Tag Archives: Courage

The Little Grey Girl (The Wild Magic trilogy #2) – Celine Kiernan.

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greygirl

Walker Australia

ISBN: 9781406373929
Imprint: Walker

February 1, 2019

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

I absolutely loved Begone the Raggedy Witches which was the first in this trilogy so was pretty chuffed when this second instalment arrived. The Queen and her raggedy witches have been routed and Mup’s Ma is the new queen having taken her rightful place in the strange new world in which the family finds itself. But things Witches Borough are not yet safe. The long cruel reign of the old queen has left many festering wounds among the people and more, the ghosts that inhabit the castle. One in particular possesses a terrible magic which threatens to overturn the new order and destroy Mup and her family.

The little grey girl ghost proves to be elusive as well as intent on destruction and Mup along with her friend Crow are in grave danger as they attempt to uncover both her hiding place and her motives. While Ma tries to placate the remaining witches and clans, Mup is faced with harnessing her own newly discovered powers in order to thwart the ghost’s intentions and right ancient wrongs.

This is an intriguing narrative and though often seriously creepy will have the lovers of such spooky magical tales fully entranced as they follow Mup’s unravelling of the sad and heinous history of her grandmother, the old queen. Readers will find themselves urging Mup to keep up her courage, protect her family and to not succumb to the terrors the ghost produces.

Highly recommended for stout-hearted readers from around ten years upwards.

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Catch a Falling Star – Meg McKinlay

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Walker Books

March 2019

fallingstar

ISBN: 9781925381207
Imprint: Walker Books Australia

Australian RRP: $17.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99

It’s 1979 and Frankie is just finishing primary school. Her dad has been dead, after a light plane crash over the ocean, for six years  and Frankie, her little brother Newt and her mum have been struggling along ever since. With their Mum working long hours as a nurse in the local hospital, Frankie and Newt have had to become very self-reliant which can be difficult as Newt, only seven years old, is very Newtish – a serious little boy with definite indications of being on the spectrum.

Frankie has been coping but only just with looking after Newt, has mastered baked beans or spaghetti on toast and even fish fingers, makes lunches, cleans out school bags and tries to get on with her homework projects. But when the news about the re-entry of Skylab, the first space station, pushes even Sunday night’s Disneyland off the TV, her grief resurfaces with intensity. The last time she saw her amateur astronomer father alive they had been sitting with two year old Newt watching Skylab launch and it seems to Frankie that those memories which have been pushed to one side are becoming just too much with which to deal, on top of everything else.

Most worrying is Newt’s increasingly strange and obsessive infatuation with the whole Skylab event and it seems that his normally purely scientific interests are becoming clouded by something else.

As Frankie tries her hardest not to feel neglected by her mother, watch out for Newt and salvage her increasingly fragile friendship with her best friend, it is her school project on Storm Boy that helps her to realise and face much of her distress and additionally enables her to see Newt’s dilemma with more clarity.

This is a beautiful, sometimes humorous and often poignant tale about grief and loss, love and family, bravery and self-belief.

I would highly recommend it for readers from around ten years upwards.

Check out the teaching notes here.

A Great Escape – Felice Arena

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escape

Penguin Random House

9780143794042

March 2019

Puffin

$16.99

I have never been a student of post-war modern history so my knowledge of the Cold War has always been minimal – sketchy even – but, as serendipity would have it, not one but two of my most recent audio ‘reads’ on my daily commute have referenced this period extensively and in great detail.

Now Felice Arena has brought this era to life for young readers with a compelling narrative based on facts. Peter is swept up in the swift and cold-hearted division of Berlin when his parents and younger sister are in the West on a day visit,  while he has stayed home with his grandparents in the East. In just one day the barriers become impassable and implacable with hundreds of families and couples completely sundered from each other.

For Peter this separation is utterly unbearable and from the first he begins to plot and plan how he might escape over the newly-erected barricades before the Wall becomes a concrete reality. In the course of his pursuit of a workable method of fleeing he encounters two new friends, Elke and Otto, both of whom are also trying to get to their families. The ingenuity of these other children is truly inspiring, demonstrating the lengths to which those who have been cut off from their loved ones would reach, despite the menacing threats of soldiers, guns and savage dogs.

