Tag Archives: Grandparents

The Year the Maps Changed – Danielle Binks

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Hachette Australia

APR 28, 2020 | 9780734419712 | RRP $17.99

What a glorious book with so much richness as it reveals not only a tragic episode in recent history but explores the pain but beautiful bonding in a family and community.

1999 in Sorrento is a difficult time for Fred (Winifred). Her mother died when she was very little and since then she’s lived with her adoptive dad Luca and her Pop but now everything is changing and not for the best. Pop has had to go away for a while into a rehab/nursing home and Luca’s new girlfriend and her son, slightly younger than Fred, move in. To add to that distress, and her ever-present grief, as Fred struggles to re-adjust to the changing dynamic, Luca and Annika announce that they are having a baby.

For Fred it seems like the end of everything and not even her life-long friends can help to make her feel better about the whole situation. Then a major upheaval for their small community brings unexpected connections, dramas and emotional situations which ultimately bring not only Fred’s family back into focus and closeness but forces the entire country to re-evaluate their beliefs and values.

A group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees fleeing the deadly warfare in their splintered country are brought to a centre near Sorrento in an humanitarian exercise that the then government referred to as “Operation Safe Haven”. While there are many whose compassion is extended to these displaced persons there is division within the community. Fatefully the lives of the refugees, a few in particular, become entwined with Fred and her family testing the boundaries of family trust but ultimately bringing this very different blended family into a stronger bond.

Beautifully – indeed, exquisitely- written Danielle Binks provides the reader with not only an understanding of the largest humanitarian effort provided by Australia and it’s less than humanitarian outcome but also an insight into a family’s own personal tragedy and their journey to becoming a whole.

This is a coming-of-age story that will appeal greatly to readers from around 12 years upwards as Fred deals with the immense changes in her life. These same readers will also be exercised in their own compassion and empathy which, in light of recent events, can only be a good thing.

Highly recommended for your readers in upper primary to secondary.

Monstrous Devices – Damien Love

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Bloomsbury Australia

May 2020

Imprint: Rock the Boat

ISBN 9780451478597

RRP $14.99

Firstly if Sid’s Franken-toys in Toy Story freaked you out a bit, you’re really not going to like the titular monstrous devices in this deliciously exciting and somewhat creepy debut novel from Damien Love!

Twelve year old Alex has a collection of old robot toys which his largely absent grandfather has bought for him over the years. When a new one, and definitely the most interesting of them all, arrives with a note that tells Alex ‘This one is special’ he is both delighted and intrigued. Until that is strange things start happening and Alex begins to suspect that seemingly innocuous tin robot might not just be special but possibly deadly.

Just as things seem to be spiraling into some bizarre and dangerous events, Alex’ grandfather turns up and leaving behind normal life of school bullies, but also friends and his mother, Alex and Grandad, a somewhat mysterious and eccentric old man, plunge into a sinister world of assassins, pursuit by both human and robot adversaries, high-speed chases, narrow escapes and ancient mystical secrets and feuds.

From Paris to Prague the pair, in tandem with an old friend, needs to outwit and out-outmaneuver their persistent and callous enemies as they try to destroy an ancient macabre creation that could potentially destroy the world.

This is not just impressive writing for a debut novel – Love writes with the ease and assuredness of a master whirling the readers into a truly gripping page-turner with high octane excitement and some seriously creepy villians.

Readers from around 12 years upwards will absolutely delight in this and like myself, wait for a next thrilling adventure. Highly recommended for your upper primary/middle secondary kiddos – another one for ‘book talking’ tomorrow!

Searching for Cicadas – Lesley Gibbes and Judy Watson

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Walker Books Australia

August 2019

ISBN: 9781922244420
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $26.99
New Zealand RRP: $28.99

This one had slipped through the cracks and I’m terribly sorry about that because it really should have had its promotion during the summer months. That being said with so many families taking advantage of the ‘stay at home’ situation and exploring their natural world with children it would be a perfect addition in preparation for next cicada season.

What is so delightful about this book is the twinned text of narrative and factual information combined with the amazing and detailed illustrations. Grandad and grandson have a camping adventure every summer purely for the purpose of cicada watching which is a lovely examination of that special relationship between generations. While they keep count of their sightings and observe the cycle of nymphs emerging and their transformation into adulthood, the child is most keen to discover a Black Prince – the rarest of all the cicada types.  (In all my years I’ve only seen one!)

The shrill of cicadas is always our first sign that summer has arrived and at times their cacophony is so deafening that it is hard to believe that such small creatures can make such a racket.

Do yourself and your kiddos a favour and seek this one in preparation for those long languid summer days and afternoon walks in the local park or bushland.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

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Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother– Kate Knapp

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Harper Collins Australia
March 2020

ISBN: 9781460758885

ISBN 10: 1460758889

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 19.99 AUD

What’s wonderful about my grandmother is she is not only my grandmother but also my friend.

On the day before my Jen slipped away from us as I held her hand and stroked her hair and promised I would take care of Small (as she was known then) she looked at me and said ‘You know you are her best friend.’

So this beautiful new Ruby Red Shoes story, the little hare who lives with her grandmother, touched my heart on the most personal of levels and while Small is now fifteen and way too hip-teen for this, it’s one I’m going to treasure and keep  as it resonates so much….right down to the aquaerobics classes and the fairies in the garden!

