Gleebooks Education 

February 2013

Gleebooks Bookshop - Friday, February 01, 2013

We know it is a bit late now but we do send you our very best wishes for this New Year and we hope you had a very enjoyable break over the Christmas & New Year period.  As usual there have been floods and bushfires in different parts of Australia but fortunately Mandy and I haven’t been affected.  And we both had a very enjoyable break.

We thought that you might be interested in the Australian and New Zealand books chosen in 2013 for the reading list for the Sakura Medal in Japan.  It is a reading programme designed to encourage the reading of quality books in schools. The books on the list are chosen by teachers and then children at participating schools read the books and vote for the books they like best. We have listed below the books on the Sakura Medal reading list for 2013. We are of course happy to supply the books on the list to schools within Japan or elsewhere. Most of these titles have already been reviewed in previous newsletters or lists while Inside Out & Back Again is reviewed here in the Fiction section and The Red Bridge in Australian Children’s Picture Books section.  However let us know if you would like the list including reviews of each book. The website for a complete list of all the books is

Sakura Medal 2013 

Picture Books
Bruiser by Gavin Bishop hardback 9781869794491  $36.95 pb  9781869794514  $17.95  (NZ) 
The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey hardback 9780670074747  $29.95
Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh hardback 9780007361410  $23.00 pb 9780007361427  $14.99
Once there was a Boy by Dub Leffler   hardback 9781921248375  $24.95
The Red Bridge by Kylie Dunstan  hardback 9781921136726  $27.95

Chapter Books
Bungawitta by Emily Rodda pb 9781862918337  $12.99
Inside Out & Back Again by Lai Thanhha pb 9780702249419  $16.95
Northwood by Brian Falkner  pb 9781921529801  $19.95  NZ
Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford  hardback 9781921529177  $19.95 
The Truth about Verity Sparks by Susan Green pb 9781921720277 $16.95 
Wolf in the Wardrobe by Susan Brocker pb 9781869509064  $16.99  NZ

Middle Years
Coming of the Whirlpool Book 1 Ship Kings  pb by Andrew McGahan hardback 9781742376479  $22.99  pb 9781743312056  $14.99 
Silvermay by James Moloney pb   9780732292034  $24.99 
Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman pb 9780143306429  $16.95

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC)  25th – 30th May in Singapore 
Mandy and I have not yet managed to get to this Festival but it does sound very interesting, with something for everyone.   It is held every year in Singapore and aims to bring together authors, illustrators, editors and publishers with parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone interested in quality Asian content for children.  For more detailed information check out the website

Bilingual Picture Books

Over the years we have had many requests for bilingual books reflecting the very multicultural nature of the students at so many schools nowadays.  Unfortunately most bilingual books are simply translations of a book such as Spot’s First Walk and these books give no insight into the culture of the various languages.   We have found it difficult to find well written bilingual books reflecting the culture.  At the moment we are working on a list of bilingual books so if you have any suggestions do let us know.  We know that some librarians ask parents to bring in (or donate) any books in the language of their own countries and then the librarian tries to arrange a translation into English or does it themselves.  Quite a challenge.  The following books are very engaging and would be a good addition to any bilingual collection.

My Village:  Rhymes from around the World  collected by Danielle Wright, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi, introduced by Michael Rosen  9781847800862  hardback  $28.00
Danielle Wright has done an excellent job in choosing this appealing collection of nursery rhymes from round the world.  Nursery rhymes can be nonsensical, even in the original language however she has chosen rhymes highlighting rhyme and rhythm and involving simple things that we do or hear or feel or sing.  My favourite is the following rhyme Rain from the Norwegian.  I have no knowledge of Norwegian but the desire to read the rhyme aloud in Norwegian is irresistible.
One is one, two is two,                      En er en, og to er to,            
In water we hop                                   vi hopper i wand,
On sand we drop.                                 vi triller i sand.
Zick, zack.                      Zik, zak.
Some of the rhymes are written in English and also in the Romanised form of Japanese or Chinese … and then in Japanese or Chinese characters.   We also get to see various scripts such as Persian, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.   The illustrations are delightfully playful.  A list of credits at the back of the book explains the derivation of the rhymes and the translators.  (4 – 7 years) KS