Peter’s growing distress over his isolation but also his increasing worry over his aged and frail grandparents and their care is a dilemma which he must resolve before he can even contemplate action. Life in East Berlin is fraught with danger – the Stasi (secret police) always on the lookout for “traitors”. It almost seems inconceivable that any power would create such a heinous division of family and friends – but then it seems that the idea of building walls has not yet gone out of fashion and many will recognise the correlation and repugnancy of such action resonating in modern situations.

This is a powerful demonstration of the bonds of family and the courage of those who risk all to attain freedom from cruel and callous oppressors.

I cannot recommend it highly enough for readers from around ten years upwards and think it would be a particularly apt read for older students who are embarking on the study of this period of history.

47 Degrees – Justin D’Ath

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47

Penguin Australia

9780143789079

January 8, 2019

Puffin

RRP:  $16.99

Australia has more than its fair share of natural disasters. One only has to think about the events of the last week or so with the terrible floods in North Queensland and the raging fires in Tasmania. Arguably one of the very worst of these was the Black Saturday fires in Victoria. Ten years ago the country, and indeed the world, was rocked by the news of the ferociously devastating fires in Victoria which claimed 173 lives, cost millions in damage and untold mental anguish for so many.

Justin D’Ath has drawn on his own experience (losing his home for a start) to create a narrative in which readers can immerse themselves safely while relating and empathising with those caught up in the horror. Homes, possessions, pets….family…..so much at risk and so much loss by so many.

Keelie has not lived in the district long. She and her family re-located from New Zealand and are really still finding their way in their new community and environs. Her dad has done all the right things to safeguard their home but when Mum and little brother have to go to Melbourne on a medical emergency, Keelie is not feeling confident with Dad’s plans. She is quite naturally worried about their home and their safety but her horse is her biggest concern immediately.

When the worst happens and the winds change and the roaring dragon of fire encroaches, Keelie and her dad plus dogs must quickly abandon their home for safety.

This is a gripping tale of courage, friendship, compassion and loss to which young readers will readily connect. We all hope and pray to avoid such terrible and ravaging events but the knowledge that so many are ready to step up and take care of those who are at risk is a reassuring prospect. As Australians I believe we are particularly good at this. We may be offhand and blasé about much but when the worst happens, we rally and support and fight back.

What a fantastic read this is! I highly recommend it to you for readers from around ten years upwards.

 

*In memory of those who lost their lives and those who fought on to save those they could*

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Dogs Galore!

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A handful of doggy books for the canine lovers amongst us all…

My Dog Socks – Robyn Osbourne/Sadami Konchi

Ford St Publishing

socks

ISBN: 9781925272826 (hardcover)

9781925272833 (paperback)

Publication date: October 2017 (hardcover)

March 2018 (paperback)

Price: AUD$24.95 (hardcover)

AUD$16.95 (paperback)

 

Although it has taken me a while to get to this book that does not diminish its worth in any way. In fact it has been included in the 2018 CBCA Notable Books list and very deservedly.

Many educators of younger children despair of what appears to be a growing lack of imagination and imaginative play in our little people.

This is a beautiful expression of the magic of a child’s imagination as he and his ‘ordinary dog’ share adventures in the bush, on the farm or at the beach.  With a rollicking rhythm and rhyming text chockfull of wonderful onomatopoeic language this makes for a perfect read-aloud. Every child will want to share stories about their own pets after this dog’s ‘tale’.

Highly recommended for children from around four years upwards.

 

Rescue & Jessica: a Life-Changing Friendship – Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes/Scott Magoon

rescue

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9780763696047
Imprint: Candlewick
Release Date: April 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $27.99
New Zealand RRP: $29.99

Based on the true life partnership of double-amputee Jessica (injured in the Boston Marathon bombing) and her service dog Rescue this is a book which will give young readers a real insight into the difficulties of living with a disability and how so many people are assisted with a trained service dog.

