Tag Archives: Family

Paper Cranes Don’t Fly – Peter Vu

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!!

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Eve and Elly – Mike Dumbleton/Laura Wood

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Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780857988515

May 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

$16.99

I have always admired Mike Dumbleton’s ability to take a simple story line or idea and turn it into a gorgeous and relevant picture book for little ones.  This one is no exception.

If, as a parent, you have ever been in a similar position you will completely empathise but for little people who have had a loss of some special comfort in their life it is just so special.

Eve, like many little humans, has a special friend. Her toy elephant Elly goes everywhere with her. So of course, when her family goes on holidays Elly is also there enjoying the beach and the sea.

On the way home when Eve feels ill and the car stops for a break, Elly drops out of the car and is left behind inadvertently. Naturally Eve is just devastated but with loving parents to help her work through this dilemma is somewhat mollified. Dad being very simpatico orders a new ‘Elly’ online and when this new friend arrives has a very convincing story to explain why she is smaller – after all, all that running to follow the car! Imagine Eve’s surprise when the original Elly turns up, posted by some kind finder. I can just imagine Dad’s face as the plan backfires.

Two things come to mind which make this resonant with me especially. A long time ago my Jen went on camp (must have been school camp as Brownie/Guide camps I was there as the leader). I was left in charge of her pet mice. Mouse disappears – instant panic!! Race to pet shop to find identical mouse. Jen arrives home – “She looks smaller”………hmmm, maybe she missed you and fretted? Total bust two days later when the original mouse was found climbing the lounge room curtains!!!

Secondly, when Jen was in hospital critically ill at the start of last year, I bought a little plush cat for her to cuddle for comfort when we were gone. After we lost her, I told Small that Mummy asked her to look after Mr Squiggles and he is always in evidence – in fact, it took months before she didn’t have him under her arm 24/7. In a panic recently, as Mr Squiggles gets smaller and grubbier (despite a couple of baths) I have bought a replacement when I happened to see it but know there is no way in hell she would ever be fooled.

Sometimes, we underestimate the depth of attachment our little people have with these special toys or items and as adults it can be easy to brush over it with – ‘It will be alright’. Loss is loss – no matter how old you are.

I love that Eve’s Dad makes sure he tries everything to minimise his little girl’s pain – everyone needs a daddy just like that.

Laura Wood’s illustrations are simple but evocative – thank you both for such a super book for small humans.

Seahorse – Bruce Pascoe

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Magabala Books

August 2015

ISBN:9781921248931

RRP $16.95

Both boys and girls in middle primary or thereabouts will enjoy this exciting story set on the beach of Seahorse Bay. Camping, fishing, snorkelling and a sunken boat are all the makings of a terrific family adventure.

Jack is making real progress with his snorkelling with his dad, Vince, as a good teacher. He in turn is helping little sister Tanya with her efforts.  Jack has seen stingrays and octopus, collected abalone and crayfish but his real moment of astonishment comes when he finds a cleat from a boat, closely followed by an anchor. After some investigation, Vince reckons the wreck can be salvaged and made good again. Imagine their curiosity when upon scuba diving to check out the likelihood of this, Vince and Jack come to the conclusion that the boat was deliberately scuttled.

And it seems the mysterious man dressed in black who has been watching them from on top of the cliffs could be the person responsible. What is the secret of the sunken boat? And why is Jack’s family being threatened for retrieving it?  Luckily the police are right on top of things and there is a satisfactory conclusion which might not have been the case given the drug running and murder that haunt the wreck.

Reluctant readers will surely be engaged in this book as the text is very accessible and full of action in less than one hundred pages. There are some wonderful descriptions of the underwater sea life and the wild beach.

Recommended for readers from around Year 3 and up.