Archive for August, 2019

Bumblebees have smelly feet

By Rachel Weston

ISBN 9780473482961

Weston Books

What a perfect summery cover for a book about bees. The book is packed with information on everything you ever wanted to know about bees and more. I shared this with a group of children and this is what they had to say.

They loved the title and thought having a funny title was good. They enjoyed the photos next to the writing and the information about bees.  They all loved the funny drawings at the back of the book where the bees are wearing costumes. They thought the reading level was just right for them. In fact, they were all very taken with this non-fiction book and agreed we all need to encourage bees to visit our gardens. As one of them said “we have to look after our bees for everyone”.

This has all the qualities I look for in a non-fiction book. Quality photos, glossary, index, bold headings and sub-headings which is great for children who like to dip and dive into a non-fiction book. The buzz facts is a cool addition to this well-researched book.

Certainly a book to add to any school library and one for home too.

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The Runaways

By Ulf Stark

Illustrated by Kitty Crowther

Translated by Julia Marshall

ISBN 9781776572342

One of the things that continues to amaze me is the ability of good writers to make you like even the bad characters in stories. It is only when we dig into the depths of these characters, that we realise just how vulnerable they often are.  The pain they feel, for whatever reason, is behind their awfulness. In The Runaways, Grandpa is a bit of pain, grumpy and he swears a lot too.  We eventually find out the reason he is so grumpy, and I can tell you, it melted my heart, just a little. Grandpa’s health is deteriorating but there is one thing he wants to do before the end.

Gottfried Junior adores his Grandpa and just wants to spend time with him in the hospital. Even though he is not allowed to see him very often, Gottfried, finds a way. Together, they hatch a plan to runaway overnight. It involves a few lies, lots of plans and even an accomplice. This is a wonderful, heart-warming story about two people who love each other very much and the reality that life will soon be very different for them both.

The Runaways is a beautifully written, warm, tender and honest story which many of us find familiar. Growing old, or losing grandparents is a harsh reality but Ulf Stark has done a lovely job. This is a very moving account and I should warn you, tissues may be needed.

 

Zanzibar

By Catharina Valckx

ISBN 9781776572564

Zanzibar is a crow who is content with life until a travelling lizard reporter knocks on his door and asks if there is anything exceptional about him to write in his newspaper. Zanzibar considers his options but realises he is just an ordinary crow with nothing special to offer the reporter. Zanzibar decides to do something to change that, something which will make him stand out and be noticed. That something special involves a long flight, lots of planning and a camel.

Zanzibar is a funny, illustrated first chapter book. The characters care about each other and support Zanzibar on his quest to lift a camel with just one wing. Does he do it? Not telling. However, there are always lessons to learn a long the way about the value of friendship and believing in yourself. Sweet, funny, and just a lovely feel-good story for newly independent readers.

Tough guys (have feelings too)

By Keith Negley

ISBN 9781912497157

Flying Eye Books

 

Everyone has feelings. Everyone feels a little sad at times, even superheroes.  This is a simple but very effective picture book about knowing that it is okay sometimes to have sad days. It is okay to show feelings and more importantly, share those feelings with someone special. This is super cool with lots of mustardy, red and blue coloured illustrations where falling tears are evident.

Dads have feelings too and how many children think of their dads as some kind of superhero who they consider a tough guy. Here, we have a dad and a son, sharing their love and support for each other knowing that neither of them have to be tough all the time, or even pretend to be tough. Feelings are natural and I believe this book is an important one to share the message that it is perfectly fine to cry, feel sad and know who to turn to when in need. Great for pre-school and early primary schools.

 

The Quiet at the End of the World

By Lauren James

ISBN 9781406375510

Walker Books

 

I’m not a huge fan of Science-fiction but I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this read. Totally got in to the story, characters and even the belief that everything in this Young Adult novel, could very well happen one day. That is a scary thought.

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on earth. A catastrophic virus caused global infertility and babies have not been born for many years. They are protected by elders but the elders have secrets; serious secrets they want to keep from the two teenagers. When the secret is eventually uncovered, everything changes and Lowrie and Shen have an impossible choice to make. Life as it exists could change forever.

