Tag Archives: dogs

Harry Kruize, Born to Lose – Paul Collins

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Ford St Publishing

March 2017

ISBN 9781925272628

RRP $17.95

No doubt about it, Paul’s on a winner with this one!

Harry Kruize is an average sort of boy but has an over-abundance of woes and worries. In fact, his self-esteem could hardly be any lower nor his anxiety any less.

It’s not that he minds helping his mum out with the boarding house. After all, since his Dad went away it’s just been the two of them but so many other things are just wrong. Having to see Fitzy the school psychologist (to eliminate any residue issues over his dad’s defection), being constantly ridiculed by the gaggle of nasty girls known collectively as the Bees, having no friends at all, living in mortal dread of the biggest bully in the school, the BRICK, his mum acting all weirdo and secretive are all major problems in Harry’s teenage life. Worst of all, he so desperately wants a dog. More than anything, a dog would make him so much happier.

When Harry’s favourite teacher Mr Granger sets a whole term assignment to illustrate the power of words, Harry is unconvinced. Still he does write down his wishes and he keeps his HH (Harry Hobbit) diary to verbalise his thoughts.

Along comes a character Harry would never have dreamed existed. An old guy named Jack who looks like he stepped straight out of a painting of a bush swagman turns up and needs a place to stay – just for a bit – because he’s really the type who roams about. Suddenly Harry finds himself with a friend and more importantly a friend who knows and understands dogs. Harry’s engagement with Jack and his yarns about fantastic dogs he’s known become the highlight in his existence.

I have to tell you Paul I recognised that it was Henry from the get-go – I am my father’s daughter after all.  I just love this juxtaposition of a 21st century teenage boy’s angst and Henry Lawson’s bush philosophy.

As Harry hears more and more of Jack’s stories things begin to shift in his life. The snarled up threads of his normal days seem to untangle and begin to run more smoothly. By the time, Jack disappears ‘on the wallaby track’ again, Harry has solved the mystery of his Mum’s strangeness – and is about to have a new stepfather, gained the trust and growing friendship of the Brick, finished his sessions with Fitzy, faced down the Bees and most importantly of all has a champion dog of his own.

Henry Lawson was a man who saw the best in our collective Australian personality – the courage, the resilience, the laconic humour, the loyalty and more. He imbued his bush yarns with these qualities and I believe they still exist, exemplified in instances such as hundreds of ordinary people turning up with mops and buckets to help with floods  or those battling bushfires or putting our hands up to give a hand up to anyone who needs it and much more.  His spirit and his faith in his fellow Australians lingers, as it does for Harry, inspiring those same qualities so that we can all recognise in ourselves our best.

I would highly recommend this for your readers from around Year 6 and up – I foresee it being a novel that teachers would love to see as a class reading. Enjoyable and humorous it’s appeal will be for both boys and girls.

 

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Personal photos

PS

Before my aunt and cousin moved a few years ago from their place outside Mudgee – one of my great joys in visiting was knowing I was in the heart of Lawson country. Driving past the Budgee Budgee Inn where Henry wrote The Loaded Dog, visiting the site of his childhood home and Gulgong and generally soaking up his lingering presence were all fodder for my imagination.

Henry Lawson (17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922) was an Australian writer and poet. Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson, Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period, and is often called Australia’s “greatest writer”.

Although Henry was born at the Grenfell goldfields, he was raised, from the age of six months to 15 years, in a cottage 8 km north of Mudgee at Eurunderee (then known as ‘Pipeclay’), which was established after a gold find in 1863. He briefly attended the local Catholic school.

http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/arts/display/22377-henry-lawson

 

Peggy and Me – Miranda Hart

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Hachette Australia
ISBN:
 9781444769135

Publication date: 11 Oct 2016

Page count:

Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton

 

Many readers will be familiar with Miranda Hart’s work as a comedic actress; appearances in Absolutely Fabulous, Smack the Pony and of course, Call the Midwife and her own self-titled sitcom Miranda.

She had long been more a cat person than a dog person and relates some hilarious observations about dog owners. And then nine years ago Miranda met and fell in love with a tiny shih tzu/bichon frise cross puppy she named Peggy.  The two became inseperable and Miranda’s recount of her life shared with Peggy is both funny, poignant and wise.

Throughout the ups and downs, insecurities, sadness, elation and day-to-day life of their time together, Miranda noted that her best life lessons were in fact taught to her by Peggy.

In this delightful memoir, the reader is introduced to Peggy who always has her own take on the situation and is pleased to share it with us.

This is a laugh-out-loud read so just be aware that fellow commuters may look askance at your snorts as you follow the travails of Miranda and her best friend Peggy.

This would make a fabulous Christmas present for someone who appreciates both the joy of dog-owning and the virtues of humour as an antidote for drab and uninspiring daily grinds.

Awesome Animal Stories for Kids – Aleesah Darlison

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ISBN: 9780857989680

Published: 01/12/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 208 pages

– RRP $14.99

One thing we know as teacher-librarians is that you can never have too many animal stories. Younger readers especially eat up such tales whether crazy, realistic, whimsical or humorous. This new collection from Aleesah Darlison covers all those bases and with a text that is ideally suited to newly independent readers who are enjoying their first foray into chapter books.

