Saturday, April 4, 2020

Skyfire by Frank Asch

Yesterday was National Find a Rainbow Day.  I love this idea. Looking for rainbows seems like a beautiful thing to do especially during these difficult times around the world. Rainbows have always seemed some how quite miraculous to me.

Moonbear has never seen a rainbow. He thinks the sky is on fire. He rushes off with his pot of water and after climbing a hill he tosses the water at the rainbow. Just at the moment the rainbow fades away.  Little Bird knows the truth about rainbows. He knows you can find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and this is exactly what happens. Little Bird calls out to Moonbear and tells him to come over to the hollow tree. Inside they find honey!

"Bear made honey cakes.
After dinner they went for a boat ride.
For a long while they were very quiet.
Then Little Bird said, 'So it was a rainbow, and I found the pot of gold!'
'Oh no, it wasn't,' replied Bear.
'It was a sky fire ...  and I put it out!"

I love all the Moonbear books but my favourite is Happy Birthday Moon. This week we will have a full moon and as usual I will take a little time to talk to the moon just like Moonbear.

The series of Moonbear books by Frank Asch all contain four squares on the first page which explain or show the science principal behind the story. Here  are two examples:

This second one shows the changing seasons from the book Mooncake.

You are sure to need more rainbow books - my friend at Kinderbookswitheverything has set up a Rainbows Pinterest collection with lots of great titles to explore.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Moon by Alison Olver

Moon lives an over scheduled life. Homework, soccer, trumpet, tutoring, "stuff and more stuff blah blah blah." Moon completes her tasks diligently but she questions the pattern of her life.

"What would it feel like to be free?
To run. To yell. To be wild. 
Can you learn to be wild?"

One evening Moon finds some footprints outside and in her garden she finds a wolf. The wolf offers Moon a ride and the pair set off into the forest. Moon has a wonderful evening of freedom. She learns to pounce and howl but the most special thing she discovers is "how to be still. How to listen and feel."

This is an exquisite book and one you could share many times with a young child. I wanted to stroke the wolf - his fur looks so inviting and soft.  Here is a set of discussion questions.

Alison Oliver has just published a companion volume to Moon - appropriately called Sun. I have added it to my too read list.

Alison Oliver has created truly special illustrations for Moon. Take a look at her web site - Sugar.

I would pair Moon with a Australian book Ella and the Ocean because this is also a book about the way experiences can alter our mind set and world view.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Tomie dePaola (1934-2020)

I was sad to read yesterday that Tomie dePaola had died.  In 1994 I bought my little Strega Nona doll because I am a huge fan of this series. She has traveled to my schools and lived in various classrooms over the years. There are more than fifteen books with the character Strega Nona.

Along with the Strega Nona books I also love Oliver Button is a Sissy.

Tomie wrote over 270 books.  You can listen to Tomie talking about his books here - The Children's Book podcast - where he discusses one of his newest titles - Quiet. Make sure you listen right to the end and around the 40 min mark you will hear Tomie talk about the state of children's book illustrations today and the way many books all look the same.  Here is a final quote from this podcast "I wish (for) children to be happy and to read a lot" - Tomie dePaola.

Here are the first two books he illustrated back in 1965.

I also found a  Brightly (Penguin Random House) interview with Tomie where he talks about his early art experiences and shares his advice to young artists. To understand more about Tomie take a look at his book Tom and his book The Art Lesson.

Here are some of my favourite books by Tomie dePaola.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Wombats can't fly by Michael Dugan illustrated by Jane Burrell

Tuesday Treasure

One of my favourite books to share with young children is A house for Wombats. It is the perfect book to use when you are exploring the power of the imagination.

Wombats Can't Fly (1996) takes the power of imagination one step further. These young wombats truly believe they CAN fly and they won't let the adults and their rational arguments stop them.

Wombats can chew roots with their strong teeth.
Wombats can dig burrows with their strong claws.
Wombats can find their way through the bush on a dark moonless night.
Wombats can sleep snugly through the cold cays of winter.

The young wombats listen to these facts but all the while they are collecting parts to attach to the huge balloon they have found. Putting all the pieces together our little pair sail off up into the sky proving that wombats truly can fly!

Here is an interview with Jane Burrell by the Tasmanian Premiers Reading Challenge team.

This is the fourth book in a series about these cute wombats. My only small quibble is I wish this book had been made in the same format as the others - landscape not portrait.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake Translated by Linda Burgess

"Once there was a little rabbit who could only say one thing ... "

On my last visit to the Book Bunker at Westmead Children's Hospital I picked up a few funny books to share with my reading group at a local school. Sadly I can no longer go to the Bunker at this time and my visit to the school was also cancelled but I thought I would share this book with you.

I can only guess what my little group might think about this book but I think it would make them laugh after the initial shock of a teacher uttering the forbidden words - poo bum!

In every situation the little rabbit can only reply poo bum. When mum wakes him up; When dad tells him to eat his spinach; When his big sister invites him to take a bath; And when a wolf asks him:

"May I eat you, my little rabbit?"  You know the answer!

"And so the wolf ate the little rabbit."

