Gleebooks Education 

August 2014

Gleebooks Bookshop - Friday, August 01, 2014


No 46, August 2014

It is now very close to the ECIS Conference in Waterloo in Belgium at the end of September.  We are so looking forward to seeing many of you there.  Do come and say hello.  Mandy and Kate will be giving two presentations so there will plenty of books to be discussed.

One of our presentations at the ECIS Conference will be on more recently published fiction titles to support the Primary Years Programme Learner Profile.  We know that many schools are very interested in these lists for the PYP and so we have attached this list.  We shall later merge this list with the earlier edited PYP Learner Profile list that we have compiled.

The Children’s Book Council Award Winners were announced on Friday 15th August and so we have also attached the updated CBCA list.

Back in May we sent out a new list of suggested recommended titles to support the Australian History Curriculum for Primary Schools.  Since the list was long with suggestions for each age level, we have chosen a few books which we thought were especially innovative.  We wanted to bring them to your attention as it is easy to miss them when the list is long.  By the way, the list is on the website  or if you would like it to be sent again then contact Kate Shepherd

What’s Your Story? by Rose Giannone Artwork by Bern Emmerichs hardback 9780980671155 $27.95
‘History is a collection of stories’ explains this delightfully quirky picture  book. It is an excellent introduction to this concept of history as being many different stories. The backdrop to the story is the early settlement of Australia and a number of different stories could have been followed however the author chooses to follow the story of Leonard, a young orphan boy who comes out to Australia with his mother’s cousin and his wife. The drawings show many different individual people who came out on the ship with Leonard.  Detailed tiny drawings showing the inside decks of the ship show and name many of the various convicts, men and women, as well as the free settlers, the crew and the soldiers. Again very detailed drawings show the busy scenes of early settlement with tiny figures doing a vast array of different activities as they try to settle into this new colony.  Birds and animals are also drawn in realistic and beautiful detail.  The effect is very unusual and comes from the fact that the artwork has been hand-painted onto large ceramic tiles.  However the story is really about Leonard and how he meets a young Aboriginal girl called Milba.  Leonard is amazed at the strange creatures such as the kangaroo and other scaly and feathered creatures that Milba shows him and she likewise can hardly believe it when she sees a man on a horse.  Is it just one creature?  They become friends and Leonard is sad when Milba later moves away with her tribe.  Leonard stayed in Australia and became a teacher and Milba grew up to be a wise and important elder in her tribe.  They both still remembered the other.  This book provides an excellent introduction to discussion of the settlement of Sydney and its many possible stories and viewpoints.   An extremely effective and beautifully told and illustrated book.  (8 – 14 years)  KS

To See the World by Elaine Forrestal pb 9780642278494  $17.99
The history of the exploration of Australia is all too often just seen through British eyes and so it is fascinating to read this account of one of Louis de Freycinet’s voyages through the eyes of Jose, a young Mauritian boy, whose father was French and a friend of de Freycinet’s.  Jose joined the voyage in Mauritius.  Jose was to experience life on board ship and in addition he was to be educated by Rose de Freycinet, the wife of the Commander.  Women were not allowed on board French ships but she had hidden away in order not to be separated from her husband over the long years of the voyage.  This is a fascinating account drawing on letters, diaries and other accounts, as well as imagination, to recreate this description of the voyage from 1817 to 1820 through Jose’s eyes.   As well as descriptions of the landing at Shark Bay and their encounter with Aboriginal people, we learn about the ever-present dangers of the voyage and also the hardships of ship life, especially when food becomes scarce.  We also learn about Rose de Freycinet’s childhood.  The book is illustrated with original drawings, engravings and maps of the period, a glossary and historical notes.  (10 – 15 years)  KS

There have been many books recently published on the ANZAC experience since it will be the centenary of the landing on Gallipoli in 2015.  However the following title has just been published and I think it is exceptional. 