Also by Danielle Wright are the following Asian collections of nursery rhymes.
Japanese Nursery Rhymes: Carp Streamers, Falling Rain and other traditional favourites  illustrated by Helen Acraman  hardback 9784805311882 $18.99  (includes an audio CD with songs in Japanese and in English)
These fifteen lively rhymes have an emphasis on the natural world.  Danielle Wright includes short notes to explain particular words or events.   Colourful illustrations.  The verses are in Japanese script and show examples of Kanji Hiragana and Katagana as well as in Romanised form and in English. 
Korean Nursery Rhymes: Wild Geese, Land of Goblins and Other favourite Songs and Rhymes illustrated by Helen Acraman  hardback 9780804842273 $18.99  (includes an audio CD with songs in Korean and in English)
These fourteen nursery songs are apparently much loved in Korea.  Many of the rhymes are accompanied by play activities such as jump rope or hand clapping games.
For teachers of Japanese and Korean who can discuss the rhymes as well as read them in the original language, the books will be extremely helpful.  However since the English translations do not contain much rhyme or rhythm, they are not easy to read aloud.  Of course the audio CD will bring the rhymes to life in the original language.   They could be used with very young children and also with older children learning these two languages.  (4 – 8 years) KS

Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret by Lynn Reiser  pb  9780688147341  $10.00
Such a simple yet very effective idea.  This story of two young girls, one English and one Spanish, is told in English on the left hand side and in Spanish on the right hand side of each double page spread. When the two little girls meet at the park, they begin by saying hello and then as they introduce their toys in either Spanish or English, they find to their surprise that they can understand each other and they start to play and enjoy themselves.   This appealing story is very well thought out and constructed.  Its liveliness would ensure that children easily pick up some new Spanish or English words.   Teachers could use the text of the book as a base for a similar story written in other languages of children in the classroom.  (4 – 8 years) KS

Australian Children’s Picture Books

For enthusiasts of Clancy the Courageous Cow pb 9781862915671  $15.99 which was written by Lachie Hume when he was just eleven years old, Banjo Bounces Back 9781862918467  $24.99  has a similar wacky sense of humour.  Banjo and his friend Bella are enthusiasts of the game Hoofball, a very popular game among young horses.  However when Banjo injured his leg, Doctor Gray ordered him to stay off his hooves for 6 weeks.  After 6 weeks of playing his Haystation and eating molasses, he became so heavy and unfit that he couldn’t be bothered playing Hoofball any more, much to Bella’s distress.  Fortunately there is a happy ending as Banjo gets fit in time for the Hoofball final.  Children will enjoy the many puns (Bella becomes horspitalised) and the amusing illustrations showing Banjo doing Hock squats and Hoof ups and going on the Trot mill in order to become fit.  (4 – 7 years)  KS

The Little Dinosaur by Catriona Hoy illustrated by Andrew Plant  hardback 9781921504396  $24.95
I read this book to a three year old a few months ago and she still talks about the little dinosaur and how her leg was broken.  The herd protects the little dinosaur for a time but she later dies at the edge of a river and millions of years later her leg bone is discovered by a paleontologist on the Victorian coast.   Andrew Plant’s illustrations vividly create the lush and strange vegetation of the world of the dinosaurs, so strongly contrasted with the coast of southern Australia when the leg bone is discovered so many years later by the paleontologist.  There is something very satisfying about this picture book in the way it combines a dramatic narrative with a scientific explanation while at the same time providing many facts about the life of these dinosaurs many millions of years ago.  (4 – 8 years)  KS

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory by Peter Smith & Bob Graham (ill) hardback 9781742376806 $24.99
Written in the 1970s, nearly 40 years ago, but never before published, this is the first book Bob Graham ever illustrated. It is an hilarious take on both the Tour de France and the classic hare-and-tortoise fable. Monsieur Albert, an older gentleman, takes on handsome young Francois, champion of France, in a bike race from Paris to Nice. Monsieur Albert in his crumpled brown suit, bicycle clips around his ankles and red scarf flying, has packed his pannier with all the necessary supplies: clean underwear, toothbrush, sunscreen, handkerchiefs, biscuits, fruit, bread and a bottle of wine. He’s the laughing stock of all the lean, lycra-clad young men in the race, but a series of unfortunate events sees Monsieur Albert sail over the finishing line in first place. And the crowd goes wild! The witty rhyming text really zings along and the wonderful illustrations by multiple award-winner Bob Graham are the perfect accompaniment in this delightful picture book for older children. (6-8 years) MC
PS. Author Peter Smith is Bob Graham’s brother-in-law.

