Last year, in my old library, we fell in love with Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and so did our kiddos, many of whom could make connections with the cultural heritage of the characters. This beautiful companion book will be equally well-received I believe.
When a young boy is made to notice his eyes as being different in shape to those of his friends, he feels sad and an outsider. The love and wisdom of his father and grandfather, and the recognition that his eyes are like theirs, as are his little brother’s, lift his spirits to the skies – just as his eyes tilt to the skies. The endless possibilities of light and destiny revealed by the night skies with their constellations and comets are all his, as his eyes speak to the stars.
Once again it is not just the lyrical text with its resonant message of inclusivity and the beauty of cultural heritage, but the superb illustrations that make this such a stunner of a book. The iconic visual references to the family’s heritage: dragons, pagodas, rice paddies, night markets, lanterns and more are a virtual feast for the eyes.
With Harmony Day just around the corner, this will make a fabulous focus for your celebrations in the library or classroom, particularly when paired with its companion. And so much rich discussion and activities, particularly art, could ensue!!
In my opinion there are simply not enough books with rabbits as main characters (as she looks down at her rabbit-patterned PJs and rabbit-y slippers – well, what did you expect with my surname?). Jasper Fforde has brought his amazing brand of satirical humour to this new stand-alone novel and it’s a gem. It’s quirky and highly imaginative, full of extremely funny puns/play on words (particularly love the Rabbit-y adaptations of books and movies), absurd fantasy, thoroughly engaging protagonists and satisfyingly nasty villains and all in all is the most enjoyable romp through a rather far-fetched but very allegorical sort of dystopian UK.
In a parallel Britain of 2020 there are 1.2 million human-sized rabbits walking (as well as leaping and gambolling), talking, driving cars, working (most of them in not very highly paid jobs) and mostly living in colonies which are pretty over-crowded – as one would expect – and not well supported with infrastructure. This strange circumstance was caused by an spontaneous Inexplicable Anthropomorphism event some fifty-five years previously. It wasn’t just rabbits to be fair. There were a few other similar occurrences elsewhere in the world – an elephant in Africa, a ram in Australia, but in the main it was the UK affected with the majority rabbits but also some foxes, weasels and a few singular animals such as guinea pigs involved.
Though the rabbits have attained some rights, their lot is mostly pretty dismal and heavily restricted. They are always the target of various law enforcement agencies, with one dedicated purely to their harassment, and some rather nasty vigilante-type groups.
Peter Knox lives in a quiet village with his daughter Pippa. His neighbours are pretty hard-nose leporiphobics politically speaking but Peter, who works as an official Spotter for RabCoT – Rabbit Compliance Taskforce, formerly known as Rabbit Crime Taskforce – has never had any real issue with them. But when Doc and Constance Rabbit move in next door, Peter and Pippa are left in no doubt that one can be a friend to humans or a friend to rabbits but not to both.
The litany of injustices, hatred, bigotry and oppression towards the rabbits will resonate with many currently, given recent global focus on similar actions towards disenfranchised sectors of society. Some of the action, promulgated by the PM and Cabinet as a ‘positive’, is chillingly like the Nazi regime’s treatment of the Jewish people with the proposed forced relocation to MegaWarren frighteningly similar to removal to ghettos.
What Peter is to find out is that he is not as tolerant as he’s always believed himself to be and that humanity, his own humanity, is in need of some gentle rabbit influence. This is marvelously wrought throughout with the reader completely engrossed in the fantastical plot and with much upon which to reflect, both within ourselves and within our society.
Although primarily a novel for adults, I would have no hesitation in recommending this highly for your senior students and believe that for studies of parallel real events and circumstances it would provide rich fodder for debate and discussion.
How can you go wrong? I mean to say, it’s rabbits. 🙂
Andrew’s books are always such a joy and this one is no exception. For everyone who has felt as though they didn’t ‘quite fit’ in with everyone else here is the entree to embracing that difference.
Stumpy is not like the other Quigs. While they are all adept at jumping, Stumpy just can’t manage it – no matter how hard he tries. He is particularly afraid of the wide open spaces. Naturally his peers take great delight in pointing out his perceived shortcomings and continually mock him for those.
But Stumpy’s determination to succeed is his saving because his attempts to jump lead him to a marvellous discovery about himself. Having raised a child who is ‘different’ and my own personal joy and pride in her struggle to capitalise on her strengths whilst overcoming her difficulties, this book resonates with me largely. And for many of us in a teaching situation we will have children like these in our care who are likewise – and this provides them with a validation that their individual differences are more than just okay – they are to be embraced.
If you have little readers with the usual differences in abilities this is a perfect book to share and from which many rich and valuable discussions will evolve. Both text and illustrations are superb – as one has come to expect from this talented creator.
Highly recommended for readers from around Prep upwards.
You will find the teaching notes particularly useful.
We could all use some more fairy dust in our lives. Whether it’s because of the gloom and doom of daily news reports or if (like me packing up house) because of some personal issues. I maintain that a liberal sprinkling of fairy sparkle would be very beneficial for anyone.
Fleur Ferris has demonstrated so superbly her ability to write gripping YA fiction and has now turned her hand to fiction for younger readers with the same ease and expertise.
In a little country community young Gemma isn’t having a terrific time. First there’s the worry of her family being evicted from the farm they all love. Second, the all-too-perfect Nina got butterflies for her special science project topic while Gemma bombed out with March flies – really? March Flies?
But when Gemma captures not a fly nor even a feather in her bug catcher but a real live honest-to-goodness fairy, things in Nullaboo start to go completely crazy! Janomi the fairy isn’t meant to reveal herself to humans but she’s desperate for help after her grandfather, leader of their colony, was captured by the dreadful silver spiders. There’s more than a captured fairy leader at stake though when a secret government agency gets wind of the find and lead by an absolute nutter poses a real threat of extermination to the last fairy colony on Earth.
It’s up to Gemma, her family and the solidarity of their little community to save the day – and the fairies!
This seemingly effortless and straightforward narrative has much scope for discussion with current global topics such as environmental damage, conservation, tolerance, acceptance and embracing differences all able to correlate to the unfolding of events. And aside from that it’s a jolly fun read!
Highly recommended for anyone who loves a great fairy story – and hopes for fairies in their garden!
Australian RRP: $24.99 New Zealand RRP: $27.99
This is another deceptively simple picture book but has a great message. With no words Fitzpatrick still clearly tells the story of what happens when two different families share the same living space. Mother Owl and her babies live on top of a branch and Mother Bat with her little ones move in to the underside of the branch.
How can two such very different families co-exist? But all over the world mothers are mothers and kids are kids and a stormy night which threatens them all soon sorts out the problems that each may have at first anticipated.
Even toddlers will be able to discern the plot of this delightful story. Perhaps we should get some politicians to read it as well?
Recommended for little humans from around 2 years upwards.