One Minute’s Silence by David Metzenthen illustrated by Michael Camilleri hardback  9781743316245  $29.99
I was so surprised when I read this book.  The text is simply written and full of humanity.  A class of Year 11 or 12 students is asked to imagine in one minute’s silence, the ANZAC soldiers landing at Gallipoli and struggling to advance under very heavy fire.  However the students are also asked to imagine the Turkish soldiers, looking down on the invading soldiers, and to imagine the Turks’ determination to defend their villages and their country.  To imagine both sides of this conflict is in itself very moving.  However Camilleri has added another dimension by taking the young students in the Year 11 or 12 class and embedding them in the scenes of fighting among both ANZAC and Turkish soldiers.  It is very effective and gives the illustrations a relevance and immediacy while making us really imagine what it would have been like to be there.   Camilleri also uses strikingly different and imaginative devices such as the close-up of the mechanism of guns, of a moving bullet and of an enormous fly evoking the fly blown and rotting corpses on the battlefield.  The illustrations are beautifully drawn with a black ink pen and contain many other fascinating details.  For those interested in understanding more about Camilleri’s thoughts and the background to the illustrations, there is an excellent commentary on his thought processes on this  website.

I found this an exceptional book, bringing vividly to mind as it does the horror of the loss of so many young men sacrificed, on both sides, in this devastating war.  Text, illustrations and the design of the book are perfectly integrated to give the book its powerful narrative.  The book ends with the extraordinary quotation from Ataturk when he says that “there is no difference between the johnnies and the mehmets” and that the fallen “having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well”.    (10 years upwards)  KS

There are many other recently published titles on the ANZAC experience however some are more effective than others in giving a sense of the attitudes of the time and portraying the feelings of the young men who volunteered and of their families.  Light Horse Boy I felt is very effective in the way it combines letters, photographs from the period and also evocative illustrations by Brian Simmonds.  Lighthouse Girl has a similar format and depicts the same period from the point of view of a young girl living with her father in a lighthouse.

Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer illustrated by Brian Simmonds hardback 9781922089137  $26.99
Told mainly through letters which young Jim exchanges with his sister Alice in Australia, this book gives a vivid portrait of the feelings of young men who volunteered to go and fight in the First World War.  Jim and his friend Charlie are skilled with horses and so naturally volunteer for the Light Horse Brigades.  The letters give a glimpse of life in Australia at the time of the war and also of the attitudes that many people held as well as vividly describing how the attitudes of the men changed from hope and excitement to an understanding of the brutality of this devastating war.  The text is further enhanced by many photographs from the time showing servicemen enlisting, training with their beloved horses in Egypt and fighting in Gallipoli and also by Brian Simmonds’ evocative and beautiful charcoal illustrations vividly portraying the brutality and tragedy of war on the Front Line.  The book also follows Jim’s love for his horse Breaker and, since he also worked as a vet, how the horses were treated and used in the war.  This is an Honour Book in the 2014 CBCA Awards, Younger Readers. (10 – 15 years)   KS

Lighthouse Girl by Dianne Wolfer illustrated by Brian Simmonds pb 9781921696572  $19.95
Fay lives in a lighthouse on Breaksea Island, a windswept island protecting the port of Albany in Western Australia.  She is given a diary just before the outbreak of World War 1.  Extracts from her diary provide the main part of the narrative however there are also extracts from newspaper articles, photographs from the period and also beautifully evocative illustrations by Brian Simmonds.  It is the time when a large fleet of Australian ships, with 30,000 men on board bound for the fighting in Europe, passes close by the island.   Fay communicates with some of the soldiers by semaphore and is able to send on messages to a number of the soldiers’ loved ones and as a result she later corresponds with some of the men.  This brings her and the reader closer to the wartime experiences of a number of the troops.  This is a beautifully presented and well-told story of life on a lonely and isolated lighthouse island during the years of the First World War.  It also brings us closer to the events of the First World War through personal letters and postcards of some of the soldiers. Based on a true story.   (10 – 16 years)  KS

Picture Books

The Three Bears sort of   by Yvonne Morrison illustrated by Donovan Bixley pb 9781775430681 $24.00

This is a laugh aloud book.  A parent or someone is attempting to read aloud the traditional and well known story of the three bears.  However there are frequent interruptions from the child who is listening and who asks extremely practical and knowledgeable questions about what sort of bears they were and why did they live in a cottage since grizzly bears live in caves, and wouldn’t bears prefer salmon to porridge? Bright lively illustrations add more humour to the text, at times contrasting the fantastical elements of the traditional text with realistic sketches or photo-realistic illustrations.  Having just shared this book with my two very appreciative grandsons, I know that the book works very well when a child reads the part of the questioning child and an adult (or another child) takes the part of the slightly exasperated narrator.  This is a New Zealand title.  (4 – 8 years)  KS

