Monday, August 30, 2010

Children's Book Council of Australia 2010 award winners

In this blog you can read about some of the winners for 2010.

1. Picture Book of the Year The Hero of Little Street
2. Younger Readers Book of the Year Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool
3. Early Childhood Picture Book of the Year Bear and Chook by the sea

There were also six honor books. This is a difficult concept to explain to our youngest students. They like the clear cut idea of second or third. In the Picture Book section Honor book Isabella’s Garden used beautiful language and joyful illustrations to tell the story of the seasons using The house that Jack built as a model. Fox and Fine Feathers was an allegory about talents. Nightjar may be plain but his skills with camouflage prove an effective way to ultimately save the lives of his companion birds who live on the forest floor.

In the Younger Readers section I have already reviewed Pearl verses the World and will write more about Running with horses soon.

In my school Early Childhood picture book was the most controversial. The youngest children really enjoyed Fearless although my observation was that only children in Grade 2 and higher really ‘got’ the jokes especially the one a few pages from the end when dad asks “Who’s a fearless boy then” and the dog replies “Is that a trick question?”. I thought the idea at the beginning of the book explaining humans sometimes have the wrong name was a little too abstract and added nothing important to the story but the illustrations and trailer were perfect.

We all enjoyed making links between The Terrible Plop and Chicken Licken and The Gruffalo. It was also good to have The Little Big Book Club to read this book because I am not sure I could have read this book quite so many times (twenty times over two weeks!).

Neither of these books received an award. The only claim to fame for Kip (Honor book) was the fun we had making the rooster noises and I think the adult view of the new house in Clancy and Millie and the very fine house juxtaposed against Clancy’s view as seen in the illustrations was again too abstract for most of my youngest students. If I had a little more time I might have linked this last book with Our House by Bob Graham. I have a copy of the DVD which is just magic and I think might have helped add a better layer of understanding to the game of imagination played by Clancy and Millie. I did use my most favourite book Clouds by Peggy Blakeley to talk about using clouds in a story. If you have ever seen this magical book look in a library grab it quickly – it is a very special with scrumptious illustrations by Kazuo Niizaka.
It has been a good Book Week but I do lament the lack of little junior novels. It seems to me in the past twenty years little chapter books for Grades 2-4 have simply disappeared from the short list. I fondly remember Thing, Berk the Berserker, Boris and Borsch, Bernice Knows best, and of course my long time favourite One Night at Lottie's House. Perhaps 2011 will include some little gems like this. I certainly hope so.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers

It occurred to me today that my earliest memory of reading and enjoying a textless picture book was also a CBCA winner. That book was Sunshine by Jan Omerod which was the winner in 1982 and so it seems we have gone full circle with the CBCA Picture book of the Year for 2010 which is also an amazing textless picture book – this is certainly a story that you need to spend time with. It is The Hero of Little Street a very worthy winner of our prestigious Australian children’s book award.

I am so glad I waited until Book Week to share this book across my school. Perhaps I had a premonition that it would be the winner. Every time we read this book to our classes the children made more and more discoveries. It is now clear that this book is best looked at in conjunction with the two predecessors – The Boy, the bear, the Baron and the Bard and Midsummer Knight It should also be looked at in conjunction with the art of Vermeer and Van Eyck. You can read more at in the teacher notes.

I think children from Grades 2 thought to Grade 6 all found something to relate to in this book - from the bullies chasing our little hero, to the integration of famous art and the wonderful changes of perspective as Gregory Rogers reveals each scene. We also had some interesting discussions about vocabulary – our youngest children asked about china (the special plates of Delft are smashed) and the word butcher! Not one child questioned the lack of printed text though, as our love of Leaf by Stephen Michael King from the CBCA awards last year showed every child books can tell stories even without words!

Reading The Hero of Little Street was made so much easier in our school library because we were able to use the ebook and this new medium also lead to to excellent discussions amongst the students as to the value and purpose of ebooks!

Among my favourite textless picture books are by Peter Collington The tooth fairy, The small miracle, The Angel and the Solider boy and all of these are once again sadly out of print. I would love a copy of The Angel and the Solider boy for my collection. I also love Sunshine by Jan Ormerod. Whenever I put on tights, and layers of skivvies on cool winter mornings I think of the early scenes in Sunshine when the little girl puts on so many layers of warm clothes.
Look for a copy of The Hero of Little Street in your library - it will now have a special GOLD sticker to show it is the winner for 2010 of the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year award.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale illustrated by Nathan Hale

We have over 38,000 resources in our school library so I always have a little smile to myself when children of all ages ask “Have you read every book in this library?” I always answer truthfully and say no but I have read heaps of them. Adding to this list of books I have actually read I can now say I have read and enjoyed a graphic novel – Rapunzel’s Revenge. This is the first book in this format I have read. We don’t own many books graphic novels but our collection is growing. Recently we added a small set of Geronimo Stilton titles in graphic form and of course all the Asterix and Tin Tin adventures are perennial favourites.

As an adult reader it took me a little while to settle into the style of a graphic novel with all those capital letters, action words and little commentary boxes but by about page 50 I found myself thoroughly enjoying this wild adventure.

As a fairy tale Rapunzel is one I really like even though it is very complex. In Rapunzel's Revenge Shannon and Dean Hale flesh out all the reasons why Rapunzel is imprisoned in that tower, why she grows her hair and how romance saves the day. This is not a book for the squeamish however, some of the attacks Punzie and Jack endure are – well quite graphic!!

Just like a young reader I only worked out the identity of Jack about five pages from the end!

I thoroughly recommend Rapunzel's Revenge for any senior primary reader especially for those new to graphic novels or those who love fairy tales or even reluctant readers looking for some wild action.