Gleebooks Education 

June 2016

Gleebooks Bookshop - Friday, June 10, 2016

To the Librarians and Teachers



No 53 , June 2016

Greetings from Maija, Kate & Mandy

As you may or may not know Gleebooks is the official bookseller for the Sydney Writer’s Festival which recently took place, I worked within the Children’s program of events selling books at various venues around Sydney. The authors attending this year were; John Boyne, Michael Grant, Liz Pichon, Jon Klassen, Vikki Wakefield, Claire Zorn, Tohby Riddle and Judith Rossell. Liz Pichon (of Tom Gates fame) was by far and away the most popular with the children, after hearing her speak we would be descended upon by a great mass of small people clamouring for one of her books, it can be quite overwhelming but immensely gratifying to witness that level of excitement about books! The highlight for me was being able to meet Jon Klassen, I’m a long time fan of his work and I can report that he is a delightful, humble human being.
This year the Children’s Book Council shifted the announcement of their awards shortlist to coincide with the Writer’s Festival meaning this newsletter, which includes the shortlist has had to bide it’s time until now. Here's the link to read our reviews of the entire shortlist: 

The Austral Ed website has finally come into the Gleebooks fold, our lists can be found at, we’re hoping this will be more usable as we now have the jacket images attached to the descriptions, you can also click on the hyperlinked ISBNs which will take you to the Gleebooks e-store where you can then either create a list for purchase or quotation. Please note this is a work in progress so not every list is updated at this stage. Kate has been refreshing our resource lists for the International Baccalaureate. Here's the link to the MYP fiction list:

If you have any difficulty viewing this email or its images, you can always find it on our website, along with back issues at: 


Picture Books

Circle by Jeannie Baker hb 9781406338010 $28.00
As its title suggests, this story is circular. At the start of the book, a little boy is lying in bed, wishing he could fly. He is taken down in his wheelchair to the water's edge where he watches a flock of birds, the romantically named godwits, start their fight north. Following one particular bird, we continue on his journey across the globe. The natural word is where Jeannie Baker really shines, her painstaking collages are at their best when illustrating large stretches of sky and sea, and wonderful details of the godwits. The circle of life is shown through their extraordinary journey, and in the author's note at the end of the book we learn that the bar-tailed godwits "make the longest unbroken journey of any animal in the world." Jeannie Baker has succeeded in creating a highly informative picture book that is both lyrical in text and illustration, with an underlying story of the little boy who is able to run in the sand, at the end of the book, when the godwits return. (ages 5+) LP

Rockhopping by Trace Balla hb 9781760112349 $25.00
This is another title by the very idiosyncratic author and illustrator of Rivertime. That was the story of young Clancy who went on a canoe journey along the Glenelg River with his bird watching Uncle Egg. This time they visit the Grampians or Gariwerd to find the mouth of the Glenelg River. This is a more ambitious trip but this time Clancy is very enthusiastic from the start, even though he has to practice carrying a backpack which is so heavy he can hardly lift it. The climb is very challenging as is the camping, often in the rain. But there is again so much to observe with wildlife, plants and birds. Clancy finds that he gradually overcomes his exhaustion and discovers many rewards from trekking in a very different environment. The book involves some danger as a backpack falls down a ravine and Clancy almost falls after it. As a result, Clancy and Uncle Egg are separated for most of a day but Clancy is very proud of the way he manages on his own for he has learnt a lot in the way of bush skills. He is proud of his resilience and is feeling more confident about finding his way and being independent. Trace Balla’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the bush shines through in her stories and in the detailed illustrations of native birds, plants and animals.
An important and very enjoyable book. Australian (8–12 years) KS

Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley hb 9781406367232 $25
Working in Gleebooks means we see an unusually high amount of new books. Many of them are good, some are fabulous, and occasionally some are SENSATIONAL. This picture book by a young American illustrator, Brianne Farley, rings every bell for me, proving there are some original, imaginative young illustrators out there who like to draw for children, not just assemble images and textures. After being sent outside to play by their mother, a younger sister is trying to persuade her older sibling to stop reading a book, and come and play with her. She tries to entice her sister with the promise of a secret tree fort, it gets bigger and better by the moment, culminating in the most fabulous castle in the air, there are pirates and a secret tunnel, and the whole fort is made of sweets. This is a book about so much more than an imaginary fort – it’s a testament to imagination and play, childhood relationships, and ultimately about the bond between siblings. The drawings are perfect to carry the story, detailed and amusing, drawn with a deft but light hand. I love this book! (ages 5+) LP

