We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
There is a one page of introduction explaining where water is, why we use it, then it’s straight into the experiments. All the usual (and entertaining) suspects are here - white flower in coloured water, making iceblocks, and crystals, refraction, surface tension, etc. However what I really like about this book is the level - these are experiments for junior primary children, with very clear instructions and illustrations, and at the end of each experiment, there’s a very clear simple explanation about what happened.
The other three books in this great One Stop Science series from Franklin Watts are: experiments with a lemon, a ruler, and a torch.
Review by Heather
Flickr image by ttfnrob
In the 1930s Americans faced the biggest financial crisis to ever hit their country. During the Great Depression, millions of people lost their jobs, homes, farms even families. This book gives the reader the chance to choose; will you march on Washington DC as a veteran of the Bonus Army? Leave home to find a better life or help rebuild the army?
The combination of real historical events and interaction with these events is a great way of reminding students that all historical events, however tragic and distant, happened to real people. The book allows students to put themselves in different situations then turn the page and consider what they would do next. Three different options are available throughout the book.
The book also makes good use of photography, which adds to the authenticity. Perfect for intermediate level.
review by Melissa
flickr image by Kieran Bennett
Dan Lyndon has been teaching for over 15 years and is a former Head of History, a handy background in this, his knowledgeable account of the slave trade for primary students (years 5 to 8).
The book focuses on the history of slavery, the start of the transatlantic slave trade and the treatment of slaves onboard and on arrival in the Americas. All of this is depicted via a clear, succinct text and a plethora of helpful images.
The question of how enslaved Africans retained their culture is dealt with particularity well by Lyndon. He also uses his historical knowledge to present modern day issues surrounding racism and discusses how equality between races has certainly improved but still has some way to go.
Informative, well researched the book also has a useful and extensive bibliography and suggested websites for those wanting further information.
review by Melissa
image by smiteme
The Quiet book by Deborah Underwood is a jewel of a book, with soft and characterful illustrations…
“First one awake quiet.
Don’t scare the robin quiet.
Last one to get picked up from school quiet.
First look at your new hairstyle quiet.
Swimming underwater quiet.
First snow fall quiet… “
On her website Deborah says, “The idea for this book came to me when I was waiting for a classical guitar concert to start. I noticed the expectant silence right before the guitarist started playing, and that made me think of other quiets. And yes, “Before the concert starts quiet” made it into the book!”
Wouldn’t this be great for inspiring kids’ own writing? There is a sequel, The Loud book. Here is a blog post which includes quite a few of the illustrations.
I also adore Manfred the baddie by talented Scottish author & illustrator John Fardell. His detailed humorous illustrations, imaginative layout and book design perfectly complement this delightful story of wickedness…
Here is a video of John Fardell reading Manfred the Baddie, shown sitting at his desk with pen and inks ready for the next creation in a gloriously messy studio (you’ll see it right at the end as the camera draws away)…
Put it on your smart board for the whole class to enjoy !
And here is a clip from the Scottish Book Trust with John Fardell demonstrating tips for drawing baddie faces, creating baddie hideouts, and thinking about what sort of bad things your baddie might do to make a good story.
And he is right – be it little girls, bunnies or bananas - it is all in the eyebrows!
John Fardell’s other, later picture book is just as wonderful - Jeremiah Jellyfish flies high. Here is a review from The book bag which summarises it.
“A delightful tale of a jellyfish who’s tired of drifting aimlessly. A great plot, punchy writing, and engaging illustrations make it a joy from start to finish. Highly recommended.” and I totally agree!
Review by Jeannie
image by johnsoax
This book is a very general introduction to habitats for year 4 - 6 students. It covers a lot of ground, but does not focus in on too much detail. The first chapter “What are habitats?” clears up any confusion about habitats and biomes by explaining what habitats are and how they relate to biomes, (a biome is a geographical area defined by, or featuring, specific animals and vegetation, for example a desert.) All the chapter headings are in the form of a useful question about a particular type or aspect of a habitat, with the text and illustrations answering the question. Words in bold type are explained in the glossary. There are related interesting facts or suggestions for experiments in the “Science Secrets” boxes on each page. New Zealand is mentioned in the chapter “Why are island habitats so special?”
The title is part of a series from Franklin Watts called “Science Secrets”. The other five titles look at; life cycles, flight, heat and cold, light, and pollution and conservation.
Flickr image by Dave_l
Grandpa has a surprise for his grandson.
“…it was – a little car!
Diesel or gas?” I asked Grandpa
“Sweat,” he said.”
Actually it’s a pedal car, which soon becomes “drivable” after substantial repairs, a lick of paint and driving school training, which the grandson passes but as Grandpa tells him, “Don’t ever run over my bad toe again.”
Then the narrator and his younger brother, Cornelius, pedal off on their Big Adventure. It’s one that includes, in no particular order, a tunnel, a wasp nest, a cliff, a pigsty and a crash in the dark forest.