Ruby loves her grandmother of course but all the many reasons she gives for her grandmother being so wonderful are just perfect: cooking together, daytrips, exploring rockpools, sharing music and learning new words. This book really could have been written for Small and I  and I am not the only reader who will connect with it. When Ruby invites the reader to share why their own grandmothers are wonderful what a marvellous opportunity arises whether it be with a class of children or a solo reader.

In our strange and anxiety-filled times many grandchildren and grandparents are separated by distance for a time and so what better way to keep the connection than by sharing this with both? The grandies could list why the grandparents are wonderful and vice versa – what a beautiful exchange that would make!

What’s wonderful about my grandmother is she wears x-ray spectacles. She can see deep inside me and knows just what I’m feeling. (and I can)

My highest (and slightly teary) recommendations for little ones from around three years upwards. It could have been written just for us, thank you Kate.

 

The Tiny Star – Mem Fox/Freya Blackwood

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9780670078127

Penguin

1st October 2019

ISBN: 9780670078127

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

Mem Fox has triumphed again with this simply beautiful new picture book inspired by the most personal of motivations – the bond between loving grandparent and grandchild.

In their first collaboration Mem and Freya have produced a gentle and warming exploration of life and death that will resonate with many readers, both young and old.

When a tiny star falls to earth it turns into a baby to be cherished, nurtured and loved by its family, growing and thriving in that security of warmth and tenderness.  All the time, growing taller and getting older and eventually creating its own family where the circle of love continues.  After many full and happy years the star that was begins to become frailer and to shrink until once again becomes tiny, so tiny that it disappears it seems. But no, once again the tiny star sparkles in the night sky reminding all that the love we feel never ends.

Some readers will know that I am raising my beautiful granddaughter so I can completely relate to this expression of love and the accompanying realisation that one day we will not be here for our grandchildren.  In the meantime, how privileged are we to share so deeply in their lives and forge these bonds that will last forever.

Thank you Mem and Freya for this outstanding and tender testament to that love which, I have no doubt, will be not only welcomed but lauded with praise.

Highly recommended for both your professional and personal shelves to share with young readers from toddlers upwards – why not pre-order yours now!

Stay posted for a forthcoming Q&A with the inimitable Mem soon!

 

Grandparents are the Bomb!

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Random House Australia

Of course I can be a little smug since Small so often tells me  lovingly that I am ‘the best Gran in the whole world’. This little person and I have always had such a close bond and that was made even closer when Mummy became so critically ill and K came to stay with me. Since we lost Mummy the bond just gets deeper and deeper, closer and closer. Not only do I strive to make her as happy, settled and secure as possible but I actively encourage her natural curiosity and imagination, her innate desire to explore and observe and her acute intuition regarding life and people.

Here are two wonderful picture books that both celebrate the special-ness of grandparents. Long may we reign1

missmae

Miss Mae’s Saturday – Justine Flynn/J.Yi

ISBN: 9780857988584

Published: 28/03/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $16.99

 

Every Saturday Mae has the boundless joy of adventures with her Grandma – the ballet, the zoo or the park. Everything is a new exciting experience.

 

But what to do when Saturday is dreary and rainy? Miss Mae is initially dubious when Grandma produces a huge cardboard box – with NOTHING in it! But is very quickly convinced once the epic adventures start – a safari jeep and being confronted by lions, a plane soaring through the blossoms in Korea or zooming through space  – this is the best Saturday ever!

 

This is a book which will be very special to both grandmothers and grandchildren and will promote the often overlooked simple imaginative play which children all love.

 

Check out the teaching notes here.

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Wild Pa – Claire Saxby – Connah Brecon

ISBN: 9780857988003

Published: 01/08/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

 

RRP $24.99

 

This lucky child also has a grandparent with pizzazz! No boring balding grandfathers here with their tidy garden obsessions or cups of tea with the newspapers.

The Wild Pa chases through the house, is groovy and groomed, prefers exciting food to beans and sausages and never minds when the house gets messy. Well, eventually he decides it’s time to clean up a bit but even that’s fun and then – the next adventure begins!

Claire Saxby’s delightful rhyming text and Dylan Thomas portrait like descriptors are always a joy to read aloud and Brecon’s illustrations jump off the pages with vibrancy and humour.

 

Both of these are bound to be great hits in your collection. I’m just a bit disappointed that we have already had our Grandparents Day for this year but will definitely keeping both in mind for next year’s fun.
Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards.

 

Grandad’s Island – Benji Davies

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  • Simon & Schuster UK
  • 32 pages |
  • ISBN 9781471119958
  • July 2015

RRP

AU$ 14.99

NZ$ 16.99

For many children, losing a grandparent is often their first experience with death and grief. The emotions of this may be openly expressed or may not be so visible to observers. Using a picture book to invite discussion on this topic may be very valuable for either individuals or classes.

There are many quality books that handle the topic of loss with sensitivity and the wise teacher-librarian will usually have quite a collection in order to be ready for the occasions when they are needed.

This new book by Benji Davies examines this topic with a beautiful and gentle grace as the close bond between grandfather and grandson and their final parting is described.  The colourful illustrations of his favourite destination underline the ‘perfect place’ in which Grandad chooses to stay and reassure Syd that Grandad will be happy there.

I also believe this would be an excellent choice to deal with the concerns a child might have about a grandparent going into a care facility.

Watch the book trailer to see a preview and find out more about the award-winning author here.