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.
Written and illustrated by Denise Whitmore
Written and illustrated by Denise Whitmore
The story of the Puriri moth is told, alongside the story of a family. The book covers the five years of the Puriri moth’s life with vivid painted and collage illustrations of the local animals and plants, and black and white drawings of the family which grows during that time.
There are informative notes about the moth -also known as Ghost moth, or Pepetuna (meaning eel bait).
Denise Whitmore has written and illustrated with an obvious love for the NZ bush and natural environments.
A beautiful book.
Reviewed by Lynn
Shaun Tan is a genius at putting together the ordinary and the real, with the wondrous and the fantastic. He's done this in this collection of short stories brilliantly.
This title could have been a picture book but there is too much text and in this instance the text is supported by the illustrations rather than the other way round. The stories vary in content from the hardships of modern life to what happens to all the poetry that people write then discard, and each story has illustrations that raise the story to a different level. Truly amazing.
The good thing about short stories is that they can be read at morning break or on the bus or in short times when you have free time. They are ideal for the reluctant reader and these by Shaun Tan will have you thinking long after the story is read. This book has no level it - is for everyone.
Published by Allen & Unwin.
by John Burstein Published by Crabtree Publishing Company, 2008.
I have had great trouble locating books explaining how advertising works for primary children, so I was pleased when I came across this. The book's focus is on a food advertisement, but the information can be used to help students analyse different types of advertising. The web addresses at the back of the book for further information on advertising were all live at the time of writing, and I thought they were informative and useful.
The story follows the discoveries a young high school student, Martina, makes about advertising when she spends the summer working at an advertising company on a campaign to sell a new food product. Back at school, she discusses her ideas and concerns with her teacher, Mrs Simon, and learns how read an advertisement. The book follows Martina as she goes on to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle. The illustrations are colourful and cartoon in style, and Slim Goodbody pops up on most pages with hints and tips for healthy living.
This is one of eight books in the Slim Goodbody's lighten up series. According to the introduction, these are books to help "young people across the planet become healthy and active". The topics they cover include fast food, food labeling, good nutrition and keeping fit.
Reviewed by Heather
Milada is a young girl with classic Aryan features, but she is Czechoslovakian, living with her family in the town of Lidice, which is occupied by the Nazis in 1942. One day the soldiers come and take her family and others away and separate the women and the men. Milada is measured up, deemed classic Aryan and whisked away to an elite Nazi training school where she, and a number of other girls are given German names and trained to be perfect Aryan girls to perpetuate Hitler's legacy. Scary stuff.
This story is based on a little known incident, and following Eva through it is an interesting experience. The preservation of self under extreme pressure is what gives the drama to this story and Milada/Eva is a heartwarming character. Links are made to the holocaust as the story progresses and this book provides an insight into the machinations of the Nazi Regime as it effects the top people at the heart of Hitler's elite.
Not as good as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas but a good follow up for those readers who want to pursue the subject.
Aimed at intermediate and junior high school students.
Reviewed by Bob
Published by Clarion Books
The Enemy by Davide Cali with illustrations by Serge Bloch
The Buffalo Soldier by Sherry Garland with illustrations by Ronald Himler
These two books have nothing in common apart from their theme, but both are thought-provoking, and could be starters for a classroom discussion on the whole nature of war.
The Enemy, a sophisticated picture book by Davide Cali translated from French, is definitely asking ‘Why?’ Bloch’s illustrations depict two soldiers in foxholes, neither of whom has actually seen the other. All each knows is that the person in the other foxhole is his enemy, and that:
I can’t be the first one to stop the fighting, because he would kill me then. He has to be the first to cease.
If so, I wouldn’t kill him…
If he looked up at the stars he’d understand.
When you look at the stars you understand a lot of things.
Both are thinking the same thoughts; both are mulling over the propaganda that tells them the enemy is a monster, not to be approached or trusted in any way, not to be regarded as human. And both at the same time begin to think that this can’t be right. The book ends, tantalisingly, with their simultaneous decision to make friendly contact. We do not see the result.
The buffalo soldiers, celebrated in a famous Bob Marley song, certainly knew what they were fighting for. They wanted financial security, education, a stake in the country they had been brought to as slaves, and, above all, the respect and recognition that would take a long time to come their way. Sherry Garland’s book The Buffalo Soldier begins just after the American Civil War, when freed slaves were recruited by the U.S. army to protect the new tide of white settlers against the Native American tribes they were displacing on the Western Frontier.(They were given their nickname, a comment on both their bravery and their black curly hair, by the Cheyenne Indians they were fighting).
Their story is told from the point of view of an elderly ex-buffalo soldier, reminiscing over the letter he has just received from his grandson fighting in the Second World War. In between times the black soldiers have served in both the Spanish-American War and the First World War, but have remained in segregated regiments—it was not until the Korean War (1950-54) that segregation in the U.S. Army was done away with, and the ‘buffalo soldier’ regiments officially dissolved. Almost a century of courage and loyalty in battle, set against many appalling instances of racial prejudice from the people they were fighting for, had finally been rewarded.
With teacher guidance both these books could be used from about year 5 upwards, but would probably have most value at intermediate through high school level.
Reviewed by Cecily
The Buffalo Soldier is published by Pelican Publishing Company
The Enemy is published by Wilkins Farago
In 1954 when a gallon of petrol cost 22 cents and a new car $1700, the Supreme Court in the USA made it illegal to have segregated schooIn 1954 when a gallon of petrol cost 22 cents and a new car $1700, the Supreme Court in the USA made it illegal to have segregated schools in America. Most of the Southern States didn't get this message until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and even in the States that accepted the ruling there was social and legal opposition. This is one of those stories.
Rosemary Patterson is among the first black students in her town to enroll in what had once been an all-white school. It is not easy for her but she hangs in there and all the arguments are reeled out in a satisfactory way so that the book has drama and interest.
Friendship and racism are at the core of this novel and when one thinks that Obama is now President some 54 years later, it is quite miraculous.
Suitable for year 5/6 students up to intermediate level.
Reviewed by Bob
Published by Scholastic
Illustrator: Heide Stöllinger
Translated by Catherine Chidgey
Edited by Penelope Todd
I love the Gecko Press books! The delightful I am so handsome by Mario Ramos (2007) and I am so strong (2007) would be among my favourite reads from last year. For this year Donkeys definitely makes the list.
Although Donkeys was published in 2002, it escaped my notice on first release and it was only recently when I received a copy for my birthday that I got to read it - what a great present!
As you’d expect from Gecko Press, Donkeys is a quirky and humourous story, full of charm and accompanied by simple, expressive illustrations. It’s also a gentle love story between two donkeys - Jack and Jenny, who have been together forever. On their 25th wedding anniversary, a day meant for celebration and acknowledgement, they instead engage in a silly argument. Matters are blown out of proportion -and before we know it, the two decide to part ways to find better ‘Jenny’s ‘ and ‘Jacks’. Will their search for new love be successful?
Or will old love survive …?
This would make a fun read aloud for the primary level with lots to discuss - tolerance, love and friendship. It’s also a great book for any adult collection.
Reviewed by Kathy G
Published by Gecko Press
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