Hello! Illustrated by Tony Flowers hb 9780642278876 $25.00
A lively book showing the diversity of nationalities in Australia. The emphasis is on how each of the children says hello in their language. All the children are Australian but they have different cultures and backgrounds. The cartoon style illustrations over double page spreads show each child saying hello, good-bye and counting up to ten in their language. They also feature favourite foods and past-times of each child. The book is a good introduction to the multicultural nature of Australian society. The children featured are from Chinese, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Lebanese, Vietnamese and three Indigenous cultures from Torres Strait, the Adelaide region and the West coast of Northern Territory. (5–9 years) KS

There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith hb 9781509812882 $25.00
When a young boy embarks on a journey alone… he trails a colony of penguins, undulates in a smack of jellyfish, clasps hands with a constellation of stars, naps for a night in a bed of clams, and follows a trail of shells, home to his tribe of friends. Both a meditation on childhood and an exploration of unusual collective nouns, Smith’s imaginative book features visual and verbal puns, playing with colours, moods and textures through the sponge-paint illustrations. There is a Tribe of Kids is imbued with the joy of language, nature and belonging. Described by one reviewer as “Absolutely radiant”, this is a book for all ages. LB


Frostborn Thrones & Bones series # 1 by Lou Anders pb 9780385387811 $14.00
Apparently the Vikings used to play board games. In fact they were such fans that boards and pieces have been found buried with their owners (but unfortunately not the instructions.) However author Lou Anders has made up his own rules for the game of Thrones & Bones and has made Karn Korlundr, one of his two main characters, a devoted and expert player. Surprisingly when Karn’s adventures begin with an uncle plotting to take over as headman from Karn’s father and he encounters various undead and wyverns, the skills that he has learnt by playing so many games are very useful. Karn is eleven years old, small and not very strong. He meets and shares his adventures with Thianna, part human and part frost giant. She is frustratingly small for a frost giant but huge for a human. These two unlikely companions have fast-paced adventures, always plunging into unknown dangers in a fantasyland inspired by Viking mythology. (10–13 years) KS

The House on Hummingbird Island by Sam Angus pb 9781447263036 $15
Delivered, parcel-like, into the care of her cousins when Idie Grace was just a baby, she grew up enmeshed in secrets and mystery, with clues to her background gleaned from overheard drifts of conversation. Torn from her only known home at the age of 12 and installed as mistress of the West Indian plantation she’d inherited, Idie slowly overcomes her misery and resentment, coming to revel in her independence and the beauty of the island. Even better, she acquires new friends and an increasing menagerie: a horse, toucans, a mongoose, a monkey, a fawn, a turtle and a sulphur crested cockatoo, all of which live inside the house. From unwelcome island gossip she discovers not only perfidy within her household, but also more about her parents, however the greatest revelations come only after the ugliness of WW2 and the toll it wreaks upon those she loves most. Shades of Pippi Longstocking, with Daphne du Maurier twists, this is utterly compelling. (ages 9+) LB

The Salty River by Jan Bauer, translated from the German by Judith Pattinson pb 9780980593723 $29.95
This is a bit like the picture book Rockhopping, reviewed below, for an older audience. The author, German born Jan Bauer, is on a quest to find himself and he hopes to do this through a long, arduous and challenging trek through Central Australia. The book is written as a graphic novel, describing his state of mind and also the precise details of what he takes in his backpack as he begins what he imagines to be a solitary trek, only to discover other trekkers travelling the same Larapinta Trail, though very few would travel the full 450 kms from Alice Springs to Yuendumu. Bauer has a self-deprecating sense of humour making his story so much more appealing and interesting. Bauer’s detailed illustrations are another delight. They show the minutiae of setting up camp as well as the frustrations of dealing with the ever-persistent flies and every now and then as he climbs a mountain peak they show a breathtaking vista of ranges and country stretched out over a vast distance. He manages to capture the immensity of the scene just in black and white and in many shades of grey. His desire for isolation is forgotten when he meets up with a young and very adventurous French woman. The story then also describes how their relationship develops and how they each reveal the difficulties in their lives they were trying to leave behind. It is a fascinating graphic memoir, full of self-effacing humour. (14 years up) KS

