Archive for April, 2018

Dragonfly: Book One

 The Zingoshi Chronicles

By Bridget Ellis-Pegler

ISBN 9780473417093

 

Augmented Reality is getting better and better. Check out the trailer to a new fantasy novel series The Zingoshi Chronicles using augmented reality. So cool. Just download the free App when you buy the book and have fun bringing the characters to life. I spent quite some time making the charaters dance. There is also a website where you can not only buy the book, but have fun doing different activities. There is a whole team of people working on this new series and even a club you can join to have even more fun. Check the fun here.

 

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Flamingo Boy

By Michael Morpurgo

ISBN 9780008134648

HarperCollinsPublishers

I am always in awe of Michael Morpurgo’s ability to weave stories that take you back in time and leave you in a world where you experience everything as if you are right there with the characters.  In his latest book Flamingo Boy, I found myself so involved with the characters and what was happening to them, that I held my breath at times and needed tissues to continue.  We begin with a boy named Vincent who likes to draw and suddenly we are in France and the middle of WW2.

Renzo is Flamingo Boy, a young autistic boy who has the gentleness to heal injured birds and animals but also the anger and rage of someone unable to cope with change. He sees the best in people but fears the world he doesn’t understand. 

The story is set in the unique landscape of the Camargue in the South of France during WW2. Renzo lives with his parents on their farm among the salt flats surrounded by flamingos. His life is simple and very much routine, as any change at all can unsettle him for weeks on end. One special treat is going to the market to ride the carousel and his favourite animal on the ride is the horse. The carousel becomes pivotal to the story and symbolically it represents so much more, but mostly it offers hope. His family befriends the Roma family and their daughter Kezia who run the carousel. Roma people are hated as much as the Jews during war time so when the Germans take over the town, Renzo and his parents hide Kezia’s family. 

This is a powerful book in many ways. We see destruction as a result of war and how it affects everyone on both sides. We see what it like to be different from others and how hard it is to fit in, whether being Roma or being autistic. We do however, see the value of friendships and trust. We see so much love and hope in this book that I think it should be in schools everywhere. A very moving story that will stay with me for a very long time.

 

Endling Book One :  The Last

By Katherine Applegate

HarperCollins

It is holiday time so I am doing a few extra posts as I catch up on some books I want to share but this one is top of the list.

So exciting. I love Katherine Applegate’s writing. Her books are always award winners and wonderful stories. The one and only Ivan, Wishtree, Crenshaw, are among my favourites, not just for their wonderful stories, but because the language is so beautiful. I find myself often just stopping and reading a sentence over and over as it’s beauty and succinctness takes my breath away. So I am definitely hanging out for this one. 

Byx is the youngest member of her dairne pack. Believed to possess remarkable abilities, her mythical doglike species has been hunted to near extinction in the war-torn kingdom of Nedarra.

After her pack is hunted down and killed, Byx fears she may be the last of her species. The Endling. So Byx sets out to find safe haven, and to see if the legends of other hidden dairnes are true.

Check this out. You can read a little bit here and then not long until May when the book is published and we can read the rest. Can’t wait!

Lessons of a LAC

By Lynn Jenkins

Illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan

ISBN 9781925335828

EKBooks

 

Loppy is a little anxious creature who is always looking out for danger. The trouble is he is so busy and so good at looking for danger, that he is missing out on all the fun things in life. His anxiety is all-consuming and gets in the way of things, so much so, that he finds problems even when there are none. Along comes Curly Calmster who shows him that not all things in life lead to danger, not everything is bad. Loppy  begins to learn ways to stay calm and therefore soon becomes less anxious and worried about things.

“Just because dangerous things MIGHT happen, doesn’t mean they WILL happen.”

Good for those anxious children who need reassurance that the world really is a wonderful place.

The illustrations, mostly black, red and yellow are reminiscent of Dr Seuss’  so sure to please younger readers.

Teacher notes can be found here.

Gecko Press continue to bring us quality books for young readers. Their books are always beautifully produced and leave you with that feel-good feeling.

Valdemar’s Peas

By Maria Jonsson

ISBN 9781776571963

Published May 2018

 

“Peas? No way! Valdemar may be a little wolf, but he knows what he wants. ”

I’m pretty sure food battles happen in almost every family at some time or another. Valdemar is a little wolf with a persistent attitude. He doesn’t want to eat peas and argues the point whenever his parents tell him the benefits. They tell him he will have longer ears if he eats peas but he lets them know he already has long ears. Valdemar’s sister eats her peas and is rewarded with ice-cream. Not wanting to miss out on such a treat, Valdemar comes up with a clever plan. 

Funny and real, and very familiar to parents who struggle with picky eaters.

Simple bold illustrations with lots of white space so the focus remains on Valdemar and his family. 

A fun book to share with the whole family.

