Saturday, October 31, 2015

My reading pile

Just thought I might share a few of the titles of  books on my reading pile right now. We have had some huge book deliveries over the last two weeks and my reading pile is growing taller and taller.

Several weeks ago a young boy greeted me at the school gate.  It was 8am and he was on his way to band practice but he stopped to tell me about two books he thought should be added to our school library.  Luckily I was right in the middle of a big book order so just ten minutes later I added these two books.

Loki's Wolves by KL Armstrong and the sequel Odin's Ravens
Here is a little extract from the blurb:
"In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok that only the gods can stop.  But the gods died a long time ago...."

The following week a Grade Six teacher sent a message to the library requesting this book.  His class had enjoyed the trailer and were keen to read the book.

Fire Girl by Matt Ralphs
Here is a little extract from the blurb:
"Perfectly ordinary Hazel Hooper has spent her whole life trapped in an isolated forest with her magic mother.  But everything changes when her mother is kidnapped - by a demon."

We have several very, very keen readers in our school library as you would expect but one boy in particular stands out.  He is in Grade 4 and often borrows a book one day and returns for a different one the next day.  Last week he borrowed this book and so I was curious.

Floors by Patrick Carman
I have read about 100 pages of the 276 and hope to finish this one tonight so I will tell you a little more soon.  Here is a extract from the blurb :
"There's no place on earth like the Whippet Hotel.  Every floor has its surprises and secrets. Guests are either mad or mysterious.  And ducks are everywhere."

In 2011 I read a funny little book called Small Change for Stuart.  I see now that I did not include it here in this blog so I will quickly re-read this first volume before opening the second.

Big Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans
"Ten year-old Stuart Horten has just learned that he's the owner of an incredible magician's workshop.  A workshop full of magnificent illusions.  Each one the gateway to a magical adventure."

This one has been on my pile for a few weeks and even though the beginning seems quite promising I am a little bit daunted by the length of 378 pages of very small print.  James O'Loghlin is a well known broadcaster here in Australia and I am sure he has written a terrific book I just need to settle down and read.

The adventures of Sir Roderick the not-very Brave by James O'Loghlin
"In a land where peace is threatened by assassin, invading armies and unhappy peasants, one knight must be brave enough to journey forth on  a great quest."

Finally this book is already famous even though it was only published very recently.  All children's literature fans know about Brian Selznick and his superb books The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck.

The Marvels by Brian Selzick

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Misty by Christine Dencer illustrated by Jessica Meserve

I spend a great deal of time reading reviewing journals and online book sites which means I cannot remember where I heard about Misty.  I guess this is not important.  The main thing is that this little book is a very welcome addtion to our library collection and in particular our collection of very simple beginner chapter books that somehow manage to contain terrific stories presented in just a few words and pages.

Sophie is terrified of dogs.  Her friend Stanley has a huge black dog called Misty.  Sophie simply cannot visit her friend or play in his garden since Misty arrived.  Then Stanley has a accident and someone needs to deliver his get-well cards.  Sophie volunteers but then realizes she will have to get past Misty.

"So I sit on my front steps.  Misty sits at the end of her long rope across the street at Stanley's house. 'Where's is Stanley?' I call.  Misty wags her tail. 'Woof!' she says.  I do not understand."

Of course there is a solution to this problem but taking those first steps into Stanley's front yard takes enormous courage.  I guess this might be the first book in a series. I hope the next title arrives very soon.

You can read the true story and inspiration for this book here.  Misty was short listed for the Chocolate Lily Awards which is a children's choice award in British Columbia, Canada.  I should also mention the illustrator Jessica Meserve.  We have her Daisy Dawson books in our school library - they are another little book series which I adore.

You might also like to read Iris and Walter and also the Annie and Simon books.

Mango & Bambang - The Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

I am so excited to tell you about this book - Mango & Bambang The Not-a-Pig.  This little book is absolutely wonderful - a tiny gem.  I love EVERYTHING about this book.  The cover, the purple edged pages, the heroine Mango and most especially her shy friend, the tapir, Bambang.