I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Gus Gordon  hardback 9780670077106 $24.99
A very funny picture book about a boastful cow named Nadine, who claims to be afraid of nothing. When her meek-hearted friends, Starla and Annette, unexpectedly agree on an excursion to the scary, overgrown, dark-as-night woods, Nadine’s bluster momentarily falters. Unable to back down, she nervously leads the way and is soon having the time of her life, exploring trails, tasting blackberries and ‘discovering stuff’ and even with night falling she can’t resist the lure of a mysterious cave. Tired of waiting, the girls have left her to it and Nadine finds herself alone, in the dark, and just a tiny bit lost. Rustlings, strange breezes and spooky shadows are freaking her out and when something tickles her rump she takes off in a blind panic and ends up galloping over a cliff, bumping into Starla and Annette who think she’s come to rescue them. Back at the farm Nadine is hailed as a hero and, although she feels a little bit guilty, decides not to tell anyone what really happened. As well as being laugh-out-loud funny, the rhyming text is full of wonderful words like curdled, prickled, wheezed, bellowed and galumphed, and the illustrations, created using watercolors, pencils, crayons, and collages, are a delight. There’s also room for discussion about honesty, integrity and misrepresentation. Australian. (3 or 4 – 6 or 7 year olds). MC

Australian Indigenous Picture Books

Our Island by Alison Lester & Elizabeth Honey (with children of Gununu) hardback 9780670077687  $24.99
Very colourful illustrations by the children of Gununa show life on their beautiful island of Mornington Peninsula.  Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey worked with the staff and children of Mornington Peninsula State School to produce the text describing life and nature on the island and the children did the stunning illustrations using crayons and a wax-resist process which gives the illustrations a rich glossy effect.  A very appealing picture book.   (4 – 8 years)  KS

The Little Corroboree Frog  by Tracey Holton-Ramirez illustrated by Angela Ramirez pb  9781921248818 $14.95
The Southern Corroboree Frog is a tiny ground-dwelling frog with spectacular black and yellow markings. It is highly endangered, and is found only in the snowy alpine regions of Kosciuszko National Park, NSW. When a boy and his father go fishing in the alpine country, a clever little corroboree frog called Jet shows them how thoughtless people are threatening his home and family by trampling through their egg nests in the moss at the side of the pond and leaving their rubbish behind. There is a double page spread of facts about the beautiful little corroboree frog at the end of the book. (6-9 years) MC

Bilingual Picture Books

Ma-Me-Mi-MuMu! by Jomike Tejido  (English translation by Fran Ng) pb 9789716301755 $22.95
This picture book in Filipino and English gives us a glimpse into Filipino folk culture with its many scary monsters.  A little girl imagining different monsters everywhere in her house is comforted by her grandfather who gives her funny rhymes about each monster to repeat, such as “If Bungisngis wanders in, let the kitchen solve your jitters.  Feed him sweets like ice cream, yam and banana fritters!” At the end of the book a further description of the ten supernatural creatures is shown.  Lively illustrations add to the vitality of the book.  (4 – 7 years)   KS

Alphabetong Filipino by Nicanor G Tiongson illustrated by Crispin Dayao Junior  pb 9789716301748  $26.95
This is such an interesting book.  At the beginning, there is a brief introduction explaining the development of the Filipino alphabet.  Since each object chosen to illustrate the letters of the alphabet represents something about the country’s past or present culture or everyday life, we gain an insight into Filipino life. There are also examples from city and provincial life.  A short description accompanies each letter and this provides more information.  At the end of the book, there is more information about the development of the Filipino alphabet which has undergone many changes since the time of the indigenous alphabet, before the time of the Spaniards in the 1560s, to the present time. (6 – 9 years) KS

Ming’s Adventure in the Forbidden City by Li Jian hardback 9781602209855 $18.99
Told in English and Chinese. Ming and his father visit the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Forbidden City was home to the emperors of China from the 14th century until 1911, and today it is a significant cultural site. When Ming passes through a mysterious gate he goes back in time to the ancient Forbidden City and finds himself being escorted by guards to the palace where the Emperor lives. Imagine his surprise when he sees that the Emperor is just a young boy like himself! Ming draws pictures of cars, planes and rockets as he describes his modern world, and the excited young Emperor takes Ming on a tour of his favourite places in the City; the Imperial Garden with its strange stones, old trees and rare herbs and flowers, and the huge Nine Dragon Wall with its magnificent carved dragons. Then the two boys ride on the back of a bronze dragon, flying high over the City, until Ming is blown off by a gust of wind and lands in the moat outside the Forbidden City, back in the present and reunited with his worried father. On the endpapers of the book is a plan of the Forbidden City, showing Ming’s route and the places mentioned in the book, and at the end is a Cultural Explanation of those places. (6-8 year olds) MC