While Jessica was an adult when she met Rescue the book centres on a little girl called Jessica who faces the same tragedy as the grown up in losing both her legs. Rescue starts out as a Seeing Eye dog trainee but doesn’t quite meet the criteria. However, when his trainer decides he would make a perfect Service dog all falls into place perfectly.

Telling each participant’s story turn about readers will follow the progress of each until the final very happy resolution. The book includes information about the non-profit organisation  that trains such dogs for service with those with physical disabilities, hearing impaired and autism.

This is a wonderful book to share with children in our pursuit of empowering them with empathy.

Recommended for readers from around Year 3 upwards.

 

Dingo – Claire Saxby/ Tannya Harricks

dingo

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781925381283
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Release Date: April 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

This is a simply stunning addition to the series Nature Storybooks – narrative non-fiction intended to satisfy children’s thirst for knowledge on nature as well as their joy in stories.

As Mother Dingo leaves the den and her sleeping pups readers can follow her through the dusky Victorian Alps as she hunts for food for her growing litter. On each page is another fascinating fact about dingoes as well as the absolutely gorgeous and bold oil painting illustrations.

Another paragraph of general information concludes the text as well as an index for easy reference to specific points.

A fabulous addition to a collection to explore Australian native animals.

Teaching notes here.

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 1 upwards.

 

A Stone for Sascha – Aaron Becker

sascha

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9780763665968
Imprint: Candlewick
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $27.99
New Zealand RRP: $29.99

This is a beautifully executed wordless book which will invite much discussion in a shared reading. On the surface it’s a story about a young girl grieving the death of her dog – and who of us does not know that pain when one of our family pets goes over the Rainbow Bridge?  On a deeper level as one explores the double spreads it is an examination of the cyclical nature of time, history and civilisation as well as the rituals and customs of other cultures. Something as simple as a special rock can carry with it the memories of ages past and also seal the memories of the present with a special significance.

This is not a book to be lightly dismissed in a single reading but will demand peeling back layers over repeated sharing and conversation.

I would highly recommend this is a visual text for sharing with children from around Year 4 upwards.

The Dog with Seven Names – Dianne Wolfer

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Penguin Random House

9780143787457

July 2, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

If you have someone like my Miss Small who fell in love with A Dog’s Purpose (and now is adamant about wanting a golden retriever!) this is going to be the perfect read.

It’s  not just the story of one special little terrier x dingo pup but a fascinating look at the impact of the Second World War on a part of Australia, that has been largely ignored by history texts.

When a little runty pup is born on a station in the Pilbara his chances of survival are slim. Elsie’s father is a tough boss with no time for sentiment but as times prove tough, he relents and gives Elsie the pup as her Christmas present. From that time onwards Elsie and her Princess are inseparable. All seems perfect but then the War creeps closer and closer to home and Elsie’s family must leave their home and her father refuses to countenance little Princess going as well.  Elsie is heartbroken and promises to find the little dog as soon as she can when the family is settled into their new home.

Meanwhile Princess is taken on by a stockman who assures Elsie he will find the little dog a special home. From Princess to just Dog, the little terrier survives many adventures and mishaps eventually finding refuge with Doc of the RFDS but also becoming a much loved mascot of the remote hospitals, their staff and patients. The tiny dog with an unwavering determination to be reunited with her Elsie sees much despair and terror but also hope and courage.

This is indeed a magical story filled with special moments and demonstrating the loyalty of rare and memorable animals. Readers will be both sad and happy along with Princess and also learn much about Australia’s history.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

The Book of Answers: an Ateban Cipher novel (Book #2) – A. L. Tait

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answers

Hachette

Mar 27, 2018 | 9780734417695 | Rrp $14.99

The intrepid outlaw girls and boys are back in the next exciting instalment of the Ateban Cipher – Gwyn, Merry, Scarlett along with Gabe and now Eddie (aka Prince Edward) are on a quest to deliver the Book of Secrets to the rightful recipient.  When Gabe first took charge of the mysterious book he knew nothing about it except that it was dangerous in more ways than one. Now with the help of his new comrades some progress has been made and the group are on their way to the isolated Hayden’s Mont and Lord Lucien where they hope to rid themselves of the book (and their deadly pursuers) and be able to get on with other business.  But more than answers about the book are in store at Hayden’s Mont – Gabe receives a shock regarding his birth origins, they are all in a quandary about what to do next when Lucien says he cannot take charge of the book and Eddie still needs to reach his father the King with the proof of his identity – not to mention Gwyn’s determination to save her own father from his unjust and false imprisonment.  While some threads appear to be tied up, others are just unravelling – what is in store next time for this brave band?

