Hooray for Enid!!

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This just came through on an email from School Magazine.

Ooooh, after our amazing Pottermania event I’m now imagining an EB celebration!!

Does ANYONE know when the Magic Faraway Tree movie is being released btw?

August marks the 120th birthday of children’s author Enid Blyton. Among her best-loved series are ‘The Famous Five’, ‘The Secret Seven’ and ‘The Faraway Tree’. Take a fascinating tour of Enid Blyton book cover art from the 1940s to the present day.

Watch a short video of Enid Blyton at home with her family in 1946.

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The Eureka Key (Secrets of the Seven) – Sarah L. Thomson

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Bloomsbury

Published: 04-04-2017

ISBN: 9781681190617

Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Series: Secrets of the Seven

If you’ve ever watched Nic Cage in the National Treasure movies (and who hasn’t?) I would liken this to those – except for youngsters.

While I think our Australian readers will be at a slight disadvantage not knowing a great deal if anything about the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin or Benedict Arnold, I think they will still enjoy the adventure and the tricky puzzles.

Sam Solomon is a clever boy with a penchant for all things cryptic. He also has a real talent for mischief which does not endear him to his middle school teachers. When Sam unexpectedly wins a trip exploring the breadth of the United States, including national landmarks and amazing natural wonders, he is wildly excited.

From the outset Sam is truly baffled by the experience when it turns out that it is just Sam and a very nerdy girl of the same age who were the winners. Accompanied by a strange woman, Evangeline, and an almost silent boy named Theo, the American Dream Contest seems more like a nightmare.  It turns out Sam and Martina were the only contestants capable of solving the complex puzzles of the competition and this is exactly what is required to track down the hidden historical artefacts, concealed by the Founding Fathers to protect Benjamin Franklin’s greatest invention – a powerful weapon.

Naturally it is not just the ‘good guys’ trying to locate the ‘keys’ and the children soon themselves embroiled in a dangerous treasure hunt caught between opposite ideologies.

This is an exciting read with a great pace – creative thinkers will particularly enjoy it.

Recommended for readers from around 10 upwards.

Pottermania

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Our school finishes this term at the end of next week and as the official anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone falls in our holidays, we decided that the library should celebrate for the last two weeks of term.

We wanted our displays to be as interactive as possible so created a Potions class, Charms class, Gringotts bank, SPEW – free the house elves campaign, Quibblers and Daily Prophets to read, a Guess Who game and more. I thank my amazing tech Vilma for her assistance with this (she is just as big a HP fan as I am!).  Hope you enjoy our photos from the past week.  Most popular are Charms class – with many students practising their wand movements, having their tea leaves ‘read’ (You will have veggies with your dinner tonight” “You will have a bath and put your pyjamas on” etc” and counting the gold in Gringotts Bank!

 

The World’s Worst Children #2 – David Walliams/illustrated by Tony Ross

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Harper-Collins Australia

June 2017

ISBN: 9780008259679

ISBN 10: 0008259674

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

RRP  $22.99 AUD

One thing is an absolute given in our library. David Walliams’ books are rarely re-shelved. They are snatched up from the returns trolley with the speed of a striking mongoose or tussled over in the actual returns line up.

Walliams has a legion of followers and has fast become the contemporary Roald Dahl with his knack of preposterous stories and outrageous characters.

This follow up to the first World’s Worst Children brings his readers ten more particularly horrid kids and will produce as much laughter as the previous.

Imagine having a baby so huge and so hungry that it will eat anything and everything – and by everything, I mean the cat, his parents, helicopters – yes, ANYTHING! Or perhaps you’d rather meet Gruesome Griselda who prefers to stand out from the other girls at her exclusive school, the well-groomed polite ones, by being exceedingly grubby and rude. Then there’s Cruel Clarissa who seems to be just perfect particularly with her passion for all things pink but is really a very calculating kitty tormentor.

These are but a few of the beastly children to whom readers will flock.

With super colourful illustrations jam-packed throughout and some of the most creative use of font/type I have ever seen, there is no doubt that this one is also destined never to be shelved. If I only I could be bribed. I could make a fortune for holding out for the highest bidder as the first borrower – sigh.

Highly recommended for subversive boys and girls from around 7 years old upwards.

Goodbye Mr Hitler – Jackie French

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Harper Collins – AU

May 2017

      ISBN: 9781460751299

RRP: 16.99 AUD

In a modern world that often seems to be filled with hate and prejudices and refusal to acknowledge basic human rights, we could easily fall into a despondency that could be soul-destroying. Many of us in daily contact with children will have observed that they too feel fearful about outcomes of some of the huge issues the world is facing. How can we as educators help them to overcome their fears and even perhaps hatred born of influence from media and other sources?