We’ve spent the last few months reading our way through the CBCA shortlist, and Kate has also had a busy time visiting friends over here in NSW and spending time with family, including her two very active young grandsons. Overall, I thought the standard of the shortlisted fiction was excellent this year (it’s been a while since I’ve thought that!) and really enjoyed many of the books. As I wasn’t overly impressed by anything else I’ve read I thought I’d highlight our favourites from the CBCA fiction here. Mandy

The First Third by Will Kostakis pb 9780143568179 $17.99
Just thinking about this book again makes me smile.  It captures so beautifully the love a family of Greek background has for their Yiayia, their very expressive Greek grandmother.  The family has their problems but it is their grandmother who provides the core.  It is her love and vitality, not to mention her food, that keeps the family together.  She explains to Billy, the narrator, that life is made up of three parts.  In the first third you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second you make a family of your own and in the end you just embarrass the family you’ve made.  She has given Billy her bucket list of wishes before she dies and now it is his job to glue the family back together again.  The book is at times very funny and also very sad but it has wonderful characters who shine and of course Yiayia shines the brightest of all.  (12 – 16 years)   KS
Shortlist 2014 CBCA Awards, Older Readers.

The Sky So Heavy  by Claire Zorn pb 9780702249761  $19.95
This post-apocalyptic YA novel is set in the Blue Mountains and then Sydney. After nuclear missile tests on the other side of the world go wrong, Australia is rapidly plunged into a nuclear winter. First the sky changed, like the sun was being choked by thick orange dust, and then came the dirty, toxic snow. Seventeen year old Fin and his 12 year old brother Max are on their own. Dad went out in pursuit of their stepmother Kara and hasn’t returned, and mum is in Canberra. Life as they know it will never be the same. With food and water supplies dwindling, they join forces with Albert Wong, the most picked-on kid at school, and Lucy, the coolest girl in Fin’s world. They set off for Sydney in a borrowed car packed with their remaining supplies, unprepared for the chaos and desperation that confront them. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, with famine looming, people dying of radiation poisoning and some members of the population being sacrificed to save other more ‘useful’ people. As in John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’ these teenagers have to step up and take control, making decisions about their survival. The realistic, fast-paced writing and believable scenario make this a gripping read, and the relationship between the brothers is so well portrayed. This is Zorn’s first YA novel; her second, ‘The Protected’ has just been published and I’m really looking forward to reading it. (15-18 year olds). Highly recommended. MC  
Honour Book 2014 CBCA Awards, Older Readers.

A Very Unusual Pursuit, A: 1 City of Orphans Trilogy by Catherine Jinks  pb 9781743313060 $14.99  I really enjoyed this atmospheric fantasy adventure set in Victorian London. Alfred Bunce makes a decent living as a bogler, called upon to lure and destroy the child-eating monsters that lurk in chimneys, drains and other hidey-holes. Our heroine, 10 year old orphan Birdie McAdam, has been in Alfred’s care since she was 4 and works as his assistant. It’s her job to lure the bogles out with her beautiful singing so Alfred can kill them before they kill her. They’re a good team. Their world is turned upside down when they are joined by Edith Eames, a well-to-do amateur folklorist who pays Alfred good money to attend the boglings. Miss Eames is horrified at the danger Birdie is exposed to and is determined to find a more scientific method. Birdie sees this as a threat to her livelihood as she doesn’t want to end up in the workhouse. She is tempted by Miss Eames’s offer to take her into her care, providing a comfortable life and an education, and good-hearted Alfred gruffly encourages Birdie to take up this offer. Meanwhile, Sarah Pickles, who runs a gang of pickpockets, hires Alfred to hunt a bogle at the house of the wealthy Dr Morton where one of her boys went missing. Things get nasty when the doctor turns up and tries to force Alfred and Birdie to capture the bogle for his sinister intentions. The novel is full of historical detail and the characters are really engaging, especially Birdie who is so brave and clever. There’s a glossary of slang words at the end of the book. (10-13 year olds) MC

Winner 2014 CBCA Awards, Younger Readers.

