Gleebooks Education 

October 2011

Gleebooks Bookshop - Saturday, October 01, 2011

No 39, October 2011

Greetings for the new school year! 

Mandy and I hope you all have a great year.  Please keep us up to date with your new email addresses and let us know if any other teachers at the school would like to receive the newsletter.  

Sorry that the newsletter is late this year. Mandy had to go to New Zealand for another family funeral.  It has been such a sad year for her.  Ron and I helped look after our two small grandsons (Noah almost 4 and Asher one and a half) for two weeks while their mother went to a Conference in the US.  Great fun and also very challenging, especially since on the first day I had to stay overnight in hospital with a very swollen tongue after eating a tiny piece of muesli bar!  This was followed by conjunctivitis and then after a sore throat I lost my voice!  The joys of being around small children.  But we still had lots of fun and read lots of stories. 

Mandy here, and I just wanted to thank all those concerned for your kind words during my times of sadness this year, with the loss of my Mum, my Dad and, most recently, my partner Chris’s Dad. It certainly has been a sad year. Your condolences from afar and the support of Kate, Ron and the wonderful staff at Gleebooks have meant a lot to me. Also, your patience and understanding with delays in fulfilling and shipping some of your orders has been much appreciated.   

Now, on with the newsletter, as there’s lots of news to tell and we have loads of books to share with you.
In May we went to the ECIS Librarians’ Conference in Istanbul.  It was such a good conference.  It is only held every three years and is always excellent but this year was the best of all I think.  Great venue, enthusiastic teachers and presenters and excellent food of course!  I especially enjoyed catching up with old friends. Istanbul is such a wonderful city and so we also enjoyed the extra days we had wandering around.

I always enjoy giving talks at Conferences as the feedback from teachers is invaluable.  This time in Istanbul I talked about books which illustrate Perspective or different Points of View.  The aspect of the talk attracting most attention from elementary and middle school teachers was a discussion about the book Rose Blanche, the story of which was originally conceived by and beautifully illustrated by Roberto Innocenti.  I discovered by chance at the end of last year that there were actually two different versions of the text of this book.  The illustrations are the same but there is an American version by Christophe Gallaz (originally translated from the French) and a British version written by the renowned author Ian McEwan.  Apparently the British publisher was not happy with the translation and asked Innocenti if McEwan could write another text to the same illustrations.  The result is fascinating.  The Christophe Gallaz version is told in the first person for the first half of the story and is much more matter of fact in the telling.  Ian McEwan’s version is told in the third person and for me is very atmospheric and moving.  However, one of the teachers at the Conference said that she preferred Christophe Gallaz version as she identified more closely with the story since it was told in the first person and she thought that this would also appeal to children.

At any rate the differences are intriguing and teachers could see so many different ways of using the two texts in the classroom. Of course, you could go even further if you got the original French version, and I think there is also a German translation.   

Rose Blanche Illustrations by Roberto Innocenti, text by Christophe Gallaz 
hardback 9781568461892 $28.00  pb 9780898123852  $15.00
Rose Blanche Illustrations by Roberto Innocenti, text by Ian McEwan  pb  9780099439509  $18.95

Big Books

It is great that the following two very popular traditional Aboriginal stories have now just been published in Big Book format.  They are simply told but lively stories and their vivid illustrations add to their appeal for young children:
How the Birds got their Colours  Pamela Lofts  (compiled by)
pb  9781865046242   $16.99  Big Book 9781741699678   $39.99

Warnayarra - The Rainbow Snake   pb 9781865046235  $16.99  Big Book 9781741699685 $39.99   
The illustrations in these two picture books have been adapted by Pamela Lofts from original  illustrations by Aboriginal children.  The books are from the Aboriginal Story series compiled by Pamela Lofts (was previously called Dreamtime series). They are very appealing for younger readers.  (5 - 9 years). KS

There are 8 books in this very popular series but only two have been published as Big Books.  The full series (all pb $16.99) is:
The Bat & the Crocodile  9781865046273         
Dunbi the Owl 9781865046266
The Echidna & the Shade Tree 9781865046228         
How the Kangaroos got their Tails 9781865046259
How the Birds got their Colours    9781865046242  Also a Big Book 9781741699678   $39.99
The Kangaroo & the Porpoise 9781865046297
Warnayarra - The Rainbow Snake 9781865046235  Also a Big Book 9781741699685 $39.99   
When the Snake bites the Sun 9781865046280

Another well-known and popular Australian picture book now available in Big Book format is Wombat Stew written by Marcia Vaughan and illustrated by Pamela Lofts  pb 9781741693621  $15.99  Big Book 9780868962627  $39.99
When a dingo catches a wombat and wants to cook him in a stew all the other bush animals come to his rescue. (4 – 7 years). KS

We have recently updated the Big Book list and so it is attached.  Some marvelous books have recently been published in Big Book format.  We love the following three Big Books:

Giles Andreae 
Giraffes can’t Dance  illus by Guy Parker-Rees  pb 9781841215655  $16.99  pb and DVD 9781408309421 $24.99  Big Book 9781846164446  $45.00  
When the other animals laugh at Gerald the Giraffe and say he is clumsy at the annual Jungle dance, Gerald becomes very embarrassed about his dancing.  But cricket encourages him to find his own giraffish way of dancing and then he is a great success.  Great fun with rhyming and rhythmic text and very expressive illustrations.  (4 – 7 years). KS
Virginia Ironside
The Huge Bag of Worries  illus by Frank Rodgers  pb  9780340903179 $16.99  Big Book 9781444902723  $45.00
Poor Jenny is beset by worries.  She worries about everything that happens or might happen.  One day she wakes up to find that at the end of her bed  there is a huge bag of worries which won’t go away whatever she does to try and get rid of it.  The bag gets bigger and bigger until finally she meets a little old lady who helps by opening up the bag and looking carefully at each of these pesky worries until they all just disappear. A funny and reassuring story.  (6 – 8 years). KS 
Julia Jarman
Big Red Bath illus by Adrian Reynolds  pb 9781843626053  $16.99   Big book 9781408313930 $45.00 
This is a fun romp in the bath as all the animals want to join the two children in the big red bath.  Lots of repetition and bright lively illustrations will make this a fun book to read aloud. (3 – 5 years). KS

Books about Australian Indigenous Peoples

Just recently such a lot of new books have been published by indigenous people for young indigenous people and also for all young people. 