The Red Bridge by Kylie Dunstan  hardback 9781921136726  $27.95
Kylie Dunstan is such an inventive illustrator.  This striking picture book has a very different style from Collecting Colour set in the Top End of Australia.  In The Red Bridge, Claire has left her home and friends and now lives with her mother and father in one of the very tall skinny houses in old Hanoi.  “Everything was different, the smells, the sky, the sounds.”  I love the way Kylie Dunstan uses collage to capture the movement of the bustling streets and also the many vibrant textures and patterns of the market stalls and buildings.   At first everything seems difficult for Claire and then when she begins to feel comfortable enough to wander on her own, she gets lost.  When she finds herself on a beautiful Red Bridge on a green lake, she makes a new friend who lives nearby and shows her the way home.  The book was written and illustrated while Kylie Dunstan was living with her family in Vietnam.  (5 – 10 years)
Also by Kylie Dunstan, Collecting Colour  hardback 9780734410221 $28.99  pb 9780734411181  $16.99 and Same, but little bit diff’rent hardback 9781921136603 $28.00

An ANZAC Tale by Ruth Starke illustrated by Greg Holfeld hardback 9781921504532  $29.95 
This is the story of the ANZAC campaign told in graphic format by the successful team of Ruth Starke and Greg Holfeld, who worked together on the entertaining Captain Congo graphic novels.  Great, I thought.  However I was apprehensive, even dismayed, when I saw that the characters were depicted as Australian fauna.  To my surprise, it took only a few pages for me to feel at ease with the depiction of the two main characters, Wally and Roy, as kangaroos and it was easy to see the humour in the depiction of a sulphur crested cockatoo as one of the officers, barking commands to the new recruits.  The story contains so many of the well-known elements of the ANZAC story: the naïve young friends Wally and Roy from the bush eager to sign up and do their bit and to have an adventure before the war ends.  It shows the many months in Egypt, the disastrous landing at Gallipoli and the shocking loss of life and the way the war dragged on, becoming a battle of endurance in terrible conditions against a brave and determined Turkish enemy. There are many references to well-known paintings and material from the Australian War Memorial.  Ruth’s text captures beautifully the Aussie vernacular and humour of these young friends from the bush and also provides a detailed account of this long campaign.  I was surprised that using animal representations could work so effectively.  I am not sure why it works so well.  Maybe it allows a sense of detachment and gives a greater universality to this tragic story of suffering, loss, bravery and resilience.  Obviously Greg Holfeld is an extremely skilful illustrator to succeed in such an innovative endeavour.    (8 – 15 years)  
Also Captain and the Crocodile King  hardback 9781876288914  $24.95 pb 9781876288976 $16.95 
Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s Monkey  hardback 9781921504044  $24.95  pb 9781921504150  $16.95  
Captain Congo and the Klondike Gold hardback 9781921504273  $24.95  pb 9781921504341 $16.95  (8 – 12 years)  

International Picture Books

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean hardback 9780374380236 $25.00
Drawing on the author’s childhood experience, this story is told through the eyes of his older sister. We follow the family as they pack up their house in the city and drive to the countryside, where they live in a caravan while building their own house from the ground up. The text is simple but there’s a lot going on in the pictures, so look closely. Over the year and a half that the story spans we learn a bit about the construction of a house and the changing of the seasons, and the kids are there in the middle of it, getting their hands dirty carrying and helping and learning how to measure and mark up timber and mix concrete. The watercolour illustrations have an old-fashioned feel to them and there’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst the family and the friends and relatives who arrive to help at crucial times. The Author’s Note at the end of the book tells of the real-life experience that inspired the book, and there are some photos from that time.  (5-7 years) MC

Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson & David Roberts (ill) hardback 9780230710238 $26.99 pb 9780330504065 $14.99 pb with CD 9780230763937 $22.99
Jack’s poor granny has the moozles and is covered in purple spots. The only cure is the fruit of the flumflum tree which grows on the faraway isle of Blowyernose. Jack builds a boat and finds a crew, “red-cheeked Rose and stubble-cheeked Stu”, and granny gives him a patchwork sack filled with useful things. Well, that’s what she says, but Jack can’t see what use a couple of wooden spoons, an old skipping rope, some balloons and a packet of gum (amongst other things) could possibly be. But on their adventure-filled voyage they make good use of every single one of those things and return home triumphantly with the precious flumflum fruit. The jaunty, rhyming, repetitive text from the author of The Gruffalo and the wonderful, lively illustrations by David Roberts make this a joy to read aloud. Oh, and if you look closely at the endpapers you may find all the useful things in granny’s patchwork sack. (3-5 years) MC  

Australian Fiction

Pookie Aleera is not my Boyfriend by Steven Herrick pb  9780702249280  $16.95
Steven Herrick is a performance poet who is also an author.   In this verse novel, it is so easy to hear each of his characters talking aloud as they describe themselves and tell their stories.   These kids are in the sixth grade in an Australian country school, 422 kms from the sea.  Through their individual voices, we gradually get to know them and their new teacher, Ms Arthur.   They have very different characters; Cameron is so quick with words; Mick is a leader but often gets into trouble; Laura is lonely and would so like to be part of a group.  Steven Herrick explores the small details of each character’s concerns, frustrations and hopes while at the same time making us very aware of how language is used and the differences of living in the country.  The book is often very funny.  I loved the sense of exasperation in Constable Dawe’s voice as he repeats the wisecracks of the class while attempting to give them a talk about road safety “yes, you’re right, it should be called pedestrian safety because no one can hurt a road”.  It would be well worthwhile reading the book aloud and re-reading it in order to be really aware of the links between the various characters and the multiple perspectives.  Herrick succeeds in vividly bringing to life this story about a small community and how people can make a difference through their actions.  (9 – 12 years) KS

Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto by Geoffrey McSkimming
pb 9781742378213  $14.99   
Phyllis Wong has inherited the magician skills of her famous great-grandfather but her detective skills are also called upon as she and her friend Clement try to solve the mystery of some very perplexing robberies.   Phyllis Wong is a lively, smart and engaging heroine of this new series by the author of the popular Cairo Jim titles. (9 – 13 years) KS. I really enjoyed this one too! MC

Miss Understood by James Roy  pb 9781864718607  $16.95
Ten-year-old Lizzie has been expelled from school for accidentally setting a cardboard cutout of the principal on fire – she was just trying to scorch the edges of her pirate map to make it look authentic. Yet another misunderstanding! So now she’s being home-schooled by her Mum, who is a teacher, and desperately misses her friends, school and the social life of the playground. Her best friend has a new best friend, her Dad, a well-known food critic, is depressed and finding it difficult to get motivated, and Lizzie’s discovered a broken family man squatting in the display-home next door. She has a lot on her plate but is determined to prove to everyone that she is responsible and mature enough to be accepted back into school. Australian award-winner James Roy tackles some big issues with humour and sensitivity, and the value of family and community support shines through. (10-13 years) MC

Chook Chook: Mei’s Secret Pets by Wai Chim 9780702249464 $14.95
Mei lives with her older brother Guo and her Ma on a farm in rural China. Since the death of Mei’s father, Ma has banned all animals from the farm – ‘we are rice farmers’ – and seems to have hardened her heart. When Mei finds two baby chickens, Little and Lo, she hides them from Ma in the shed down the back, spending lunch time and after school secretly playing with and caring for them. It reminds her of how she used to help Pa with the animals. She confides in Guo and he helps her build a more secure home for the chicks. Then Ma discovers Mei’s secret, sells the chickens to the one-eyed butcher, and Mei sets about trying to get them back before they meet with a terrible end. An act of kindness by Mei towards a stranger at the markets eventually leads to the chickens being returned, and Ma’s heart softens when she sees just how much those chickens mean to Mei, how like Pa she is. Finally they can share their grief, cry and talk about how much they miss Pa, and the healing begins. A gentle novel about grief and the importance of family. The author grew up in New York City but now lives in Sydney. (8-10 years). MC