I listened to the audio of this book and was hooked thinking of all the possibilities. I was in the Thames mudlarking, searching for treasure with them. I was with them when the secret came out and with them as they realised what the future would hold.  I was with them all the way and that to me, is a good book. Thoroughly enjoyed it and totally recommend it to YA readers.

Winner of the Joy Cowley Award

The little ghost who lost her boo!

By Elaine Bickell

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775435754

“I’ve lost my Boo! I’ve lost my Boo!

Where has it gone? What will I do?”

What do you do when you are a little ghost and somehow you’ve lost your boo? You go searching of course, and that is exactly what little ghost does. She searches everywhere and asks all her friends if they have seen her boo. We meet lots of different animals and birds, but do they know where her boo is? It doesn’t seem like she is having much luck at first but wait for the ending which requires reader participation to complete the story.

The illustrations are quite adorable, especially poor little ghost’s looks of disappointment, worry, sadness and of course, happiness. I do love the rooster’s feathers all beautiful and detailed and taking up a whole page.

 

Picture book reprint

Grandmas McGarvey joins the scrum

By Jenny Hessell

Illustrated by Trevor Pye

ISBN 9781775436034

Grandmother McGarvey has been around for 30 years and this reprint brings her back for a whole new generation of readers. It’s not everyday you see a Grandma toughing it out on the rugby field, head down in the middle of a scrum with a rugby team, but that is exactly what Grandma McGarvey does. Totally by accident, of course. Why she is there will all be revealed when you find a copy of this latest edition. The story is funny and with a good kiwi feel to it.

Junior novel reprint

Lily has a secret 

(Book 2 in the Lily the Littlest Angel series)

By Elizabeth Pulford

ISBN 9781775435921

 

First chapter books carry a lot of responsibility. They need to have a good story to capture the imagination of newly independent or emerging readers. Short chapters, decent size font, illustrations to help break up the text, and words readers are familiar with as well as a few new words to challenge. The Littlest Angel series of books  provides all that and more.

Lily has a secret. A warm, fluffy, cute and injured kitten. How will she keep it a secret, especially when one of the rules, is no animals allowed? There is also the matter of a performance to put on, which is quite difficult when you are trying to hide a kitten.  Lily somehow always manages to break things, or get herself into some sort of trouble but she is sweet and likeable and really only wants to do the right thing. Good first chapter book and beyond.

 

Monkey on the run

By Leo Timmers

ISBN 9781776572519

Gecko Press

Wordless picture books, or silent books, as they are sometimes known, are often sadly undervalued yet they offer so much. Children get to retell what they see or invent their own stories. Perfect for oral language, sharing stories and using imagination.

Monkey on the Run allows us the chance to be creative and interact with his delightful picture book.

Papa monkey and little monkey are stuck in a traffic jam. Little monkey decides to jump on to a fire engine and hop from one vehicle to the next in order to move up the line and beat the traffic. Papa monkey isn’t far behind but there are a lot of vehicles in the traffic jam and lots of drivers. We meet donkeys, giraffes, moles, pigs and even sea creatures all driving different cars and trucks. The pictures are brightly coloured, with heaps of detail and things to discover. Young children could name the animals, count and name the different type of vehicles, explore the pictures and of course, tell you their own imagined story. Definitely a book for having fun together with someone close.

 

 

Otto goes North

By Ulrika Kestere

ISBN 9781776572427

Gecko Press

I love the opening sentence of this new picture book.

Far up in the north you’ll find a blueberry-blue house with a grass roof. 

Who can resist a blueberry-blue house, a grass roof, a sauna and a setting as beautiful as the mountains and the sea.

Otto the Lemur cycles for a very, very long time to visit his friends, far, far away so he can see the Northern Lights. He wants to paint a picture of the lights so he can remember their beauty but it is too cold for a lemur and he struggles to keep warm. His friends, Lisa the lynx and Nils, the young bear, come up with a plan, as good friends do. The conversations are delightfully comical and I found myself giggling away at times.

Gorgeous illustrations but in particular, check out the expressions on the animals faces. Love Otto’s red nose as he shivers in the cold. There is so much on offer here and teachers could  go beyond a simple reading and extend students learning. It’s about good friends, kindness, caring, creative thinking and problem solving, as well as a good read.