Gleebooks Education 

October 2008

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No 32,  October 2008

So late this year!  Sorry it has taken so long to send out this newsletter.  Normally it is September!  I had a bad shoulder for a few weeks and then the flu and then Ron wasn’t so well.  I was also hoping maybe I could write the newsletter during the day but there is never enough time for that to happen.  I am sure you have the same problem - unless you work weekends and at nights anything extra just doesn’t get done!

At any rate things are fine now.  The garden is still green and the roses are a mass of colour but yet again there has been very little rain over the past two months and so we are back to hoping the blue skies will change to cloud and rain.  Everywhere we go in the garden at home or in the nearby National Park, we hear the demanding cries of baby magpies, often still fluffy but almost as big as their parents, squawking plaintively and fluttering their wings pathetically as they demand yet more food. And the other week while walking in the Park, a koala came waddling purposefully along the path towards us.  A baby was clinging tightly to her back.  We stood to the side and the koala decided we were harmless and kept walking past, within just a few feet and then nonchalantly climbed onto a log, jumped onto a tree and continued climbing up, baby still clinging tightly to its back.  A special moment.

It has been such fun watching Noah’s development. When our small grandson was three months old we were amazed that he could so totally absorbed in his favourite books.  But that was before he could use his hands.  Once he could reach out and hold things then everything - books included - had to be eaten!    Noah is now very active and walking, even running.  He is a very busy young fellow, lots of work to do in pushing things along, or pushing them over so that he can then try and work out how they work underneath.  Aren’t children so amazingly different?  And they develop their own individual characters so quickly!  He still loves stories, as long as he is not too busy and he now adds The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Owl and the Pussycat to his favourite books.

Now to some other news. For those of you who have been following our son Joel’s latest fantasy series, the next book in the series came out in July.   Petrodor is equally exciting, full of political intrigue but this time it is set in Petrodor, an important trading and fishing city on the coast.  It is a very different setting from Sasha’s native mountainous Lenayin.  Here the action takes place in what is often a claustrophobic atmosphere in dark, narrow cobblestone alleys.  It is a gripping story in which Sasha and her mentor Kessligh attempt to navigate a way through the political intrigues of the port city and find a way to prevent the looming war between Lenayin and the mighty Bacosh.
Petrodor: A Trial of Blood and Steel series   by Joel Shepherd   trade paperback  $33.00
Sasha the first in the series is now available in a smaller version paperback pb $20.00 as well as trade paperback $33.00.

Over the next few weeks, I shall be working on updating many of the lists that I have compiled.  I shall be including many of the following books mentioned in this newsletter in lists of recommended books that I have compiled for the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate.  However to help all the teachers and librarians who have contacted me recently asking about the newsletter and lists, I have indicated under each review the books that I shall be adding to the PYPand MYP Lists.


Picture Books

Say Hello by Jack and Michael Foreman  hardback $24.95  pb $15.95
This is such a simple book with a minimum of text and the simplest of illustrations.  A lonely dog joins in with a group of children playing a game of football. When a young boy comes along. he too is lonely and feels left out.  The dog bounds over and drops the ball at his feet in an invitation to join in!  The boy does so and the concluding words of this simple but uplifting book are: 
“ No need to be the lonely one.  
When someone’s feeling left out, low, 
It doesn’t take much to say …
Hello! “
And this is followed by two pages of the words Hello! written in many different languages.   Apparently Michael Foreman’s son Jack wrote this book when he was only nine years old.  (4 – 7 years)
PYP Fiction

Clancy the Courageous Cow by Lachie Hume pb $15.00
Written by Lachie when he was just 11 years, the book has a charm and unpredictability, perhaps as a result of being written by someone so young.  It was first published in 2006 and so it is not new but teachers love to use it with children when discussing the topic of racial differences and discrimination.  Clancy belonged to a herd of Belted Galloways but he doesn’t have a belt, he is completely black.  The other cows were mean to him because of this.  On the other side of the fence was a herd of big bossy Herefords where a totally red Hereford called Helga was also picked on for being different from the other red and white Herefords.  The illustrations are a delight as is the hilarious passage describing the annual Cow Wrestling contest in which Clancy is eventually victorious.    (4 – 7 years)  
PYP Fiction

Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley hardback $29.00
In this picture book for older readers, John Marsden and Matt Ottley challenge us to imagine that we are refugees, sailing the world in search of refuge.  An ordinary family living in the suburbs of Sydney is described.  There is Mum, Dad, the fifteen year old narrator, his sister Claire and Toby who is just five.  Their lives are devastated by a sudden disastrous war.  Homes are destroyed, there are no jobs and food is hard to come by.  In desperation they find a boat willing to take them to another land, Hollandia.  The journey is harrowing and both parents die. Eventually the boat is met by unwelcoming naval boats and the children are taken to a detention camp.  Here the children are desolate and lose all hope as they live in stark very unhappy surroundings.  This is a bleak depiction but well worth discussing in the light of the plight of refugees throughout the world.  (9 – 15 years)

Fat Pat by Kilmeny Niland  hardback $24.95
I couldn’t help grinning as I read this book about fat Pat, a roly poly pudding dog, much loved by his family and who is fed tit-bits by everyone.  He is even given a ride in the pram if he gets puffed out with walking (This I have seen in France and In Japan but never yet in Australia.)  The vet is appalled, “That dog is a big pudgy pudden”.  When Pat is put onto a strict diet he runs away in horror to discover that life on the streets is much more difficult.  When he is finally found, he is a very bedraggled and skinny dog.  After much love and care and judicious feeding he is no longer Skinny Pat or Pudgy Pat but Perfect Pat.  This book would provide a fun introduction to discussion of the importance of exercise and eating a sensible amount of the right foods.                           (4 – 7 years)


Traditional Stories in Big Book format

I was delighted to hear that Era Publications were publishing Big Books of traditional stories.  It is so difficult to get Big Books of stories such as Three Little Pigs or The Little Red Hen or The Gingerbread Man.  The books are beautifully produced and the illustrations by a variety of illustrators are lively, bright and engaging.  However I have one problem and that is because the text has been simplified and adapted for various reading levels, in some of the stories it loses a lot of the life and vitality of the original versions.  The text of The Little Red Hen is fine, however in The Gingerbread Man instead of the lively repetition of “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man” the expression becomes “No one can get me,” said the gingerbread man.  Some teachers will be very pleased that the text then becomes more predictable and easier for children to read.  However because I love the lively and colloquial text of some of the traditional stories I feel obliged to point out to teachers that the texts in these stories has been adapted and simplified for particular reading levels.