Books about Art for Children

Paul Klee for Children by Silke Vry  hardback 9783791370774  $24.99
Silke Vry combines so many different aspects of Klee’s life in this fascinating book.  She describes biographical details of his life while at the same time explaining how his painting developed, how he tried to paint in a childlike manner, how he discovered colour and how he believed that through his art he could create a new world reflecting his innermost thoughts.   Throughout the book, there is an abundance of excellent reproductions of Klee’s own work and of other artists of the period as well as many photographs showing Klee as a child and throughout his life.  It is a fascinating account giving us much information about Paul Klee’s work and his life.  It also acts as a guide to help the reader understand the world that Klee was trying to create by suggesting many art related activities inspired by Klee’s own works.   (10 – 16 years)  KS

Red-Yellow-Blue: Colors in Art by Silke Vry hardback  9783791370538  $24.99 
This is no ordinary book about colours and how they are made.  It is an exploration of the history of the use of colours in paintings and also of the science of colours and of how colours have been perceived through the ages.  Silke Vry has chosen wonderful works of art from various cultures and times.  Her use of clear language to talk about colours, to describe their symbolic power and their origins is skilful.  She also suggests many interesting experiments and additional activities using colour.  (9 – 15 years)  KS

Also by Silke Vry are: 
13 Art Illusions Children Should Know hardback 9783791371108  $24.99  
This collection features artworks that incorporate a variety of methods for tricking our eyes: including trompe l'oeil, clever uses of color and perspective, Surrealism, and Photo-Realism.

Trick of the Eye: How Artists Fool Your Eyes  hardback 9783791370262  $24.95
If seeing is believing, then artists might be the biggest liars of all. Painters, sculptors and photographers often try to convince their audiences that the paint is wet; the fruit is real; the window is open; the figure’s eyes are following you around the room. This fun and informative book takes young readers on a thematic tour of art illusion.  From the Parthenon through examples from nearly every major movement and culture, vibrant works of art are revealed to contain visual tricks, puns, hidden clues and just plain deceit.   (9 – 15 years) KS


Following are some brief reviews of a range of fiction that Mandy and I have really enjoyed.

On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells  hardback 9780763637224  $19.95  pb 9780763658151  $16.95  
This is an evocative, beautifully written story involving a boy, Oscar Ogilvie, at the time of the Great Depression in 1931.  It is a mixture of fantasy and dramatic real life.  His father has had to sell their cherished model trains and head west in search of work.  Oscar is witness to a terrible crime which somehow catapults him onto an incredible train journey from coast to coast and from one decade to the next.  This absorbing and suspenseful story involves a number of time slips.  I found Wells’ description of life in the US at the time of the Crash and 10 years later to be fascinating and I found very much to my surprise that I also became interested in American model train layouts and real trains!  An additional interest is the witty inclusion in the plot of a number of very famous Americans from the period.  The novel contains much warmth and humour.  It is very unusual in that it also contains beautiful colour illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline.  (9 – 13 years)  KS

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness  hardback 9781406311525  $27.95  pb 9781406336511 $18.95
This is an extraordinary novel.  It is based on an idea of the late Siobhan Dowd, the wonderful award-winning novelist.   It is the moving story of a boy, Conor, whose mother is very ill from cancer and the effect this has on Conor.   He has the same nightmare every night but one night it is different as a monstrous visitor appears at the window.  The monster tells three different stories while at the same time demanding that Conor tells the truth.  This is a confronting novel, full of strength, compassion and the will to survive.  (12 – 17 years) KS