Mango is walking in her big busy city when she sees a traffic jam.  She moves in closer to investigate the problem and sees a strange lump on the zebra crossing.  Here is a hint for you.  Tapir's have large sections of black and white fur. Mango works so hard to convince Bambang to follow her home.  She offers him banana pancakes with  syrup and cream.  Mango is kind and patient but she is also determined to help her new friend. Finally when all the city noises become unbearable and with the threat of  a digger roaring down the road, Mango bravely makes a loud speech using the police megaphone - hence the capital letters :


This brave announcement works.  Everyone calms down and so Bambang uncurls from his little ball of fear and walks home with his new friend.  He knows he will be safe because he has always been keen on mangoes, perhaps there is no immediate threat from a tiger and there is the promise of pancakes

One special part of this story comes near the end.  In the last story it is Bambang who is able to rescue little Mango when she has to perform with her clarinet at the Big City Concert.  It would be fun to read this chapter with a little clarinet music playing in the background. You could also pick up  a copy of Herman and Rosie which has a similar final scene with a big city backdrop.  I would also pick up a copy of Tua and the Elephant which has a similar theme of animal rescue and care but for a slightly older reader.

There are four little interlinked stories in this book and with 142 pages it would be a perfect little read-a-loud for a young class or with your family.

This is the first book.  I hope the second arrives very soon.

How did I find this little book?  Once again I have to thank Bloomin' Books at Carringbah.  Kate Colley has a wonderful eye for terrific little books like this.

This is the first book by Polly Faber and she has been so lucky Walker Books asked Clara Vulliamy to be the illustrator.  Every picture on every page is a delight.

Mango and Bambang have their own web site. The video on this site is perfect.  Please take two minutes to watch.  Library Mice have an interview with Polly Faber and you can see some pages from this book.  You can read a glowing review here if I have not convinced you that this truly is a ten out of ten book!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The girl who bought mischief by Katrina Nannestad

This book has been in our school library for nearly two years and the cover has intrigued me but it has taken me until this weekend to pick it up.  Have you guessed what I am going to say?  Yes it is another of those amazing books that I just devoured in one sitting.

I am not sure how to express this with out offending the author or publisher but reading this book you will have no idea it is Australian or associate the author with her other books Red Dirt Diaries.  This books feels so European.

Inge Maria goes to live with her stern grandmother on a remote island in Denmark.  Her father has died and while we are not told until the end, Inge has also suffered another huge loss.  Life in Bornholm is completely different to the one she loved in Copenhagen.  Living with her grandmother Inge has to learn farm duties such as milking cows, tending pigs and collecting eggs.  Bath time involves so much vigorous scrubbing Inge thinks she has lost a layer of skin. She also has to help with enormous quantities of hand washing and wringing.

"Saturday is washing day.  We build a blazing fire in the kitchen and boil post of laundry as though we are going to make stocking soup, bed-linen stew and bonnet broth.  I have never done laundry before.  Mama always sent ours away ... It would return in brown paper parcels tied up with string, clean and pressed like magic. 
...When it is time to wring the water out of the bed linen we go outside into the chilly morning air.  Grabbing opposite ends of a sheet, we twist it around and around until it is a short thick rope and all of the water has been squeezed out onto the ground."

But the most heart-breaking thing is she has to cope with the little rural school and its archaic rules about silence, spelling and a segregated playground. Luckily in this same school Inge makes a truly special friend - a boy called Klaus.

Through all of this Inge must try hard to stay out of mischief but it seems no matter how hard she tries mischief catches her unawares.

Now we come to why I loved this book.  The story here is about reactions.  There were so many times during this story that I just gasped - how would her grandmother or another adult react to each catastrophe?

