Archive for May, 2018

My Grandfather’s War

By Glyn Harper

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775592990

EKBooks

 

Over the last few years there have many books published about World War One; picture books, novels for children and young adults, and rightly so. As the 100th Anniversary came around we remembered all that happened. We thought about war heroes, soldiers who gave so much, families destroyed, countries torn apart and the endless pain and suffering of so many people. We remembered them.

However, there is another war that needs recognition too. The Vietnam War is the topic of this thoughtful new picture book My Grandfather’s War  by Glyn Harper and illustrated by Jenny Cooper. The author and illustrator have worked on a number of books together before and continue to bring us quality stories and thoughtful illustrations.

Sarah loves the time she spends with her grandfather. They play games together and he takes her to and from school each day. He walks with a limp from an injury he got a long time ago but Sarah has always been warned not to ask Grandpa about this. All she knows is that he fought in the Vietnam War and that this sometimes makes him very sad.

Like many inquisitive children Sarah wanted to know about the Vietnam War and why it made her Grandpa sad. Sarah tried to find out from books at school but she had no luck. Her best option was to ask Grandpa himself. So she did.

Sarah’s grandfather took his time but he told her about the war in Vietnam. He told her how awful it was fighting in the jungle in a war where chemicals were used, as well as guns. The chemicals did so much damage to soldiers that many of the next few generations were affected.

The soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War were not welcomed back like heroes of World War One. Many became sick over the years and for many the sickness spread to the next generation.

This is a thoughtful book where the author has obviously carefully considered how much information to share with young readers and how much to hold back. The illustrations are warm and expressive with Sarah and her grandfather, The illustrations of the jungle and the war itself are reflective of her grandfathers memories but still are not too confronting for young readers.

This book is well worth further exploration and you can find some teacher notes to assist with any discussions you might have, by clicking here and scrolling to the book on the publisher’s website.

 

 

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Scaredy Book

By Devon Sillett

Illustrated by Cara King

ISBN 9781925335682

EKBooks

 

                                                                               It’s not always easy to be brave!

 Book lives in the library where it is warm, peaceful and most importantly, safe. However, he begins to think about the outside world but is too scared to leave the library.  Book sees danger everywhere and it stops him from trying. He sees his book friends go out and come back ripped, sticky and sometimes, some never come back.

One day Book sees a little girl named Emma and plucks up the courage to attract her attention. Emma picks him up and hugs him, just the way we all hug our favourite books. Emma takes him out in to the sunshine and Book finally sees a whole new world where lots of good things happen. Stepping out of his comfort zone took courage but Book is now able to reap the rewards and enjoy so many new things in his life.

Aimed at younger readers, this picture book is ideal for children who may be a little anxious about the world around them. It encourages children to find the strength within themselves to try new things, to take risks and make new friends along the way.

The illustrations are warm and colourful. The end pages in particular, are very cute and have sweet images of Book as he tries new things, like tennis, listening to music or bouncing on a trampoline. His cute smiles show us that he is having fun and thoroughly enjoying his new experiences. 

Teacher notes are a great way to explore this book even more.

 

 

Long way down

By Jason Reynolds

Illustrated by Chris Priestley

ISBN 9780571335114

Those who follow this blog probably know how much I love verse novels. I love everything about them, especailly the language and how it can pack a punch.  Long way down  knocked me sideways. William Holloman’s brother has just been murdered. He wishes he had laughed more at his brother’s dumb jokes because he won’t ever get the chance again. His brother is dead. Tragedy seeps through every page of this book. The language is real and gritty. It is powerful, beautiful and haunting.

After his brother’s death Will knows one thing for sure. He must follow the rules.

  1. Don’t cry
  2. Don’t snitch
  3.  Get revenge

It is raw and dark and I will think about Will for a long, long time. After reading this book I had to just sit awhile and reflect on the lives of the characters. The reality is that there are many William Hollomans in this world and we need to change this. How? I don’t know the answer but something has to change for people like William. They get caught up in the world of poverty, gangs, hardship and anger. This book takes us in to Will’s world, and his thoughts. It is a dark and scary world and as tough as he is trying to be, we see his vulnerability. We hear his thoughts and we find ourselves caring for him in a way only good writing can make us. An amazing insight into the sad and desparate life of a young man looking for revenge. Loved it so much. Need to read again.

Listen to the first few pages being read by the author. 

Oh, So Many Kisses!

By Maura Finn

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775434924

A sweet picture book for preschoolers all about the wonderful warm kisses babies and children receive from everyone who loves them. So many different kisses. Fast, slow and tickly kisses are just a few. Kisses from mums, dads, grandads, and kisses for teddy bears, cats and dogs. My favourite are the slimy frog kisses. The illustration of the frogs is just gorgeous, as is the one of the pigs and the cat and her kitten. Jenny Cooper’s illustrations beautifully capture the humour and fun of Maura Finn’s story. The book provides a lovely rhythm and rhyme with a simplicity making it easily remembered by young children as it gets read again and again.  A lovely picture book to share and snuggle up close with a wee one.

 

Kiwi One and Kiwi Two

By Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775434962

 

 

Stephanie Thatcher does cute and does it very well.  There is definitely lovely cuteness in her illustrations of New Zealand wildlife in this delightful picture book about two cheeky kiwi who decide to wake up all the animals in the bush one night. Pukeko, fantails, kereru, gecko, and others are all woken from their sleep by Kiwi One and Kiwi Two. As we all know, kiwi are up during the night and here they are keen to play with their friends who really should be sleeping. However, now that the animlas and birds have been woken up, they start playing games, with Kiwi One and Kiwi Two. They venture all over the forest but it isn’t long though before the animals become sleepy again and return to bed.   The two young kiwi are still wide awake so keep going until dawn.  A lovely book to send to family overseas reminding them of our wonderful wildlife. Look out for the illustration of the exhausted pukeko as it is just delightful.

The book allows for discussions on what it is for animals or birds to be nocturnal and perhaps even why children need to go to bed when they are told to and why sleep is so important.

 

 

The Stolen Stars of Matariki

By Miriama Kamo

Illustrated by Zak Waipara

ISBN 9781775435402

 

 

There are usually nine stars in the Matariki star cluster but when Grandma, Poua and the children look up one night, there are only seven. Te Mata Hāpuku, which is also known as Birdling’s Flat is where Sam and Te Rerehua love to visit their Grandma and Pōua and it was there that they realised the stars were missing. The beach is wild and windy and the ground is covered in stones, millions of grey stones but hidden among them, are agates, coloured gemstones. They love searching for the agates by day and going eeling at night. It is a wonderful family tradition and one that inspired  Miriama Kamo to write this book.
The mystery of the missing stars takes the children on a night time adventure as they go searching for the stars.

Matariki is such a special time in the New Zealand calendar that it is always a pleasure to find a new picture book with a focus on different aspects. A family tradition of telling tales and spending time together makes this extra special.

 

 

 

Nee Naw and the Cowtastrophe

By Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775435174

This is another book in the adventures of Nee Naw the little fire engine who despite his little size, ends up in situations where he must overcome challenges. This time, Nee Naw has to rescue Ploppy the cow  who happens to become stuck up a very, very tall tree. An accompanying CD is great for young ones to listen to as they look through the pictures.

Paul Beavis illustrations, as always, are bright and quirky and bring Nee Naw and his friends to life. The characters are  easily recognisable from book to book and no doubt familiar to fans of Nee Naw books.