Inside Out & Back Again by Lai Thanhha  pb 9780702249419 $16.95
This engaging novel in verse is a work of fiction based on the author’s own experiences. Set towards the end of the Vietnam War (which lasted for nearly 20 years), ten-year-old Ha lives with her mother and three older brothers in Saigon. Ha never knew her father who left home on a navy mission when she was 1 year old and never returned; the family live in hope that one day he will come home. When Saigon falls to the communists, the family manages to escape on a very crowded boat, and after a long and harrowing journey end up in a tent city in Florida. They are finally sponsored and their new life begins in Alabama in the southern United States. Ha tells of their struggles to adapt to life in a foreign country, her mother working long hours at a sewing factory, and the difficulties of learning a new language and fitting in at school where she is teased and picked on by the school bully and his gang. Ha is helped by her kind teacher, Miss Washington, her brothers study and work hard and eventually they do adapt and begin to make plans for their future. Winner of the 2011 National Book Prize for Young People's Literature and
2012 Newbery Medal Honor Book. (10-13 years) MC

The Cloud Hunters by Alex Shearer pb 9781471400193 $19.95
Water is scarce in this post-apocalyptic world made up of islands floating in space. Sky-sharks and deadly jellyfish cruise the dense atmosphere, and the inhabitants of some of the islands are not too friendly either. Christien is bored with his mollycoddled, privileged life and is fascinated by Jenine, the new girl at school. Jenine is the daughter of cloud hunters, an exotic band of outsiders with tribal markings who harvest water for a living. Christien convinces her to let him come along on their next mission and discovers that this is an occupation more dangerous than his wildest imaginings. A well-written thrilling fantasy adventure for both girls and boys. (12-15) MC

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters pb 9780857630650 $14.99
Hannah has written a play, and with the help of her best friend Lottie, is determined to enter it into the local arts festival competition. Their theatre is actually a forgotten hen house on the farm where Hannah, her siblings and their widowed father live - and their plan must be kept top secret. Given the dire state of the farm, and their gruff father's preoccupation with financial problems, Hannah's plan remains hidden for quite a while, much like the dilapidated hen house. Although set now, this book has a timeless quality, and reminds me very much of the Noel Streatfield, and Joan Phipson books that I loved so much as a child. Very real dialogue, and vivid details take the reader right into the story, and the characters are completely convincing. In fact some of the best bits of the book are the scenes with the younger siblings, who have their own funny dialogue going on, creating a sense of family life beyond the plot. The family pets are also particularly winning, and add real humour to the story. The book deals with issues other than putting on a play in the hen house - loss, bullying, adult loneliness, and friendship all are woven into the story, giving it depth without weighing it down with worthy issues. A fantastic first book from this English author, I am looking forward to her next book. (10-13 years) LP 
We both loved this book too, and it has been shortlisted for the 2013 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. LB MC

Ophelia Wild, Secret Spy by Elena de Roo & Tracy Duncan (ill) pb 9781921529672 $14.95
It’s unusual for early chapter books to be written in verse, but this works really well. Ophelia Wild has set up the headquarters for her very own detective agency in a treehouse and she’s open for business. With the help of her assistant, Albert, she gets the better of the school bullies, solves the mystery of the meat pies, and catches Comet the cat red-handed with the treasures he’s been stealing from old Ollie at the nursing home. The lively verse from this New Zealand author is a delight and there are illustrations on every page.  (6-8 years) MC


We haven’t managed to read these sequels yet but thought you might like to know they have now been published since the first books in the various series were very popular.

The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice Book 2 Ship Kings  by Andrew McGahan   hardback 9781742378220  $22.99
This is the sequel to the exciting fantasy The Coming of the Whirlpool Book 1 hardback 9781742376479  $22.99 pb 9781743312056  $14.99 (13-16 years)

The Hunters Book 3 Brotherband by John Flanagan pb 9781742750620  $17.95  
Previous titles are The Invaders Book 2 pb 9781741664508  $17.95 and The Outcasts Book 1 pb 9781741664492  $17.95

Path of Beasts Book 3 The Keepers by Lian Tanner hardback 9781742371979  $22.99  
Previous titles are City of Lies Book 2 hardback 9781742371962  $22.99  pb  9781742379999  $15.99  Museum of Thieves Book 1 hardback 9781742371573  $22.99 pb  9781742376561  $15.99 (10-13 years)