Little Red Riding Hood  Level 11
The Billy Goats Gruff  Level 14
Jack and the Beanstalk  Level 17
The Bremen Town Musicians  Level 20
The Little Red Hen  Level 4
The Gingerbread Man Level 5
The Ugly Duckling Level 8
The Three Little Pigs Level 8                        pb $45.95 each

Aboriginal Stories

The Two-Hearted Numbat by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina  hardback $26.95
A numbat is a small native creature which is now unfortunately endangered in Australia.  Numbat had two hearts; one that was like a feather, soft and kind-hearted and the other like a stone, strong and tough, making Numbat feel very strong and brave.  However Numbat was concerned that he didn’t know which heart was his true self.  He seeks help from an Elder Numbat who tells him that both hearts are his true self; he is both kind-hearted and strong and brave.  The illustrations are brilliantly coloured and strikingly beautiful.  This is an original story told in a traditional way.  (5 – 8 years)

The Bawoo Stories written by May L O’Brien, illustrated by Angela Leaney and Sue Wyatt pb $26.95
This new edition contains in one volume the four traditional Aboriginal stories, Barn-Barn Barlala, the Bush trickster, Kangaroos who wanted to be People, How Crows became Black and Why the Emu Can’t Fly.   They were told so that more Aboriginal children would come to understand their land, their people and their beginnings.  These are lively traditional tales of the Wongutha people of Western Australia.    (7 – 10 years)

Stories from the Billabong retold by James Vance Marshall illus by Francis Firebrace  hardback $34.95
These stories have been retold by James Vance Marshall.  He and Francis Firebrance who is an Aboriginal storyteller as well as an illustrator, acknowledge the storytellers from the Yortaa-Yorta people as the sources for these ten traditional stories.  These are very appealing stories and most of them involve animals.  We learn what made the frog croak, why the kangaroo has a pouch and why the platypus is so unusual and how the crocodile got its scales.  At the end of each story there is a short description of the animals in the story.  There is also a Glossary and two pages illustrating Aboriginal symbols and their meanings.  This is an excellent collection of stories, well told and strikingly illustrated.  The additional background information makes it an even more useful book for overseas Libraries.     (7 – 13 years)


Too Much Stuff (Aussie Nibbles series) by Wendy Orr pb $10.95
Cassidy was the “messy bedroom champion of the school.”  Her brother and sister brought their friends to stare at the mess.  But Cassidy really wanted a new desk where she could do her drawings and paintings and so when her father promised he would make one up for her out of a kit as soon as she tidied her room, she made a real effort.  But no matter what she did there was still too much stuff to put away and so she decided to have an auction.  This is great fun for friends and neighbours.  When her desk is finally set up, instead of painting immediately, she decides to write a story about “Too Much Stuff!   This is an entertaining story which also looks at the difficulties of organizing things and also of creativity amidst mess!  (6 – 8 years)  
PYP Fiction

The Lion Drummer (Aussie Bites series)  illustrated by Andrew McLean  pb $12.95
Lulu comes from a family of Chinese background where everyone has different interests and Lulu doesn’t think there will be room for her growing passion of playing the drum to accompany the lion dance.  However she perseveres and succeeds in having lessons from a master drummer. This is quite an achievement since drumming is normally reserved only for boys.  Her enthusiasm and dedication are also rewarded when she is able to play in the Easter dragon parade.  This is a lively and entertaining story and also tells us a lot about the traditions of the lion dance and the accompanying lion drumming.  (7 - 10 years) 
PYP Fiction

The Last Elf by Silvana De Mari  hardback $19.95 pb $15.95
We often complain that it is such a shame that so few books are translated from other languages into English because we feel we miss out on so much literature in other languages.  We miss out on the different perspective that literature from another culture gives us.  Occasionally a translation can make us feel uneasy as it sometimes seems so different from what we are used to but with The Last Elf, I was charmed by what seemed to me a very different view of elves.  This is a delightful fantasy adventure story in which a vulnerable little elf is joined by a woman, her dog and a hunter.  Together they go on a quest to fulfill a prophecy.  Their search for the last dragon also holds the secret to stopping the rain and letting the sun shine again.  (19 – 12 years)       

Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke  pb $17.00
This is an exceptional book.  Ruth Starke has an ability to write so convincingly, to create such lively and believable characters.  Andy and his father are making a trip to Vietnam to visit relatives.  For Andy’s father it is his first trip back since he escaped from the country in a rusty fishing boat when he was just 15 years old.  For Andy who is 11 years old and was born in Australia, it is his first visit to Hanoi and the first time he has met any of his many relatives in Vietnam.  The book is written mainly from Andy’s point of view and so much seems strange to him.  He struggles to understand why people are behaving as they do; why his father is taking care to appear wealthier than he really is, why his family appear greedy and selfish as they grab to take whatever the visitors have brought with them.  Ruth Starke succeeds in giving us a sense of the chaos of Hanoi traffic and of daily life in Old Hanoi and the struggle to make ends meet.  Gradually as Andy understands more about this family and why they and his father are behaving as they do, we also understand so much more about Vietnam, its recent history and its people.  What is exceptional is that this information never seems forced but we gain it very naturally through conversation and actions.  There is also much humour as Andy and his cousin decide that the family restaurant could be made more attractive to tourists and that this would be profitable for the whole family.  After initial reluctance the family gradually see there are advantages and the melding of two ways (the old and the new) is seen to be a very positive thing.    (9 – 12 years)
PYP Fiction

A number of sequels have recently been published.

