Tag Archives: Family

Bring on the Empty Horses, so the old saying goes…….

Standard

…though these are far from ’empty………..

 

As my village knows Miss Small has now been riding for about 18 months and is about to compete in her second show tomorrow (last show she got a first in her class of Beginner Rider!) so despite a lifetime in almost total ignorance of riding, except for some childhood excursions with my horse-mad cousin, I am now plunged into a new world.

IMG_20180602_105701

As a teacher-librarian I am well aware that the love of ‘horsey’ books never diminishes and as it happens I’ve acquired quite a few over the past few months – all of them delightful!

First up, the continuation of Starlight Stables:

Starlight Stables: Brumby Rescue (Book 5) – Soraya Nicholas

brumbyrescue

Penguin

9780143787440

January 2, 2018

Puffin

RRP: $12.99

This delightful and engaging series continues with young Poppy bidding on an extremely beautiful brumby at auction, fully convinced she can tame him. Everyone else thinks she’s crazy!  The task proves more difficult than Poppy could imagine but this series is about determination and passion and Poppy is not about to give up on her dream. And as usual, Aunt Sophie is ever helpful. After a few contretemps, she suggests a camp out at the Barmah Muster and thinks it’s possible that Storm could be up for it, given enough training. After all, it will allow Poppy to take Storm to his own stamping grounds and maybe give her the edge she needs to truly win his confidence with her.

While Poppy works with Storm when she can, Sophie also trains him while Pops is at school. Together they make a formidable team of rider and horse. Even though Poppy adores her pony Crystal, there is something so special about wild Storm that excites her so much that she is determined to make him just as awesome as the other horses in the stables.  When Storm begins to respond, Poppy and Sophie both know they have a very special horse on their hands. Roll on the Barmah Muster!

Starlight Stables: Barmah Brumbies (Book 6) – Soraya Nicholas

barmah

Penguin

9780143787433

January 2, 2018

Puffin

RRP: $12.99

 

What could possibly be more exciting for three horse-mad girls than a five day trail ride through a national park camping out and spotting wild brumbies? Well of course, not much!  Not only do the girls get to experience a fabulous adventure but they also learn much about the origins and history of the brumby population and also, why some locals would rather those wild horses be gone from the bush. In the process there is also much to be learned about other introduced species such as the fox and while measures to contain these seem cruel to the girls, there is much sense in what is being done to preserve the native wildlife. For sensitive animal-loving children this can be a very fraught issue indeed and this book will do much to balance the argument.

Of course, adventures abound during the trail ride and the girls are up for almost anything – whether it’s ‘allowed’ or not.

Children who love horses will adore these books because they are not only necessarily ‘horsey’ but chockfull of horsiness, friendship, challenges and the Australian setting.

 

Competing for the Cup: (Ride: Book 2) – Bobbi JG Weiss

CompCup

Walker Books

ISBN: 9780763698553
Imprint: Candlewick Entertainment

May 2018

RRP: $14.99

Apparently this is derived from a show on Nickelodeon, of which I plead ignorance, but feel that it’s possible I will be searching out DVDs before Christmas. I’ve not read the first in the series but it seems that young Kit Bridges has relocated to England (from USA) with her father Rudy, following her mother’s death. Rudy has taken on a position at an elite equestrian boarding school and Kit is now a pupil there. All in all, it’s been difficult for them both but there are positives, one of which is Kit’s favoured horse TK. However, TK is a tad problematic and while Kit is keen to overcome any difficulties, there is a great deal of pressure from the Head of School due to the need to keep the school’s standing right up in the higher echelons of riding. Needless to say, as a boarding school and a new girl therein, there are also other more personal problems with which to deal.

 

All in all, this is a pleasant but not demanding read and somewhat lacks the overall excitement and energy of other similar series. Despite that, it goes without saying that the horsey kids will still love it and there are plenty of both boy and girl characters with whom to become engaged.

 

The Promise Horse – Jackie Merchant

promisehorse

Walker Books

ISBN: 9781760650568
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Release Date: July 1, 2018

RRP: $16.99

 

I really loved this book. It’s not just horsey but explores many nuances of family life and relationships. Harry is pretty upset when she and her parents move from the city to the country to be nearer her grandparents. This is  not because she doesn’t love her grandparents nor because she doesn’t want the promised horse as ‘recompense’ for the move but moreso because she hates being the new kid in school – especially the overly tall, gawky red-headed kid with the dead sister. Harry still hears Sissy constantly – a problem for her parents and clearly the counsellors but Harry knows that she is not ready to let Sissy go.