At home the wolf himself now has a problem. He can only say the words poo bum. The wolf calls the doctor. "The very brave doctor went looking for his little rabbit."  Have you guessed the identity of the doctor - he is little rabbit's dad! The doctor rescues his son and discovers a big change in his little boy. But wait for the last page - there is a new, also shocking, word coming!

Poo Bum is published by the wonderful Gecko Press. They specialise in bringing us books from other countries. Poo Bum was originally published in French under the title "Caca boudin."  Listen to the French version here - it has brilliant sound effects. 

 It will please children, both its use of rude words and its sly endorsement of children’s resistance to and manipulation of adults. Books for Keeps

Poo Bum is outstanding. It’s wicked and naughty and just far enough past that edge of inappropriate to feel naughty, but not to far so that people get alienated. Did you ever stop to think (Blog)

Stephanie Blake has a whole series of funny books about the little rabbit. These are well worth hunting out so you can enjoy a laugh with your children during this difficult time.

CBCA Short List announced tomorrow!

I am sure to be wrong but once again I am going to try to predict the CBCA short list for 2020. There are five categories - Picture Book, Early Childhood Picture Book, Younger Readers, Older Readers and the Eve Pownall Award for Non Fiction. I will focus on Picture Book, Early Childhood and Younger Readers.

In several previous posts I attempted to predict the Notable titles. In each category twenty titles were listed last month. Tomorrow (31st March, 2020) the CBCA will announce the six titles in each category for the short list and then in August the winners will be announced.

The category that I had the most difficulty with for 2020 was Younger Readers. There are three other titles I could add here but I am only allowed to predict six.  I wish I could also add A Great Escape; Catch a Falling Star; and As Happy as Here by Jane Godwin.

Here are my short list predictions or this might better be called my hope list:

Younger Readers

Detention by Tristan Bancks
The Little Wave by Pip Harry
A Different Land by Paul Jennings
The Dog runner by Bren MacDibble
Sick Bay by Nova Weetman
The Secrets of Magnolia Moon by Edwina Wyatt

Picture Book of the Year

Ella and the Ocean by Lian Tanner illustrated by Jonathan Bentley
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
Three by Stephen Michael King
Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour
Mallee Sky by Jodi Toering illustrated by Tanya Harricks
One Tree by Christopher Cheng illustrated by Bruce Whatley

Early Childhood Picture Book

Little Puggle's Song by Vikki Conley illustrated by Helene Magisson
We're Stuck by Sue deGennaro
Ivanhoe Swift left home at Six by Jane Godwin illustrated by A Yi
I see, I see by Robert Henderson
Little Bird's Day by Sally Morgan illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja
Goodbye House, Hello House by Margaret Wild illustrated by Ann James

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Running Girl by Simon Mason

I discovered this series - Garvie Smith Mysteries -  when I read Hey, Sherlock!  Running Girl is the first book in this exciting trilogy.

Look at the front cover. The mystery clues are all there.

Dead body - A young girl, Chloe Dow,  is found murdered. She is an ex-girlfriend of Garvie Smith.

Shoes - She is wearing very distinctive coloured shoes. Garvie Smith, the young detective, seems to be the only person who questions why Chloe Dow would wear shoes like this. Chloe was known for her sense of fashion and these shoes, which are lime green and orange, do not match her running outfit or her sense of personal style.

Button - where did this come from? Detective Singh finds Chloe's former boyfriend. Alex, is missing a button on his jacket. A button was found in Chloe's garden on the night the body was found but Garvie knows the button did not come from Alex's jacket.

Porsche - Chloe's step dad reports seeing a black Porsche and this lead takes Garvie to the casino. It seems Chloe has been going there too and she seems to have made some dangerous friends but no one wants to talk to Garvie. The young girls who work at the Casino are fearful of their violent boss.

Suspects - creepy school caretaker with a mysterious possibly criminal background; Alex, Chloe's drug dealer and dysfunctional former boyfriend; teacher Mr MacArthur.

So who is Garvie Smith? He is a sixteen year old high school kid. He is a genius but school is the wrong fit for him. He spend more time out of school than actually in a classroom. His mother is beyond exasperated with him. She is threatening to take him back to Barbados.

If you enjoy television crime stories, especially ones with twists that you absolutely do not anticipate then this is the right book for you. Close to the end when you think this murder is solved and that you (as co-detective) had picked the right guy you'll discover everyone has the wrong guy wrong. Garvie has slowly been piecing this puzzle into a form that makes sense. I gasped when he revealed the truth.

Last week I picked up a copy of Running Girl by Simon Mason. I read a few pages while waiting for a friend in the middle of the day then later that night I began to read in earnest. At 1.40am I lifted my head - yes this book is THAT good! This book is for a Young Adult audience because there are references to smoking and drug use. I highly recommend this book for readers 14+.

Click each of these review quotes to read more plot details:

The Book BagThe whodunnit plot is incredibly intricate and beautifully worked out with clues and the application of logic. It's full of twists and turns and it is truly gripping.

Teen Reads: With all the right red herrings and colorful characters to rival Dashiell Hammett, Simon Mason’s YA murder thriller RUNNING GIRL is sure to hook and reel in even the less than interested. It moves too fast to let go of anyone’s attention and the pay off at the end is so insanely satisfying.