My first car was red is a hugely entertaining off road romp, that combines rich retro detail (check out the small road sign symbols) and a humorous first person narrative. The wry dialogue and observations are ably supported by Schossow’s crisply delineated illustrations. Their subtle colouring and bucolic backgrounds only add to this atmospheric flat-out adventure.
Suitable for road testing on young students - especially those who like adventures and anything on wheels.
In this attractive well laid out book, Andrew Solway, has successfully combined a Q & A format of interesting questions about flight. He has also thrown in lots of intriguing snippets of information like his; `fighter planes are designed to be unstable in flight as this allows for very agile and quick changes of direction.'
Scattered throughout are a range of interesting experiments to further engage readers in this fascinating area of science and technology.
Secrets of flight is one of many titles in Science Secrets series.
Review by Karen
image by toastytreat87
What a treat to read this non fiction book. It ticks all the right boxes for children keen to learn skateboarding skills. The format is beautifully organised with its bold photographic images and complimentary step-by-step instructions that cover the wearing of safety gear, setting up your board, to balancing and riding.
Best of all this is achieved with Maori-English text.
Why aren’t there many more such publications to satisfy the needs of our New Zealand students?
The book is recommended for: Reading together 1+ and reading alone 6+
review by Barbara
image by miggslives
Fierce September was just one of the winners at the LIANZA 2011 Children’s Book Awards held on Monday, the 8th August at Café L’affare in Wellington.
The night was opened by Anahera Morehu, tumuaki of Te Rōpū Whakahau who also acknowledged the great loss of Katerina Mataira, Māori language expert, author and translator.
Elsie Locke Award
First up was the Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction, won by The Kiwi Fossil Hunter’s Handbook by James Crampton and Marianna Terezow (Random House New Zealand). Judge, Lilly O’Donovan, a librarian from Wellington City Libraries said this book made science real and achievable. She imagines the fantastic possibility of children pestering their parents to head out fossil hunting.
Russell Clark Award
Next up was the Russell Clark Award for illustration won this year by Hill and Hole by Kyle Mewburn and Vasanti Unka (Puffin Books) .Gisborne judge, librarian Pene Walsh said “this book has all the makings of a classic, one that will be treasured by today’s children in 50 years time.”
Te Kura Pounamu and Te Rōpū Whakahau Awards
Te Kura Pounamu award was awarded for the first time to a graphic novel, Ngarimu: te tohu toa, researched and retold by Kawata Teepa and illustrated by Andrew Burdan (Huia Publishers). Judge Alice Heather loved that this story of a well known Māori war hero, Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, has been brought to young readers in a graphic novel format. This story covers Ngarimu’s heroic leadership of his platoon resulting in his death and him subsequently becoming the first Māori recipient of the Victoria Cross. Also presented were the Te Rōpū Whakahau awards which enable the recognition of both non-fiction and fiction across all age levels as part of Te Kura Pounamu award. Te Tohu Hoani Whatahoro for nonfiction, was presented to the Kapa, Te Niu, Te Mata o Tuna, a Hina raua ko Mo’o Kuna series (HANA Limited). Te Tohu Pounamu, was awarded to the Haumi e the te reo magazine published by Huia Publishers. Te Tohu Taurapa, the picture book section was presented to Manu Haututu by June Peka and retold by Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira (Scholastic). Te Tohu Nga Kete e toru for fiction was presented to He ora kupu series by Peti Nohotima (He Kupenga Hao i te Reo).
The Esther Glen Award
The Esther Glen Award was the next award of the evening and this went to Diana Menefy, for her book, The Shadow of the Boyd (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd). Based on a true story this powerful tale from our colonial past tells of the bitter clash of two cultures from the point of view of Thomas Davidson, an apprentice sailor who survived the infamous massacre of the Boyd.
LIANZA Young Adult medal
And lastly in its second year the LIANZA Young Adult medal. Belynda Smith, judge and panel convenor, said that this year the standard of entries was so strong that the judges found it impossible to limit the finalists to five. Fierce September by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand) received the award. Fierce September follows the lives of Juno, her friends and family as they are rescued from the island of Taris where they have lived as a community believing they are the only people alive in the world.
A full list of finalists and information about the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards can be found here.
Review by Alice
Over 40,000 fully digitised classic books from the British Library will be available through its 19th Century Historical Collection App for the iPad.
No it’s not free but a paltry subscription of £1.99 per month is all it takes to access the full collection. And there’s more coming, in fact by the end of this year over 60,000 titles will be available.
The books all date from the 8th and 19th centuries and include,” novels, poetry and historical accounts.” All are fully digitised, complete with original page markings and illustrations, (like Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe). More information is available here and here.
Apple’s iPad was initially selected because its touch interface can “recreate the experience” of flipping through a real book.”
image by Peter576
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