The ‘promised horse’ appears in the form of a borrowed ex-show horse called Marksman who is as out-of-place as Harry due to his huge size. Accustomed only to the school ponies in the city, Harry has her work cut out for her as she learns to gain confidence with Marksman and override the helicopter concerns of her mother. She also has to deal with a school bully who also rides but when she sees Billy’s problems with his father, she develops real insight into his attitude.

Harry’s progress working out issues with bullying while making new friends, her mother’s grief and her own reluctance to let go of Sissy makes for compelling reading for both boys and girls. The horsey readers will also really appreciate the details of Harry’s training and first gymkhana.

Fabulous read for kidlets from around 8 years upwards.

 

Horses Wild & Tame – Iris Volant/Jarom Vogel

Horses-Cover-RGB-364x452

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781911171324

January 2018

RRP : $27.99

 

I just LOVE the Flying Eye non-fiction books that come my way and naturally this one was extremely well-received by both myself and Miss Small. Always elegant and a visual treat, these books are the kind to be pored over at length. This one traces the origins of the horse and then explores the many variations, legendary incarnations, domesticity, uses and evolution of this superb animal. It includes interesting information such as the formation of the hoof and famous or iconic horses and will beguile a horse lover for hours.  This is Jarom Vogel’s first foray into illustration and is both striking and engaging and a wonderful match for the text.

This is one that will not make its way to the library shelves but remain firmly on our own so that Miss Small can continue to revel in its beauty and revelations.

 

Advertisements

The Dollmaker of Krakow – R. M. Romero

Standard

 

Penguin Random House

Sep  2017 | 336 Pages | Middle Grade (8-12)

ISBN: 9781406375633
ISBN-10: 1406375632
RRP $24.99

krakow

 There is war.

There is pain.

But there is magic and there is hope.

I’ve read many books both fictional and non-fiction concerning World War II and particularly the horror of the Holocaust but never have I read one that blends historical fiction with fairytale and folklore. Think a mixture of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Hans Christian Andersen and ancient Polish folktales for this unusual and intriguing book.

Basically two narratives run together, sometimes parallel and sometimes interwoven. Karolina is a little wooden seamstress who lives in The Land of Dolls. Her homeland is beautiful and filled with joy, sweetness and all good things. Until that is, the Rats from across the sea invade (perfect allegory!). The filthy contemptuous rats bring every bit of their cruel, mean-spirited and arrogant ways to bear on the inhabitants of The Land of Dolls, terrorising all from the highest to lowest with equal dispassion. Eventually forced to escape her little cottage, Karolina finds refuge in the woods and also a wooden soldier called Fritz, formerly of the Royal Guard. The two make their way to find the gentle warm wind called Dogoda which reputedly can transport toys to the human world.

Karolina fetches up in the shop of the Dollmaker of Krakow, a kindly but troubled man who unknowingly possesses a special magical gift which has brought Karolina to life in the human world, as she was in her own land.  There she and the Dollmaker find solace in each other’s company and after some time also find true friendship with Jozef, a widowed Jewish symphony violinist and his little girl, Rena. When the Nazi rats invade Poland just as they did The Land of Dolls, the cruelty begins and death, destruction and despair envelop beautiful Krakow. By some mystical fate, a young and arrogant SS officer who begins a remorseless campaign of persecution against the four, who now consider themselves family, has a frightening connection with Karolina and the Dollmaker.

The poignancy of this tale tinged with its mystic reality is every bit as heartbreaking as any piece of ‘straight’ historical fiction. With beautiful illustrations reflecting the folkloric nature of the piece and similar borders which define the Land of Dolls narrative this is a work of art in more ways than one.

The fact that it took me only two sittings to consume this at the end of a long and tiring term is a testament to its power to enthral.  This is a powerful debut novel which resonates with the themes of hope, compassion and the strength of the human spirit and love.

 

I would highly recommend it for readers from around 12 years upwards.

The Getaway : Diary of a Wimpy Kid #12 – Jeff Kinney

Standard

wimpy

Penguin Australia

9780143782797

November 7, 2017

Puffin

224 pages

RRP $14.99

 

Well as if there isn’t always enough going on for the Heffleys on a regular day-to-day basis their holiday plans go completely awry and full on pandemonium ensues!

