Archive for the ‘Primary School’ Category

Skip to the loo my Darlin’

Sung by the Topp Twins

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775435433

 

 

If you want fun and a good laugh, this is cool. It is great as a book to read-aloud, read by yourself, or sing along to the wonderful Topp Twins. We had a heap of fun with this at my school this week. I gave the book to some teachers who held up the book show-casing Jenny Cooper’s gorgeously cute pictures while the music played loudly for everyone to hear and sing along. For whatever reason over took me, I would skip past the children every time the words “Skip to the loo my Darlin'” came along. Lots of giggles. Lot of animal sounds were also made, although I didn’t do so well as a possum, I have to tell you.

I can see this book being played out and peformed in assemblies. Lots of fun to create their own little animal sounds and heaps of skipping.

There is something special about Jenny Cooper’s illustrations, too. The kind of pictures that warm the heart.

This is going to be a hit in schools and pre-schools and family fun times.

 

We’ve got a boat

Written and sung by Jay Laga’aia

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775435303

 

 

undefined

 

We’ve got a boat combines a fun story about boating and ends with facts about The America’s Cup and photos of our proud sailors. Readers can be entertained by the story and then learn a little of the history of the cup and some of our wonderful winning moments.

The chorus is catchy and you can’t help but want to sing loudly and proudly as we celebrate out boating skills and kiwi crew; here they are kiwi, sheep and cow demonstrating their expertise on the water. Donovan Bixley provides his iconic quirky New Zealand animal illustrations. 

A perfect book for summer holidays with all the blue sea and sunny skies. 

 

 

Keep fit Kiwi: Heads and shoulders, knees and toes

By Lynette Evans

Illustrated by Steve Mahardhika

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

 

 

Pre-school and primary school teachers are always looking for good music to sing and dance along for morning PE sessions and this one fits the bill. A catchy song that almost everyone knows but here with a kiwi twist. Written and sung in English and Maori, which adds to the appeal.

The illustrated characters all have cheeky, friendly smiles, which just goes to show you that exercise is fun. Music and exercise is always a good combination, especially when encouraging children to step away from devices and enjoy a bit of exercise and fresh air. Another good resource for schools.

Advertisements

Invisible Jerry

By Adam Wallace

Illustrated by Guiseppe Poli

ISBN 9781925335781

EK Books

People don’t notice Jerry. If someone bumps into him, they don’t say sorry. If he makes a joke, no one laughs. He never gets picked last for sports teams — but that’s because he never gets picked at all. It’s like he’s invisible. Until Molly comes along. Molly asks Jerry his opinion. She laughs with him. She sees him.

The impact when we begin to notice children like Jerry is huge. Jerry, no longer invisible, starts to shine, people notice him and then he goes on to notice other invisible children and helps them shine and they in turn help other children to shine.

The colourful illustrations have a soft, almost blurry-edged feel to them which reinforces the feeling of invisibility.

This would make a good resource for teachers to use in class about inclusiveness and encouraging children to play together. No one should be invisible.

If we look close enough, there are children like invisible Jerry everywhere. There are children who are lonely, shy, who don’t fit in but would love to be included, love to be chosen for teams and games. We need to start noticing these children and help them shine.

As we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, it is timely to look at two new war-themed books by much-loved author, Michael Morpurgo. While written for children, these books really are for everyone.

Poppy Field

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

ISBN 9781407181424

Scholastic

Poppy Field
Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman are well known for their partnership over many  award-winning children’s books. This time they have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy and why we wear it still.

Morpurgo skilfully tells the story of young Martens whose family live on a farm in Flanders Field. 

A poor girl out selling eggs one day meets a soldier as he sits on his own trying to write a poem for his dead comrades; in particular, his best friend, whom he has just buried. He doesn’t want eggs or even the poppies she offers him, but upon his request, she places some poppies on the dead soldier’s grave. In return, she takes a crumpled up scrap of paper with the draft of a poem he was working on. The poem is eventually framed and handed down through four generations of the young girl’s family. The poem is In Flanders Fields.

While the story speaks many truths, it is a work of fiction but more important than that, it is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. it shows us that there is hope and a future because of those who fought before us and for us.

The story is beautifully illustrated in soft greys, blacks and browns, with the only colour being the red poppies which stand out, symbolic and proud.

The Afterword about the history of the poppy and why it is still worn 100 years later, however, is in full colour. The contrasting colours between the story and the Afterword only adds to the haunting quality of the story. A  story that needed to be told. 