Kasey rescues and nurtures a baby magpie, Grandpapa Cat tells his grandkittens the legend of Alvarado, King of Cats, we find out what happened next to Puff the Magic Dragon, Princess Pigletta is pignapped and so much more! Any young reader will enjoy the imaginatively told animal adventures in this collection and they would be ideally suited to the short ‘read aloud’ times after breaktimes.

This much-published award-winning author has definitely come up trumps with this fun anthology of 12 stories. Highly recommended for your shelves for both boys and girls of around 7 years up.

Check out Aleesah’s website here for more info about her, her books, author talks, resources and news.

http://www.facebook.com/AleesahDarlisonFanPage

http://twitter.com/aleesah

 

Pig and Pug – Lynne Berry & Gemma Correll

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Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

40 pages

ISBN 9781481421317

June 2015

RRP

AU$ 24.99

NZ$ 27.99

Two small animals are quite different – and also very alike! Pig and Pug are rather small, ‘petite and portable’ in fact. They are just the right size to fit in a pocket (for Pig) and a purse (for Pig).

Have you already noticed how similar their names are? Small certainly did as we read aloud. As the story continued she giggled at many other similarities as these two meet each other for the first time, name-call, poke, wrestle and eventually make friends – sort of.

I am equally confident your young readers will also delight in the many parallels between this pair of perky but rather pugnacious (or is that pignacious?) pets.

This is overtly a very simple picture book with a very narrow but effective palette of colour used for the illustrations (somewhat reminiscent of a Dick Bruna style). For those readers exploring the sounds of words and language, comparing and contrasting these, and finding likenesses this will be a popular choice. As a read aloud it will work particularly well with Preps/Kinders who are now moving towards some independent reading.  Of course, at the start of next year it will be super as an introductory term read aloud, having children discern similar and different sounds/words.

Highly recommended for 0-5 years old.

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Apocalypse Bow Wow – James Proimos III illustrated by James Proimos Jr

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ISBN: 9781408854983
Australian Pub.: January 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Imprint: Bloomsbury Child
Subject: Children’s fiction

With the plethora of dystopian fiction that has been overwhelming readers in recent years, this very amusing graphic novel is a welcome relief.  A hilarious spin on the whole genre, this is perfect for Middle School readers with a discerning sense of humour.

Two dogs, Apollo and Brownie, usually have no more drama in their days than their running dispute about who is on the couch and who is on the floor.  Until a day comes when unbeknownst to this pair, chaos descends on the world outside – the dawn of the apocalypse with everyone gone.

As dinner time draws nearer and there is no appearance of their humans, the dogs begin to fear that their owners might be ‘Gone for Good’ with the usual hysterical panic that most dogs seem to experience. But when dinner time comes and goes and the next day moves in with still no humans, the dogs realise that this time perhaps their panic was justified and reluctantly decide they must leave the house to find food.  Just this scene alone as the two dogs are baffled by how they will unlock the front door was enough to make me laugh aloud.

How will these two cope with survival in the unknown wider world? And when they are faced with the dog-eat-dog scene for those animals who have survived the disaster, things become even more fraught.

I predict this will have huge appeal to both boys and girls and that it will be the kind of book where the recommendations fly along by word of mouth.

Highly recommended for readers around 11 and up.

Caesar the War Dog #3: Operation Pink Elephant – Stephen Dando-Collins

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Caesar the War Dog #3: Operation Pink Elephant – Stephen Dando-Collins
ISBN: 9780857981684
Published: 01/08/2014
Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s
Extent: 288 pages
RRP $16.99

Everyone’s favourite canine hero, Caesar, is back and off on another serious mission with his buddy, Ben.
The Global Rapid Reaction Responders (GRRR) are shocked to find out that their friend Lucky, who is currently working for the Tanzanian Government as a wildlife ranger, has been kidnapped by notorious elephant poachers. These evil men, led by a particularly vile ‘General’, not only show a complete lack of compassion and morals regarding the elephants but also intimidate local villagers, kidnap children and force them to train as ‘soldiers’ and treat the wildlife rangers with contempt and violence.
It is up to the GRRR team to track down these nefarious wrong-doers and rescue Lucky and save the elephants. Ben and Caesar execute a risky parachute jump into a rough sea to meet up with the rest of team on HMAS Canberra and the adventure begins. On landing in Tanzania the team begin to put together clues and set upon the trail of poachers. Caesar’s expert nose is really going to be the advantage to Ben and his team as they track down their good friend and the illegal cargo of ivory.
These are terrific books for boys who are not so keen to read. They are fast-paced, with a vocabulary that is not too demanding. There is enough action and suspense to sustain the thirst for adventure without being disturbingly graphic. Stephen Dando-Collins has an effective connection with his readership and it has been my observation that when I suggest one of his titles to my boys, they are keen for more when they have finished.

In addition, this title encourages readers to think about several very important ethical issues.

Click here to read a sample.

Visit the author’s website.

Recommended for readers aged around 10 and up.