Inge - Half her hair is eaten off by the goat who is also on the little boat taking her to Bornholm
Grandmother could:
1.  Scold
2.  Cut off the rest of her hair
3.  Knit Inge a new hat

The answer is 3.  "Grandmother surprises me by pulling a red woollen hat down on my head. I run to the mirror by the door and laugh at the thick, floppy folds topped by the biggest pom-pom I have ever seen."

Inge - is given a tiny slither of cake so thin you can almost see through it.  She is starving hours later when they finally leave Angelina's house
Grandmother could:
1.  Scold Inge for her ungrateful attitude
2.  Ignore Inge and briskly walk home
3.  Reach into her pocket and pull out ...

The answer is 3.  "Grandmother pulls a parcel from her pocket.  She unwraps brown paper and hands me a thick wedge of cheese and an apple."

I also loved the way little Inge's personality shone through in the writing.  When she sees a beautiful spoon or a pretty teapot she thanks them for giving her pleasure.  I truly want to meet Inge and be her friend.

You might like to read this review.  Here is a video interview with the author filmed in the office of Harper Collins - make sure you look at the view from their office.  I was surprised to see I had missed this book when it was listed by the CBCA as a notable book for 2014.  If I had read it back then I would have predicted this book would reach the short-list (and receive a prize) but just like another fabulous book from that year The view from the 32nd floor, The girl who bought mischief didn't make the final six but it did win the NSW Premiers Award in 2014 thank goodness!  I heartily agree with the judges report.

After reading this book an older student might enjoy West of the Moon by Margi Preus (not suitable for Middle Primary).  This book also reminded me of Waffle Hearts.  You can read more about Katrina Nannestad here.

Before reading this book, which I guarantee you will enjoy, take a little time to reacquaint yourself with some of the classic Hans Christian Andersen stories which Inge reads such as The Princess and the Pea and The Emperors New Clothes.  You can read a sample of The girl who bought mischief if I have not yet convinced you to rush into a library and borrow this terrific book.   It is also available as an ebook.

Here is the US cover with a different title which will be released early in 2016.

The night fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz illustrated by Angela Barrett part two

Once again on Friday I looked around my library for a handful of books to bring home for the weekend.  I keep recommending The night fairy and one reader recently agree it was good so I thought I would re-read it.  I rarely do this but after reading this book again last night I can say I thoroughly enjoyed The night fairy all over again.

You might like to read my original post.  Today I am going to talk about using this book with a class and in particular the wonderful descriptions and amazing tension Laura Amy Schlitz provides in this little book.

Here is a perfect description :

"On the night of Flory's peril, she was less than three months old.  It was a windy night: cool and sweet with springtime.  Flory was coasting on the breeze, letting it toss her wherever it liked.  She was still very tiny - as tall as an acorn - and her green wings glittered in the moonlight."

There is so much to talk about here with your class.  The punctuation as a device to add meaning and pacing to your reading.  Glorious words such as coasting.  Phrases such as 'cool and sweet with springtime'.

Another description

"Her little house was full of things she has made : a lily-leaf hammock, a quilt of woven grass, and a score of airy gowns crafted from poppies and rose petals.  She had food saved for the winter ... three snapdragon flowers stuffed with pollen."

Here is a really tense scene when Flory is confronted by a praying mantis.

"Her heart stood still.  A praying mantis squatted in the barberry bush.  ... As Flory gaped at him, his antennae twitched.  He turned his head as if he knew she was there.  His head was triangular, with bulging green eyes on the side.  Flory went cold.  She knew how dangerous he was - how suddenly he could strike.  She also knew what was in store if he caught her.  His spiky forelegs would dig into her flesh. The mantis would lift her to his bristled mouth and bite through her neck. Then he would eat her body, saving her head for last."

If you need an extract to convince the boys in your class they will actually enjoy this "fairy book" I would use this passage.  Those final words "saving her head for last" are sure to cause a reaction! Look at all those verbs - squatted, gaped, twitched, dig, lift, bite.