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

Our Jacko

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by David Gentleman

ISBN 9781406366136

Walker Books

 

There is an old scruffy tin hat which has always been in Michael’s house for as long as he can remember.  It has been used as a toy, a feeding bowl for the hens and even a hanging basket but no one can remember where it comes from. Michael hates it, always has, especially the hole and what the hole likely means. Somewhere, someone wearing that helmet must have died in the war. A school trip and project about the First World War is what changes Michael’s mind when he discovers the hat belonged to his great, great grandfather, Jacko, who never returned from the war. Our Jacko, as the family used to call him, died in Ypres in 1915. Michael and his family discover Jacko’s old diaries and learn so much about life in the trenches, fighting during the First World War. 

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey of discovery and the realisation that no matter how awful and tragic the war was, we do need to remember it. We do need to remember those who died and the impact of those losses on everyone and how it changed the world. Peace came at a cost, and we need to remember those who paid the price. 

This is a special book aimed at the 8-12 year olds,  perfectly timed for Armistice Day, the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars.

 

 

 

This post is a real mix of reading delight for younger children from New Zealand authors and illustrators. There are kiwi’s, tree huts, even trucks. A little something for everyone.

Kuwi’s Rowdy Crowd

By Kat Merewether

ISBN 9780994136459

Illustrated Publishing

undefined

 

If you like cute and cuddly then this is one for you. Kuwi the Kiwi is the creation of Kat Merewether and this is Kuwi’s fourth adventure. This time all Kuwi wants to do is to sit down and relax with a cup of tea. But a variety of New Zealand creatures, and birds turn up and shatter the peace, leaving her more and more frustrated. Kuwi finally reaches breaking point and shouts out to everyone to be quiet. That is when Kuwi discovers something very special. 

Sweet, with the cutest of illustrations, and lots of funny New Zealand references; some specially for the adults reading this book to little children, and a story most of us can relate to, big or small.

 

 

Titan the Truck

By Joy H. Davidson

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9780473403119

 

Titan is a big truck and he knows the freight he hauls must get through as many people depend on him. Sometimes he hauls logs, cows and even groceries. The one thing in common is that they must all be delivered on time – they can not be late. A little bit of learning all about big trucks and what they do on their journey to get goods up and down the country.

So what happens one day when Titan has an accident?  An adventure for Titan and his driver Baz.

Bright and bold illustrations by Scott Tulloch add to the enjoyment of this picture book.

 

And another one by Joy H. Davidson

The tree hut

Illustrated by Nina Kudinova

ISBN 9780473444181

DHD Publishing

Jack has to leave his home in the countryside and move to the city because of his father’s work. He doesn’t want to leave his tree hut so struggles with the move.
His new home in the city is a townhouse with very little room to play. As if all that is not enough, he believes they may have moved next door to a haunted house.  

 

 

More Kiwi Rhymes for Kiwi Kids

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781869539955

Bateman Publishing

undefined

This is Peter Millet’s second book of rhymes for Kiwi kids. Peter takes traditional rhymes and gives them a New Zealand flavour.

Children will relate to them all. For folks who go camping and have memories of leaky tents in the rain, the rhyme It’s raining, it’s pouring will go down a treat with its special kiwi twist.

Scott Tulloch’s illustrations delighfully support the New Zealand elements of the rhymes.

Check out the book trailer for Ten Green Geckos for some fun.

Great to see so many new picture books being published in New Zealand written by New Zealand authors.

 

 

Mini Whinny: Happy birthday to me!

By Stacy Gregg

Illustrated by Ruth Paul

ISBN 9781775435372

Scholastic NZ

This delightful picture book is a collaboration by author Stacy Gregg and illustrator Ruth Paul, both award winners in their own right. And it is a seriously cute book.

Do you know that all horses share the same birthday? Well they do. Mini Whinny, a miniature pony lives on a farm among other horses and animals and they are about to celebrate the horses birthdays.  However, she doesn’t think that’s fair and doesn’t want to share. Mini Whinny wants her own birthday and gets up to a bit of mischief in order to get her own way. Of course things don’t quite work out the way she plans.

A sweet story for young children.

The illustrations are super cute with a softness that makes you want to reach and pat Mini Whinny and the other animals, particularly, the cat.

I have always loved the end papers of books and the extra impact they can hold on the reader. Here, the end papers form a beautiful start and close to the book and the day itself. The beginning end papers start with the morning sun and the horses in the field. They finish with a sleepy Mini Whinny and the sun going down. Beautiful! What makes this book extra special is that it is number one in a series about the adventures of a very special miniature pony.