I believe that it is with great literature such as this that we can examine the horrors of the past and show the path to a place of peace, love and forgiveness.  We have a real duty to impart to these children that we cannot stand by and let evil happen and that if we all do that, it cannot survive.

Jackie French has continued her “Hitler” series with the story of Johannes and his doctor parents sent to concentration camps when the Nazis took over Poland, as well as following the threads from the previous two books with the fate of Heidi, believed to be Hitler’s daughter, as well as Georg, now firmly an Australian and his mother who has also survived the horror camps.

Their stories are vivid and told with Jackie’s usual painstaking historical accuracy and each resonates with the pain and suffering endured by so many. It is heart-wrenching and poignant and not for the first time we are inspired by the indomitable human spirit of truly good people. How could someone who has survived such vileness heal their hearts we might ask? And yet so many have done just that. Having witnessed truly despicable and terrible events and actions, these are the people who know that the one true way to freedom, not just of body but of mind and spirit, is through letting go of hate.

As these memorable characters find renewed hope and begin to build new lives in Australia, their various secrets, fears and sorrows begin to soften and ebb into a past.

The contemporary situation with asylum seekers and the denial of their rights should be compared to the spirit of generosity with which nations, especially Australia, welcomed displaced persons following the war.

This series is one of the most important and significant within my experience. Students particularly of Modern History and indeed Philosophy should be firmly pointed in their direction.

Find superb teaching notes here.

Highest recommendation for readers in Upper Primary onwards.

Bring Me the Head of Ivy Pocket – Caleb Krisp

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Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781408858721

Publisher: Bloomsbury UK

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

May 2017

RRP $14.99

After two totally madcap and thrilling Ivy Pocket adventures, Caleb Krisp completes the trilogy with an equally exciting conclusion.

For those who have followed Ivy’s incredible and unbelievable exploits so far you may find this final instalment quite a lot darker than the first two. The many disparate threads of Ivy’s story begin to warp and weave into a flamboyant and sometimes frightening climax.

Watch the red herrings of Dumbleby, lunatic asylums, missing mothers, Locks, Miss Frost, Rebecca and Prospa all suddenly become fish in one net and combine to form the answer to Ivy’s lifelong question and her world of mental fantasies.

With a suitably vile villain – who is in fact Ivy’s grandmother (spoiler alert) – Ivy once more triumphs; this time for the final time.  Though one of the most irritating heroes of any tale, Ivy does have her endearing moments and her loyalty to those who show her kindness and love is undeniable.

With an ending that will satisfy any reader who wants justice done in their novels this can’t be missed.

In case you’ve missed out on these wild stories check them out here at Caleb Krisp’s website. The Q&A with the irrepressible Ivy is well worth the visit!

Highly recommended for Upper Primary readers of both genders.

 

 

Animasaurus – Tracey Turner, illustrated by Harriet Russell

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Bloomsbury UK

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

ISBN 9781408884850

RRP:  $26.99

Did you know:
A shark as long as a bus roamed the oceans?
Hamsters with horns once burrowed the Earth?
Giant armadillos grew to the size of a family car? 

Oh yes, this very much satisfies my love of engaging information books for children!  Explore the world of ancient giant beasts as you’ve never done before with each one compared with its modern counterpart.

Have you ever heard of the Titanic Snake? No? I’m sure you do know the green anaconda though.  What about the Therizinosaurus, which once roamed the Mongolian plains with its claws that were almost a metre long? Compare this with the cassowary, which has some of the longest claws in the modern animal world.

Full of fascinating facts, startling statistics and intriguing illustrations this will be a treasure trove for boys and girls aged from around eight years up – especially those lovers of ferocious beasts!

Highly recommended for primary readers with a passion for the weird and wonderful.

Mimi

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By: Fatima Sharafeddine Illustrator: Rasha Mounib Al Hakim

Bloomsbury Publishing

January 2017

While I’m on this note of promoting intercultural understandings, I think it’s timely to add these two books to the blog. They are quite simply written with bold illustrations and perfectly capture small adventures in a little girl’s life. The important thing to my mind is that this little girl is Muslim and with all the negativity about Islam in the media it’s even more necessary for our readers to understand that diversity is not something to reject.