I was especially interested in a book called Noongar Mambara Bakitj, an old story retold by Kim Scott, Lomas Roberts and the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project with artwork by Geoffrey Woods and Anthony Roberts.   pb  9781742582955 $24.95 
The story involves a young man who follows a kangaroo track deep into the old peoples’ country.  Along the way he meets some spirit people “mambara” and they fight with boomerangs until the young man realises that he is a magic person and is able to defeat the “mambara”.  The illustrations are striking with black outlines against a bright ochre-coloured desert background.  However, it is the text which I found the most interesting.  As well as the descriptive retelling of the story in English, it is also told in Old Noongar (the Aboriginal language from South West Western Australia), and under each of these words is given the literal English translation.  It is fascinating to see how the sentences are structured and to compare the stark simplicity of the story in the Aboriginal version against the longer more detailed and descriptive retelling in English.  A CD retelling the story in both English and Noongar is available on the website.   Understanding how this story came to be retold and work-shopped in community meetings is also fascinating and is described in detail at the end of the book.  There is also a Glossary of Noongar words and their meanings.  (9 years up). KS

The Snake and the Boy by Azmen Sebastian  pb 9781921248245  $12.95
It is very surprising that the author was only 12 years old when he wrote the story and painted the illustrations for this strikingly unusual story.  It describes a young boy, swinging upside down on the bars in a playground when a green tree snake slides across and makes off with the apple he has left on the ground.  The boy has no idea what has happened to his apple!  The illustrations are striking in their composition and use of colour.  (5 – 10 years). KS

As I Grew Older by Ian Abdulla  pb 9781862911833  $16.99  (reprinted June 2011)
It is great to see a reprint of this very distinctive book. Through his own paintings and text, Ian Abdulla gives a vivid picture of an Aboriginal family living on the River Murray in the 1950s.  Times were tough and the children got extra money by bringing home sheep’s heads from the slaughterhouse, but there was also a lot of fun shown when they went to a rodeo, caught Murray cod and other bush tucker.  His naïve-style paintings capture the life of those times and also the beauty of the River Murray.  (7 years up). KS

The Naked Boy and the Crocodile: Stories from remote Indigenous communities edited by Andy Griffiths  pb  9781742610573 $16.99  This book is the result of visits to remote communities by Andy Griffiths and others members of the Australian Book Industry supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.  These are stories written and illustrated by the students describing their activities such as playing with friends, riding motorbikes, hunting for emu eggs and wild pigs, playing football, collecting berries, and a story about a crocodile with a preference for eating naked people.  The books were produced in sessions of 90 minutes or less by students for whom English is often a second or third language.  All proceeds go the Indigenous Literacy Fund which was set up to help get desperately needed books and literacy resources into remote Indigenous communities in Australia.  (8 – 11 years). KS

Crocodile Jack by Leonie Norrington illus. by Terry Denton  pb 9780143305958 $12.95  (one of the very popular Aussie Bites)
Jack’s big brother Tom has asked him to go fishing! Jack knows that you should never go fishing when there might be crocs around, but then again he doesn’t want to miss this chance of pleasing his big brother.  Jack is given the job of lookout for crocodiles while Tom and his friend do the fishing.  We learn lots about the habits of crocodiles in the Top End and also about fishing and about Nana Clare’s knowledge of the bush and crocs, as well as her sympathetic understanding of her very close family.  The story has excitement and also gives us insight into Jack’s family and living with crocs in the Top End.  (8 – 10 years). KS

Yarning Strong is a new indigenous education series.  It consists of twelve 64-page novels, four 48-page graphic novels, and four anthologies comprising many text types: poems, plays, photographs, historical extracts and interviews.  There is also a Behind the Stories DVD, a Professional Support CD-Rom and a 160-page Professional Support Manual.  This is an impressive new series.  It provides a huge amount of information about Indigenous families, life and culture today and also gives historical information.  This information is provided through  four anthologies: Identity AnthologyLaw AnthologyLand Anthology and also Family Anthology.   These anthologies provide invaluable background information for the four novels containing stories illustrating these themes.  The series aims to show what it is like to be a young Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander today and gives a very positive picture.  It is aimed at upper primary and lower secondary students.   If I have any criticism it is that some of the novels seem to be writing to illustrate a theme rather than just telling a story.   Most of the stories reflect life in cities or country towns, rather than in remote communities. (10 – 13 years). KS
Identity Anthology  9780195572551  $12.95
Four supporting novels:
Jindah Murray Wind Dancer 9780195572513  $12.95, Jali Boy 9780195572520  $12.95, The Chainsaw File 9780195572537  $12.95, and Just the Skin you’re Livin’ in  9780195572544  $12.95
Family Anthology 9780195571226 $12.95
Four Supporting Novels 
His Father’s Eyes 9780195571189  $12.95, Kin Island 9780195571196  $12.95, Ngalga Mathematics 9780195571202 $12.95, We are Family, We Are Deadly 9780195571219 $12.95
Law Anthology  9780195572506  $12.95 
Four Supporting Novels 
Caught and Court 9780195572469  $12.95, Crossroads 9780195572483 $12.95, Milly’s Secret 9780195572476  $12.95, I Made it I Own It 9780195572490  $12.95
Land Anthology  9780195572605  $12.95
Four Supporting Novels
Common Ground 9780195572575 $12.95, Dallas Davis, the Scientist and the City Kids 9780195572582 $12.95, Demon Guards the School Yard 9780195572568  $12.95  More than Just a Piece of Land  9780195572599 $12.95
These books are supported by a Professional Support Teaching Guide which contains a Professional Support Manual, a Professional CD-Rom and a Behind the Stories DVD. 9780195572612  $350.00