 

Dear Professor Whale

By Megumi Iwasa

Illustrated by Jun Takabatake

ISBN 9781776572076

Gecko Press

One of the pleasures from reading a book published by Gecko Press, is the feel-good feeling you are left with when you close the cover. Dear Professor Whale is one such book that left me with a smile on my face.

This is a follow-up to Yours sincerely, Giraffe. It shares the same pleasure and wonder of written letters and new friendships discovered through correspondence. We are so caught up in the story, that we totally accept and believe that two whales are writing to each other across the seas. We also believe that seal is the one delivering the letters. Professor is the only whale for miles around. He misses his old friends who left Whale Point sometime ago. Once, they used to hold the Whale Point Olympics and he misses all the fun and laughter from those special days. When a letter from young whale Wally, is delivered to him, a friendship develops. Their letters go back and forth and it isn’t long before Professor Whale is keen to hold a new Olympics and so invites his old friends and Wally to be part of a grand event. 

So yes! There is a new Olympics and whales, penguins, seals and even a giraffe come for the special event. Professor Whale is most excited to see his old friends but also to meet his new friend, Wally who has been writing to him. They also discover a connection between them which is special.

There are a couple of special moments where animals make decisions that have consequences for themselves, but the end result shows us the true meaning of friendship. This book reminds us of the important values in life; friendships, communications, caring and of course, fun and teamwork. Short chapters, illustrations, and a good size font make this ideal for a first chapter book. Great also for a short read aloud in class.

The black and white illustrations are delightfully quirky but reveal the different personalities . What’s not to love about this book? Just lovely.

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

By Cressida Cowell

ISBN 9781444941425

Hachette Children’s Books

 


I loved the first Wizards of Once book. I’m actually listening to the audio edition for the second time while I wait for the sequel, just released. I love the bright, bold cover which is so appealing. It looks to have the same wonderful features; magic, fantasy, danger, quests, humour and of course, wizards. I just know, this sequel is going to be twice the fun.

As much as Zar and Wish are meant to hate each other, I have a feeling things will change and a growing respect for differences, will be found. 

It is so hard waiting for the next book in a series, sort of like waiting for Christmas. Sometimes I get so excited waiting, that I have to remember that I’m actually an adult and need to be a little patient. Trip to the bookshop very soon.

 

Stories of the night

By Kitty Crowther

ISBN 9781776571970

Gecko Press

 

Little Bear asks Mother Bear very politely if she will tell three stories before bed time. Mother Bear obliges and while sitting comfortably on her chair, she begins the stories. The number three has always been significant in fairy tales so having three stories within the one story retains a special fairy tale quality.

The stories are about the night and some of the wonderful things that happen during the hours of darkness. There is a gentle philosophical approach to them which is appealing. We begin with the Night Guardian and her rituals for getting animals to go to sleep. We move on to a child searching for the best blackberries, and then a man in an old coat who never sleeps. In the end we discover that what matters most in the world is friends and family.

The illustrations are a glorious pink reminiscent of the hours when the sun is going down, or coming up in the morning. As Little Bear falls asleep the characters from the stories come to visit in dreams. The glowing pink that surrounds the room and the dream, creates a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling. The illustrations have a retro childlike quality to them which I found delightfully nostalgic. A gorgeous quality story book, to share some quality time together with children.

Keep an eye on this koala

By Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781775435426

Scott Tulloch has a way with humour. He hooks his readers in with quirky, weird ideas and young readers love it. The more bizarre the better, it seems. With very short chapters, this book is great for readers who love a giggle, but also love a quick and easy read. The illustrations are simple and comical but very expressive.

There is a lot of trickery going on here but things do even out in the end. Koala and Cockatoo look straight at the reader challenging them to perhaps take sides, but mostly, to join in the fun.

Keep an eye on this kiwi

By Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781775435310

As an early reader chapter book, Scott Tulloch and Scholastic have combined all the elements to get children eager to read. There is humour, illustrations, short chapters and a bright yellow eye-catching cover. We meet Kiwi and a bunch of huhu grubs for some fun and Tulloch trademark cheekiness.

 

Kia Ora : You can be a Kiwi too

By June Pitman-Hayes

Illustrated by Minky Stapleton

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 978 1775435396

Includes bonus CD sung in English and Maori

This is a lovely picture book to gift to new arrivals to New Zealand. It is an inclusive look at our culture and the people who make up our wonderful country.  I love all the greetings in different languages towards the middle of the book. There is also a glossary of Maori words and their translation on the back cover for quick reference. New arrivals are introduced to many of our wildife, our fauna and even our traditions. The book and CD are in both English and Maori. A lovely book to give as a gift but also a lovely reminder of the reasons I love New Zealand.

