Archive for the ‘Primary School’ Category

Finding Granny

By Kate Simpson

Illustrated by Gwynneth Jones

ISBN 9781925335699

EKBooks

Edie loves her grandmother. They have so much fun together but then one day Granny has a stroke and suddenly everything changes. As with many stroke victims, Granny has many problems to overcome. Her words are mixed up and her face is now lopsided. Edie waits in the hospital corridors when she and her mum go to visit as she doesn’t want to see her Granny the way she looks now. Edie struggles to cope with how much Granny has changed. No longer the strong, independent, funny Granny but a frail dependent woman lying in a hospital bed.

This picture book takes a gentle look at strokes and how they affect the sufferer and those around them. Bold and bright illustrations help give the story a strong sense of hope, making it a good choice for adults to share with children who may have to confront the reality of someone in their lives who may have had a stroke. A challenging story but one that is both sweet and hopeful at the same time.

 

 

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Earthquakes! New Zealand

By Maria Gill

ISBN 9781869664862

New Holland Publishers

If you have ever wanted to know anything about earthquakes in New Zealand, then this new book from award-winning author Maria Gill has it all. The production is a perfect example of what a quality non-fiction book should be. It has all the features we expect with contents pages, glossary, bibliography, credits, headings and subheadings, photographs, graphs, symbols and timelines all sandwiched between a shiny, colourful, glossy cover. Maria Gill is well-known for her dedication and determination to research her subjects to provide readers with the best and most accurate information.

Maria Gill explains what earthquakes are, why they happen and the damage they can cause.  The timeline goes way back in time to some of the first earthquakes and marks many of the strongest ones that occurred. She also explains what to do in an earthquake and how to keep yourself safe which is something everyone in New Zealand needs to know. Having lived through the tragic Canterbury and Christchurch earthquakes, this book brought back many memories but it is good to see everything explained and know that while we cannot predict or stop earthquakes; we can be prepared and that is most important.

The language is easy and informative without being too formal or wordy, making it a suitable choice for everyone. The book is informative and shares links to videos on the internet for further research or explanation. There is also a friendly helper throughout the pages. Maria introduces us to  Rūaumoko the Maori god of earthquakes and volcanoes who helps explain things as readers move from page to page. A lovely addition to this quality book.

Primary schools through to secondary schools will certainly benefit from having this book in their school libraries.

 

 

Flit the fantail and the flying flop

By Written and illustrated by Kat Merewether

ISBN 9781775435105

Scholastic NZ

 

There is so much cuteness in this delightful, fun picture book for young children, that every time I pick it up I can’t help smiling.
Flit is a baby fantail snuggled up safely in his nest. His parents tell him to stay there and wait while they go looking for food. It doesn’t take long before Flit becomes bored and starts wandering about his nest. After stretching out a little too far Flit suddenly finds himself falling down on to the forest floor unable to fly back up to his nest. He seeks the help of many other forest birds to try to find a way back. Wonderful illustrations highlight the many native birds, bushes and trees we have in New Zealand. Lookout for Flit’s wee friend the ladybird who is with him all the way and on almost every double page spread. The language is fun with lots of alliteration and onomatopoeia which makes it a delightful book to read aloud.
This book offers a great message about friendships and supporting each other. There is also a lovely message about having the courage to try new things and believing in yourself. I also love the idea that sometimes things don’t work out the first time we try but if we keep trying and don’t give up, then we will eventually find a way to achieve what we set out to do.
This would be ideal in kindergartens, pre-schools and would be a lovely choice for young readers. Even in early primary school classes this would be a good introduction to New Zealand flora and fauna.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Visiting you: A journey of Love

By Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg

Illustrated by Andrea Edmonds

ISBN 9781925335668

EK Books

A young child sets out on a trip with mum intending to visit a special but unnamed loved one. Along the way, they meet many different people and the child, all friendly and innocent, begins chatting with these people. What becomes apparent is that the child exposes the fact that in life, we all have worries and concerns. We all have people we care about that we miss and can’t wait to see. People in hospital, and people in aged-care who no longer remember their families. Somewhere out there, there are people who have lost loved ones and sit among us on buses, or boat rides. Everywhere we are, no matter what we do, we need to remember that people may be sad and we need to show compassion and have empathy because one day it could be us, sad and feeling a little lost. What makes this special, is that the child, just by talking with strangers, is making a difference. We are reminded that we are all connected.

A sweet story with a message we all know but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. The illustrations have lots of yellows and oranges creating a lovely sunny day feeling.

 

Teacher notes to further extend the experience of this book can be found here.

 

The Art Garden: sewing the seeds of creativity

By Penny Harrison

Illustrated by Penelope Pratley

ISBN 9781925335590

EK Books


 

When Sadie’s best friend Tom paints, Sadie’s heart smiles. She longs to paint as well as Tom does but her attempts end up as messy splodges. Sadie also loves her garden and being surrounded by nature. Somewhere in between, Sadie learns to accept herself and find something that she can do that makes her heart smile for herself. A sweet and positive picture book about learning to accept ourselves and finding the things that make us special. Art and creativity is everywhere and we express it differently and that makes us unique individuals. For Sadie, finding her own creativity, is part of finding herself. 