Playground: Listening to Stories from Country and Inside the Heart  compiled by Nadia Wheatley  hardback 9781742370972  $39.99  Illustration and design by Ken Searle
This is an exceptional book, innovative in both its design and its concept.  It contains stories from many Elders, both past and present, who tell their life stories and also their reminiscences of getting bush tucker, going fishing and taking part in ceremony, playing games and just having fun.  There are also contemporary stories from twenty secondary school students.  The title is taken from the words of one of the Torres Strait peoples who say: “We use the bush as our school and as our playground.”  It is an anthology of true stories about childhood compiled from a wide range of memoirs and oral histories.  I found the book extremely informative. Nadia Wheatley is able to present information in ways which make it come to life.  She worked with Dr Jackie Huggins who acted as Indigenous Consultant to the book.  In his design of the book, Ken Searle has incorporated old and new photographs, maps, paintings and his own beautiful illustrations of Aboriginal life and of the natural world.  There are short notes on the life of the Contributors and also a bibliography, glossary and index. (11 years up). KS

Picture Books

Road to Goonong  by David Cox  hardback 9781742375212  $29.99
This is a beautifully nostalgic picture book about David Cox’s childhood in a small country town.   It is set in the difficult times of the Depression and so the motorcar has been sold and it took hours to get to town by horse and cart.  The illustrations and text are perfectly integrated and show vignettes of country life; the kids learning to ride early, images of the kids squirting milk at each other, going to the toilet out the back carrying a lantern and racing back to avoid snakes or ghosts, and of the big dance in the community hall.  Finally, years of drought are too much and the farm, cattle and horses are all sold and the family starts a new life in the city.  The book underlines the closeness of family life and of the community, and despite the difficulties, it was a wonderful childhood.  David Cox describes it with a simple text and line drawings which, with just a few strokes, show such life and vitality.   (6 – 10 years). KS

Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley  pb 9781742830728  $16.99
You all will have heard of the devastating floods which swept through so much of Queensland earlier this year.  Jackie French’s text describes the ever-rising water and its power as it is sweeps through streets and houses.  It also describes the way so many neighbours helped each other and volunteers came from far away to lend a helping hand to clear away the water and the mud.  It is a moving story, simply told but made all the more effective by Whatley’s illustrations. Instead of his normal sharp, clear outlines with bright colours, here everything looks subdued and drenched.  He has used watercolours with a wash and has allowed the colour to run, making everything appear wet and muddy. It is a beautifully evocative effect.  (6 – 10 years). KS

The Runaway Hug  by Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood  hardback 9781865044057  $24.99
This is a lovely story about a little girl called Lucy who wants a hug.  However her mother is very busy with the washing and so it has to be her last hug and Lucy can just borrow it.  Lucy promises to give it back.  Lucy goes to each member of the family, including the baby, giving them each a hug and receiving one back.  Annie the dog proves a problem as she races off with the hug Lucy gave her.  But later the dog comes bounding back with lots of slobbery licks so that Lucy can return the hug to her mother. Freya Blackwood’s illustrations show beautifully the warmth and love in the family, as well as the chaos just before bedtime.  (3 – 6 years). KS 

I Hate English!  by Ellen Levine illustrated by Steve Bjorkman  hardback 9780785768326  $24.00
Thanks to the teachers who have recommended this books to me at a number of Conferences. You were right.  I really did enjoy it and it is an excellent book showing the difficulties of the second language learner.  Mei Mei is a Chinese girl who has left behind friends and so many things she loves in Hong Kong because her parents wanted to come to New York.  She is resentful and refuses to speak English at school or at Chinese school where she clings closely to her Chinese friends and speaks only Chinese.  She is fearful that she will lose her language and a part of herself if she starts speaking English.  However, an understanding young teacher called Nancy makes her realise that speaking English will add to her fun because, as well as Chinese she will also be able to speak English and communicate with new friends.  She will have the advantages of both cultures and of both languages.  The book will be great for discussion as it gives an insight into the experience of children as they struggle to learn the language of their new country. (7 – 11 years). KS


Just One More stories by Joy Cowley illustrated by Gavin Bishop  hardback 9781877467868 $27.99 
This is a delightful collection of seventeen short stories by the very popular storyteller Joy Cowley.  The stories are often quirky and are great for reading aloud to children or for children to read to themselves.  Gavin Bishop’s delightful illustrations add to the humour and appeal of the collection.  (6 – 10 years). KS

Three Indian Goddesses: The Stories of Kali, Lakshmi & Durga by Jamila Gavin
pb $9781406330953  $14.95  
These are three contemporary stories but each story is inspired by an Indian Goddess.  In the first story, Shanti is chosen to dance for the gods at the temple by the sea.  It is a great honour but she is terrified because she believes that Kali has put a terrible curse on the temple and on the dancer who dances there.  In the second story, a young girl, Amrita, is taken back in time by Hanuman the Monkey King to witness Sita’s kidnapping and the battle to rescue her in the famous story of the Ramayana.  In the last story, there are many pleasant surprises for Anil and Kiki when their cousin Durga comes to stay. The stories are very well-told and the book contains a Glossary of Indian words.  (8 – 12 years). KS