Inkdeath the final to the Inkheart trilogy by Cornela Funke translated from the German by Anthea Bell hardback $30.00
This is on my large pile of books to read.  I especially loved the first story of Meggie and her father and their love of the magical world of books which brings to life the amazing characters and life of the Inkworld.  Something to look forward to.   
Other titles were Inkheart pb $20.00, Inkspell  hardback $30.00 and pb $20.00    (9 – 14 years)

The Wizard of Rondo  by Emily Rodda  hardback $30.00
The sequel to the Key to Rondo (also hardback $30.00 and pb $20.00)  This is a new adventure fantasy series from Emily Rodda and it will be greeted with delight by her many fans.   (9 – 12 years)

Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan  pb $16.95 each
There are now nine books in this very popular fantasy adventure series. These are gripping adventure stories.  Will progresses from being an apprentice to the mysterious Ranger who has remarkable skills in tracking to being a fully fledged ranger himself who has to deal with dangerous situations on his own or with his resourceful friends.    (9 – 14 years )
The full range of titles is:
Book One:  The Ruins of Gorlan  
Book Two:  The Burning Bridge 
Book Three The Icebound Land 
Book Four: The Oakleaf Bearers 
Book Five: The Sorcerer in the North 
Book Six: The Siege of Macindaw  
Book Seven: Erak’s Ransom 
• Book Eight: Kings of Clonmel

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta  pb $24.95
This is Melina Marchetta’s first fantasy novel.  Her other books, Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca pb $19.95 each, are two of my favourite books written for teenagers.  I was not disappointed with this new venture into fantasy.  Marchetta has created a world where there is great suffering, however the characters are engaging and believable and the plot is exciting, complex and well constructed.  Fantasy enthusiasts will be sad to leave the world of Lumatere and Finnikin, Sir Topher and the mysterious Evanjalin on their quest to free the land of Lumatere from its curse.     (13 years up)     

Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung  pb $26.95
Alice Pung gives a wonderfully evocative and comic account of her family’s first responses as they arrived in Footscray in Melbourne as immigrants.  They were so amazed that they could buy clothes from St Vincent’s for next to nothing, that the supermarket shelves were packed with food that anyone could buy and that water came out of a tap.  They were a family of Chinese background who had lived first in Vietnam and then in Cambodia during very difficult times.  To come to a country where one could press a button to make cars stop was amazing.  “The little green man was an eternal symbol of government existing to serve and protect.  And any country that could have a little green flashing man was benign and wealthy beyond imagining.”  This is the story of how her family adapts to their new life in Australia and the story of how their daughter Alice/Agheare grew up in both cultures, the old and the new.  It is at times a hilarious account, richly comic in its descriptions but it also gives vivid and heartbreaking descriptions of the family’s previous life in Cambodia and also of the difficulties they encounter in adapting to their new life in Australia.  This is virtuoso storytelling.  It is always immensely entertaining giving us many insights into the lives and thoughts of this immigrant family.  (12 years up)


Our World of Water by Beatrice Hollyer hardback $24.95
This book looks at the very different ways in which six children from different parts of the world use water.  Some children need only turn on a tap and fresh clean water comes flowing out for baths, for cooking, for gardens.  Other children or their families walk for hours each day in order to fetch enough water for their own needs and for their animals.  Water for these children and their families is very precious.  The daily life of these children and their families is also described and in addition there is a list of additional facts about water at the end of the book.   (7 – 11 years)
PYP Non-fiction

Boy, Were We Wrong about Dinosaurs!  by Kathleen V Kudlinski, illustrated by S D Schindler  hardback $27.95
This book appealed to me because of the way it goes back over time and looks at a number of conclusions that scientists have made about dinosaurs that have turned out to be completely wrong.  It makes children aware that science often has incomplete evidence and so scientists make predications or guesses that turn out to be incorrect once new evidence is discovered.  In fact many of the present day descriptions of how dinosaurs behave and what they look like could also be wrong.    Simply written with informative illustrations, this book is an important one for young readers interested in science.  (7 – 10 years)
PYP Non-fiction

The Sea, The Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle by Lynne Cherry  hardback $38.95
Mangroves form an extraordinarily important and complex ecosystem.  Through beautiful detailed illustrations and simple but informative text, Lynne Cherry describes how mangroves grow over many years providing sustenance for a complex ecosystem involving crustaceans, fish, insects, birds and sea grass.  Even dolphins and manatees (or dugongs) come to live nearby to take part in its richness.  Mangroves protect the shores from flooding and erosion during storms and act as a filter to keep the water clean.   (8 – 12 years)
PYP Non-fiction

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures in association with Amnesty International    hardback $34.95
This is a similar book to the title, For Every Child pb $21.95 and has the same idea of restating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and having each Right illustrated by a famous illustrator.  However because it lists all thirty of the Articles of the Declaration of Human Rights in language that is more detailed and not as poetic, this book is considerably longer and more suitable for older children.   (9 – 14 years) 
PYP Non-fiction

Just for your interest following is information on For Every Child.
For Every Child The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in words and pictures text adapted by Caroline Castle  pb $21.95   
A beautiful picture book which restates in simple language fifteen of the most important Rights of the Child.  Each Right of the Child is illustrated in a very different style by a different artist from round the world.  There is much to discuss.    (7 – 11 years)