Also in this series: A Very Peculiar Plague: Book 2 pb 9781743313053 $14.99; A Very Singular Guild: Book 3 pb 9781743313091 $14.99

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend: Book 5 Violet Mackerel by Anna Branford & Sarah Davis (illus.) hardback 9781921977565  $19.95
Violet’s family have just moved into their new house next door to Rose, who is the same age. Violet thinks she may be a possible friend and leaves a small gift and a note in a hole in the back fence. When Rose leaves a gift with a note inviting Violet over, this confirms Violet’s Theory of Swapping Small Things. Everything at Rose’s place is neat and matching, and Rose has a pink and white bedroom, a real doll’s house and nice dresses with matching ribbons. In stark contrast, Violet’s household is organically chaotic, her clothes are hand-me-downs and her doll’s house is constructed in a shoebox with a chest of drawers made by sticking matchboxes together. When Rose visits she is fascinated by everything and Violet’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are finally laid to rest when Rose is thrilled with the birthday gift of a handmade set of drawers for her doll’s house. As with all the Violet Mackerel books, this is a thoughtful read and Violet is a lovely character, full of resourcefulness, curiosity and optimism. I highly recommend this series. Black and white pencil illustrations throughout. (7-9 year olds) MC
Shortlist 2014 CBCA Awards, Younger Readers.
Other books in this charming and popular series, $19.95 each:
Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot: Book 1 hardback 9781921529177 
Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery: Book 2 hardback  9781921529184  Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat: Book 3 hardback  9781921529191 
Violet Mackerel's Personal Space: Book 4 hardback  9781921529207 
Violet Mackerel's Pocket Protest: Book 6 hardback  9781921977572 
Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion: Book 7 hardback  9781922244369


I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb pb 9780297870920  $32.99

This is the absorbing story of Malala, the courageous young girl who was shot by the Taliban.  In this book she describes her own life and also gives us a very clear and fascinating account of the history of the beautiful Swat Valley in Pakistan where her family lived and which changed so dramatically when the Taliban increasingly gained control.  Her family background is very interesting, especially since her father felt so strongly about education, especially for girls, that he set up schools in the Swat Valley.  His passion of course strongly influenced Malala’s own outspoken support for girls’ education which her family supported even in the face of growing threats by the Taliban.  This is a well-written and fascinating story of a remarkable girl and her close and loving family and their fight for education, especially for girls.   (12 – 17 years)  KS


Ancient Australia Unearthed: 50,000 Years of Australia's Indigenous Past by Alethea Kinsela  pb  9780980594737 $39.95  
This book has been written especially to support the secondary Ancient History curriculum however it also provides fascinating reading for primary teachers and advanced primary students.  It is a fascinating study since it describes the work of archaeologists in various parts of Australia, unearthing its ancient history and the 50,000 year history of the first humans on this continent.  Each case study emphasises that students need to question and find out information for themselves.  In order to encourage students to develop historical enquiry skills, there are many suggestions for questions under the headings Understand, Inquire, Create and Investigate. The book is well set out and includes many photos of case studies, illustrations, diagrams and maps.  There is a Glossary, Index and a section of Links and further reading.   (11 years up)  KS   

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd  hardback 9780761172192 $29.95
I found this book fascinating from the very first page.  Kidd engages our attention through humour, anecdote and the inventive design of each page.  He explains that graphic design is problem solving.  Everything needs to be designed and when we try it ourselves, we start to appreciate the thought and effort it takes.  The cover of the book, a large red stop sign containing the word GO rather than STOP, is especially eye-catching.  The term graphic design was first used in 1922; previously the term used would have been  visual communication.  Kidd gives many examples and he notes what we need to look for. The book is divided into five chapters:  Form, Typography, Content, Concept and 10 Design Projects.  Throughout, the book is set out in a very eye-catching way, continually making us think about why the design was done that way. Even the section on the various types of typefaces and sizes is interesting.  Kidd gets the reader to identify with the typeface which most suits their personality. Something I had never thought of!  This is an excellent introduction to the world of Graphic Design.  (9 – 15 years)   KS

The Story of Money by Martin Jenkins illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura  hardback 9781406324587 $27.95
This is a fascinating, entertaining, easy to understand exploration of the evolution of money. It starts in the time before money was invented, and we learn how people exchanged, food, goods and services, which is known as bartering. Along the way we learn about hunter gatherers, barter, clay tablets, goat swapping, precious metals, hard bargains, IOUs, interest, coins, Romans, taxes, inflation, paper money, currencies and exchange rates, electronic transfers and why banks crash. The cartoon-style illustrations are amusing and add to the accessibility of the book. (10-12 year olds) MC

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