This is the kind of thrilling adventure that has readers turning the pages as fast as they can devour the story along the way discerning many important themes about trust, loyalty, ingenuity and courage.

A .L. Tait’s knack for creating these gripping and often tense exploits has been well demonstrated in her Mapmaker Chronicles series (as a reader said to me in the last week of school – “I just LOVE this series – it keeps you on the edge of your seat!”) and now continues the success with this new series.

Hear A. L. Tait talk about the inspiration for this new series here.

Highly recommended for Upper Primary/Lower Secondary readers both boys and girls.

The Explorer – Katherine Rundell

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explorer

Bloomsbury

September 2017

ISBN 9781408885284

RRP $16.99

We all know some young explorers; the ones who love adventure, the ones who watch Bear Grylls for the survival tips, the ones who pore over atlases and illustrated books of exotic places.  These are the ones who will adore this new book from Katherine Rundell with its adventure, courage, resilience and spirit.

Four children are in a plane crash and find themselves stranded alone in the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Fred, Constantia along with brother and sister, Lila and Max are not the stuff of which the usual jungle survivors are made but as the plot moves along each has a different strength to bring to their joint survival. Of course being so young their chances would be slim no matter how great their competence were it not for the fact that they stumble upon evidence of another earlier person who had lived in the spot in which they find themselves.

Fred, who has always devoured the accounts of the great explorers, is wildly excited about the meagre finds which indicate an explorer has pass this way before and the children collectively are reassured when they find a map. So begins their adventure proper with the building of a raft, scrounging for food and water and setting off down the Amazon following the directions.

To their immense surprise they find themselves in a lost city of stone where indeed an old irascible explorer is in residence. His reluctance to accept them into his space or help them mellows over the ensuing days and eventually when things go terribly wrong he comes to their rescue with a self-sacrifice that is immeasurable.

All in all this was a thrilling adventure, well-paced and with echoes of earlier grand novels for children. Indeed, Rundell says she was inspired not just by her own trip to the Amazon but Eve Ibbotson’s hugely popular  Journey to the River Sea.

This is a fabulous read for both boys and girls from around eight years upwards and for those who might be looking for a class read-aloud or group reading it would be an excellent choice indeed.

Highly recommended for your middle to upper primary readers.

Download a teacher pack here.

 

Glitch – Michelle Worthington/Andrew Spark

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Glitch PB HR Cov RGB

Ford St Publishing

July 2017

Author: Michelle Worthington

Illustrator: Andrew Plant

 

ISBN 978192527271

 

RRP $16.99

 

Here is a really lovely picture book about friendship, self confidence, and persistence, upcycling, overcoming anxiety and being positive.

 

Glitch is a twitchy little bug who lives in the dump and just loves recycling junk into useful things especially billy carts. Every year he builds a billy cart and his best friend, calm and kind June is the driver. They never win because in Glitch’s twitchiness he has usually mucked up something.

 

This year they have their fastest billy cart ever but in a practice run that goes awry, June’s antenna get bent. She won’t be able to drive like that but she insists that Glitch can. His nervousness almost gets the better of him but June, like a true friend, supports him and gives him just the boost of confidence he needs.

 

Andrew’s illustrations as always are so striking in each double page spread and Michelle’s text combines some lovely techniques like alliteration and assonance to make a really readable and rhythmic piece.

As well as all the above it’s a fabulous story that underlines that winning isn’t everything!

 Highly recommended for your little readers from around 5 upwards.