Tag Archives: Resilience

Being You is Enough series- Josh Langley

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Big Sky Publishing

RRP: $14.99

It was such a joy to become connected with the uber-talented Josh Langley online earlier this year and to discover his own magical brand of positivity, particularly as it applies to children. It’s taken a while but this week I received the four books in his amazingly successful series and have fallen in love with them all. After a rather fraught couple of months with the Kid who was struggling with some serious anxiety and other mental health issues, and the frightening stats coming out about the escalating numbers of children and young people presenting with such problems, I can only say that this series could not be more timely. While I know my personal philosophy has always been to encourage self-confidence and self-awareness in children and, in particular, this young woman it is my privilege to be raising, how much more effective is the sharing of such vibrant and entertaining ‘lessons’ via books that make a child laugh as well as think and reflect. Even said Kid laughed when I showed her some of the spreads – and commented ‘Point taken, Gran!’.

Starting early with these vital lessons in being confident, courageous and compassionate, resilience, self-regulation and growth mindset can only prove beneficial for our kiddos. Whether you hold these in your collection (which I plan to do) or share them with your guidance counsellors (which I also plan to do) or if you simply acquire them for use with the small people in your life, Josh’s simple but quirky text in each book accompanied by his joyous cartoon-style illustrations will engage your young readers from the start. And as we all know that hook from the start is the most important part of any learning experience. In fact, seeing these books in person for the first time, I immediately busted out a grin and thought ‘Wow, our very own Todd Parr!’.

The latest in the series was launched a few weeks back and takes as its focus what might just prove to be the most important quality of the decade going forward. The world is in dire need of more kindness. With so much suffering, worry and despair, taking some time to be kind to each other and the Earth itself is vital – for our own mental well-being as much as anything else.

I no longer teach the littlies but even with my older kiddos, I am planning a ‘Being Wildly Kind’ challenge for this term *grin*. My strings of little ‘bee’ lights are ready to go up as are my challenges for them and I believe I will have many of my ‘too cool’ teens rise to the occasion when I ask them the question ‘What kind of person do you want to bee?’.

Josh does not confine himself to his popular books (for children and adults). He also has an online presence with videos and online chats, one of which I joined during the past week to my utter delight. This is a man who not only talks the talk but has walked the walk, his sensitivity and commitment to young people’s mental health being inspired by his own struggles as a child.

I truly cannot recommend these highly enough for your kids – either the ones in your classes or the ones in your family.

Be sure to check out Josh’s website for more resources and inspiration or for information around his school visits and more.

100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze – Clayton Zane Comber

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Harper Collins Australia

June 2021

  • ISBN: 9781460759455
  • ISBN 10: 1460759451
  • Imprint: HarperCollins AU
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD
  • Age: From 14 years

Believe me when I tell you that you will fall in love with Xander, and be sad to leave him at the end of this beautiful feel-good coming-of-age novel.

Xander loves to make lists and #1 on his list of People I Love Most in the World is his Nanna, who has lived with him and his mum since Xander’s dad died. Nanna has been Xander’s ally, confidante, support team and his very best friend and now that she has stage 4 cancer, Xander is determined to do whatever it takes to save her. Nanna wants him to make a list of 100 remarkable feats that he will hope to achieve by the end of the school year. It’s going to be a very tricky mission especially with feats like:

#2 Make a friend

#10 Kiss a girl (preferably Ally Collins)

#28 Go to a party

#58 Get a job (any job)

#87 Learn to keep secrets

#100 Save Nanna

As we read Xander’s list we get a very clear insight into his quirky personality and a poignant understanding of why his Nanna has encouraged him to both create and fulfil the remarkable feats. For someone who knows her time is short ,and who has been this beautiful boy’s stalwart support, the greatest gift she can give him is the confidence and skills to step out on his own.

When Xander’s 100 remarkable feats list unintentionally becomes a matter of public record, he is surprised to find that he has help from unexpected quarters and many of his feats are accomplished almost before he realises. Xander’s journey into friendships, new situations and stepping well outside his very narrow comfort zone is both hilarious and moving, with one of the most genuinely likeable cast of characters I have encountered in a long time.