The illustrations in this book are also very special and could easily be used as writing inspiration.  I have included one below.  In the US there has been a theatre adaption made of this book  That might also be a terrific project for your class - how would you turn this book into a play - write one scene in this format.  You can see a tiny part of the production here and some very detailed teaching notes.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Use your imagination by Nicola O'Byrne

It is always such fun to read a book when you know the outcome but you also know it will be funny and the baddie will be defeated.  Even the youngest child will predict the outcome of Use your imagination (But be careful what you wish for!) where we meet our two characters - Rabbit who is feeling a little bored and Wolf who has his usual wolfish motivation.  I am sure you have already guessed what this is.

"Why don't we write a story?" said Wolf. "I am a librarian, you know, and librarians know a lot about stories."

Perhaps the next page will help you recognize this story as rabbit says "What big ears you've got ... And what big eyes you've got!"  Wolf stops Rabbit thinking any further about these famous words with the repeated refrain 'Use your imagination'.  He tells rabbit to think of a topic such as a fairy tale. To think of a baddie (that's the wolf) and a hero (that's the Rabbit).  A setting (what about the forest) and now the story can begin. Luckily just in time Rabbit realizes he can use his imagination and he can change the predicable outcome of this story into something much better.

You might also enjoy Open very carefully a book with bite by the same author and Do not open this book by Michaela Muntean both of which you will find in our school library.

Inside this book there is a QR Code which allows you to access an audio version of this book.

You can see some sample pages here and I have included one below.

Monday, October 19, 2015

So B. It by Sarah Weeks

One of the lucky things about working in a well resourced school library is the ability to follow and author.  After reading As simple as it seems and Pie I was very keen to read more books by Sarah Weeks and so I purchased So B. It for our library.

This book is a deeply personal and emotional story of one very special little girl and her determination to discover her true identity.  Heidi has a strange life and no memories of her past.  She is living with her severely disabled mum but has a lot of help from a neighbour Bernadette who has her own demons - she simply cannot leave her own apartment.

"We don't know exactly when my birthday is because I don't have a birth certificate, and Mama didn't know when her own birthday was, let alone mine.  So we celebrated on February twelfth because as close as she could figure, I was about a week old on February nineteenth, which is when Bernadette found Mamma and me standing in the hallway outside her door."

So B. It will be enjoyed by a sensitive reader who takes time to walk with Heidi through her moving journey.  You might like to read this review by Jen Robinson.

I recommend looking for The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson if you enjoy So B. It.  I also recommend The Honest truth as another book to read after So B. It.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Circus of thieves and the raffle of doom by William Sutcliffe

A young boy in my school library was very keen last week to borrow the sequel to Circus of thieves and the raffle of doom. (see below for the cover)  I was curious.  I had not read this first book so naturally over this weekend I dived right in and I am so very, very glad I did.  This book is so funny!  I kept reading terrific little sections that I wanted to quote.  Here are a few of them which will give you an idea about some of the characters in this wild adventure.

Fizzer the dog - no one knows who he belongs to or where he came from but he is essential to the story
"Fizzer often felt sorry for humans.  It must be incredibly frustrating to have to do everything so slowly, and to be practically blind, nose-wise, not to mention half deaf and totally ignorant about everything of any real importance.  If it wasn't for their ability to open tins of dog food, humans would be almost completely useless."

Maurice the trapeze artist - a minor character but this description is so fabulous
"At the front was Maurice, the trapeze artist, whose name is pronounced Murrggghhheeece, as if you are gargling an espresso of pond water.  ...  Maurice was French.  In fact he was so proud of being French that he actually became slightly ratty if any other French people came with in range, causing him to increase his Frenchness in order to ensure that he was always the most French person in his immediate vicinity.  This was why he'd been forced to emigrate"

Armitage Shank - Director of the circus and villain extraordinaire
"he wore a pair of red trousers that we so tight you could read the date on the coins in his pocket.  His shirt was white and puffy, made of fabric that billowed around him as if he was walking around in a cloud of icing sugar."

