Archive for May, 2015

Travels of an extraordinary hamster

By Astrid Desbordes

Illustrated by Pauline Martin

ISBN 9781927271834

Gecko Press

5Hamster is perhaps not the nicest of characters but he does grow on you. Despite his many selfish flaws there is something that makes him special and likeable. For example, rather than joining his friends Mole, Snail, Hedgehog, and Rabbit, at a picnic, Hamster happily takes a pile of their food and simply walks away to eat on his own, much preferring his own company. He is always the first to brag about his own endeavors and always tries to be one-up on everyone else. However, whether he realises it or not, his friends love him just the way he is, faults and all.

Rather than text, the chapters are told completely using speech bubbles, much like a graphic novel or comic but not as busy and very easy to read and follow. The illustrations are quirky and brightly coloured with lots of white space allowing readers to fully concentrate on the characters and their personalities. This is a great first chapter book for younger readers. Even adults will love the humour and irony.

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Detective Gordon : The first case

By Ulf Nilsson

Illustrated by Gitte Spee

ISBN 978192721506

Gecko Press

5

What an utterly charming book!

Detective Gordon is a rather over weight toad who loves nothing better than eating cakes, drinking tea and stamping important papers. However, he is suddenly faced with a mystery when squirrel comes rushing in to declare that someone has stolen his stash of nuts. He soon thinks he has the culprit but instead it turns out he has caught a rather lonely, hungry and nameless mouse whom he takes under his wing, makes her his assistant and bestows upon her a name. Together they stand in the freezing cold, watching and waiting for clues which could lead them to the real thieves. I love how Detective Gordon and his new assistant become friends, their relationship taking on as much importance as the theft of the nuts.

I can see why Ulf Nilsson is an award winning writer. His words flow naturally.

   “The squirrel started to cry. Tears rolled down his soft cheeks where they immediately froze to ice  Small pearls fell to the ground”

The illustrations are also gorgeous. Just look at the cover and the expressions on the faces of the two main characters.

This is a great chapter book for newly independent readers aged 7 – 9. I think it would be equally as wonderful as a read-aloud by parents or teachers.

I certainly hope that there are more books about Detective Gordon and Buffy his new side-kick. I would love to see what other mysteries they can solve.

Once again Gecko Press have produced a quality book.

Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans

By Gary Northfield

ISBN 9781406354928

Walker Books Australia

This trailer is brilliant. I so want to run out and get this book right now. I know so many boys and girls who will just love this. As a package the cover is bright and full of character and humour. There are lots of black and white line illustrations such as that shown on the cover. This is sure to be a hit chapter book for children aged seven up. It combines humour and facts to add a little more to their reading fun. Too much text in a chapter book can put children off reading especially when they are young so this will be ideal to get them giggling and reading and wanting more. This is a must-have to add to the school library.

“From a smelly watering hole deep in the heart of the Serengeti to the ferocious clamour of the Colosseum, join Julius Zebra and his motley menagerie of friends as they gear up to be… GLADIATORS! Only if they win the love of the Roman crowds will they win back their freedom. But do Julius and his pals have what it takes to succeed in a world where only the meanest and toughest survive?”

An ember in the ashes

by Sabaa Tahir

ISBN 978-1595148032

                                                            20560137

Laia is a slave fighting for her family and all she holds dear set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome. Living with her grandparents and older brother, they are poor. They do what is expected of them by the Empire. To challenge the Empire means death. Elias is a soldier who desperately wants his freedom.

“But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”

Do check out the book’s website where there is maps of the Laia’s world, character info and heaps more.

I love the cover of this YA book and the trailers too are very tempting. This is definitely one I will be looking out for.