World Cultures series hardback $35.95 each
This series is simply written for younger readers and describes a number of cultures throughout the world.  There are many colourful photos and maps of where the various people live.  In the book Living in the Himalayas, the daily life and the cultural activities of the Sherpa people are described and where they live in eastern Nepal.  There are also details of their food, family life, clothing, games, storytelling and music.  There is also a Glossary and Index in each book and some suggestions for activities.  Titles are:
Living in the African Savannah
Living in the Amazon Rainforest
Living in the Arctic
Living in the Australian Outback
Living on a Caribbean Island
Living in the Himalaya
Living on the River Ganges
Living in the Sahara                                                (8 – 11 years)
PYP non-fiction
The Volcano Book: Erupting Near You by Dr Gill Jolly  pb $17.00
Most books on volcanoes concentrate on the disastrous consequences of volcanic eruptions rather than on giving information on how volcanoes erupt and the many different types of eruptions as research scientist Dr Gill Jolly does in this fascinating book.  She describes how a volcano comes about and then gives detailed descriptions of the different types of volcanoes round the world as well as examples of the eruptions and when they occurred.  The excellent use of photos, maps and diagrams add to our understanding of the very different types of volcanic eruptions and of the devastation they can cause. (8 – 12 years)
PYP Non-fiction

The Shark Book by Mark Norman pb $17.00
I had no idea that there were so many sharks that I had never heard of; sharks such as the Common Sawshark, the Velvet Belly Lantern Shark and the deep sea Goblin Shark.  Children will love the amazing photos in this book of many different sharks from round the world.  As well as the stunning photographs and clear description for each shark, there is a column of information showing its size, prey, and a silhouette showing its shape and size against a silhouetted human diver, as well as its jaws and its teeth.  A map shows for each shark its distribution throughout the world.  The book is compact but gives a lot more information than one would think possible in a book of just 30 pages.  It also contains an index and a glossary.  One interesting fact: Around the world there are about 100 people attacked by sharks each year and about 20 die.  (Not a nice way to go.)  But each year we kill more than 100 million sharks and this includes many completely harmless species.     (8 – 15 years)

Octopus’s Garden by Mark Norman   hardback and DVD $29.95
This book has stunning photos of ten amazing octopuses.  There is a brief text but not a lot of information.  Additional information is included in three pages of Fact Files at the end of the book.  (This is a shame as I thought that the format of The Shark Book was very successful.)  However this book does have the added advantage of an accompanying DVD with underwater footage of octopus in their natural habitat.  So if you are wanting information on octopus then this book and DVD does provide a most attractive introduction.  (7 – 9 years)    

Rubbish! Everything you ever wanted to know about rubbish, landfills, recycling and worms by Rachel Goddard Photographs by Cheryl Reynolds, illustrated by Moira Corridan  pb $16.95
This very informative book was originally published in New Zealand but the attractively presented information is relevant worldwide.  The book describes what makes up landfills and how much of these materials can be recycled and the length of time it takes to break down various types of rubbish.  There are tips of what to recycle and how the school could organize an audit of what is thrown out and wasted.  There are also suggestions of how the school can then recycle most of this material.  The final section contains information on setting up a worm farm and describes how it can reduce waste.  There is also a section on composting.  A lively and informative book which is very attractively produced.    (8 – 11 years)  
PYP Non-fiction

The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine Illustrations by Meredith Hamilton  hardback $24.95 (also a CD containing 37 selections from various composers)
This is a most impressive book.  The first part describes the way music develops from the Baroque period through the Classical to the Romantic and then to the Modern era.  It includes extremely interesting background information about the major composers.  It is well set out and contains easy to read additional snippets of information which often give us a glimpse of the eccentricities of the composers.  The illustrations are often amusing like the one showing the ideal Baroque instrumentalist with two right hands, a third eye for speed reading and two left hands, with an extra one for turning the pages of the music.  The second part of the book describes the different sections of the orchestra.  It describes the position of the various instruments in the orchestra, as well as the history of each instrument and how they are made and played.  There are photos of the instruments with annotations to further explain particular aspects.  Finally the role of the conductor is discussed.  There is a detailed index and a list of all the musical selections on the CD.  Throughout the book, there are also suggestions of what to listen out for on the various tracks giving examples of the music of the various composers.  An extremely helpful, interesting and informative book.  ((9 – 14 years)      
PYP and MYP Non-Fiction

Great Voyages Across Earth series hardback $37.50 each
Magellan’s Voyage Around the World by Cath Senker
The book is simply written but contains a wealth of information about this extraordinary voyage in 1519.  As well as describing the actual journey, the background history is given and the daily life of the sailors on board.   There are good maps and descriptions of the knowledge of the world at that time and also descriptions of the many countries the sailors saw for the first time and the plants, fruits and people they discovered.  The difficulties of sailing at that time because of the limited knowledge of latitude and longitude are well described.  The series is well supported with paintings, etchings, photos, illustrations and maps.  The series is especially interesting because it also attempts to give more cross-curricular information in the areas of landforms, geography, history and science.  Each book contains a Timeline, Glossary and an Index.   The complete list of books in the series is: 
Amundsen and Scott’s Race to the South Pole
Burton and Speke’s Source of the Nile Quest
Captain Cook’s Pacific Explorations
Hillary and Norgay’s Mount Everest Adventure
Magellan’s Voyage Around the World
Marco Polo’s Travels on Asia’s Silk Road                                                (10 - 14 years)
PYP and MYP Non-Fiction

Children’s Atlas of World History by Simon Adams  hardback $27.00
This is described as a pictorial guide to the world’s people and events from 1,000 BCE to the present and I thought it would be Eurocentric and limited in its effectiveness as many of books aiming to have such a huge scope often are disappointing.  However I was surprised at how much information from all around the world is included and the way the book demonstrates many links between the history of various parts of the world.   It covers four main periods of history, the Ancient World, Medieval Times, the Ages of Exploration and the Industrialised Era.  Within each period of history, there are double page spreads with 60 illustrated and annotated maps, additional background information and also a time line.   In the section on the Medieval World, as well as the sections on Medieval Europe, there are also separate sections on the Spread of Islam and The Arab World, Medieval India, China, Korea and Japan, Southeast Asia, The Pacific, The Mongols, African Kingdoms, North and Central America, The Aztecs and the Chimus and Incas.  Even more surprisingly the book is not limited to maps of human history it also has information about religions, kingdoms, empires, industry, technology art, war science and famous people.  It is a very helpful reference and a good introduction giving students a glimpse of history of the whole world.  Published in 2008.   (9 – 13 years)    
PYP and MYP Non-Fiction