I haven't described the two heroes of the story - Billy and Hannah.  You need to read the book to discover their bravery and talents.  The circus arrives unannounced.  People eagerly buy tickets to the show and sign up for the free raffle by providing their name and address.  This is a huge mistake.

Here is a short interview with the author which explains a little more of the plot and the inspiration for this story.  In this interview William Sutcliffe mentions the Mr Gum series so I guess it is not a coincidence that Circus of Thieves uses the same illustrator David Tazzyman.  The illustrations in this book are perfect in every way.

If you enjoy Circus of Thieves and the raffle of doom you will also like Fizzlebert Stump the boy who ran away from the circus.  I am certainly looking forward to reading the sequel especially since I have been left with so many unanswered questions - why does Hannah feel a strong connection to the circus, why does Armitage recognise Hannah's grandmother and will Billy ever be reunited with his dad?  I don't usually rate the books on this blog but I give Circus of Thieves and the raffle of doom five out of five!  Run to your school library or any other library or even a bookshop and grab this book today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sweet by Kathryn Littlewood

  • Step one read my review of Bliss the first book in this trilogy.
  • Step two set aside a couple of hours (maybe 3) and settle back - if you can read this book in one sitting you will be richly rewarded
  • Step three tell your friends about this series!

A grade five student at my school returned after our recent holidays with a huge bundle of books and when I inquired which had been her favourite she did not hesitate to name Bliss.  I was so excited to tell her the sequel had arrived and that it was on my back shelf waiting to go home with me!  I passed it over and one day later (yes one day later and it has 299 pages) this eager student returned with a happy smile.  She loved Sweet and could she please take book three Bite-sized magic.

Over the weekend it was my turn to read Sweet.

At the end of Bliss the horrible Lily had ridden off with the family's ancient and precious magic cookbook.  Rose blames herself and so she is determined to retrieve the Bliss Cookery Booke.  A challenge is issued.  Rose will meet Lily at the Gala des Gateaux Grands in Paris.  This is an international desert baking competition and here is a description of the judge Jean-Pierre Jeanpierre.

"In a sense, he truly was the pope of baking.  From her reading she knew that he took seven lumps of sugar in his morning coffee, that he'd had his hometown of St Aubergine renamed St Jeanpierre, and that he slept exclusively on pillow made of angel food cake which he baked fresh every evening."

As a reader you know Rose will win the competition but that is not the point.  The real thrill comes from how she wins and all the twists and turns of plot that Kathryn Littlewood throws her way right to the end many of which I simply did not see coming.  There is also joy in the way this family work as a team and in their Paris adventures especially when they visit Notre Dame in the middle of the night and dance with the gargoyles.

In America, Sweet is called A dash of magic.  I have placed a few different covers below including the one from book three which I plan to read very soon.  If you want to read a little sample from Sweet click here.

If you are looking for a sweet treat (pun intended) go out and grab a copy of Sweet - you will love every bite!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The most wonderful thing in the world by Vivian French illustrated by Angela Barrett

"Once, in the time of your grandmother's grandmother, there was a kingdom.  In the middle of the kingdom was a large lagoon dotted with islands, and here a city had been built; a city of sky-blue water and golden bridges.  It was a small city, but it was a beautiful ... and the king and queen were very proud of it.  They were also proud of their daughter Lucia  ..."

And so the scene is set.  Lucia needs a husband.  The parents write a letter to the wise man and he replies they must find a young man "who can show you the most wonderful thing in the world."

Lucia is brought roses, a snow-white horse, performing dogs, magical beasts, a piece of frozen sky and many more strange and amazing gifts but none of these things see quite wonderful enough.  You may have guessed the ending - although I hope not.  Find this book and I hope you gasp with delight as I did at the outcome. (Spoiler alert don't click the Kirkus review below until you have read this book)

Here we have the perfect author and illustrator team who have produced a sumptuous, romantic picture book with a completely satisfying story.

