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.
Part of the Let’s Read and Talk about series, this title focuses on what we need to do for our bodies to be fit and healthy. With bright and bold colour pages to divide different topics, action photography and a clear engaging text this title will appeal to primary age students. Sections are separated to provide information on a range of topics from what exercise does to your body, what does being fit actually mean, foods to give you energy, why warm up and down, to how to get involved in new sports.
Talk about and Take Action panes are incorporated in each section providing opportunities for student or class discussion and further activities. A glossary is also included.
Let’s Read and Talk about… Keeping Fit covers a range of information that is presented in an engaging and practical way that offers students ways to incorporate ideas into everyday life. Students will be pleased to know that washing the car counts as part of their keeping fit plan, be first in line to invent a new ball game and there is such thing as doing too much exercise in one go!
review by Natasha
Image by katiew
The ancient Phoenicians are reputed to have discovered the process of turning sand into glass and created a product that some consider one of our most important inventions. In this excellent title, Somervill examines the history of glass, how it is made and how the various types of glass may be used and reused. A brief chapter on glass art is an excellent illustration of how this simple produce can be used not only in a multitude of practical ways but also artistically.
Beautifully illustrated with photographs that serve to enhance an already interesting work, Somervill makes judicious use of charts, drawings and sidebars as well. An excellent timeline allows the reader to understand quite simply the development of glass from its earliest time.
A thorough glossary and index make this work very accessible for the user. A “bibliography” that refers the reader to both websites and books is also of value.
review by David
Image by kistienberghs
Part of the Weird true facts series this fun colourful book is filled with interesting and quirky facts about wheels that not only informs but entertains readers. Attractively laid out with a mixture of text, diagrams and photographs this book begins with the earliest known record of wheel use in 4500 BCE.
The following pages cover various forms of transport, the power of wheels to drive machinery, and the technology of tyres. Future trends look at invisible cars, tyres with no air, and cardboard bicycles. The book concludes with a glossary, and websites.
review by Karen
Image by theirhistory
Aloian provides a lively and colourful introduction to the world of the submarine. With illustrations and useful diagrams, including cutaways, the operation and roles of a wide variety of submarines are cleanly shown.
Power sources, varied uses, ability to dive deeply and/or sustain lengthy and rapid submerged voyages, even under the Northern Polar icecap, are all examined to enhance the readers understanding of these vessels. Military, research and tourism purposes are acknowledged and the relative sizes of these submarines are clearly illustrated. Research and development and the future of the submarine are also outlined.
A useful index adds value to this very interesting book produced in the “Bobbie Kalman” style.
review by David
Image by Mr T in DC
Poor Jack, he’s in conflict over wanting to keep something not his own and searching for the correct owner.
I enjoyed this true to life look at a boy who desperately wants to own a puppy. It’s a great read for juniors who are ready to leap into short chapter-books or for a shared read-aloud. The book is also stong on positive themes like honesty, caring, responsibility and family life.
The large print and double-spaced lines combined with words to stretch a reader’s vocabulary, while the happy ending presents readers with a satisfying conclusion. Stephanie Spartel’s expressive black and white illustrations also enhance this Hey Jack! series.
review by Fiona
Image by photos_martha
I’m a real Sally Sutton fan – I love her latest picture book Farmer John’s tractor, and her Diary of a pukeko had me chuckling, so I was delighted to find this simple but lively new title on our shelves.
Diary of a bat sucks you in right from the first page, printed upside-down just as if a hanging bat was reading it, and pushing us straight into the life of this young bat – worried about the things that young people everywhere worry about, particularly at the beginning of a new school year. Who will his new teacher be? Will he have any friends? Will he be teased about his size – again? Why does his mother seem so distracted? And why won’t she answer his questions? And our young friend has a lot of questions….
Children intrigued by bats will find plenty of information about the New Zealand long-tailed variety woven carefully into the story (which would make a great read-aloud for younger children, but will be enjoyed by older ones too), and the text is well supported by Gave Gunson’s pen and ink illustrations.