 

The Heffley parentals have decided that they are going to completely avoid the stress of the approaching festive season along with the miserable weather and book a special family trip. Their choice is the same resort at which they spent their honeymoon and of which they have such fond memories. But as we know things never run smoothly for this family and from lost luggage to invasive giant spiders to sunburn this was never going to be the stuff of which dreams are made.

 

And as usual from Greg’s point of view, he is the most put upon out of the entire family. While his folks can escape and big brother Rodrick dodges any form of restriction, Greg is left holding the baby so to speak and spends more time chasing little Manny than enjoying any kind of resort action.

 

The format of this series never grows tired and this one has already been snapped up by one of my eager readers. Those who want a light read and lots of laughs will get much enjoyment from it.

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

 

Take a peek inside here.

 

Paper Cranes Don’t Fly – Peter Vu

Standard

cranes

Ford St

August 2017

ISBN 9781925272765

RRP $19.95

Exquisitely poignant and so beautifully written this is a young adult book which will touch the hearts of every reader. There have been other books that look at the lives of young people with life-threatening or terminal illnesses but this is the first I’ve read that really offers the reader true insight from the point of view of the patient.

Three young adults have grown up together as the closest of friends. From their first meeting in Prep they have been inseparable.  Adam, Ambrose (AJ) and Tess are the trio who form the centre of this novel. Their love for each other is deep and without reservation.  They are more bonded than some siblings and even in high school when they are at different locations they still are as close as ever. Except for the all times that Adam is in hospital but even then AJ and Tess are by his side as often as they can be either in person or via technology.

Adam has grown up with a small benign brain tumour but over the years the tumour has started to become more troublesome often causing extensive hospital visits. He is quite the favourite there as he has developed close relationships with staff. Just as these young people are about to step over the threshold into their adult lives, Adam’s tumour becomes even more aggressive and ultimately serves him a life sentence.

In the final long months of his life, Adam has started to write down his story from the first beginnings of friendship with his two closest companions to his daily life in the hospital. It is this which we read giving us an intimate and warming insight into the care of patients for whom hospital is a second home.  This is not only another ‘young cancer victim’ narrative but a deeply personal look at how unconditional love, support, patience and compassion can transform the unspeakable into something beautiful.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As we seek to model to our students the transformational effects of love and empathy, this is exactly the sort of book which can demonstrate this without preaching.

Highly recommended for readers from around 13 upwards.

Opposite Land – Charlotte Rose Hamlyn

Standard

opposite

Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143780816

July 31, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

$14.99

Having a really bad first day at a new school and mother/daughter conflicts are nothing new but this new graphic novel for younger readers presents these in a completely fresh style.

Readers who enjoy cartoons of the Adventure Time ilk will really get into the comic style of the graphics as well as the strangeness of Opposite Land.  Steve has a terrible argument with her mum and storms off into her room with some stupid book that was her grandfather’s. It’s so ridiculous you can’t even read the writing in it. That is, until she happens to let it fall in front of the mirror and realises that the writing is all reversed.

As soon as she starts to read the words aloud Stevie is weirdly transported to Opposite Land where indeed everything is opposite!

Where socks wear feet,

Broccoli is meat,

Behind is ahead, and people

Poop from their head!

But that’s not the real problem with this crazy place. The country and its people are all in real danger from Emperor Never who took over when the last of the princesses disappeared. Now the Opposites believe that Stevie is that princess and she needs to save them.  Will Stevie be able to help and get back to her own land?

And more importantly, will her experience help her to sort things out with her mum and the new school?

Recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

Chook Doolan series – James Roy. Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford

Standard

 

Walker Books

Sometimes it can be tricky finding those transition type books for the little ones who are ready to take on their first chapter books. I have found the Chook Doolan series to be ideal for this and I know that many people will already have some in their collection. Now we have four brand new titles to share with these excited emergent readers as we support their journey into independent reading. These all firmly focus on topics relevant to the readers: family, friends, school and particularly becoming confident. Although the main character is a boy I have found that little girls equally enjoy the stories so this is a great series to have for both.

On the Road

ontheroad

ISBN: 9781925381566
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99

Chook’s mum says she needs a break so the family is off the country for a few days to visit Aunty Liz.  A mini-holiday is usually quite fun but Chook and his brother Ricky are less than keen to be told they need to be nice with their cousins who are tiny twin girls. They each have their favourite toy – Ricky, his soccer ball and Chook, his chess set but neither is interested in the other’s games. What a surprise is in store for them when they get to know their cousins again!