 

I’m the biggest

By Stephanie Blake

ISBN 9781776572021

Published June 2018

 

Simon is back and as naughty and nice as ever.

In his latest book Simon is upset that his younger brother Casper has grown a whole three centimetres since the last time they were measured, yet he has only grown one centimetre. Out comes Simon’s infamous temper tantrums. Simon is just as feisty as ever but his reactions are understandably realistic, warts and all.

However, in the end we see the side of Simon that makes him a character we know and continue to love.

As someone who only ever made it to 1.50 metres tall I know exactly how Simon feels about being small. I recall being very upset back when I was young and the old measurement scales, when a teacher measured the class on the blackboard but started the measurement at five foot. I didn’t even make it to the starting point and never did. So Simon, I know just how you feel although there is plenty of time on your side to grow.

See Hear

By Tania McCartney

Illustrated by Jess Racklyeft

ISBN 9781925335675

EKbooks

 

This is a sweet picture book about the senses of sight and hearing. Its novelty flip-the-book format and simple but effective language, makes this ideal for pre-schoolers.

We meet a cat, a rabbit and a piglet who happily go about their daily lives. They are super cute animals but also very observant. See begins as the front with colourful illustrations of many things we can see. Squiggly rain, crawling spots on a ladybird, lacy flutters of snow and many more. It is a lovely introduction to the senses with a simple message to take time to look around and really look at  everything there is to see.  Once you get half way through, you can flip the book and have another lovely story to read. Hear is the story from the back with a focus on the things we can hear. We can hear songs and laughter, food sizzling and cats purring. Everyday things are there if only we take time to listen.  All we have to do is stop a moment and look around.

 

 

 

 

1918 Broken Poppies

Kiwis at War 

By Des Hunt

ISBN 9781775432821

Kiwis at War 1918 Broken Poppies hr

Based on author Des Hunt’s own uncles who went to war, this novel is a chilling account of what went on in the trenches during World War One. It is at times harrowing and confronting but there is also humour, just as in any difficult situation, which makes it so real. 

Four Christmases have passed since the world went to war in 1914. Struggling to survive in the trenches, close to enemy lines, amid the terror of gunfire and the whine of warplanes, Kiwi soldier Henry Hunt rescues a shaken little dog. He has no idea he’ll soon be facing a disciplinary hearing. To Henry’s relief, the Major allows the little foxie to live this time. Henry finds the dog is not only a comfort to his fellow soldiers on the battlefields of France, but a great ratter, too. Together, can they survive the Great War?

 

Henry Hunt is both believable and likeable. He has panic attacks from a childhood trauma which still haunts him but he soon finds himself having to face these fears head on. They seem insurmountable but will put himself and others in danger if he doesn’t overcome them. Hunt’s ability to put the reader in the character’s footsteps is brilliant. We too, feel the same fear as Henry.  The author doesn’t hide us from the reality of life in the trenches either.  I flinched many times when reading about the rats which seemed to be everywhere. The descriptions of trench foot were also very real.

“…trench foot – a form of gangrene caused when feet were always wet. Raw skin would turn to angry sores which, if left untreated, became purple then black.” pg 64

Amputation would come next. Horrible stuff but sadly, horribly true. 

Henry faces bullying by Sergeant Bell who continually and unjustly calls him a coward. There is injuries, danger, death all around but there is also loyalty and comrades to help him get through the awful times. The rescuing of the wee dog they named Poppy is a wonderful part of the story. I fell in love with Poppy and at times found myself holding my breath when she got in to danger. The courage of these soldiers is amazing. The months and years in the trenches must have been horrific.  Many of the soldiers would be wounded, patched up, and sent back for more which really is beyond our comprehension. Des Hunt’s account of Henry Hunt takes us there as much as it is possible, so that we can see and feel what it might have been like during World War One. A compelling read and superbly done. A great story to end the series Kiwis at War.

Great read for some Year six students (but not all) but certainly Intermediate through Secondary levels.

Teacher Notes will help make the most of this novel.

 

Truly Devious

By Maureen Johnson

ISBN 9780062338051

HarperCollins

 

I never think twice about picking up a novel by Maureen Johnson. Loved her Shades of London books and having just read this first book in her new series, I am already waiting for book two.

A thoroughly good murder-mystery for young adults.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Not long after the school’s opening, Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and the only clue was a note signed by someone called Truly Devious. His wife’s body was found, but the daughter was never seen again. It has remained an unsolved mystery for many decades but now Stevie Bell is attending the school and her plan is to solve the mystery. However, there is something sinister happening and Stevie and her new friends find themselves in trouble when the past and present seem to collide with more murderous adventure. And there is always the issue of whom to trust! Well written, good pace and a very cool setting.

Stevie is a like-able, believable character and a very keen detective-in-the-making. Her determination to work through research and the new puzzles makes this another good read from Maureen Johnson.

My dilemma is that I now have to wait until next year to read what happens next. Grrrrr!