Three Indian Princesses: The Stories of Savithri, Damayanti & Sita  pb 9781406330960  $14.95  
These three well-known Hindu stories have been beautifully retold for a younger audience.  There are background notes to the stories and also a Glossary.  It is great to see these two books back in print again. (8 – 12 years). KS

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths illustrated by Terry Denton  pb 9780330404365  $9.99
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton must have so much fun working together on their crazy stories.   Here they describe the 13-storey treehouse where they live. This treehouse is very elaborate as it has a bowling alley, a library full of comics, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a Games deck, vines you can swing on and a secret underground laboratory.  They are supposed to be working on their new book together and receive a phone call from their irate editor who wants to know where their new book is!   However they are having so much fun and life is so chaotic that they keep getting distracted.  Will they even finish their new book?   Denton’s crazy illustrations are a delight, making this book as funny and crazy as their other books and it will be much appreciated by their many fans. (8 – 10 years). KS

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy  hardback 9780545261258  $26.99  
This is a very moving and convincing portrayal of a young girl called Zulaikha who lives with her family in western Afghanistan.  Reedy portrays so well her family, including her beautiful older sister, her younger brothers, her mother-in-law and her beloved father.  However, there are complexities to these relationships which are often surprising to a western reader, for things often happen very differently from what we might expect.  As well as this convincing portrayal of family life and its complexities, Reedy also portrays the complexities in the relationship of the Afghan villagers with American soldiers who have recently set up bases nearby.  However, the focus of the story is Zulaikha who was born with a cleft lip, and though she is loved within her own family, this makes her life extremely difficult.  Part of the story revolves around the efforts by some American soldiers to get Zulaikha to hospital where she can be operated on and her cleft lip repaired.  The novel is based on a true story experienced first hand by the author Trent Reedy who at that time was a soldier serving in the US army in Afghanistan.  After leaving the army he attended a writing course at a University in the US and wrote this extremely moving and compassionate book.   It is a book to be recommended. (10 – 16 years). KS

Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel by Michael Gerard Bauer  pb 9781862919174  $19.99
It would be sad if this is the final third book about Ishmael Leseur. This book follows on the high humour of the other two titles Don’t Call me Ishmael  (pb 9781862917668  $18.99) and   
Return of the Dugongs  (pb 9781862917644  $18.99).  Ishmael and his friends have finally made it to the last two years at the Senior School and things are looking excellent.  Could he be free of the Ishmael Leseur Syndrome at last?  This is not likely as his fortunes rapidly change.    However, he has a group of terrific friends who help each other through these torments and they all come out trumps.   Very funny with some very lively characters, this is a most engaging conclusion to Ishmael’s school years.  (12 – 17 years). KS

Salt River by Elizabeth Hegarty 9781869439088  pb $18.95  
The author was on a holiday when she read about Tom Pook and his family in a book and became so fascinated that she decided to write this account of his life set in the 1920s.  Later by chance she met up with Tom Pook’s son and was given an album full of photographs and information.  As a result, she adapted the story to make it closer to the truth, although there are a few characters and events which have been made up and she has changed a few names.  Elizabeth Hegarty has created a marvellous heart-warming story about a very unusual family and an exceptional boy.  I find it amazing that as a first-time author, she could create such an entertaining, convincing and absorbing portrait of Tom’s life.  Tom and his family were Maori but kept to themselves. They lived in a one-room house hidden in the roadless backwaters of the Kaipara Harbour in New Zealand. Tom’s father was a fisherman and at fourteen Tom could not read but he could fish and was very capable and as a result his parents went away for a week leaving him in charge of his seven younger brothers and sisters.  Much of the story centres on what happens during this time as it was no easy task to keep his siblings under control and also complete all the necessary chores.  Tom later got a job on board ships servicing lighthouses and he learnt to read and became chief engineer.  If you are looking for a true story about a hero then this is a very enjoyable and entertaining tale.  (10 – 16 years). KS

A New Graphic Novel

It has taken a little while but I must say that I have grown to really enjoy the tongue in cheek humour and wit in the Captain Congo books.  They have a large picture book format and are similar to old style adventure comics. Captain Congo is a gorilla of extraordinary abilities and calm temperament, and he is called upon to solve mysteries, murders and crimes in various countries.   His offsider Pug is a short penguin who is prone to mishaps, and this provides many of the visual jokes.  These graphic picture books are full of adventure, action and humour and the striking carton style illustrations would appeal to upper primary readers, especially boys, and also to reluctant readers.  
Captain Congo and the Klondike Gold by Ruth Starke illustrated by Greg Holfeld  
hardback 9781921504273  $24.95  pb 9781921504341 $16.95 
Captain Congo is an unflappable super-sleuth who also happens to be a gorilla.  His loyal offsider is a penguin who makes wise-cracks and loves sardines.  There are lots of adventures and tongue-in-cheek jokes as the two travel deep in the Canadian north-west to solve the mystery of the ghost or monster which is terrifying miners newly sent into in an old Klondike gold mining area.  Great cartoon illustrations and humour as well as adventure have made these two characters very popular.  (8 – 12 years). KS

