Archive for May, 2016

Theodore Boone

By John Grisham

Theodore Boone is a schoolboy lawyer who loves to fight the bad guys and stop corruption.  However, for 13 year old Theodore, will being an honest lawyer stop him from breaking the law to catch the bad guys? I know a bunch of year sixes who are willing to fight over these books.

There is so much more on the Theodore Boone website. Do drop by and have some fun.





Book three in The Bloodtree Chronicles

By Elizabeth Pulford

ISBN 9781775432876

Scholastic NZ


While Thatchthorpe is the third book in this trilogy, it can be read as a stand alone novel. No doubt reading the first two books will add to the depth of the story, but it does work well as a good fantasy adventure by itself.

As a twelve year old Abigail lives a normal life, even being bullied at school but when given a green cloak, she is suddenly whisked off in to the magical Silvering kingdom. It is here she becomes Spindale and it is her task to save the Kingdom.  There is the Bloodtree which has been poisoned and is losing all its leaves. The tree’s death will mean the end of all stories.

Spindale has stepped into fairy tale stories and as with all good fairy tales, there is always another twist or another hurdle to overcome. In this third book Spindale is tricked, kidnapped and then held prisoner. Not only does she have to escape, find Thatchtorpe and solve the mystery of her locket but she must also try and overthrow the evil Rackenard. Then there is also Zezmena who has her own agenda and reasons for creating havoc for Spindale. Lots of twists and turns, lots of character and adventure.  It is good to see Spindale growing in character and strength but will it be enough. Will she be able to save the stories before they are all gone for good. And just who is controlling the stories?

“No. That’s not possible.”  She was silent for a bit.

“But then again, perhaps it is. After all, we are in the world of stories, where at the stroke of a pen, anything and everything can be changed…”

This is great for 10 to 14 year old readers who love a bit of mystery, a bit of fantasy and just a good story.

I love the covers, gorgeously illustrated by Donovan Bixley.

Check out the first two books.







Fuzzy Doodle

By Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775432500

Scholastic NZ



This gorgeous book arrived at school today and the first thing one of the teachers said when I showed it to her was “it’s beautiful” and I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve read it a number of times now and see something different every time. I know I have to return this to school tomorrow so I am going to have to get my own copy when it comes out in a few weeks as it is one to keep.

It is a beautifully produced hardback, portrait size, sophisticated picture book. It is all about the creative process with the clever metaphor of a caterpillar’s life-cycle. And we all know what a caterpillar turns in to.

Fuzzy begins as a scribble and starts eating his way through inky bits and then words and then soon he is eating paragraphs. From paragraphs, stories grow and I won’t ruin the ending nor the metamorphosis of Fuzzy, except to say it is beautiful. Donovan Bixley’s illustrations are delightful. His charcoal and ink illustrations are more abstract that what we normally see in his work but these are perfect for Melinda’s story. As Fuzzy evolves, so does the page and so too, the black smudges to glorious colour.

The whole process of writing, beginning with the germ of an idea and the smudge on the page, to the final outcome is demonstrated with some wonderful poetic devices which children will love. My favourite is always alliteration.

“Then that parcel, it changed colour, creaked and cracked till it broke open…”

This is perfect and not just for schools or young readers, but would be a wonderful gift to writer friends you know or older students who love writing. It is simply, inspiring and makes you want to create your own scribbles and turn them into something beautiful.

Teacher notes can be found here. Well worth using to extend students use of this wonderful book.

Raymie Nightingale

By Kate DiCamillo

ISBN 9781406363135

Walker Books






Raymie Clarke had her world turned upside when dad ran off with the dental hygienist. However, Raymie does have a plan to get him back again. If she can learn to twirl a baton and enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition and then win it, her father might see Raymie’s picture in the paper and come home to Raymie and her mother.   Criteria for the competition also includes doing good deeds. Her attempts at good deeds doesn’t go so well and actually creates other problems for her to deal with. Alongside all this, Raymie has to contend with Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background and therefore could be tough competition, and Beverly Tapinski who is strong but troubled and is determined to sabotage the contest.

This is a moving tale of three girls, each with their own problems, who discover the true value of friendship. As they learn to support each other it leads each of them to discover difficult truths they had been avoiding. Friendship, honesty and acceptance are strong themes throughout this novel but rather than being in your face, these qualities come slowly as the girls learn to trust each other. This is sweet and moving and great for middle grade readers. Loved it! But then I love all of Kate DiCamillo’s works. Read this one and then look for more of her books. They are all quality writing and wonderful stories.