Parvana’s Promise by Deborah Ellis pb  9781743312988  $15.99     
Sequel to Parvana’s Journey pb 9781865089997  $15.95  and Parvana pb 9781865086941  $15.95 (10-14 years)

Fallout Book 5 The Phoenix Files by Chris Morphew pb 9781921502439 $16.95
Previous titles are Underground Book 4 pb 9781921502422  Mutation Book 3 pb 9781921502415 Contact Book 2 pb 9781921502408 Arrival Book 1 pb 9781921502392 $16.95 each (11-15 years)

The Third Door Book 3 Three Doors Trilogy by Emily Rodda pb 9781862919143 $16.99
Previous titles are The Silver Door Book 2 pb 9781862919136 The Golden Door Book 1 pb 9781862919129 $16.99 each (9-12 years)

The 26-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton (ill) pb 9781742611273 $12.99
Previous title The 13-Storey Treehouse pb 9780330404365 $9.99

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend Book 5 Violet Mackerel by Anna Branford hardback 9781921977565 $19.95
Previous titles are Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space Book 4 hardback 9781921529207 Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat Book 3 hardback 9781921529191 Violet Mackerel’s Remarkable Recovery Book 2hardback 9781921529184  $19.95 each (6-8 years)


Spotty Stripy, Swirly:  What are patterns? Clever Concepts series by Jane Brocket hardback   9780761346135  $29.95             
Wonderfully colourful photographs show us a variety of patterns seen in boxes of vegetables, in plants and flowers, in hand made crochet work and quilts, in tiles, buildings and paving.  The text is simple while encouraging us to look and observe the many different sorts of patterns in nature and also the patterns that we can make ourselves just by the way we arrange lollies or buttons or in the way a cake is decorated.   This book will encourage children to see patterns in everyday objects and the natural world and to be aware of how they can make their own.  (3 – 6 years)  KS            
Also in the same series are:
Circles, Stars, and Squares: Looking for Shapes  hardback 9780761346111  $29.95
Ruby, Violet. Lime: Looking at Colors hardback 9780761346128  $29.95 
Spiky, Slimy, Smooth: What is Texture?  hardback   9780761346142  $29.95

Beatrice’s Dream A Story of Kibera Slum  by Karen  Lynn Williams, photographs by Wendy Stone hardback  9781847800190  $29.95  pb  9781847804181  $16.95
Beatrice is a thirteen-year old girl who lives with her brother’s family since both her parents died.   They live in a huge slum district in Nairobi where conditions are very muddy in winter and very dry and dusty in summer.  Beatrice goes to school, loves learning and wants to be a nurse.  The text is simple and is told in Beatrice’s own words.  There is not much description of Kibera but it is clear from the large photographs that this is a bustling lively community where people live extremely close together with few amenities.  Although the living conditions are very poor, Beatrice is optimistic about her future as she feels safe in the home of her brother and at school.  At the end of the book a little more information is provided about Kibera Slum and we are told that Beatrice has gone on to study at a girls’ boarding school in Nairobi and so is hopefully on the way to becoming a nurse.  (8 – 11 years) KS

Alexander the Great:  Reckless Conqueror by Carole Wilkinson  pb  9781876372330  $18.99
Carole Wilkinson brings to life the incredible story of Alexander the Great’s short life by alternating factual description with short fictional reconstructions of particular events.  She makes it clear at the end of the book that she has used a number of sources to write the book and acknowledges that there is much debate over what is myth and legend and what really happened.  She also explains that she is writing from the point of view of the Macedonians and not of the conquered Persians.  It seems that Alexander’s aim was to conquer the world but as his conquests grew there was always yet another kingdom to conquer.  There is fascinating description of his early life and also of the major battles and the reasons why Alexander was so successful in his battles.  There are many illustrations and maps and also brief quotes from some of the historians some years after Alexander’s death.   (10 – 16 years) KS

