Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Museum of Thieves The Keepers Book one by Lian Tanner

Imagine if all the things we throw away were taken and stored in a museum. Imagine a city where children are so protected they are forced to live as prisoners within their own families. Imagine waiting until you turn 12 to be set free from chains that tie you to your parents. Imagine that on the day you turn 12 the ceremony where you achieve freedom, called Separation Day, is cancelled and all your hopes annihilated. These are the events at the beginning of Museum of Thieves – The Keepers Book One. Goldie is our young heroine and while she has the skills, spirit and determination to escape all this horror she does not know her own strengths or abilities quite yet. As she runs away Goldie sets off a chain of events that will leave you breathless.

You will feel like you are reading about a long ago time with character names like Guardian Hope and Guardian Comfort and Toadspit, Jude, Olga Ciavolga, Fugleman, the Protector and Sinew. But the imagined creatures and horror of the corrupt authority figures mean this is a purely imagined world – thank goodness. The level of betrayal and duplicity by Fugelman to his sister is amazing. Once again we have some strong political messages just like the ones in Toby Alone and in those fabulous books by Michelle Paver.

Speaking of imagined creatures these ones are fabulous. There is a Brizzlehound called Broo and Morg – a slaughterbird and other creatures which just get a mention, but are somehow easy to imagine too, like the sloomerkin.

If you love dogs you will adore Broo. “Cautiously, she stroked his ear. It was warmer and silkier than she expected. … The little dog wagged his tail so furiously that his whole body wagged with it. Then before Goldie could stop him, he jumped into her lap, put his paws on her shoulders and began to lick her face with his hot red tongue.”

Lian Tanner is such a descriptive writer you can really see the museum where Goldie finds sanctuary and true friendship. The old city and the museum itself reminded me of my favourite book Momo.

If you enjoyed Fearless by Tim Lott, all the books of Cornelia Funke, Skulduggery Pleasant and books by Zizou Corder then you must read The Keepers.

When you read Lian’s web site you will see a list of her favourite books and from this is was easy for me to recognize her inspiration. I also found some fabulous reviews which teachers should read.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

If bees rode shiny bicycles by Michelle A. Taylor

I know I have not reviewed many poetry books but here is one to treasure and it came to my attention again because we have just purchased the audio version so each day for the last week I have listened to this lovely assortment of poems as I drive to and from my school.

I won’t quote the whole poem from the title it is a little too long but here are a couple of verses :
If music shone like silver
And books were made of bread
If words were jam and treacle
And hugs were coloured thread

If sleep was socks and slippers
And Sunday was a frog
If bees rode shiny bicycles
With an octopus for cogs ...

If money was marbles and lollipops
And word an annoying itch
If imaginations were endless
Then we’d all be rich!

My favourite poems in this collection are Lollipops, Green peas, Chasing the clock and the four poems about the seasons called Ten Syllables.

In this web site you can see the first 30 pages of the book in full. For teachers if you are talking about insects or sea creatures or Australia Animals and you want a poem or two then this is the perfect book. Also the title poem might inspire your writers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Toby and the secrets of the tree by Timothee de Fombelle

This book left me breathless and while I didn't want it to end I also didn't want to stop reading. It is essential to read the first one before tackling this sequel and so I am glad I finished the first one on Saturday and started the second on Sunday as I think I might have lost track of all these wonderful and interconnected characters.

I am not going to outline the plot I am just going to say once you read Toby alone you must rush out and get Toby and the secrets of the Tree it is fabulous.

Once again the writing is just magical. Here is a tiny taste when Toby once again visits the Asseldor family this time at Christmas.

"Toby surveyed the table in all its finery. It was that Asseldor magic touch capable of laying on a feast at the end of the world. And in the great tradition of Seldor, places had been laid for the two visitors even though they hadn't been invited ... it's hard to say what makes a party unforgettable. A party is a mystery that can't be manufactured."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle

One of the most satisfying parts of my job as a Teacher Librarian is when a student recommends a book to me. Last week a Year 6 boy asked me if we had the sequel to Toby Alone and I knew at once he must have really enjoyed this book so I grabbed it with both hands and last night I sat down and began to read and read and read.

This book is a winner. It is a world in miniature but you soon forget this as Toby fights for survival and his father, a scientist, realizes the tree they all live in is in extreme danger. The people of this book are about one millimeter tall and their whole world is a large oak tree. As with any society there are greedy evil people who are out to exploit the riches around them and there are special heroes and friends who help each other in times of great need.

“Toby’s father subscribed to the crazy idea that the Tree was growing. It was an extremely controversial notion …. Does the Tree change? It is eternal? Where did it come from? Will the world end? And, most important, above all: is there life beyond the Tree?”

Toby Lolness, his dad Sim and mother Maya are a perfect little loving family unit until Sim makes an amazing discovery about tree sap. In the wrong hands the power of the sap could destroy the world as they know it – just like nuclear power or petrol or gun powder – so Sim decides to keep the details of his findings a secret. He is immediately banished with his family to the low branches of the tree.

“Toby didn’t tuck himself into bed on the first evening the Lolness family entered their new home. The three of them sat on his parents bed, in front of a crackling fire. They held hands.”

This is a book of complex story telling with constant flash backs and a host of characters but the writing is so wonderful it just carries you along.

I love so many things about this book and as with all good books I just want to put it into the hands of as many readers as I can. The language is fabulous (interestingly this book was originally written in French), the relationships are sincere and special, the messages are strong but not delivered in any heavy handed way. There is an ecological message but I also found a strong political message about corruption and power. Throughout the story there are funny moments such as weevils playing funnyball, touching moments when Toby draws flowers and these are recognized by Isha, Elisha’s mother and the comic relief of Sim and his glasses which are so difficult to remake. Finally of course there are plenty of references to inventive and delicious sounding foods including honey pancakes!

This book reminded me of so many others – The Amazing adventures of Chilly Billy and The Borrowers (size), Chronicles of Ancient Darkness (survival in a strange landscape), The Guardians of Ga'Hoole (politics and subversion) and Time stops for no mouse (fabulous character names).

Finally I loved this book so much that today I went shopping and bought the sequel in hardcover! After only 3 chapters I am once again hooked into the world of Toby and his friends. My top 20 all time favourite books constantly expands - but here is another one to add to that list. I also read all the print reviews I had here at home including Magpies, Horn Book and Reading Time and I must ask why no one seemed to shout from the highest treetops that this is a fabulous book. At least Horn Book gave it a "2" which is almost their highest rating and I see from the inside flap that it won heaps of awards in France. Once again I would say go out and grab this book you will not be disappointed. You might like to watch a little trailer.