At the end of Holyrood Lane

By Dimity Powell

Illustrated by Nicky Johnston

ISBN 9781925335767

EKBooks

 

A thoughtful yet subtle picture book dealing with the issue of domestic violence and the affect it has on a young girl. Flick lives at the end of Holyrood Lane where the beech woods stand tall. Flick is a happy child, dancing with butterflies in spring time, basking in the summer sun and playing with the leaves in Autumn. However, winter storms are far from a happy place for Flick. The storms are a metaphor for when home is not a safe place, when the house is full of anger and fear. Domestic violence is hinted at but is not mentioned. The good days have lovely, sweet and warm coloured illustrations but the bad days have grey and black broody clouds and Flick’s happy face turns to one of sadness and fear.

When storms hit, Flick is overwhelmed by the suddeness of it all and not knowing how long it will last or what will happen during the storm. Her companion through all the good and bad days is her faithful and very cute, soft toy unicorn.

Flick is a courageous young girl because after a paritcularly dark  and stormy day, she finally asks for help. She wants the storms to stop; to go away for good. Finally the sun comes out again but this time we know the sun will continue to shine and there will be no more storms. The story is all too often a reality for many children so it is lovely to see it played out here in such a simple and heartfelt way.

This book, while touching on a difficult subject, does offer a happy and hopeful ending. 

For those wanting to investigate this book further, teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

 

Once Upon a Wild Wood

By Chris Riddell

ISBN 9781509817061

Macmillan Children’s Books

Many who have read this blog before know I am a huge fan of illustrator and author, Chris Riddell. His newest picture book, the first in about ten years and only just released, is simply beautiful, stunning and a whole heap of other feel-good adjectives. It arrived at school today and I was so excited I pulled the wrapping off in haste and was smitten. Within in a few minutes I was ordering another copy for a teacher sitting next to me. 

Oh my goodness, where to start!

The hardback cover has a cut out centre. Little Green Rain Cape is framed right in the centre of the cut out, book in hand, as she steps in to the wild wood. We can see the different fairy tale characters peeking out from the trees, all looking directly at the reader. We can’t help but want to step inside the wood with her.

Little Green Rain Cape enters the Wild Wood on her way to a party. Her backpack is full of all the things she might need on the way. She is wise and well prepared for almost anything.

On her journey Little Green meets many of our favourite fairy tale characters but they are not quite where you think they might be. The stories are delightfully mixed up. The golden harp is very fickle and looking for a new owner. The three bears, the 12 dancing princesses, and so many other characters make an entrance. The trees too, are quirky and their facial expressions are gorgeous. They smile and frown and we can see their compassion and their own little personalties. 

I’m in love with the colourful illustrations and the magic and story of the Wild Wood. I am also left hoping there just might be another adventure in the Wild Wood for Little Green Rain Cape.

This is certainly a book to read again and again. Parents will enjoy sharing this with children and talking about fairy tales. Teachers will love it for so many reasons, not just as a picture book to read aloud, but a great resource for creative writing, fractured fairy tale studies and heaps more.

Love it to pieces! 

 

Paraweta

By Stephanie Blake

Translated by Karena Kelly

ISBN 978177652182

Gecko Press

 

Paraweta (Poo Bum Te Reo Maori edition)

Simon is the same little rabbit we have grown to know and love but this time we are lucky to have a Maori language edition of Poo Bum. He is still cheeky and just a little bit naughty but still hugely popular.

I just know this edition will be a hit for our Te Reo readers.

Once there was a little rabbit who could only say one thing… In the morning
his mother would say, ‘Time to get up, my little rabbit!’ He’d reply: ‘Poo bum!’
At lunchtime his father would say, ‘Eat your spinach, my little rabbit!’ He’d
reply: ‘Poo bum!’ 

With naughty children and naughty rabbits too, there is only so much a parent will take, but you will have to read it to see who will have the last word?

The edition comes just in time for Maori Language Week to be held during the week of September 10-16.

Ka pai Gecko Press

My old man he played rugby

By Peter Millett

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

CD sung by Jay Laga’aia

ISBN 9781775435280

Scholastic NZ

Author Peter Millett has brought us another fun and quirky picture book for young readers.  His focus this time is the very kiwi game of rugby. There are lots of dad’s racing around fields playing rugby. There is lots of crashing and banging, heaving and woo-hooing. There is tackling and kicking and even a scrum. Some dads are better at rugby than others. And if fun isn’t enough, you can count along and learn something about the game of rugby as well.