To Be A Kid by Maya Ajmera & John D Ivanko.  pb 9780881068429 $12.95
This book was developed by the Global Fund for Children, a non-profit organisation committed to advancing the dignity of children and youth around the world. There is minimal text but the many photographs on every page depict children from all around the world in such diverse clothing and settings, going to school, sharing stories, dancing, spending time with their families and playing. It is a simple celebration of the importance of family, friends, learning, sharing and having fun.  (4-7 years) MC

This Child, Every Child by David J Smith & Shelagh Armstrong (ill). Hardback  9781554534661 $27.00
Another fascinating book from the team behind If the World Were a Village. On each double-page spread there is a boxed child-friendly version of an Article from the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the theme of each Article is reflected in the statistics and fictional profiles of children from all around the world. We take a look at children and their families, homes, health, education, gender equality, work, war and play. Disturbingly, the reality of life for many children falls well short of the Convention’s vision and goals. This provides a valuable tool for understanding that millions of children lack the basic rights and opportunities that many take for granted. At the end of the book there is a child-friendly version of all of the Articles in the Convention, followed by a couple of pages of topics to prompt discussion. Highly recommended. (8-12 years) MC
See also If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People by David J Smith & Shelagh Armstrong (ill) hardback 9781554535958 $27.00 pb 9781742376608 $16.99. A book with an interdisciplinary world-view linking geography, environment and human rights. (9 - 14 years) (for Kate’s full review visit our website and look under International Children’s Books: Non-Fiction)

Come and Eat! By George Ancona. Hardback 9781580893664 $19.95
This book takes a celebratory look at how and what different people around the world eat. Knife and fork, chopsticks and fingers, or soup drunk directly from the bowl; noodles, tortilla (Mexican bread), momos (Tibetan dumplings), rice and fufu (cassava root). They’re all here, and more! Whether at the table or on mats on the floor, sharing food “invites friendship, laughter and good feelings”. Photographs on every page. (5-8 years)  MC

Children of the World: how We Live, Learn & Play in Poems, Drawings & Photographs by Anthony Asael & Stephanie Rabemiafara hardback 9780789322678  $39.95
The authors of this book, both photographers, are the founders of a project called Art in All of Us. Between 2005 and 2009 they visited 310 schools in 192 countries, holding artistic workshops for children of all ages, collecting 25,000 pieces of art! This book is the culmination of that amazing experience. Arranged in alphabetical order by country, each double-page spread shows a drawing and a poem (translated into English) created by local children, a map showing the geographical location of each country and a photograph of local children. There are also very brief snippets telling us which languages are spoken, foods eaten and sports played. The drawings and poems are credited with the child’s name and age (mostly 9-12 year olds), and the poems are also reproduced in the original handwriting and language. At the back of the book you’ll find brief country statistics and credits – I was delighted to see that one of our school customers in Iran (Shahid Mahdavi) was the school visited! This is a fascinating, positive, uplifting book which promotes cross-cultural understanding. It is noted in the Foreword that after looking at some of the other artwork, a student in Syria said “there is no difference between us and the children from other countries”. I’m sure this book will inspire much discussion and creativity. (7-15 years) MC


Fantastic Mr Dahl by Michael Rosen pb 9780141322131 $14.99
Everything you always wanted to know about Roald Dahl, the much-loved author of over 20 wonderful books for children, and a few for adults as well! Michael Rosen explores Roald Dahl’s life in three parts: The Boy, The Man, The Writer. His Norwegian parents settled in Wales some years before Roald was born, and his father died when he was only three years old. He attended boarding-schools in Wales and we get to read excerpts from some of the many letters he wrote to his beloved Mama, with whom he was very close. When he left school he worked for the Shell oil company for about five years and then WW11 started and he joined the RAF and became a fighter pilot. A terrible crash, which he barely survived, put an end to that career and he was sent to the USA to work for the British Embassy as a spy. It was there that he wrote The Gremlins, his first story for children, which was published in the USA, Britain and Australia, and so his career as a writer began. There are black-and-white photos and illustrations by Quentin Blake throughout, and at the end you’ll find a bibliography and a summary of important dates. (9-12 years) MC

Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke

KS Kate Shepherd
MC Mandy Clarke
LP Louise Pfanner

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