And Captain Congo and the Crocodile King  hardback 9781876288914  $24.95 
pb 9781876288976 $16.95
Captain Congo (an ape) and his offsider, Pug (a penguin), are sent to Abyssinia by the Agency to solve the mystery of missing anthropologist Professor Perky. The Professor works for the Museum of Chicago, and is trying to discover the location of the legendary Treasure House of the Queen of Sheba. Danger lurks at every turn; scorpions, crocodiles, angry natives and a treasure-hungry, gun-wielding sailor who has been following them ever since they disembarked from the Juba Queen. While Pug longs for somewhere cold and snowy, with a comfortable bed and a decent breakfast of cornflakes and grilled sardines, the resourceful Captain Congo is in his element and takes everything in his stride. (8 -10 years). MC

Also Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s  Monkey  hardback 9781921504044  $24.95  pb 9781921504150  $16.95  
This was the second book and took readers to the India of the British Raj where the team are called on to investigate the death of the Maharaja of Bekar and to watch over his successor. (8 – 12 years). KS


Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese boy by Rhoda Blumberg  pb 9780688174859 $13.00
This is such an incredible story.  Manjiro was a 14 year old boy working as a fisherman when the boat he was on was shipwrecked several hundred kilometers from the Japanese coast in the early 1800s.  At that time of Japanese isolation, any person who left Japan was threatened with execution if they returned to Japan.  He was picked up by an American whaler, and after some years, ended up in America where he received an education due to the high regard in which he was held by the Captain of the whaler.  After working on another whaler and then in the Californian goldfields, he decided to risk returning to Japan as he was so concerned about the welfare of his family.  He was imprisoned but when later released his knowledge played an important part in negotiations with Commodore Perry who at that time was forcing Japan to open its ports.  Manjiro was awarded samurai status, something unheard of for anyone from such an impoverished and lowly background   The story is all the more fascinating because of the use of beautiful Japanese woodblocks depicting Japanese life at that time, and detailed illustrations showing life on board an American whaler, and also illustrations by Manjiro himself, or by Japanese artists following his descriptions, of a train, of telegraph wires and other technical advancements quite unheard of at that time in Japan.  This is a fascinating story, giving us insight into a period of Japanese history and also into whaling in the early 1800s.  (9 – 16 years). KS      
Rhoda Blumberg has also written Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun  (pb 9780060086251  $15.00)  which describes how Commodore Perry forced the Japanese to open up their ports to American ships thus bringing huge changes to the Japanese way of life.  (9 – 16 years). KS

One small island: The Story of Macquarie Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch  hardback 9780670072361 $29.95
A beautiful book with a strong environmental message.  Through text and detailed illustrations, Coral Tulloch and Alison Lester have produced an excellent chronological record of this island in the Southern Ocean between Antarctica and New Zealand.  It begins with the geological history of the island and then describes the arrival of sealers who plundered the fur seals and then turned to boiling down the elephant seals and penguins for their oil.  They also introduced pests such as mice, rats, wekas, feral cats and rabbits all of which had a devastating effect on the plant and bird life of the island.  The story is told simply through a text which runs across the bottom of most pages; above this there are detailed diagrams or extracts from sealers’ and sailors’ diaries, charts, maps and drawings of the plant and bird life on the island, giving a wealth of information.  Since the sealers left, there has been a sustained effort to rid the island of its introduced pests and to try to allow the island to return to a state closer to the way it was originally.  But there have been many difficulties because eradication of the cats caused the mice, rats and rabbits to multiply rapidly, further ravaging the vegetation. Macquarie Island was given World Heritage listing in 1997.  This would make an interesting environmental study by continuing to monitor the success of the attempts to rid the island of mice, rats and rabbits.  A Glossary and a timeline are included.    (8 – 15 years). KS

Long Walk to Freedom   by Nelson Mandela: Abridged by Chris Van Wyk  Illustrated by Paddy Bouma hardback 9781405091886  $35.00  pb 9780230013858 $16.99
This is the autobiographical story of Nelson Mandela’s life retold for children.  It is the inspiring story of his childhood, his schooling, his involvement in the struggle against apartheid, his time in prison and finally his appointment as President of South Africa.  The excellent illustrations add to the understanding of his amazing life and his fight for freedom.  (8 – 13 years). KS

Poster of the Rights of the Reader

Back in February 2010 I reviewed The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac pb 9781406300918 $16.95   Since then I have discovered that there is a free poster illustrating the 10 Rights of the Reader available on the Walker Books website -
The very amusing illustrations are by Quentin Blake, who also wrote the Foreword to the book.  Following is my review again:  

Daniel Pennac has also written for adults a very entertaining book on reading called The Rights of the Reader, translated by Sarah Adams with a Foreword to this edition by Quentin Blake pb  9781406300918  $16.95.  Originally published in 1992 in French, Pennac writes passionately of the delights as a parent of reading aloud to young children, and how too many parents stop too early, before children really understand the pleasures that books offer.  Pennac writes with great flourish and drama and is often very funny.  The book also offers an insight into popular French books for children and about the more structured French education system while giving us ten Rights of the Reader which include The right not to read, The right to skip, The right not to finish a book, The right to read it again and The right to read anything.  These feature in Quentin Blake’s very amusing illustrations on the poster. Highly recommended. KS    




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

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett 9780670074051 hardback  $24.95
This beautifully written fable explores the issues of war, freedom, prejudice, courage, responsibility and hope through the perplexed and frightened eyes of two orphaned Romani children and the caged, talking animals in an abandoned zoo. In a war-ravaged part of Europe, eleven-year-old Andrej, his younger brother Tomas and their baby sister Wilma have fled the soldiers who attacked their camp, killing their people. On the outskirts of a flattened village, they stumble across the zoo, a virtual haven amidst the horror that surrounds them. Wary at first, they end up sharing their meagre food supplies with the hungry animals, and hear the tragic story of how they came to be left there, locked in their cages. The writing is simple yet deeply-layered. 
(12 – adults). MC