Unhappy Camper

unhappy

ISBN: 9781925381573
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99

Everybody is excited about the school camp. Well, except for Chook because as we know Chook isn’t very brave. He’s terribly worried about snakes and really anxious that he’ll be homesick. He really doesn’t want to go on camp at all! But things move along with Mum buying what he needs like a torch and a beanie and Ms Rashid explaining things like activities. Chook is still resistant but his friend Joe is persuasive and when Mum tops off his packing with a huge bag of jelly snakes for a midnight treat, Chook is suddenly keen. And what a surprise when he finds out where the camp is!

Up and Away

upaway

ISBN: 9781925381580
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99
Chook really wants to be a pilot like his dad when he grows up but how will he ever cope with such scary things as talking to strange people and flying to new places?

Dad has a great idea and takes Chook to visit his work and find out a lot more about flying and aeroplanes. Since Chook loves to know how things work this is a super idea. Once he knows more about the ins and outs, he is able to use his knowledge in just the right way to soothe a little girl taking her first flight – just as a real pilot would!

Let’s Do Diwali!

diwali

ISBN: 9781925381597
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
June 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $7.99
New Zealand RRP: $9.99

This is my favourite and I think lots of people will be able to use this when you are looking at festivals from other cultures. Chook’s class are pairing off to do presentations on festivals. Normally Chook would work with Joe but he has chicken pox so Chook teams up with Praj Patel instead. Praj is very softly spoken and Chook, well Chook is just scared of talking in front of everybody. But Praj loves Diwali and he invites Chook to go to the celebrations with his family. Of course, Chook is nervous about that as well! But the boys have a fantastic time and Chook really enjoys seeing new things, wearing different clothes and eating delicious Indian food. Their presentation is a huge success!

 

I highly recommend this series to you for your readers from around six years upwards. Perfect for developing emotional intelligence, good fun to read and totally relatable to kids.

 

When We Go Camping – Sally Sutton. Illustrated by Cat Chapman

Standard

camping

Walker Books

ISBN  9781921977787
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
October 1, 2016

Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
This is another one that had slipped through the cracks and shouldn’t have! It’s a really fabulous read aloud that will have little ones bouncing in their seats and joining in the choruses.

 

With lots of rhyming and onomatopoeia it is perfect for those beginning to read crowds to switch on their aural perception.

 

As well as all of that kids who get to go camping will be able to connect and offer up their own experiences, while those who don’t will surely be able to discuss what they would most like about a camping trip.

 

Cat Chapman’s illustrations are lovely – lots of details and humour abound in each spread.

 

This author and illustrator pair is from New Zealand, with Sally Sutton being a best seller and award winner.

Can’t go wrong with this as we look forward to warmer weather and the next holidays in September – perfect camping time!

 

 

The Shop at Hoopers Bend – Emily Rodda

Standard

y648 (1)

Harper Collins

      ISBN: 9781460753668

      ISBN 10: 1460753666

      Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

     On Sale: 24/07/201

     List Price: 16.99 AUD

When you go to bed feeling a little tired and start reading a new book and then just keep reading it until you’re finished, you know it’s a terrific piece of writing.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Emily Rodda books but this is a pearler!

Jonquil Medway (known as Quil) is an orphan who lives with her very top executive high-flying childless aunt – who is kind but not exactly a kindred spirit. Quil is generally either at boarding school or at holiday camps since her aunt is always globe-trotting and she’s pretty fed up with it all.

On this occasion as her aunt has flown off to Germany, Quil has been left overnight with Aunty Pam’s PA (even less a kindred spirit) and is being delivered to the railway station to go to yet another month long camp. To kill time before the train Quil is trailing behind PA Maggie at a very dingy flea market when she comes upon something astonishing. A beautiful cup with her name and her flower hand painted on it. Quil tingles with the magic of finally finding something with her own unusual name and wonders who made it and where the Hoopers Bend Gallery might be when she discovers that title on the underside.

To her great surprise as the train chugs up to the Mountains, Quil is suddenly staring at a platform sign bearing the legend Hoopers Bend. Impulsively she disembarks and thus begins a marvellous and almost mystical time of self-discovery.