Look! Drawing the Line in Art by Gillian Wolfe  hardback $27.95
This is the latest in this excellent series of books about art by Gillian Wolfe.    It shows the importance of line in drawing; it shows how a line can be just a rough sketch, how it can be delicate or strong, can be symmetrical or show the structure of a building or how it can capture emotion.  It looks at eighteen pictures and discusses how artists use line in very different ways.     (8 – 15 years)
PYP and MYP Non-Fiction
Other titles in this series are:
Look! Zoom in on Art!   pb $16.95
Look! Seeing the Light in Art  hardback $27.95     
Look ! Body Language in Art   pb $16.95 

Art Around the World series  pb $23.00
At the Time of Michelangelo (The Renaissance Period)  by Antony Mason
The emphasis of this series of books is very much on the development of art in Europe.  Although the series is called Art around the World, the references to the art in the rest of the world at that period are generally quite short.  However it does give an interesting indication of what is happening elsewhere and at times the influences (or lack of) between art in different parts of the world.  It also gives a very good description of each period within Europe and the most important artists and how they differed from each other.  The text is well written and there are beautiful reproductions of painting and artworks.  Each book contains a chronology of the period, a glossary and an index.  (12 years up)
Art Around the World series  pb $23.00 each
At the Time of Michelangelo (The Renaissance Period)
At the Time of Renoir (The Impressionist Era)
At the Time of Picasso (The Foundations of Modern Art
At the Time of Warhol (The Development of Contemporary Art)
MYP Non-Fiction

World of Music series  hardback $38.50
I was so pleased to see this new series, just published in 2008.  It is not easy to get informative books on music from round the world and these are very attractively presented books giving a vast amount of information about music from various countries of the world.  The instruments and the various types of music and many different musicians are described in detail.  It is a shame that there isn’t a CD to accompany the books.  However the names of many musicians and the type of music they play is described and so this will provide an excellent guide for students who then may want to follow up and hear the actual music that they play.  There are also descriptions of the cultural events at which music is played and the styles of dance.  The music’s link to the religions of the region is also described.  The books contain detailed maps of the regions, stunning colour photographs of the instruments and musicians and cultural events.  There are also clear explanations of musical terms.  Each book contains a Glossary, Index and also suggested websites and books where further information can be obtained.       (13 years up)
The full list of titles is:
Australia, Hawaii, and the Pacific
Eastern Asia
Latin America and the Caribbean
Western Asia
MYP Non-Fiction

Vote: Eyewitness Guide by Philip Steele  pb $$19.95
Published just in 2008, this is an up to date look at how democracy has evolved over thousands of years and how it works in countries throughout the world.  The many photographs and appealing format make this an inviting introduction to the study of democracy.  The book contains a Timeline of Democracy, an A – Z of famous people involved with the history of voting and democracy, a glossary, an index and also a wall chart and a Clip Art CD.  A very helpful book.    (12 – 15 years)  
PYP and MYP Non-Fiction

Political and Economic Systems series hardback $39.95 
Published in 2008, this is a series which has been extensively revised and updated since its first publication in 2002.  The book on Democracy gives the historical background to the rise of democracy and gives examples of nations with a democratic system of government historically and recently.   Looks at how the democratic system can be applied to the global community and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of various systems.  There are many photos, maps and diagrams, as well as a timeline, glossary and index. 
Other titles in this series are:
Monarchy               13 – 16 years)
MYP Non-Fiction

A Story of Natural Numbers  by David Demant  pb $25.00
Numbers are not at all my forte but I found much of this introduction about the natural numbers of 1 – 9 (and also zero) quite fascinating.  David Demant takes us back to the time when numbers didn’t exist and describes how people managed.  The history of the development of numbers is intriguing.  Most interesting for me were the various symbols that have been used for numbers over thousands of years and in different countries throughout the world.  The importance of zero is discussed at length and we are introduced to various people at different historical periods and in different parts of the world whose ideas had an impact on the use of numbers.  It also explains the decimal system and the use of the abacus.  This is a long and detailed book (134 pages) and some of the later explanations are not easy but it is very entertainingly written and well set out with bright illustrations maps, graphs and a number of amusing jokes.   (12 years up)
MYP Non-Fiction

History in Literature series  hardback  $37.95 each
This is a fascinating series looking at the history behind some favourite classic novels.  Each book explores the relevant historical background and also looks at how events in the author’s life influenced their writing.  The many photos, cartoons and artworks help in understanding the atmosphere of the period.  The final section of each book also gives a literary analysis of the novel.  There is also a Timeline, glossary and index in each book.  Titles are:
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist 
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Ann Holm’s I am David
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
George Orwell’s Animal farm
Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn                        (13 – 16 years)
MYP Non-Fiction

Professional Resources

The Reading Bug ... and how you can help your child to catch it by Paul Jennings pb $29.95
I was very pleased to see that this excellent book has been updated and a supplementary chapter included.  Written especially for parents, it is an extremely helpful book for teachers since it is written in such entertaining clear language.  Paul Jennings is famous for his quirky short stories, so popular with children but he has also spent years teaching and lecturing as well as being a parent.  He emphasises the delights of sharing books with children but he also analyses in detail the various methods of teaching reading.  Paul Jennings cuts through the jargon and the controversies and discusses reading in simple terms and how parents can help their child catch the reading bug.  The book also contains many very helpful book lists containing suggestions of books to read to children at all age levels.  These have been updated in this new revised edition for 2008.  There is also a supplementary chapter on the special reading needs of boys.
PYP Professional Resources