Teacher notes are available (PDF).
review by Jan
Image used with permission
David Riley is a teacher and Head of Dance-Drama at Tangaroa College in South Auckland, and has a background in journalism. He was aware of a lack of appropriate resources and decided to write this book when Niuean students told him they did not know of role models from their culture. He wrote it “to encourage and inspire students”.
He writes about people like Che Fu, Pero Cameron, Stephanie Tauevihi and NRL player Dene Halatau. As most of them had mixed ancestry- Pacific, Māori and Pakeha- this is a book with a broad appeal. Other profiles are from mythology and history.
Themes in the book include achievement, leadership, believing in yourself, overcoming obstacles- always a popular subject- and issues to do with culture. David has a deft writing style that will appeal to students from mid-Primary to Secondary levels.
You can see some sample chapters on his website.
review by Rob
Image used with permission
Twinship… what a fascinating concept. Jerry Spinelli explores the reality behind the concept through the eyes of 12 year old twins Jake and Lily as they grow through the physical and emotional changes of puberty and struggle to establish their own identities.
This book would have equal appeal to boys and girls as there is equal page space given to the voices of both Jake and Lily. I can imagine it being read aloud on a boy/girl shared basis. They speak in alternating short chapters. There is enough action, intrigue and emotional involvement to sustain the interest of a class of students (8 – 12 years).
On their sixth birthday, Jake and Lily both awaken to find themselves holding hands at the train station, surrounded by the smell of pickles. This happens every birthday thereafter and this marks both their significant railway birth and the development of a special sixth-sense that the siblings refer to as goombla. This is their term for a twin communication that either of them can explain. They know when the other is hurt, where they are hiding and how the other is feeling. Having goombla means that they are never truly alone because they always have each other.
Lily defines herself as a twin first and foremost and struggles to see herself as an individual girl in her own right. Therefore she is particularly devastated when her parents make her sleep in a separate room when she turns 12, and when Jake prefers to spend his time bike riding with a group of boys. Not only this, but the boys “gang” is lead by Bump Stubbins, Lily’s nemesis. He invents the pastime of following goobers and supergoobers and Jake is more than happy to tag along.
Many sub stories keep the intrigue, underpinning the main plot of Jake and Lily’s relationship. Each character is well drawn and totally believable. Highly recommended.
review by Glenda
Image by bambibabe48
These are strong themes that I am sure a lot of us have felt within a family…what it is like being different from the rest of your family? How do you deal with the feelings like being left out from family outings?
Jamie feels it a lot more because he does not change into a werewolf when the moon is full. These elements are intriguingly explored like unfairness and loneliness. Is there such a thing as being lucky to not be part of this family’s ‘change’?
I enjoyed the fast-paced plot, the suspense the interesting vocabulary, and the best part was when the ‘vet’ said she could cure the family’s illness!
With a story that has a definite structure, a satisfying ending. And easy to read font this addition to the Go for it series is ideal for classroom and independent reading. See also “In less than a flash” by Corinne Fenton.
review by Fiona
Image by PumpkinWayne
Young readers will love the names of the cows in this beautifully illustrated picture book by Ben Redlich. Jenny Bramble Rose is one of a herd of cows grazing and making milk and cream when suddenly her nose twitches - she has sniffed a cricket up her nose! The cows are tickled pink by the chain of events that follow. Daisy Lou and Jezzabel and the rest of the herd together make up a set of rules and play a game they called cricket. This delightful picture book has been developed with fun and fair play in mind.
Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corduroy
Would you like it if your Granny was kinda different? Or would you try and change her? Everywhere this Granny goes, cats and frogs and bats are sure to go. This little girl is fed up solving the problems Granny creates. She just wants an ordinary Granny…, or so she thinks. Or will the little girl decide she loves her Granny (the witch) just the way she is. Joe Berger’s hilarious digital illustrations capture the relationship between the little girl and her granny. The readers will delight seeing the mischievous frogs popping up on the pages and people ducking and diving and running from burping bats.
review by Coral
Image by SocialRobot
0800 LIB LINE
0800 542 5463
Get help from our advisers using this free phone line