Category Archives: Young Adult

The Singing Bones – Shaun Tan

Standard

SingingBones_247x189_CVR.indd

Allen & Unwin

Imprint; Allen & Unwin Children

October 2015

ISBN 9781760111038

RRP $35.00

Along with many others a new work from Shaun Tan sends a frisson of expectation and the promise of delighted awe through me and The Singing Bones is no disappointment. From the first ‘picking up’, feeling the sleekness of the stylish binding to the leisurely inspection of each sumptuous spread, this is a volume that can be described without hesitation as a visual and tactile feast for any reader.

A foreword from Philip Pullman and introduction by Jack Zipes, leading scholar of fairy tales, herald page after page of a book inspired by the work of legendary story collectors – and librarians! – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (the Brothers Grimm).

Rather than simply retelling the stories Shaun Tan has chosen to focus on what might be described as the ‘kernel’ of each tale; seventy-five of the Grimm’s collected folk stories in all are included. An annotated index summarises the plot of each. Stories familiar to us all such as Rapunzel, The Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood are joined by far less well known tales, allowing readers to more fully appreciate the immense body of work undertaken by the two German brothers in their lifetimes.

To accompany each tale, Tan has created the most amazing sculptures of small figures which Pullman describes as “perfect realisations of the strangeness of the characters they represent”.

In an explanation at the end of the book, Tan relates how this project evolved and provides more details on his webpage (link above).  When the book was launched earlier this month, it was accompanied by an exhibition of the sculptures – cue envy of Melburnians at this point!  I think those of us in other states would like to hope we might also have the opportunity at some stage to see this stunning display of artwork.  Apparently attendees were invited to create their own little figures in clay – a super idea for your library! I recall doing this same thing with Shaun’s little white creature from The Arrival with some brilliant results from students.

I have shown this book to several colleagues today and all have exclaimed over the ‘beauty’ of it – both presentation and contents. We are already discussing adding this to our Readers Circles titles for 2016 as it is such a unique work. With amazing synchronicity it also arrived in our box of standing orders this morning, so will shortly be prominently displayed in our library.

I know this will need no recommendation to you all but regardless; I cannot endorse it more fulsomely. It is truly special and a book to be treasured!  While I do believe fairy tales are for everybody, your teenies might find these a bit sophisticated so probably around Middle Primary and up would be my recommendation.

(Watch out for this to be an award winner!)

Queensland Premier’s Reading Challenge 2015

Standard
 prc-2015

The 2015 Queensland Premier’s Reading Challenge was launched on Monday and for the first time is extended down to daycare/kindy children as well as up to Years 8 & 9 students.

I was extremely pleased to be invited by DET to compile the list for the 7s and 9s and included many books I have personally reviewed during the past year and highly recommend. You may like to have some ideas or suggestions for your middle year students, particularly as many of you will be looking at developing your collection in this area.

I particularly would like to thank my many publishing contacts for their superb support as I pursued titles which I had not yet encountered to add to this list.

Zafir [Through My Eyes] – Prue Mason

Standard

zafir

ISBN: 9781743312544
Australian Pub.: February 2015
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Subject: Children’s fiction
Suitable for ages: 11-14

RRP $15.99

A carefree happy boy in Syria, on the cusp of becoming a young man, finds himself and his family caught up in the tragedy of Syria’s civil war.

Prue Mason has lived in the Middle East and has already an understanding of many issues of that region. In this book, she wanted to try to explain how the violence in Syria began and of course, how it affected the ordinary people.  She comments that… Doing the research for this story has been harrowing. I’ve been in tears many times as I’ve viewed YouTube clips and read the blogs of people who are seeing their country torn apart from within. 

A recent statement from the United Nations (UNICEF)underlined the fact that Syria is one of the most dangerous places on Earth for a child – with an estimated 5.5 million affected by the country’s ongoing conflict (Time, March 2014).

When Zafir, his doctor father and equally well-educated mother, relocate from Damascus to Homs, they have no idea of the impending doom which is hurtling towards their everyday lives. As revolt and bloodshed become commonplace and the city of Homs is targeted by gunfire and shelling, Zafir’s family is torn apart and this 13 year old boy, like so many other Syrian children, is forced to grow up fast and fight to survive.

As with the other titles in this series, readers are placed in a position of understanding the uncertain and often tragic circumstances of their international counterparts and are encouraged to exercise their compassion and sense of justice.  Through My Eyes represents an important initiative in Australian children’s publishing offering both the opportunity to examine and deepen knowledge of these world affairs and also to contribute to UNICEF through the sales of the books.

Highly recommended for all Upper Primary/Lower Secondary readers – the whole series should be on your shelves. Teaching notes for this latest title will soon be available at Through My Eyes, others are already in place.