Thinking Globally: Global perspectives in the early years classroom by Julie Browett and Greg Ashman  pb includes CD-ROM  $39.95
This book, published just in 2008, incorporates and acknowledges many of the ideas and activities from Think Global: Global Perspectives in the lower primary classroom by Rebecca Reid-Nguyen - now out of print.  The first part discusses what it means to teach with a global perspective and considers the theoretical basis for this.  However I especially like the many practical activities which are incorporated into the discussions of the ideas.  There is an emphasis on various types of thinking and how the understanding of this can be encouraged as well as ideas of how children’s literature can be used to help develop a global perspective.  The second part concentrates on Teaching and Learning Experiences and discussions are organized according to the following learning emphases:  Interdependence, Identity and Cultural Diversity, Dimensions of Change, Social Justice & Human Rights, Peace Building & Conflict and Sustainable Futures.  This book will be immensely useful to teachers as it has so many ideas about how these concepts can be taught across a range of early years subjects.  Many of the fiction books suggested are included in the lists that I have compiled for the Primary Years Project.   The accompanying CD-ROM has many additional resources for teaching with a global perspective including digital content, photographs, graphic organising and a video.                   
PYP Professional Resources




There is always controversy over Awards and this year there has been as much as usual.  These Australian CBC Awards are chosen by one judge from each of the Australian states.  Each judge reads a large number of books and they all come together to discuss the shortlist and also to decide upon the winners.  More information about the Awards and also on CBC Conferences is available at their website   Following is my short review of each title.  As you can see I don’t always agree with the judges.

Book of the Year: Older Readers  (NB Some of these books are for mature readers)

The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett hardback $24.95
Judges from around the world love Sonya Hartnett’s work as she has just been awarded the Swedish Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to children’s literature.  However I often find that I am unable to appreciate her novels though I acknowledge that at times the writing may be beautiful.  In this book, an old woman Matilda recounts the story of her life to a young boy.  Sometimes the story seems real at other times it reads like a fairy story.  Obviously I miss something that others find wonderful.  Try it yourself.  However I do wonder how many children or young adults will appreciate her books.  (12 up?) 

Honour Books
Marty’s Shadow by John Heffernan            pb $18.00
This is a disturbing book.  Marty has debilitating dreams which he knows have a dreaded significance for himself and his family.  Set in country Queensland, Marty and his brother live a rough life and are often on their own since their father is away for much of the time.  However his life is given a new softer dimension through his relationship with Nariah and her refugee family from Iran.   (13 years up) 

Black Water by David Metzenthen pb $18.95
Set in the time of the Great War in a fishing town on the southern coast of Victoria, this is the story of Farren Fox who was only about 15 when his brother returned injured from the horrors of Gallipoli.  It is a rough time for Farren as his father recently drowned in a fearsome storm while his mother died of cancer a few years earlier. Another fearsome storm brings another shipwreck and Farren’s brother finds and they both care for a young survivor.  Souki is only 8 years old but she is a wild and independent spirit and her presence brings for a few weeks a wonderful vitality to the life of the brothers.  Metzenthen brings to life all the characters of this fishing town with its strong sense of community and brings to life a time long past.  (13 years up)

Shortlisted Books
Pharaoh: The Boy Who Conquered the Nile by Jackie French pb $16.00
I am continually amazed at Jackie French’s ability to write seemingly effortlessly absorbing and informative historical novels.  This time the novel is set in the Nile region but before the building of the pyramids.  Prince Narmer was destined to be King of a small city-state but after a shocking accident he is forced to give up his right to the throne and has to leave the land he knows and loves by the Nile.  He goes with traders and travels widely, visiting many the lands of the region including the wondrous cities of Punt and Ur.   He discovers that the land of his birth is small indeed and learns much that he later take back to his own land.  This is a fascinating and believable adventure.  (9 – 13 years)  

Love Like Water by Meme McDonald pb 20.00
I really enjoyed this book and think it is an achievement to give such insight into the lives of two young people with very different backgrounds who meet up in Alice Springs a town in the centre of Australia.  Cathy comes from a white family living on an outback station while J.J is a young Aboriginal DJ.  They are very attracted to each other but at times the baggage that they bring to the relationship builds huge barriers to their friendship.  Even more problematic are the pressures and racism of the society in Alice Springs contributing huge complexities and difficulties.  I found it a very moving portrayal; at times harrowing, heartbreaking, even offensive but always engrossing.  My only qualification is that the characters are young people in their early twenties living very independent lives and so I am not certain if it is really suitable for these Book Awards, supposedly for children.  However I highly recommend the book for Senior students.   (16 years up)   

Leaving Barrumbi by Leonie Norrington pb $18.00
This is the sequel to Barrumbi Kids and Spirit of Barrumbi and begins when Dale and Tomias go to boarding school to begin Year 8.  Tomias and Dale have been inseparable while living on the Aboriginal community but boarding school is a great shock for Dale.  Tomias settles in well to the school and with the other Aboriginal kid but Dale can hardly believe it when he is seen as a whitefella since he has always lived with Aboriginal people.  This book will probably be a surprise to many readers as it gives very different perspectives on life in the Top End and to the way kids get on at boarding school.    (11 – 14 years)

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Dragon Moon by Carole Wilkinson pb $20.00
Dragon Moon is the highly successful conclusion to the Dragonkeeper trilogy.  The story about Ping the young dragonkeeper and Kai the young green dragon has become even more absorbing as they search out the Dragon Haven where they hope Kai will be safe and have other dragons as companions.  However it is a long and dangerous quest to find a place where dragons are safe and away from humans.  Set in Ancient China, the books link Chinese history and culture with a marvelous fantasy land revolving around dragons and their lore and stories.  The previous stories were Dragonkeeper and Garden of the Purple Dragon pb $20.00 each.  They have just been republished with attractive new covers.  A prequel Dragon Dawn has also just been published.  This is the story of Danzi, Kai’s father and the first dragon that Ping cared for as a young girl.  
pb $13.00     ((8 – 14 years)

Honour Books
Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!)  by Sherryl Clark illus by Elissa Christian pb $14.95
Written in a racy free style verse, this is a fast, easy and entertaining read.   Dawn feels she doesn’t fit in with others at school and especially not with the self-proclaimed style queen Melissa and when Dawn’s parents separate it feels as though life is disastrous for Dawn.  But she gradually gets things together again and life takes on a rosier tinge.   (8 – 11 years)

Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp by Odo Hirsch pb $15.95
The stories that Odo Hirsch writes have always a touch of the strange, the exotic and the whimsical.  Amelia Dee lives with her eccentric, artistic parents in a two-storey house in which an intricate, beautiful metalwork lamp hangs over the staircase.  The lamp is the centre point of the whole story as it provides a link with Amelia’s neighbour, Mr Vishwnath, an enigmatic yoga teacher and his student the Princess Parvin Kha_Douri whose family amazingly enough had once owned the lamp. This is a charming story about memory and loss, the power of story and of truth to change lives.        (11 – 13 years)

Shortlisted Books
The Shaggy Gully Times by Jackie French illus Bruce Whatley harcback $25.00
Jackie French has a irrepressible sense of humour and she and Bruce Whatley have combined again to produce this newspaper from the small bush town of Shaggy Gully.  (They also combined to create Diary of a Wombat - hardback $24.95) Pete the Sheep - pb $15.00 and Josephine Wants to Dance - hardback $24.95)  The newspaper has lots of funny stories, silly jokes, puns and many handwritten corrections since Mothball the Wombat is the editor and unfortunately has very little idea of how to spell.  There are also nonsense ads, a great kids’ page, social pages, a puzzle page, a TV Guide and a Personal Column as well as information about all the goings-on of the animals living in Shaggy Gully.  An example is the Court report in which Rodney Rooster was found guilty of fowl language.   “I got in with a bad crowed who just egged me on,” apologised Mr Rooster.  I was just too chicken to say no.”   The final pages of the Newspaper contain sport pages, the classifieds and a Horror Scope.   It could act as an inspiration for children to make their own similar newspapers.  (9 – 13 years)

Winning the World Cup by David Metzenthen illus Stephen Axelsen  pb $12.95
Marco and his friends live in Australia but their families come from many different countries. When they play soccer the friends have worked out a special way of scoring so that when each player scores, it is a score for their own country.  It is great fun and leads to many exuberant celebrations.  This is a lively positive story showing how children can care both about the country where they live and also the country they come from.  An Aussie Nibble   (5 – 8 years)
PYP Fiction    

The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda hardback $30.00  pb $20.00
A new fantasy series by Emily Rodda is an eagerly awaited event for young readers.  In this book the old music box which has been passed down in Leo’s family for many years is the key to Rondo.   Leo has always respected and followed the rules of its use but his least favourite cousin doesn’t and so they are both plunged into an exciting quest in the very strange world of Rondo.   It is a world in which many characters seem familiar and children will soon recognise that many are taken from nursery rhymes and from fairy tales.  Some play central roles and others are just peripheral.  With more books to come, children will enjoy this new adventure fantasy series though I must admit that so far I prefer her other fantasy series Rowan of Rin and the Deltora Quest.     (9 – 14 years)  

Book of the Year: Early Childhood (Picture Books)

Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey hardback $24.95
Pearl Barley is loud and loves to talk, while Charlie Parsley is quiet and shy.  They are very different from each other and some might consider it strange that they are such good friends but they care for each other and help each other when the other feels down.  The illustrations are zany and rather curious but add a distinctive and original character to the book.  A book about the power of friendship.    (5 – 8 years)

Honour Books
Cat by Mike Dumbleton illus by Craig Smith   hardback $19.95 Big Book $44.95
There is so much life and vitality in this book.  The text is minimal while the illustrations vividly depict a series of vignettes in the life of cat as he encounters a dog, a sprinkler, a mouse, a bird, a bike, milk and a mat.  At the end of each amusing encounter is repeated the heartfelt expression “Thank goodness for that!”  It is well worthwhile considering purchasing the Big Book as there is so much detail in the illustrations and this would lend itself to much delighted discussion about what is happening.  The action takes place as a little girl comes to stay with her grandparents (Cat’s owners) and so this is an additional story to follow.   An absolute delight!    (3 – 7 years)        

Lucy Goosey by Margaret Wild illus by Ann James hardback $25.00
Much of the charm of this simple reassuring story comes from the engaging and endearing illustrations by Ann James.  Lucy Goosey is a young goose who is full of trepidation at the thought of a long flight into the vast and never-ending sky away from the familiar pond.  However her mother comforts her with the thought that they will each look after each other and so together they leave to follow the other geese.  (3 – 5 years)

Shortlisted Books
Shhh! Little Mouse by Pamela Allen hardback $24.95
Pamela Allen specialises in stories with vividly expressive narratives told through text and illustration.  This story has very little text but the illustrations vividly tell the story of a little mouse creeping past the sleeping cat and eating a wonderful array of foods till he knocks over a glass wakening the cat!   (3 – 5 years)  

The Trouble with Dogs! by Bob Graham hardback $27.95
Rosy and Dave are much loved doggy members of the family (the story of how they came to live with Mum and Dad and Kate is told in Let’s get a Pup pb $15.95).  However since Dave’s excitement and enthusiasm knows no bounds and at times is embarrassing and a nuisance, they go to a Pup Breaker, whose motto is We Tame Troublesome Beasts. In the end they decide that they love Dave just as he is: joyful, exuberant and full of bounce!  (4 – 8 years)

The Night Garden by Elise Hurst hardback $27.95
Sally draws a garden on the window pane on a dull and rainy day and that night she and her cat delight as the garden comes to life in her dreams.   (5 – 7 years)

Picture Book of the Year Award (These picture books may be for mature readers)

Requiem for a Beast by Matt Ottley hardback $40.00
This is a very sophisticated and very ambitious project.  It contains some beautiful paintings and some which are very disturbing.  It is definitely for upper secondary students.  It would be of interest for those exploring sophisticated picture books since it incorporates paintings, graphics, cartoons, and also music (a CD comes with the book.)  The book took Matt Ottley seven years to complete.  He uses his experience of working as a jackaroo on cattle stations while telling a story about a young jackaroo who observes terrible wrongs done to Aboriginal peoples. Ottley also incorporates the myth of the centaur and the minotaur.  I have many difficulties in connecting with this book; however obviously the CBC judges were most impressed since they awarded it the Winner of the Picture Book of the Year.      (15 years up)      