I will certainly be giving it my best and biggest promotion at our final ChocLit meeting for this term during the coming week and I highly recommend it for your readers from around Year 7 upwards. The themes of grief/loss, resilience, identity, belonging, mental health in particular will resonate with many teens, and for your classroom program you will find the teaching guide a great resource.

Don’t Read the Comments – Eric Smith

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Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

  • ISBN: 9781489295705
  • ISBN 10: 1489295704
  • Imprint: HQ Young Adult – US
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

Ok, I admit it, I’d kind of let this one slide because really my scan of the blurb made me think – oh, gaming online – so not my kind of thing. WRONG! Because, yes it does revolve around gaming but it is far more about relationships, both family and friends (real and virtual), bullying/intimidation, identity and determination. I really enjoyed it and will be talking it up to my students with gusto.

Divya is queen of her universe – that is to say, she is a hugely popular streaming gamer and queen of her #angstarmada within the virtual world of Reclaim the Sun. With her best friend and trusty lieutenant Rebekah she has, as D1V, accrued a massive following and sponsorships from major companies which all help her and her single mum to survive financially.

Aaron’s passion for gaming is all-consuming and his ambition is to be the scriptwriter for successful games, much to the chagrin of his mother who is pushing him to become a doctor like herself. In spite of his family’s secure financial situation, Aaron has painstakingly assembled his gaming rig himself from salvaged components out of his neighbourhood’s garbage.

These two connect online although each is still dealing with their own set of problems alone but when a truly fearsome legion of trolls calling themselves Vox Populi begin threatening not only their virtual world but their real lives they join forces resolutely and refuse to go down without a fight.

It is gripping and intense, though also relieved throughout with some humour and light-heartedness as the relationship between the two gamers develops.

In my opinion this is a contemporary novel which many young adults will enjoy and find very relatable, particularly with its strong theme of following your dreams and resisting the intimidation of bullies.

Highly recommended for readers from around 13ish upwards!

Morphing Murphy – Robert Favretto/Tull Suwannakit

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Morphing Murphy PB Cov PRINT.indd

Ford St Publishing

February 2020

ISBN 9781925804324

RRP: $16.99

Whether you’re looking for a twisted fairy tale, a fictional take on the metamorphosis of frogs or perhaps simply a story that illustrates changes and adaptation, this will be a fabulous addition to your collection.

Murphy doesn’t quite understand the changes that are happening to him but when they are complete he decides he rather likes his new self. There’s just one problem. Despite all his ‘bonk bonk bonk’  (Murphy is actually an Eastern Banjo Frog, commonly referred to as the Pobblebonk!) calling he’s lonely until finally he finds his true love and therein lies the twist.

This is delightful with some lovely language and evocative illustrations with a healthy dose of humour which will engage young readers immediately. It certainly reminds me of a large classroom mural my Year 1 class and I once created to illustrate the lifecycle of frogs. Using the same colour palette as the book would look totally fabulous on any wall!

Favretto’s inspiration was his childhood passion for small wildlife and how many little people do we all know who have that same love? I know that The Kid here was always picking up lizards and frogs – and though she  now considers her teen self too old for such pastimes continues to love observing them.

Highly recommended for EC and Junior kiddos with a focus on science as well as themes of change and resilience. Find teaching notes here.

Maple the Brave – Chloe Jasmine Harris

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Walker Books

May 2019

ISBN: 9781925381924
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $24.99

1546556258689

I feel terrible for taking so long to get to this beautiful book on my vast review pile because it really is a joy (what can I say, it was the term from hell!)

Chloe’s debut picture book as both author and illustrator clearly indicates that she will be force with which to be reckoned.

The premise of the book about facing fears and developing resilience is so timely and the detailed illustrations will have children poring over them to gain every beautiful aspect.

Maple is very solitary in her tree house in the woods because she’s scared of everything, particularly the animal noises from below but when she finally steps out of her comfort zone she finds that rather than terrifying her animal neighbours are both kind and friendly.

She finds her courage and returns to her tree house with a new sense of bravery and confidence.  If you are looking for books that will empower children, particularly girls, this is ideal.

It will seem strange to say because the illustrations are quite contemporary in style but they do remind me of artists such as Pixie O’Harris with portrayals of imaginary forest friends and scenes.