Honour Books
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley  pb 9780330425780  $16.99  
This novel is set over one night in the lives of four teenagers out celebrating the end of year twelve. Lucy and Beth unexpectedly meet up with Ed and Leo. Lucy is obsessed with the work of the enigmatic graffiti artist Shadow, who’s the talk of the town, and Ed reckons he knows where to find him. The narrative alternates between Lucy and Ed as they embark on an all-night search around the city, with Shadow’s graffiti sparking discussions about art, poetry, life, the universe and everything. Funny and raw with a strong, positive resolution. (16+ years). MC

The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher by Doug Macleod   pb 9780143203919 $17.95
Sixteen-year-old Thomas Timewell is an impeccably-raised young gentleman with a great sense of honour, as evinced by the opening of this book in which Thomas is disinterring his beloved grandfather, newly buried, in order to fulfill the old man’s last wish - to be left to medical science. From this unorthodox beginning when he is discovered by the enigmatic Plenitude, Thomas’s story becomes increasingly bizarre as he is swept unwillingly into the night world of body-snatchers. MacLeod’s latest book is riddled with noir humour, satire of C19th society, and exposure of upper class whims and attitudes, and given the subject matter, the gore, violence and madness, this is definitely for mature readers. (16+ years). LB

About a Girl by Joanne Horniman   pb 9781742371443  $17.99
This is a contemporary tale of first love and heartbreak. Anna has recently moved to Lismore (northern NSW) from Canberra. She lives by herself, is very insecure, sometimes depressed, and finds comfort in the books she reads. She falls in love with a girl called Flynn, who plays in a band, has a guitar named Louise and a teapot named Lavinia. Flynn is more confident, more experienced in life and love, and confuses Anna with her on-again, off-again emotional availability. Beautifully written, this is a novel for senior students. (16+ years) MC.

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta  pb 9780670074235  $24.95
Set in Sydney’s inner west, this novel has a very urban feel to it. Although not a sequel, it does continue the story of some of the friends in Saving Francesca; however, it is now five years later and the focus is on Thomas Mackee. The death of Thomas’s beloved uncle in the London bombings has spun Thomas out of control, and grief is tearing his family apart. Thomas just wants to escape from everything, and alienates himself from friends and family with his behaviour. Ultimately, though, it is family, with all their flaws, who help him to get back on track. This is definitely a book for Senior students as the friends are now in their early twenties and the book contains mature themes. (16+ years). KS & MC

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood  pb 9780330426060  $16.99
Fourteen year-old Dan’s life has gone pear-shaped. Dad’s business has gone bankrupt, he’s declared himself gay and moved out. Dan and his Mum move into a house left to them by great aunt Adelaide, but they struggle to make ends meet. Mum sets up a wedding cake business, and nerdy-but-likeable Dan sets about making himself cool so he can conquer the school bullies and get the girl-next-door. I really liked the lively, slightly quirky writing style, and found myself cheering Dan on in his quest to achieve the six impossible things on his list. 
(13 – 15 years). MC

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

The Red Wind (Kingdom of the Lost Book # 1) by Isobelle Carmody  hardback  9780670074037  $19.95
Brothers Zluty and Bily are strange furry creatures, hatched from an egg of mysterious origins. Gentle in nature, they have a strong, loving bond and depend on each other’s resourcefulness in order to survive. Zluty is away on his annual food-gathering trip when the red wind sweeps the land, bringing with it a hail of boulders and a fearsome, injured beast, and turning their peaceful lives upside-down. This post-apocalyptic fantasy is a tale of courage, compassion and empathy. (9 – 12 years). MC 

Honour Books
Just a Dog by Michael Gerard Bauer  pb 9781862918870 $14.99
Told in short chapters, these are all the stories that Corey can remember abut his dog, Mister Mosely.  Mister Mosely is just a normal, everyday dog but he is a very important part of their family.  The book has more to offer than just stories about a much loved dog as the stories gradually reveal deep problems within the family. (8 – 11 years). KS

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford Illus Sarah Davis   hardback 9781921529177  $19.95 
Violet has fallen in love with a beautiful blue china bird she saw at the Saturday markets, but how to make it hers? This is a VERY IMPORTANT IDEA and Violet proves herself to be a girl who knows how to THINK OUTSIDE THE SQUARE. The discovery of a dusty red button sparks a BRILLIANT PLOT that brings her heart’s desire, in more ways than one. A charming, gentle and thoughtful story about a creative, resourceful little girl with lots of big ideas. Although Violet’s mum is a single parent, the theme of family is strong. Black and white pencil illustrations throughout.  (6 – 8 years). KS & MC

Henry Hoey Hobson  by Christine Bongers  pb 9781864719956  $16.95
This is a story of great fun and eccentricity.  Henry Hoey is starting on his sixth new school in as many years and discovers he is the only boy in grade seven at his new school called Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.   When four very strange people move in next door, Henry Hoey suspects they must be vampires.  Many misunderstandings lead to some very funny situations but along the way we meet some memorable characters.   (10 – 14 years). KS

Duck for a Day by Meg McKinlay illus Leila Rudge  pb 9781921529283  $13.95 
Abby is desperate to be the first one chosen to take home Max, the class pet. However, Max is a very demanding duck and their kind but a little eccentric teacher, Mrs Melvino, has to be sure that everything is just right. Abby sets about readying her back yard to accommodate the ever-expanding list of requirements for Max’s stay, meticulously documenting her modifications to prove to Mrs Melvino that Max will have all he needs and, most importantly, won’t be able to escape. But escape he does, and a devastated Abby finally accepts the help of her next-door-neighbour Noah, the class outsider. Who would have thought that taking home the class pet would be so fraught! Themes of responsibility and friendship. Black and white illustrations throughout. (7 - 9 years). MC