The short but brilliant career of Lucas Weed

By Chrissie Walker

ISBN 9781775435082

Scholastic NZ

 


Author Chrissie Walker has captured the mischievous nature of 10 an 11-year-old boys in her award-winning novel The short but brilliant career of Lucas Weed. Lucas  is still a newcomer at Fernwood School and all he really wants is some friends. Good friends he can hang out with not just at school, but after school too. A conversation one morning with fellow students Thomas, Hunter and Oscar leads to a prank with a frog on the loose and chaos in the classroom. Finding himself suddenly popular with these boys, Lucas plans more pranks.  He plans bigger pranks and that can only mean bigger laughs. This is a fun novel where boys take centre stage and cause a little mayhem but it’s okay because despite everything, Lucas and his new friends are likeable, believable characters. However, just how far are Lucas and his new friends prepared to go for a laugh?

I can see teachers having a lot of fun reading this out to their classes.

Dawn Raid

By Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith

ISBN 9781775434757

Scholastic NZ

 

 

Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how she can earn enough pocket money to buy some groovy go-go boots that are all the rage, and if she will die of embarrassment giving a speech she has to do for school. It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, talks about protests, overstayers and injustices against Pacific Islanders.

The beauty of the My New Zealand Story series is that we witness some of New Zealand’s important historical moments through the eyes of children. Much is documented from historical times, but it is in general from adults, journalists, and news media. This series takes us behind the scenes, as children tell us in diary entries, what they saw, felt and experienced. 

Sofia begins her diary on June 1976 and initially she comes across as a little naive, although to be fair, it was a different time to the experience  of 13 year olds of today. What makes this book special is that as the story of the dawn raids unfolds, we begin to see a growing maturity in Sofia. A key feature of any good book, is the growth of a character.

Sofia records daily events with honesty and her family life soon becomes familiar to us. Her family is close and extended family are equally important. Slowly, news filters in of the many dawn raids where police storm houses in the middle of the night and arrest overstayers; people from other countries who have stayed longer than their working permits allow. In particular the raids were aimed at Pacific Island nationalities. Through Lenny and his contacts we learn of the reasons for the raids and the underlying theme of racism and human rights. We also learn about the group called the Polynesian Panthers and how they stood up to people in power.

This is a great book to read as a class and to study themes of racism and media reporting and media bias. One of the biggest issues we face today is that of “fake news” and this would be a perfect book to explore the notion that not everything we see or hear is as it really is.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sofia’s story. Loved the many references to the 1970’s music, fashion and television culture.

The old man

By Sarah V

Illustrated by Claude K. Dubois

Translated by Daniel Hahn

ISBN 9781776571918

Gecko Press

Published April 2018

 

It doesn’t matter how hard we try to pretend, we can not ignore the fact that homelessness is real. It happens and it is everywhere. It is confronting but unless we face the issues, we cannot change them. In this simple picture book we meet a little girl who doesn’t walk past an old homeless man living on the streets. She doesn’t ignore him and most importantly, she doesn’t judge him. While adults walk past and pretend to not see him, the little girl stops and talks to the old man. She sees him, cold and lonely leaning against a wall and wrapped in an old blanket. In her innocence, her acknowledgement of the old man as a person, means more than anything. It means hope and hope is everything.

The watercolour illustrations are beautiful. There is a haunting quality to them but at the same time there is a softness, an innocence about them. As we move through the pages yellow tones soon break through the darkness bringing light, warmth and hope. The day-to-day trials of being homeless, of being moved along, of being ignored are so hard that the old man even forgets his own name. It is the honesty of a young girl that gives him hope and helps him find a voice. This is truly a beautiful book and an important one to share.

There is a sneak preview of more images from this picture book here.

There are also teaching notes to make the most of this book and help children understand the plight of the homeless. If we cannot ignore it then we need to learn more about it and help make a difference, just like the young girl in this book did.

The Yark

By Bertrand Santini

Illustrated by Laurent Gapaillard

ISBN 9781776571727

Gecko Press

 

With such a wonderful cover how could you not pick up this book and delve into the story of a child-eating monster. And yes, this hairy monster with the enormous teeth, does in fact eat children, especially the very good children. The naughty ones just make him sick. Everything is going along normally until he meets a little girl named Madeleine who completely turns his world upside down. 

The language is rich and descriptive and beautifully carries us through the story, so much so, that the characters become real to us.

He loves the crackle of their little bones between his teeth, and to suck on their soft eyes, which melt like chocolate truffles. 

 

The black ink illustrations are superb. They are a little bit scary and a little bit funny but have a warmth to them so that despite being a monster, he is kind of cute and we can’t help but like him. I would very happily hang any of the illustrations on my wall.

Perfect for children aged about six and up especially if they like a little wickedness in their reading. 

Don’t just take my word for it but read the first chapter yourself, right here.

If you still want more, especially if you are a teacher, then check out the teaching notes as they will help readers gain a better understanding of the story.