Honour Books
The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin illus by Anne Spudvilas hardback $29.95
This is the picture book version of the wonderful story of Li Cunxin who left his six brothers and parents and the very poor rural village where they lived in China to become a dancer at Madame Mao’s Academy in Beijing.  He overcame his extreme loneliness to become a successful dance in China and then in the USA.  Beautifully illustrated by Ann Spudvilas, this is a story of hope, endeavour and achievement and especially of love for family.  (7 – 11 years)
Mao’s Last Dancer (adult novel)  pb $32.95
Mao’s Last Dancer (young reader’s edition)  pb $19.95

Dust    Colin Thompson and 13 other illustrators hardback $24.95
Colin Thompson was inspired by the terrible famine in Niger in 2005 to write this book in order to help raise money for victims of famine.  He has asked 13 illustrators to work with him in an extraordinarily difficult task – that of supplying the illustrations for a simple text telling of the death of a child and its mother from starvation.  The book has a very worthy aim but I find that the very different illustrations give the book a disjointed feel and a lack of unity.  (11 – 14 years)

Shortlisted Books
The Island by Armin Greder    hardback $29.95
I found this picture book to be extremely depressing both in text and illustrations.  A man, a refugee, lands on an island where the inhabitants are frightened of him because he is different.  He is locked away and the anger of the people continues to grow.  It is a very dark depiction of the plight of refugees.  It could be used with older students as part of a study on racial tolerance and human rights.  However for me it is a book which expresses not even a glimmer of hope and that I find very difficult.    (14 years up)      

You and Me: Our Place by Leonie Norrington illus Dee Huxley hardback $24.95
This is a story of two worlds.  When Uncle Tobias goes fishing with the two young boys, he fishes in the ways his Aboriginal ancestors have always fished.  He lives in this world but is hardly aware of the changes.  The two young boys have the advantage of being able to enjoy both worlds: the world and traditional culture of Uncle Tobias and also the new world where many new cultures can exist together.   (6 – 9 years)       

Ziba Came on a Boat by Liz Lofthouse illus by Robert Ingpen hardback $29.95
As the old fishing boat crowded with refugees slowly makes it was across the endless sea, Ziba remembers her life in the village in Afghanistan and the strife that made them leave and seek a new life in a new country.  Typically beautiful and realistic illustrations by Robert Ingpen.   (7 – 10 years)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books  by Frances Watts illus David Legge hardback $19.95
This will be a helpful addition library sessions about books for young children.  Parsley Rabbit is the lively narrator who describes all sorts of books.  The innovative use of flaps helps add interest to his enthusiastic talk about books. It will be a good introduction to help young children talk about the books they love.  (5 – 7 years)

Honour Books
Girl Stuff: Your Full-On Guide to the Teen Years  by Kaz Cooke pb $39.95
This is a very large in your face book and my hopes were not high when I first saw it.  But from the very first page, I was engaged and then very quickly was laughing.  After a few chapters, I was entertained, informed and impressed.  The book is divided into four parts – each with a theme; Body, Head, Heart and Info to Go.  A Contents List at the front of the book and an Index assists browsing.  Kaz Cooke had set up a Girl Stuff website and had over 4,000 responses and many of these responses are included as examples.  She also had a lot of help from experts in health and other fields.  Kaz has a zany sense of humour and also does zany cartoons which are often very funny.  The wide range of comments help show the wide variety of changes that girls go through and the problems and a wide range of responses.  A very informative and entertaining book.  (12 years up)

Kokoda Track: 101 Days by Peter MacInnis pb $17.00
The fighting that took part along the Kokoda Track in 1942 is part of Australia’s military folkore as the small number of Australian militia who fought there against a much larger force of Japanese soldiers in incredibly difficult terrain saved Australia from a possible later invasion from Japanese forces.  The Kokoda Track goes over high mountain ranges from the north of Papua New Guinea to the southern coast.  The terrain is incredibly difficult to traverse let alone to fight in; there is dense jungle and soldiers had to contend with extremes of heat and wet and muddy conditions and disease.  The Australian troops delayed the advance till reinforcements could arrive.  It is a story of incredible heroism and determination against huge odds and sometimes struggling against orders from their own officers back in Australia or Papua New Guinea who did not understand the difficulties of the terrain or of the fighting. The story is told vividly through many individual stories, anecdotes, extracts from letters as well as maps and photos.   (12 – 16 years)

Shortlisted Books
Australia’s Deadly and Dangerous Animals by Michael Cermak            hardback $16.95
An informative look at some of the very many deadly and dangerous Australian animals. The size and appearance of each creature is described and there is a photo.  The emphasis is on the effects of the attack or the venom in the case of the many snakes and spiders and how people can avoid attack.  There is an index, glossary and also details of how First Aid can be applied.  (8 – 12 years)

The Antartica Book: Living in the Freezer by Mark Norman pb $17.00
Great photos and an engaging and informative text make this a very useful book on the 
Antarctica.  As well as a general description of Antarctica and its difference from the Arctic
region, there are detailed descriptions of the creatures living in this frozen land.; from the 
world’s largest animal the Blue whale to the Antarctic krill which are food not just for whales but 
also dolphins, seals, penguins and a wealth of other sea birds.  (8 – 12 years)

Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter by Carole Wilkinson illus by Dean Jones pb $17.00
Ned Kelly was a famous Australian bushranger.  He robbed banks, stole horses and he was a murderer.  However many people believe that he and his brothers were driven to being outlaws because of unfair treatment by the outback police and justice system of the 1860s and 70s.  Before he was hanged for his crimes at the age of just 26 years, he wrote a letter explaining his actions and telling his story of his hatred for the police and the injustices his family faced.  However this book is of limited relevance for overseas schools since background knowledge of the Kelly gang is really necessary for the letter to be understood.  (13 – 18 years)

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.