Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The ABC Book of Seasons by Helen Martin, Judith Simpson & Cheryl Orsini

Seasons come ... seasons go ... sun shines ... winds blow ... rain falls ... plants grow... 

From the bestselling creators of THE ABC BOOK OF CARS, TRAINS, BOATS AND PLANES comes a glorious hardback picture book which celebrates the joys of each season. 

From Autumn's 'red, yellow, brown leaves' to Winter's 'sparkly cold snow', the text also introduces children to the concept of weather and its changing patterns.

This book is perfect for sharing. The illustrations are bright and clear and the text is simple. There’s scope to talk about what’s happening on the page, and then opening discussions to what happens during the seasons where there readers live. 

There are also little adjuncts to the seasons too, such as looking at windy days in autumn, asking the general question of “What moves in the wind?’ and matching up animal mothers and babies when talking about Spring.

This book is Australian, so it’s identifiable for most readers that experience four seasons. There are surf lifesavers on the beach, backyard cricket and native flowers. There is a mention of snow in winter, but in Australia it does actually snow…it just depends where you live. The book begins and ends with the same image and text, and the circular image simply shows the cyclical nature of the seasons, with the text ‘Seasons come…seasons go…Sun shines…wind blows…rain falls…plants grow.’

While not every book has to 'fit in with the Australian Curriculum' this one does, so for those that are interested, here's where I think you can use it.

Science / Foundation Year / Science Understanding / Earth and space sciences
Daily and seasonal changes in our environment, including the weather, affect everyday life

Humanities and Social Sciences / Geography / Year 1 / Geographical Knowledge and Understanding
The weather and seasons of places and the ways in which different cultural groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, describe them.
Comparing the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander People’s seasonal calendar for the local area with one students are familiar with, such as the four-seasons calendar derived from Europe.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tinklers Three Book 1: A Very Good Idea by Meredith Badger

The Tinklers are not your normal family. 

Their father is a tightrope walker, and their mother rides a white horse…in the travelling circus. 

This leaves the Tinkler children, Mila age 10, Marcus age 8 and Turtle age 3 left at home…alone. For any adults reading thinking that this is not the responsible type of parenting we want portrayed in books for children, fear not...there is indeed a mature adult (Mrs....) who lives in the building and keeps a watchful (but distant) eyes on the three Tinklers.

Because they live alone, they have come up with some interesting rules, some of them quite reasonable, such as:

‘Breakable things must be kept on the top shelf in the kitchen’ 

others more peculiar, such as:
‘ You MUST NOT keep BISCUITS in the BATH’. 

On this particular day the Tinklers decide that they would like to go from their house to the clock tower…without touching the ground, what unfolds is very funny and at times very clever, but you will have to read the book to see if they make it! This will be a great new series for newly independent reader who wants something a little bit different. 

There are three books out so far in this new series.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Road to Gundagai by Jackie French

This is the third book in the Matilda Saga, which includes A Waltz for Matilda and A Girl From Snowy River. Set in 1932, the story follows Blue, a young woman, who has lost her family and is slowly being poisoned by her Aunts’, when the circus comes to town everything changes. With the help of Fred, Blue sneaks away in the dead of the night…and joins the Magnifico Family Circus. 

The story unfolds over the years that Blue spends with the circus, so we read about day to day life of the circus, and how the small number of people who make up the circus, take on many different persona's throughout the show. There is also a lot to learn about the depression and the hardships people faced, not only the circus folk, but the people in the towns they visited.

While this is the third book is the series, you don’t need to have read the others to enjoy it, the story stands alone but it does feature characters form the two earlier books such as Miss Matilda and Joseph McAlpine. 

There is just so much depth to this story; you could say it’s about the depression, but it also about family, values, strength, independence and identity. As with a lot of Jackie Frenchs’ books you don’t get a great story without some mature content, we read of children being sold into slavery, beatings, rape and murder.  In saying that I think this book is fine for Upper Primary aged readers, as well as Secondary school aged., this series features incredible strong female characters and I think girls of age 12+ won’t be able to put it down.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jonathan by Peter Carnavas illustrated by Amanda Francey

I love a book that starts at the end papers, and this one does. Jonathan, stuffed rabbit abandoned, hands in pockets, head down and kicking a stone...he is not happy…he wants something fun to do. 

Jonathan’s idea of fun is to scare members of his family, so he dresses as a lion and hides behind the curtains, and jumps out at Dad, Dad’s response is 

Not scary, Jonathan.’ 

No matter what scary animal he tries to be, no one gets scared. When Jonathan finds himself climbing a bumpy green hill, he just might have found the scary thing he was looking for.

This is a simple story that would be great to read aloud with all of the scary animal sounds, and it had a little twist at the end that I didn’t see coming and it made me smile.