Tag Archives: France

The Silver Hand – Terry Deary

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Bloomsbury Australia

July 2018ISBN: 9781472929488
Imprint: Bloomsbury Education
Series: Flashbacks

RRP $14.99

We all know Terry Deary’s expertise in bring history to life – witness the success of Horrible Histories. Now he turns his hand to a lesser explored part of history in the closing days of the First World War, examining this through the eyes of two children.  Aimee Fletcher is the daughter of a French woman and an English father, living in Bray, Northern France. Aimee’s father is M-i-A and her mother, as she discovers, is a valued member of the White Lady group – a dedicated and successful espionage network working to defeat the Germans. Marius is a young German boy who has learned much about healing from his grandmother and determines to go to help the soldiers if he possibly can.  These two meet as the ebb and flow of Allied/German occupation in the last days of the war play out.

With formidable skill Deary presents significant historical figures to young readers including a young angry Adolf Hitler, Baron von Richtofen aka the Red Baron and General Haig as the battered German army, starving and disassembled, try to claw back some dignity and the Allied forces push them further.

Amidst this the two youngsters are caught up in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game of spies, traitors and valuable information and play their part with a growing respect for each other.

Readers will gain a useful background to the motivation behind the Great War and its ultimate resolution – which sadly, also lead to the Second World War, whilst seeing it in terms of personal experiences.

This would be a superb addition to a ‘read around’ fiction collection for the First World War as well as for those children who enjoy historical fiction.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Flamingo Boy – Michael Morpurgo

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Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780008134648

ISBN 10: 0008134642

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

On Sale: 26/02/2018

RRP $19.99

With his expected flair Michael Morpurgo takes some history and transforms it into a fascinating and poignant narrative blending modern day and World War II.

Young Vincent is about to take his final exams and is finding it difficult to focus and be motivated. In an effort to do so he promises himself he will visit the location of his favourite picture given to him by his grandparents. It is one of another Vincent’s works – boats on a beach in the Camargue, in the south of France. Duly with exams behind him Vincent takes himself camping but becomes seriously ill. Taken in by a kindly though odd older couple from a farm he recuperates slowly and is the audience for their combined story. Autistic Lorenzo and Romany Kezia first became friends at age eight when Kezia’s parents set up their carousel in the marketplace of Aigues-Mortes. There the two met; the boy who could not communicate well and the girl despised as a filthy gypsy – neither of them fitting the ‘normal’ social mode.

When the war came to Vichy France and the Nazis swarmed there was danger for both of them so Lorenzo’s family farm became a refuge for both. War breaks many things as does nature and when the carousel, the last remnant of joyful times, in the little marketsquare is destroyed, life seems very bleak indeed. But dark times bring out the good in many – families, communities and even some soldiers. A kind sergeant with a knack for carpentry becomes an unlikely ally as the children and the families heal.

Morpurgo’s beautiful descriptive writing and the almost lyrical nature of his narratives do not fail readers yet and this is another of his novels destined to become a classic read.  Rather than focusing on the evils of the war he chooses to highlight the humanity and hope that prevails in difficult circumstances.

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

Happy Bastille Day!

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In honour of Bastille Day a review of a newish picture book plus a revisit of two older titles for your revolutionary pleasure.

An Armadillo in Paris – Julie Krause

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Random House Australia

ISBN: 9781770495265

Published: 02/02/2015

Imprint: Tundra Books

Extent: 32 pages

$29.99

This whimsical travelogue has been lurking on my shelves for months but with hindsight I’m very pleased I’ve saved it till Bastille Day.

Arlo the armadillo hails from Brazil and is one of a long line of adventurers. His grandpapa Augustin was also a noted traveller who kept journals of his various trips and now Arlo is the beneficiary. Following his grandfather’s Paris journal Arlo is taken on a sumptuous tour of the best sights, scenes and senses of the heart of France, all of them leading to the climax of the Eiffel Tower in all her glory.

For children who are interested in other countries, and particularly for those who study French at their schools, this would be a real treat. Krause’s illustrations are very stylish and have a definite European feel to them, despite her Canadian origins.

In honour of the anniversary of ‘le Revolution’ tomorrow, I read this aloud to my two English classes today – Year 7 and Year 8 – and both were quite delighted by it. We all agreed that nobody is ever too old for picture books and learning facts in such a pleasant way as a vicarious stroll through the avenues of Paris can only be good J.

Since our college studies French this will be added to our own picture book shelves and I highly recommend it to you for your own shelves to expand readers’ awareness of other cultures and customs.

“Paris is always a good idea.” Audrey Hepburn and the author Julie Krause both agree.

This is Paris – Miroslav Sasek

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Simon & Schuster

Imprint: Universe

  • First published: 1959
  • Reissued: 2004

If you have not ever experienced Sasek’s beautiful travel books for children, you really must. I love that the new editions have ‘updated’ information on that contained within the book at the end.

Be prepared to fall in love with these!!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

hugo

Scholastic

January 30, 2007

I have loved this book since it was first published – and even enjoyed the film adaptation. There is something entirely magical about the book and its gorgeous and stylish graphic format.

Check out the official site for information and more.

Watch a book trailer here.

Activities etc here at Scholastic.