well as some very frazzled teachers.

Highly recommended for both young readers and also teachers facing some difficult charges.

Maple the Brave – Chloe Jasmine Harris

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Walker Books

May 2019

ISBN: 9781925381924
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $24.99

1546556258689

I feel terrible for taking so long to get to this beautiful book on my vast review pile because it really is a joy (what can I say, it was the term from hell!)

Chloe’s debut picture book as both author and illustrator clearly indicates that she will be force with which to be reckoned.

The premise of the book about facing fears and developing resilience is so timely and the detailed illustrations will have children poring over them to gain every beautiful aspect.

Maple is very solitary in her tree house in the woods because she’s scared of everything, particularly the animal noises from below but when she finally steps out of her comfort zone she finds that rather than terrifying her animal neighbours are both kind and friendly.

She finds her courage and returns to her tree house with a new sense of bravery and confidence.  If you are looking for books that will empower children, particularly girls, this is ideal.

It will seem strange to say because the illustrations are quite contemporary in style but they do remind me of artists such as Pixie O’Harris with portrayals of imaginary forest friends and scenes.

I love this and it will definitely be a ‘go to’ and shared with my colleagues in the Junior school enthusiastically.

Highly recommended for readers from around 3 years upwards.

The Bookworm – Debi Gliori

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Bloomsbury

 

ISBN: 9781408893036
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

 

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What could delight a teacher-librarian’s heart more than a book about a bookworm? Little Max really really wants a pet of his own but his parents are not very keen. They reject his suggestion of a puppy or a kitten because they chew things or they smell stinky and they certainly scoff at his request for a dragon because they don’t exist.

So Max finds his own pet. Not your average pet of course, this is a strange and lumpy worm who it appears just love to be stroked and to listen to stories at bedtime.

But Max’s worm starts to grow and seems to be quite unusual. Its lumpy back develops into spikes and it begins to breathe smoke. It also along the way chews stuff and can be a bit stinky!

Of course Max’s new pet is really a dragon and eventually is big enough to fly away on its own but it does still love to visit and hear a good story so Max in content. Besides he has a new pet on which to focus – he’s taken up his parents’ suggestion of a goldfish but why does that fish have such sharp teeth?

Debi Gliori’s books are always a joy to read and share and this is no exception.

This is a delightful uncomplicated read and children will readily embrace it and I have no doubt, will be able to discuss very animatedly their own ideal pet – whether one they have or one they want.

Highly recommended for readers from around four years upwards.

Think Big! – Kes Gray/Nathan Reed

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JUN 25, 2019 | 9781444942132 | RRP $15.99

Hachette

9781444942132

If you are looking to inspire your little readers to reach for the stars this will be a fun yet still thought-provoking read.

Taking a new twist on the old nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty and his nursery rhyme friends are discussing what they might like to be when they grow up. When HD says he aspires to be a boiled egg, his friends are pretty shocked by such a lowly goal and come up with a range of exciting and challenging alternatives. Perhaps Humpty could become an artist or a famous footballer (surely a precarious choice for someone with a fragile shell – just saying!) and just as Humpty becomes wild with enthusiasm and decides that being an astronaut would be simply stellar – oops! Well that idea might just be scrambled now ☹.

This is quite hilarious and the lively bright illustrations will have children enraptured.

Believe and you can achieve!

Highly recommended for little ones from around 3 years upwards.

How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet – Lee Constable

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9781760890261

Penguin

June 2019

ISBN: 9781760890261

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $19.99

With the world’s attention on Mighty Girl Greta Thunberg and her activism for drawing attention to the critical state of the globe this book will be a timely addition to your collection whether for general borrowing or for your own environmental group (we have Champions for Change at our college – our very dedicated Year 5 cohort).

This is an excellent guide for children who are keen to make a difference and shape the future of our fragile world. It contains scientific knowledge (in readily understandable format), DIY projects, and suggestions for action plus loads more.   Each section deals with a different aspect of the mission our young people are facing and as they progress through each they are moving up another Waste Warrior level until the finale of ‘Graduation’.

The addition of James Hart’s humorous illustrations along with the ‘gross’ factor of information provided makes this is a fun read as well as informative and children of all ages will relish the projects and actions suggested.

Whether the challenge is as simple as learning to sew on a button to salvage an article of clothing or more complex such as being able to create successful compost systems children will be able to find something that fits their abilities and interest.

Starting with an informed and active approach to waste management is a terrific beginning for kids who are keen to prove themselves worthy champions of the environment.

Highly recommended for children from around 8 years upwards.

The Underhills: a Tooth Fairy Story – Bob Graham

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Walker Books Australia

October 1st 2019

ISBN: 9781406387612
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Always exciting to see a new Bob Graham story and this one which is a charming companion book to April Underhill, Tooth Fairy will similarly delight young readers of that much-loved title.

Mum and Dad need to be away working so the younger Underhills are having a sleepover with their grandparents and everyone knows what that means! Lots of fun and treats and special love abound.

When a rush job comes through to collect a tooth from a little girl newly arrived from Ghana, it falls to April, Esme and Grandma to sort it at the airport. As well as the tooth fairies there are also angels and cupids on duty – to welcome the happy arrivals and to soothe those who are sad and scared. Clearly we need some angels and cupids in our political ranks!

April and Esme proves themselves to be equal to the challenge of finding little Akuba in the bustling terminal and successfully complete their mission, much to the pride and relief of Grandma and the rest of the family.

As always Bob’s gentle but significant story with its layers of meanings and his inimitable illustrations are a tour-de-force and this will be a joy to many readers from around 4 years upwards.  Naturally, a read-aloud could easily develop into a simple discussion about kindness and the way in which newcomers might be embraced into our society.