Toppling by Sally Murphy  illus Rhian Nest James  pb 9781921529429  $16.95  
A novel in verse about John and his 11 year old best friend Dominic, who becomes ill with cancer, and how John copes with this frightening turn of events. A warm story about the importance of family and friendship, especially in the face of illness, death and grief. Gentle, thoughtful writing. (10 – 12 years). MC

Book of the Year: Early Childhood (Picture Books)

Maudie and Bear  by Jan Ormerod illus Freya Blackwood  hardback   9781921541407  $29.95
This picture book is made up of five related stories about the rather spoilt and precocious three-year-old Maudie and her rather large (in Maudie’s imagination) companion, Bear. Long-suffering Bear deals with Maudie’s tantrums and demands with infinite patience, loyalty, wisdom and unconditional love. The format of the five separate stories is perfect for those readers who are almost ready to move on to chapter books, and Freya Blackwood’s pencil and wash illustrations are delightful. (4 – 6 years). MC 
Freya Blackwood was the first Australian woman to win the Kate Greenaway Medal, in 2010, for her illustration of Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild. MC

Honour Books
The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies  by Tom Niland Champion & Kilmeny Niland  illus Deborah Niland  hardback 9781742371153  $24.99 
A nonsense story with delightful illustrations about a very tall man who happens to have twelve babies.  All the boys were called Alistair and all the girls Charlene and one day the door of the tiny apartment happens to slam shut and al the Charlenes are left on one side of the door and the Alistairs on the other.  What to do?  Fun to read aloud.  (2 – 6 years). KS   

Look See, Look at Me! by Leonie Norrington illus Dee Huxley  hardback  9781741758832  $24.99   
A very simple text describes the exuberance and pride of a three year old who describes all the things he can now do.  Free-flowing delightful illustrations by Dee Huxley show families and life in northern indigenous communities.  (3 - 6 years). KS

The Deep End (Aussie Nibbles) by Ursula Dubosarsky  illus. Mitch Vane  pb 9780143305279  $12.95
This is another Aussie Nibble about Becky.  In order to progress from the Frogs to the Platypus group in her swimming lessons, Becky has to swim at the deep end and she is apprehensive.  Maybe she should stay a Frog for little longer?   (6 – 9 years). KS

Noni the Pony  by Alison Lester  hardback  9781741758887  $24.99 
This is an engaging rhyming story about Noni the Pony and her other animal friends.  Noni is friendly and funny and loves to dance with the hens and ducks.  The illustrations are simple but warm in colours.  Fun to read aloud to the very young .  (2 – 5 years). KS 

It’s Bedtime, William! by Deborah Niland  hardback  9780670073825  $24.95  
Young William is pulling out every excuse under the sun as to why he shouldn’t go to bed. His exasperated parents finally win out, using their LOUDEST VOICES, and William climbs the stairs to his room, shoulders slumped with the injustice of it all. He’s greeted by a lion who is wide awake, and the tables are turned as William tries to convince the lion that it’s bedtime. 
(3 - 5 years). MC             

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

Joint Winner
Mirror by Jeannie Baker   hardback 9781406309140  $39.95
Inspired by a trip to Morocco, Jeannie Baker has told two stories in the one book.  Page by page we experience a day in the life of two boys and their families; one in inner Sydney and the other in a remote village in Morocco.  The landscapes are very different and also their clothes and their houses, but in the way the families care for each other and for their communities they are essentially the same.  The two families are essentially a mirror image of each other.  The collage work is extraordinary and the images convey so much without the need for words.  (8 – 15 years). KS

Hamlet by Nikki Greenberg  hardback  9781741756425  $49.99 
I think that having this book in the Picture Book category is quite misleading as it is actually a graphic novel of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Whilst the text remains true to Shakespeare, the illustrative interpretation is most unusual. All the figures are blackened silhouettes, except for their faces (and Gertrude’s six small breasts – yes, you’ve been warned!), but such is Greenberg’s skill that she manages to capture the different personalities and demeanours quite accurately; Hamlet’s prickly and somewhat manic nature, the humility of Horatio, Polonius’s eagerness to please, the nervousness of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Claudius’s plotting malevolence. The backgrounds are lavish and theatrical, bordering on the psychedelic in Hamlet’s ‘mad scenes’. This would make a great classroom study of comparative texts, as would Greenberg’s previous graphic novel treatment of The Great Gatsby (hardback 9781741751338 $39.95  paperback 9781741757309 $24.95), which is completely different in style. (13+ years). MC

Honour Books
Why I Love Australia  by Bronwyn Bancroft hardback  9781921541780  $24.95 
Indigenous author and artist Bronwyn Bancroft celebrates the wonderfully varied Australian landscape in her bold and distinctive style, accompanied by minimal poetic text. We travel from coral reefs to waves pounding beaches, the lights of the city to the star-filled desert sky, through plummeting gorges and craggy snowy mountains, over crusted salt pans and the roofs of suburban homes. On every page an Aboriginal Elder with a smoking coolamon (wooden bowl) is the host to each of the landscapes depicted. We learn about the smoking ceremony at the end of the book. (4 - 6 years). MC

My Uncle’s Donkey  by Tohby Riddle  hardback  9780670040339  $24.95  
Tohby Riddle has a whacky sense of humour which is in full flight in this absurdist, post-modern picture book. The donkey gets up to all sorts of things like raiding the fridge, juggling, chatting on the phone, luxuriating in the bath, staying up late eating popcorn, and amazingly athletic feats like cartwheels and hoof-stands; meanwhile, the uncle calmly goes about his daily routine in his apartment, apparently oblivious to the donkey’s outrageous antics. In contrast to all this silliness, the illustrations are fairly muted: black, red and grey on a white background – with the occasional splash of colour such as a vase of Van Gogh’s sunflowers on the table. (3 - 5 years). MC