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley pb 9781925355642 $16.99
K B Bradley has a wonderful ability to write and bring a scene or character vividly to mind and some of these scenes are not easily forgotten. For me these were especially the images of Ada who, filthy and half starved at about 10 years old, was locked in a room, or sometimes a cupboard by her extraordinarily abusive mother. Ada’s only love was for her younger brother Jamie. Her mother found Ada’s club foot disgusting and refused to allow her to go outside for that would bring disgrace on the family. Ada and Jamie managed to escape under cover of the evacuation of school children from London at the start of the Second World War. No one in the country village chose Ada and Jamie but Susan, a single woman struggling to cope with her own grief is forced to take them in. The children flourish with good food, country air, clean clothing, shelter and exercise but there are still many struggles as Ada has been traumatised by her previous life and Susan can hardly comprehend the extent of the neglect and abuse she has suffered. The war is not far from this country village in Kent with its airfield and proximity to the coast and the later evacuation of soldiers at Dunkirk. However the main interest is in the growing relationship between Susan and Ada, as Ada struggles not to get too attached this new life which she is certain will just be temporary. This is an absorbing, vividly written and moving story well deserving of its award as a 2016 Newbury Honor Book.
(10–14 years) KS

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour pb 9780141356686 $17.00
I had heard that a young woman from Saudi Arabia had made a film called the Green Bicycle and that it had had glowing reviews. I was pleased to see that she had also written a book of the story of the film. It is excellent. Wadja is a young 11 year old girl living in a town in Saudi Arabia. She is mischievous, lively and intelligent and is struggling to retain some of her independence under the ever-increasing restrictions placed on her, especially at school. Wadja earns some money by selling bracelets and music that she makes to the other girls at school even though this is not permitted. However when she sets her heart on buying an expensive, beautiful green bicycle, she knows that this will require a very special effort, especially since the bicycle is forbidden by both her mother and father. Wadja is a well-drawn believable, spirited character and we feel for her as she struggles against the rigid school regulations. Through her story, we learn a lot about her family and we gain an insight into the very different positions of boys and girls, and of men and women and also of the role of religion. Her mother has a lovely voice and loves to sing poetic love songs at home. These are written out for us to appreciate and we are also introduced to verses from the Koran, some of which are disturbing but others are quite beautiful in their poetry. This picture of the everyday life of one family in Saudi Arabia will be a revelation to many western students. Her mother’s long commute with other women in a bus to the school where she teaches in the outer suburbs is especially disturbing. Since women are not allowed to drive, the women depend on a surly and unreliable driver to get them to their work through the heat and dust of the chaotic traffic. Wadja’s story is based on Haifaa’s own childhood in Saudi Arabia and also on the experiences of one of her nieces. The story is vivid and is told with warmth and humour. (10 -15 years) KS
Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray pb 9781925240085 $15.00
Molly’s mum knows a lot about herbs and plants but she also dabbles in strange and powerful potions. Molly loves her mum but she sometimes wishes her mum and their house were more ordinary because she didn’t want anyone at school to think that Molly and her mother were weird. However Molly likes Pim who is a bit mystifying and different and is very curious about lots of things. Pim didn’t seem to care what anyone thought of him. When Molly’s mum makes a special magical potion with disastrous results, Molly needs Pim’s help to set things right and then she comes to appreciate some of the magic of her life. Australian
(8–10 years) KS
Shortlisted for 2016 CBCA Younger Readers Book of the Year