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Mimi and the Piano

ISBN 9781408887448

Like many kids Mimi decides on a new hobby – in this case the piano. She really does love it but oh my goodness, the practice as her lessons grow harder. Her teacher wants her to perform in the end of year concert but Mimi puts on her seriously grumpy face and wants to pack it in.  Will her mum and teacher be able to persuade her to keep going?

Sounds like quite a few children I’ve known!

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Mimi in Paris

ISBN 9781408887400

How very exciting! Mimi and her family are off to Paris for a vacation. So much to see, so many new things to explore and people to meet – not to mention the glorious food! Even though her mum warns her not to wander off, Mimi can’t resist chasing some very amusing pigeons and oh oh! She’s lost L.

Luckily she has a card from the hotel in her pocket and so even though she can’t speak French, a kind female police officer helps her find her way back. Lesson learned!

Pack your bags – we’re going on a trip!

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Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

EK Publishing

RRP $19.99

Tania and Tina have once again triumphed as they continue their “A Kid’s Year Series”.  Children are celebrated and cultures, customs and festivities are explored in each book via the group of children featured.  What an absolutely marvellous way for us to spread the joy of inclusivity, promote cross-cultural understandings and foster peaceful relations with others.

Each spread shows the diversity of each country and what makes it special in terms to which every child can relate.

Their unique mastery in capturing the moments that shine in a child’s life, their families and homes is undeniable. While there is reference to history in each, primarily these focus on what is important in the modern life of each of these amazing countries and rejoices in the cultural diversity of each, especially recognising their First People.

The illustrations and the text are as joyful as each other and a visual delight for the reader.

In our school which particularly focuses on cultural understandings these are important additions to our collection. Of course, they are also ideal for supporting the ACARA Intercultural Understanding capabilities.

Each book concludes with an illustrated map and snappy facts of interest about the country and it’s make up.

Released this week – it’s time to go globe trotting!

A Kiwi Year: Twelve Months in the Life of New Zealand’s Kids

9781925335446

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Join Charlie, Ruby, Oliver, Mason and Kaia as they show food, sports, native animals, everyday life, special places and exciting adventures like bunji jumping! Learn some Maori and find out about twirling pois – or discover where pavlova was really invented!

 

A Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids

9781925335439

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Liam, Ava, Oki, Chloe and Noah are our guides through the beautiful Canadian country. Special celebrations familiar to our Aussie kids such as Mother’s Day and Christmas as well as some not so well known to them like Thanksgiving are lavishly detailed. Add the excitement of the Calgary Stampede or the amazing wildlife not to mention igloos and ice fishing and this is a fascinating virtual trip for readers.

 

Teaching notes for this amazing series are available here.

Highly recommended for primary libraries – you really must have the whole series. Where are we travelling to next I wonder?

Never Say Die – Alex Rider

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406377040
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

How absolutely apt that as we mourn the loss of the suavest Bond of them all – vale Sir Roger Moore – the new Alex Rider explodes into our reading lives with every bit of excitement that we have come to anticipate from the teenage spy.

When Anthony said that Alex’ career had come to an end we were all pretty sad. But unexpectedly, three years after what we thought was the last book in the series, the youthful hero is back. Following on from Scorpia Rising and the defeat of the international crime ring, Alex is living in America pretty unhappily, especially as he is still grieving for Jack Starbright, believed killed.

But the world has never had a shortage of villains (as we see so clearly in the news) and from Scorpia’s ashes have risen the Grimaldi brothers – eccentric and evil identical twins every bit worthy of being in an Ian Fleming book. When Alex receives a cryptic line of email he is positive that Jack is still alive and abandons America, his host family and school to find her.

From Egypt to Saint Tropez to a lonely corner of Wales, the action is super-charged and electrifying. Twists and turns abound as we know they will from such a master crime storyteller as the Grimaldis’ ingenious plot is revealed.

While some things have changed  – Mrs Jones is now head of MI6 replacing Alan Blunt – familiar faces are back, like Ben Daniels, Alex’ especial side-kick.

Alex Rider is back: back home, back in MI6 and the thick of espionage, back with his loyal Jack Starbright and back in our reading lists. Bring on some more please Anthony! This is a dose of adrenaline that we all love!

As you are aware there is quite a bit of violence in these but it’s not horribly graphic. I recommend them to my older primary students and upwards.

By the way, the whole series has been re-issued with some very spiffy new ‘dinner jackets’ – you can predict that they are already on my ‘to order’ list!

This one comes with my highest recommendation for thrill-seekers and I eagerly await more from Anthony’s fertile imagination.