I love this and it will definitely be a ‘go to’ and shared with my colleagues in the Junior school enthusiastically.

Highly recommended for readers from around 3 years upwards.

The Explorer – Katherine Rundell

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explorer

Bloomsbury

September 2017

ISBN 9781408885284

RRP $16.99

We all know some young explorers; the ones who love adventure, the ones who watch Bear Grylls for the survival tips, the ones who pore over atlases and illustrated books of exotic places.  These are the ones who will adore this new book from Katherine Rundell with its adventure, courage, resilience and spirit.

Four children are in a plane crash and find themselves stranded alone in the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Fred, Constantia along with brother and sister, Lila and Max are not the stuff of which the usual jungle survivors are made but as the plot moves along each has a different strength to bring to their joint survival. Of course being so young their chances would be slim no matter how great their competence were it not for the fact that they stumble upon evidence of another earlier person who had lived in the spot in which they find themselves.

Fred, who has always devoured the accounts of the great explorers, is wildly excited about the meagre finds which indicate an explorer has pass this way before and the children collectively are reassured when they find a map. So begins their adventure proper with the building of a raft, scrounging for food and water and setting off down the Amazon following the directions.

To their immense surprise they find themselves in a lost city of stone where indeed an old irascible explorer is in residence. His reluctance to accept them into his space or help them mellows over the ensuing days and eventually when things go terribly wrong he comes to their rescue with a self-sacrifice that is immeasurable.

All in all this was a thrilling adventure, well-paced and with echoes of earlier grand novels for children. Indeed, Rundell says she was inspired not just by her own trip to the Amazon but Eve Ibbotson’s hugely popular  Journey to the River Sea.

This is a fabulous read for both boys and girls from around eight years upwards and for those who might be looking for a class read-aloud or group reading it would be an excellent choice indeed.

Highly recommended for your middle to upper primary readers.

Download a teacher pack here.

 

The Boy with Two Lives – Abbas Kazerooni

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boywith

ISBN:9781743314838

Publisher:Allen & Unwin

Imprint:A & U Children

Pub Date:September 2015

RRP: $15.99

 

Many of you will resource units of work/inquiry examining the lives of inspirational people through biographies and memoirs. This book and the previous memoir are perfect, timely and contemporary for readers from Middle Primary upwards.

This second instalment in Kazerooni’s powerful history continues from his international bestseller On Two Feet and Wings. The first volume retells then nine year old Abbas’ amazing escape from war-torn Tehran during the Iraq-Iran conflict. This second continues the story of a character determined to survive and succeed.

Now a refugee in England, the cousin who is supposed to be caring for Abbas as his sponsor and guardian dumps him in a boarding school where the boy thrives, makes friends, impresses staff with his character but grieves for his absent family. The feckless and cruel cousin Mehdi has one saving grace. His girlfriend has compassionate and kind parents who take Abbas into their home and offer much love and comfort. That is, until Mehdi decides he is tired of waiting for money from Abbas’ parents to pay school fees and puts the young boy to work illegally in each and every school holiday under the threat of deportation.
After some time this awful situation gets worse when after several traumatic life changes, Mehdi abandons Abbas to homelessness at age 13. His triumph at winning a scholarship to a prestigious school is marred by his daily struggle to simply survive with little food or personal comforts such as clean clothes, warmth and shelter. With family and friends unaware of Abbas’ situation he is forced to improvise his own life as he becomes all the more determined to attain his education.

This is a gripping read (one sitting for me) made all the more poignant because Abbas’ amazing character shines through despite all his dreadful situations. At no time is there a total collapse into self-pity, instead even in his darkest hours and immense despair Abbas finds inner strength and resilience somehow.

When Mehdi goes one step too far and threatens to kill Abbas, thinking the boy has ‘snitched’ on him and his nefarious activities, Abbas is finally rescued from his nightmare.

Tracing the extraordinary and at times harrowing journey undertaken by the young Abbas makes the reader reflect on the many things we often take for granted here in Australia.

I cannot recommend this highly enough – please take some time to find out more about this exceptional man who is now a successful writer, actor and producer living in California. I was fortunate enough to hear an interview with him on Radio National a couple of years ago and hope to secure a blog Q&A with him if possible.

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