Monday, July 4, 2011

Nibble a Nibble

I started these holidays with a dip into four terrific little Aussie Nibbles. As promised earlier I am continuing to read my way through this series. These four were all a treat to read but I especially enjoyed Sami’s Genies.

Sami comes from a poor family and like our old friend Jack of Jack and the beanstalk Sami is sent to the market to sell something, in this case eggs, to raise some money. On the way he meets a man who has a box filled with lamps. Sami swaps the eggs for the four lamps and when he gets home he begins to polish them.

As you would expect the lamps contain genies who grant wishes but these wishes are most surprising and Sami now has a pile of camel dung, a pair of false teeth, a floor rug and a baby hippopotamus. The real power of this story comes as we discover the ingenious way Sami makes use of each of these ‘treasures’ and how he and the genii are able to restore the family fortunes, assist Sami’s grandfather Ali and allow Sami himself to follow his dream of learning to read and attending school.

Katherine England has succeeded in writing an engrossing and funny junior chapter book and this is one title I will certainly recommend to my youngest students.

In Blast Off we meet Adam who wants to be an astronaut. He puts together a terrific outfit using his brother’s old parka, bike helmet and snorkel and heads off with his family to visit his aunt. While playing with his cousins he throws an empty drink bottle into the neighbor’s yard. The cousins retreat in horror but Adam bravely heads through the fence. He discovers the neighbor has a space ship in his shed and Adam is invited to go for a test flight. The real identity of the neighbor, the fun of the ‘journey’ and the twist at the end all make for a very satisfying read. Margaret Clark really knows her audience. In space Adam needs to eat so Marvin supplies special space shuttle food in a tube like toothpaste so it won’t float away. Then there is the problem of going to the toilet. “You want to go the the toilet? Proper astronauts just do it! …. Like a baby. You did wear the proper padded pants didn’t you?”
Books fall open and we fall in. I have always loved this little expression and it is the perfect way to describe The Girl who fell into a book by Julia Lawrinson. Annie loves to read although the power of a great book to transport and delight you seems to be missing from her parents experience and I found this very sad. Luckily Annie does not give up her passion and despite their pleading, Annie continues to read book after book. One day a little fairy, a boy fairy appears on her shoulder. He needs Annie to help him get rid of a wild cat that has been terrorizing all the fairies.

The illustrations in this one are just perfect by Anne Spudvilias. This is one of the things I really like about Aussie Nibbles, the publishers employ some of our most talented Australian illustrators such as Craig Smith, Stephen Michael King, Tom Jellett, Ann James and Mitch Vane.

Speaking of illustrations they are magical in The Magic Violin. Jimbo is learning to play the violin but all he can make are excruciating sounds that drive everyone, including the violin itself, crazy. The violin takes matters into its own hands and produces beautiful music. Jimbo becomes famous and rich but Jimbo feels there is something important missing in his life.

If you are looking for a satisfying read at a simple level you will not be disappointed by these four gems.

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