An old and dilapidated village shop, an amusing little black and white dog and a rather bitter woman named Bailey are the catalysts for Quil finding her own true self and her life history. As if the stars align everything begins to change for this lonely little girl.

Emily Rodda has skilfully woven tiny threads one after the other to complete this masterful tapestry of ordinary people uncovering extraordinary events. Her characterisations are superb and her setting so powerful the readers can imagine them inside the story along with Quil.

This is going to be a huge winner with readers I predict and quite easily the kind of book that will sit well with teachers for use in Readers Circles and the like.  Themes of trust, honesty, inclusivity, friendship and simple pleasures will lend themselves well to discussions. Beautifully written and accessible to readers from around nine years upwards this is likely to be a title of note in the next twelve months.

Find teaching notes here.

Highly recommended for your collection – order it now!

 

Truly Tan: Trapped! (Truly Tan, Book #6) – Jen Storer

Standard

y648

Harper Collins

 

      ISBN: 9780733334122

      ISBN 10: 0733334121

      Imprint: ABC Books – AU

01/05/2017

     RRP 16.99 AUD

 

Confession time: Truly Tan is up to number 6 and I’ve not read any. In my defence, they are never on the library shelves long enough to snaffle one and since I taught my students how to reserve a book, they are even harder to snare!

So now having at last got my hands on one I can truthfully say I can easily see the great appeal to my girls who are such huge fans.

Tan’s family are exuberant and just a wee bit eccentric. They live in a beautifully ramshackle house in the country where animals, paddocks, creeks and bush are integral to their lives.

Tan, who fancies herself as a terrific Super Spy, is delightfully quirky and while mega-confident about her espionage techniques is also just a little uncertain of her status in the family, feeling undervalued and overlooked as the youngest of four girls.  However this doesn’t stop her quick mind and creative thinking when it comes to solving the latest unexplained mystery.

In this new adventure Tan is looking after the neighbour’s house while Mrs Topple is on a cruise. Along with her BFF Gloria she becomes embroiled in a stealth investigation of some mysterious happenings: a spooky white flash that appears and disappears, a gypsy caravan, a strange orange car and a shadowy figure all play their part in Tan’s latest triumph of undercover action.

There is a load of fun to be had in these – family, friends both old and new, clues to puzzle over, and problems to solve. I predict this latest will be every bit as popular as the first five and fans will be eagerly anticipating the next instalment!

Tan’s diary entries are hysterical IMO – I love the opening description of which pen she is using (along with any defects said pen may have)!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

 

Pippa’s Island #1: The Beach Shack Café – Belinda Murrell

Standard

9780143783671

Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143783671

July 3, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP: $14.99

 

Belinda Murrell, one of our best loved authors, has cracked it again with a splendid new series once again celebrating family, friendships, community spirit and girl power :).  Throw in a simply gorgeous tropical island setting and you have a winning combination.

 

Pippa Hamilton has just relocated from London to a small island halfway around the world, along with her mum, brother and sister. Despite Pippa’s grandparents already in place to welcome them, this young girl feels desperately lonely and anxious. It’s not just the discombobulating move and having to start at a new school, in a new place, in a new climate, in a new culture that is making Pippa morose. Her father having decided to pursue a new life which prompted their move has left her feeling very hard done by indeed.

Her mum, a former stockbroker, has (what seems to Pippa) the crazy idea of renovating a derelict old beach shack to turn it into both a home and a café. Money is tight as is the time frame and things look very tricky for the first few wobbly weeks.

Pippa’s new school adventure proves to be not quite as intimidating as she first thought especially when she chums up with Meg, Charlie and Cici. The girls are all very different in their likes and strengths but complement each other perfectly. So perfectly in fact that they combine forces to create the Sassy Girls Club – where each can shine with her particular brand of ‘mighty girl’.

With the deadline for the café opening imminent and things still unfinished, their new ‘village’ comes together and supports the Hamilton family in a joyful ‘helping hand’ we expect from close knit communities and generous Aussies.

What a welcome to Kira Island for this family! And indeed what a welcome to what will be a hugely popular series for those who loves Belinda’s other books!

With all the themes that we have to come to love young readers will flock to this series like bees to honey, there is no doubt in my mind.

Highly recommended for girls particularly from around 8 years upwards. Get your orders in noooooooooooow!!!!!

PS – Totally in love with the cover design – so colourful and with the addition of real photographs just perfect!!

19243334_10213390322982334_6389394649151955443_o