The Other Christy by Oliver Phommavanh pb 9780143505723 $17
For the last two years, Christy Ung has been in the same class as the loud-mouthed Christie Owens—and now it’s third time unlucky in 6C. Christie Owens is the popular one so everybody calls Christy Ung, the Other Christy. She moved from Cambodia in Year 4 and is still a loner at school. Christy’s one solace is baking with her Auntie who suggests they bake a cake for Christy to share with her class on her birthday. Maybe a sweet treat can win them over and Christy might find a friend. She just didn’t expect it to be Christie. When Christie is ditched by her besties, the two girls who share a name strike an unlikely friendship. Christy lets down her guard, revealing secrets about her weird upbringing with her clean-obsessed Grandpa. But Christy soon realises that she and her new friend are worlds apart. Can she ever shake off her Grandpa’s strange habits? And will the two girls ever have more in common than just their name? Australian (9-12 years) Lynndy

Cloth Lullaby: the Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky hb 9781419718816 $28

Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber. Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high. Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise’s own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric throughout her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois’s childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all. Simply gorgeous! (6-9 years) LB



The Book of Australian Birds by Charles Hope pb 9781742034010 $27.95
This is a large format book and it has many close-ups of birds filling the entire page. At first I found it off-putting but then realised that the vividness of the photos would be appealing to young children, especially the close-ups showing the beady eyes of emus and cockatoos, and would make the book very effective for sharing with the whole class. The text is simple but includes some interesting and different information. Was I aware that half of all bird species are passerines and have three toes pointing forwards and one back? I also wasn’t aware that in Australia, pollination is mostly done by birds rather than by insects like bees and butterflies. This is shown through a brilliantly coloured photograph of parrots and honey- eaters feeding on nectar. The exceptional photographs show a wide range of birds, large and small, sea birds, predators, endemic and introduced and also briefly describe the main threats to bird life in Australia. (4–8 years) KS

Frogs Close up by Charles Hope pb 9781742033990 $14.95
This is a similar format book as The Book of Australian Birds, though the pages are not as sturdy. It has close up photos of frogs and has some amazing looking frogs with brilliant colours and huge bulging eyes. Unfortunately, though there is simple general descriptive text, there are no names for each individual frog. This would not be very satisfactory for some of the discerning young budding naturalists that I know. However the stunning photos are likely to arouse a child’s interest in frogs and the book provides a good general description of the life cycle of frogs and how some are adapted to life in water and on land.
(4–8 years) KS

The Weird and Wonderful World of Words by Charles Hope pb 9781742034034 $27.95
Again this is a large format book with large brightly coloured print, this time giving a wide range of interesting and often unusual facts about words. For instance, examples are given of how our brain is so good at reading and understanding words that we can read them when they are written up or down or “sdrawkcab” (backwards) or “eevn wehn smoe lrteets are meixd up” (or even when some letters are mixed up). There are some very funny examples of spoonerisms, examples of different types of written and spoken languages, and of how the English language changes and how vocabulary and meanings change (apparently “girl” originally meant “child”). There is also information on sign languages as well as many other examples of weird and wonderful words. A number of questions throughout the book are given answers at the end of the book. Though the book is obviously intended to be attractive and interesting to children, it could also be helpful for teachers for ideas for discussion.
(8–12 years) KS

Your Guide to the Periodic Table Drawn to Science series by Gill Arbuthnott pb 9780778722533 $15.95

The book describes how Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian scientist and academic, had the brilliant idea of arranging all the known elements in a chart based on their weights and properties. He called this the Periodic Table. I found the description of each of the 92 elements making up the modern Periodic Table surprisingly interesting as many facts about each element are included as well as a few experiments. The book is well set out with the use of colour to differentiate the various elements and the way they are linked to others that are similar. The text has a lot of information and is written in a straight forward interesting way. There is a Glossary, an Index and the complete Periodic Table. (10 – 13 years) KS

Other titles in the Drawn to Science series are:
What makes You You?
What Makes your Body Work?

The Story of the Olympics: The wacky facts about the Olympics and Olympic champions down the centuries by Richard Brassey pb 9781510101388 $19.00
Cartoon style illustrations show in detail many of the events and athletes competing in the Olympic Games, from the very first games in Ancient Greece to the modern games to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. A few wacky facts were included that I couldn’t quite believe but when I checked them they were correct. There is a special page on the marathon and how it came about and also on women in the Olympic Games. This is a useful book for additional easily accessible information about the Olympics. (8–11 years) KS

KS Kate Shepherd
MC Mandy Clarke
LB Lynndy Bennett
LP Louise Pfanner

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