Here is the author web site and you might also like to dip into my review of the series Tales of the Five Kingdoms also by Vivian French.   We also have several books illustrated by Angela Barrett in our library including one of my favourites The Hidden House by Martin Waddell.

Following this book I suggest reading The Greatest Treasure of Charlemagne the King, The Quilt Makers Gift and The Dragon and the Minstrel pup.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A mouse called Wolf by Dick King-Smith

Last week as I was heading home I quickly browsed my library shelves looking for some weekend reading.  I picked up a few books including A mouse called Wolf.  Why did I pick up this book which was first published in 1997?  I always enjoy books by Dick King-Smith, author of The Sheep pig later turned into the movie called Babe.  I really liked the cover of our copy but now I have discovered new editions have even better covers.  This looked like a short book for a quick read and it was a book I had not read.

I sat down for a little while this morning and read the whole book right through in one short sitting. What a delight.  Here we have a charming story about music, mice, chocolate and one very special older lady who with patience and care befriends a little mouse called Wolf.  Actually his real name is Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse but this has been shortened to Wolf.  He is a mouse with a special musical talent as befits his prestigious name.  He is also a mouse with courage and perseverance.

I think the publisher is missing a terrific marketing opportunity here.  I am planning to recommend this to my Grade Three teachers as a read-a-loud title. This book should come with a CD containing all the music that Wolf and Mrs Honeybee (I love that name) enjoy together.

Here is a partial list of some of their favourites:

  • Mendelssohn Song without words
  • Just a song at Twilight
  • Food glorious food from Oliver
  • Climb every mountain
  • Help by the Beatles

The best scene comes at the end of the book when Wolf sings his own composition entitled Swallow Sonata to Mrs Honeybee :

"I never taught him this, she thought, I've never heard this piece of music before.  Never in all my concert playing days did I hear this, and yet it must be by one of the great classical composers.  How light it is, how airy, how wonderfully joyful!"

If you enjoy this book follow it up with Walter which is also about a very special rodent.

Here is the web site for the author.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Australian kids through the years by Tania McCartney illustrated by Andrew Joyner

If you have been reading this blog you will know I very rarely discuss non fiction.   Today, though,  I simply have to talk about Australian Kids though the Years.

As a part of my job in a school library I read many, many books but if you were to look at percentages I read around 90% fiction.  With non fiction there are obvious features which make one text better than another.  We look for the usual library devices such as index, contents, captions, large photographs, accuracy, and information presented in a variety of ways especially visual.  We have thousands of non fiction books in our school library but only a handful really stand out in my opinion.

Australian Kids through the Years is a standout book!  It does not have an index or contents but this is not important. This is a book which can be used right across a Primary school. The youngest children can look at their parents and grandparents clothes, toys and hair.  Middle primary students could make timelines showing each theme and the oldest students could use the final illustrations list at the back of the book as part of a discussion about copyright. Older students could also compare the way information is presented in this book with more conventional timeline series such as Australia in the Twentieth century.  I would also pair this book up with My Place by Nadia Wheatley which is one of the very best books ever written about Australian history from the point of view of a child.

The design of Australian Kids through the years is chronological.  Beginning with First Children and then moving through time - 1800-1840s, 1850s, 1900-1909, 1910-1940s, 1950s, 1960s and so on up to 2000-today.

I love the way Tania McCartney resisted the need to present the dates in a pattern. Instead these dates match major events in Australian history such as the Gold Rush of 1850.

For each time period in this book we meet two children - a boy and a girl. On the next page we see all the "things in their world" such as clothes, food, hairstyles and my favourite part - the books they read.  This book has obviously been very carefully researched but all these facts are presented in such an appealing way.