Based on the traditional tune of This old man, the book comes with a CD sung by Jay Laga’aia. It is one of those tunes that makes you want to sing out loud or even get up and dance.

The colourful, very funny illustrations by Jenny Cooper have a cheekiness to them which will have children and parents laughing out loud. With Father’s Day just around the corner, this very entertaining book would make an ideal present for dad’s and young ones to read together. 

My Storee

By Paul Russell

Illustrated by Aska

ISBN 9781925335774

EKbooks

Published August 2018

 

The young boy of this new picture book is unnamed and therefore he represents many young boys and girls. He could be anyone. He struggles at school with his spelling. The rules of writing don’t make sense to him and when his teacher crosses out all the mistakes with a red pen making them stand out, it only reminds him that he is wrong. With each mistake and each big red cross his confidence suffers. 

He loves writing stories and they tumble around in his head day and night. He writes stories about dragons, unicorn detectives, robot pirates and even alien volcanoes. He writes his stories on paper which then piles up on his bedroom floor. At school however, the writing rules get in the way and his creativity is squashed. He worries so much about getting things right at school that the dragons disappear from his thoughts. It is not until the new teacher, Mr Watson, comes to his class that things begin to change. Mr Watson clearly understands the boys problems and encourages the boy to forget the rules and just write, write and write.

Most of us had that one teacher we remember fondly. The one who made a difference, who believed in us before we believed in ourselves. Mr Watson in this book, is that one special teacher. 

This is one of those picture books that is needed in every school. Children need to be encouraged to write; to be creative without the roadblocks placed in front of them. Many children are poor spellers, many are dyslexic, making it even harder to work through their school days. At the heart of the problem, there needs to be someone on their side. A teacher, a parent, someone special who will support their creativity. Spelling can be fixed up later. There are many tools children can use these days to help but we can’t let rules and regulations get in the way of a child’s imagination. To do so would be detrimental to their learning.

The illustrations are bright, colourful and full of fun. The spelling in the book is just as the little boy would spell things; Incorrect but still understandable. The last page where the words have the correct spelling suggests a hopeful, and happy outcome. The boy knows that after the story comes the editing and with support, he will only get better. It takes effort but we are left knowing he will be okay. This is a wonderful picture book for young and not-so-young readers about self-acceptance, creativity and hope. Yes, it is also about dyslexia but the overall message is learning to believe in yourself and not giving up.

 

The Thunderbolt Pony

By Stacy Gregg

ISBN 9780008257019

HarperCollins

 


 

One of the things I love best about Stacy Gregg and her novels is the strength of her characterisation. It doesn’t take long before I am connected to her characters and right inside the story. Her latest novel is currently a finalist in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and well deserves to be there.

When a devastating earthquake hits Evie’s hometown of Parnassus on New Zealand’s South Island, she and the rest of the town are forced to evacuate. Evie’s injured mum is one of the first to be rescued by helicopter and Evie will be next. But when realises that she will be forced to leave her beloved pony, Gus, her dog, Jock, and her cat Moxy behind, she is determined to find another way. Before the rescue helicopter returns, Evie flees with Gus, Jock and Moxy in a race against time across difficult terrain to reach the port of Kaikoura, where she has heard that people will be evacuated by ship in three days’ time. Surely there will be space for her, Gus, Jock and Moxy there?

Evie suffers from OCD which at times almost cripples her with fear. It began when her father died of cancer and for reasons which become clear later, Evie blames herself and is suddenly caught up with constant daily rituals which threaten to takeover her life.

Evie is on her own with her animals crossing dangerous and broken bridges, swollen rivers and rugged land. It is her attempt to keep them all together and make it to safety and eventual evacuation by ship out of the earthquake zone and its devastation. The story and action are well-paced and the rollercoaster ride of emotions and fear is authentic.  I love how even Evie’s beloved animals have personalities of their own. As animals and her pets, they are very loyal to Evie and even to each other. Evie is determined and strong for her twelve years, but with her OCD her vulnerability shows through so it is nice to see how she manages being on her own in such dangerous and frightening times.

The story switches back and forward in time, much like the earthquakes with their tossing and turning of the ground. As the story is for younger readers, the publishers have used different fonts to show this break in time, a great device to use, making it easier to keep up with the story.

One thing I really loved was how the author used mythology to make connections. When being chased and physically challenged by a bull, Evie sees a Minotaur. Very cool indeed.

Another great read from author Stacy Gregg.