The books are such a 'blast from the past' for me.  Here are a few (I have my own old copies of these books) :

1910-1940 Blinky Bill and Winnie the Pooh
1950s Charlotte's web and The cat in the hat
197s0 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
1980s Possum Magic

Here are the web sites for the author and illustrator.  I am once again going to predict that this book will be short listed for our CBCA awards 2016.  You might like to read this review.

I am including one page from the book and the photo page which appears at the end.  This is a book which should be part of every school library collection and every home library too.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sister Heart by Sally Morgan

Just by chance here is another verse novel.  I read this last week before reading The Crazy Man.  Sister Heart and The Crazy man do not have a lot in common on one level - one is set in Canada in 1965 and the other in Australia between 1905 and 1970.  On an emotional level, though, both are such important stories.

Sally Morgan herself says complex topics such as the Stolen Generation can be more deeply explained through a personal narrative. In this book we meet a little girl who has been named Annie.  We never discover her true name or learn where she is from. As the book opens Annie has been taken away from her mother and family. She travels over many days by ship and is placed in institutional care.  It is here that Annie makes an important friend.  A girl of the same age called Janey who befriends Annie and helps her to cope with her loss, bewilderment and the brutality of the care in this place which is now her home.

One of the best parts of this book is when Annie and Janey are able to wander away from the care home to a nearby creek.

The bush nearby smells damp
Birds swoop
call out
make nests

Annie's brother Tim gives her a laughing stone.

If ya feel sad
squeeze the stone
and laugh
Only don't laugh in school!

Here is a set of very detailed teaching notes.  This book should be considered as essential reading for a senior primary grade.  It could be used along side the book and movie of The Rabbit Proof Fence and The Burnt Stick.

You can read an interview with Sally Morgan here.  You should also listen to this Radio National interview.  It goes for about 14 minutes but is worth spending the time to listen right to the end.

I will make another of my bold predictions and say this book will surely be short listed for the CBCA prize in 2016.  Once it is available in paperback I plan to add a class set of this book to our library.

Here is a selection of other books on this topic which you might explore

The crazy man by Pamela Porter

In 2012 I visited one of my favourite book shops - Woozles in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  While I was there (this was my second visit) the manager recommended The Crazy Man because it is an award winning Canadian book and because we had been talking about verse novels.

The Crazy Man is a wonderful verse novel - and if you have been reading my blog you will know I adore this format - they are always such powerful narratives.

The Crazy Man was first published in 2005 but my edition is from 2011.  This book is not in our school library but you might be lucky and find it in a high school or public library collection here in Australia - I hope so.

The book opens with a terrible farm accident.  Emmie is very badly hurt.  Her dad blames himself but takes his anger out on their dog Prince.  "... my daddy tied Prince up to the tractor shed and shot him with his hunting rifle."

The only visitor to the hospital is her grade six teacher Miss Tollofsen.

"She got out of her car with a fist full
of lilac flowers, and I found out
we had something in common.

Mum put them in a glass of water
and I got to smell them.  Dark purple ones
and light purple ones, Some still
     tight little buds.
Even some white ones, and they all
smelled a little different.

She bought the whole spring day inside
when she did that."

With her Daddy gone, Emmie and her mum need help on their farm.  It is planting time.  Nearby there is a hospital - a mental institution.  The year is 1965 and the air is thick with prejudice and gossip.  This is a book about healing and acceptance.  Amos, who comes to help on the farm, is healed and so is Emmie.  The people in this small town also learn a little about acceptance of difference.

Listen to Pamela talking about her book and reading an extract.  Here is a detailed review.

If you enjoy The Crazy Man you should also read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse and Love that dog by Sharon Creech.  You might also look for A corner of the Universe by Ann Martin.

I will finish off with another quote so you can get a sense of the power of this writing.  In this scene Emmie has gone to Souris pool.

"Once I was in, I moved like a fish,
    kicking and squirming,
no heavy shoe to lug around. I turned 
in the water.  I floated on my back
and raced underwater,
like nothing had happened
to change me forever."