Family Forest   by Kim Kane, illus Lucia Masciullo hardback  9781921564703 $24.95 
When asked who’s in his family, the little boy who narrates this book resorts to drawing a picture. He has a half-sister, a whole sister and a step-brother; a step-mum, Babs, who’s married to his dad, Duncan, and a mum called Jane who’s not married to her partner, Rob. Phew! And that’s why the boy thinks his family tree is more like a family forest. A sweet and simple look at blended families, full of word-play and visual jokes. (3-6 years). MC

Two Peas in a Pod   by Chris McKimmie  hardback  9781742373041  $29.99
Marvin and Violet live next door to each other and have been best friends since they were little babies. They have great adventures together, spurred on by Violet’s lively imagination, until one day Violet’s family moves away. This separation of friends can often be devastating for young children, and we really feel Marvin’s loneliness as he learns to cope. In his unusual, deceptively child-like picture books, Chris McKimmie reflects the emotional life of children in a sophisticated, empathetic way. This book is no exception. Children will relate to the naïve illustration style and the visually playful text. (4-7 years). MC

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Return of the Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky, illus Tohby Riddle hardback
9780670073542  $24.95   
The Word Spy is back, leading us on further adventures into the world of language, ranging over such diverse subjects as language families, grammar, gestures and both spoken and written forms of communication. As well as English, we uncover the secrets of finger spelling (a rudimentary form of sign language), braille, aboriginal symbols, Pidgin and Esperanto. The book is also packed with interesting bits of information such as a brief history of writing implements, from Roman times through to pencils, quills, pens and typewriters. The style is accessible, humourous and engaging, enlivened by a smattering of Tohby Riddle’s illustrations. As with The Word Spy (pb 9780143304487 $17.95  hardback 9780670072279 $24.95), there’s a word-puzzle to solve at the end of each chapter, and the answers hold the key to the solution of the final puzzle at the end of the book.  (12 – 15 years). MC

Honour Books
Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir by Ron Brooks hardback  9781742371559 $49.99  
Ron Brooks is the celebrated illustrator of The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek and John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, both written by Jenny Wagner.  These two books are widely recognised for introducing Australian picture books to the rest of the world. Ron has won many awards for his work, and it’s a delight to see both the rough drawings and finished artworks of these and many others of his works.  This is a candid, passionate memoir, in which Ron talks about his life as a husband, a father and an artist whose work spans more than 30 years.   (16 years up). MC

Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life at Ardiyooloon  by One Arm Point Remote Community School  hardback   978192124823  $29.95
Ardiyooloon (One Arm Point) is a remote coastal community in Western Australia, north of Broome, and is home to the Bardi Jaawi people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years. The children of One Arm Point Remote Community School have made this book about their lives and culture, and it is a fascinating mix of traditional stories, cultural history, knowledge about fishing and bush tucker, and practical advice on how to make such things as boomerangs and bough shelters and how to treat snake bite. The book abounds with photos and artwork, and Bardi words with their English meanings are sprinkled around the borders of each page. A pronunciation guide appears at the beginning of the book, along with an acknowledgement of the important role the Elders have played in keeping the traditional culture and language alive. (9-12 years). MC

Theme Parks, Playgrounds and Toys (Science Behind series) by Nicholas Brasch hardback  9781420268942 $31.99 net
While theme parks, playgrounds and toys are fun things, they can also teach us a lot about physics. Basic concepts are explored through thirteen questions relating to everyday activities and familiar objects: yoyos, swings, mirrors, seesaws, roller-coasters and remote-controlled toys. Aside from the main text, there are boxes with bite-size historical information about Galileo, Archimedes and Newton, and interesting bits of trivia: did you know that the first toy in space was a yoyo? There are simple experiments like how to make a magnet, a kite, a pendulum, and how to measure a circle. Word Watch boxes on most of the pages explain the meanings of words shown in bold throughout the text (force, motion, kinetic energy, friction, mass, gravity, etc), and Web Watch boxes provide website links for further research. (9 – 11 years). MC

Zero Hour: The Anzacs on the Western Front by Leon Davidson  pb 9781921656071  $19.95
WW1 was supposed to last for 6 months. It went on for almost four and a half years, from June 1914 – November 1918, and became know as the Great War. Incomprehensively, nearly 10 million people died. This book focuses on the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in the trenches on the Western Front for nearly three years. Raw and straightforward, this is a reminder of the human cost of war, brought home by the extracts of poems written by soldiers, in memoriam notices placed by loved ones, and the short ‘Killed in Action’ lists at the end of each chapter, stating each man’s occupation: teacher, farmer, shepherd, engineer, shop assistant, tailor, miner, and so on. There are photos, maps, a timeline and glossary, as well as a who’s who of Western Front commanders. (16 + years). MC

Wicked Warriors & Evil Emperors:  The True Story of the fight for Ancient China by Alison Lloyd, illus by Terry Denton  pb  9780143304340  $16.95 
When King Zichu died unexpectedly in 246 BC, his twelve year old son Zheng became the King of Qin. This is the true story of Qinshi huangdi, the name he gave himself after he had brutally conquered every state of All-Under-Heaven, the land we now know as China. This is such an accessible account of this complex history, attractively well laid-out, with an abundance of Denton’s crazy drawings, and packed with information. There are descriptions of wicked weapons and the mayhem they wreaked and a list of real jobs from the time, with their upsides and downsides. Words in red appear throughout the text, with explanations and pronunciations at the bottom of the page.  (9 – 12 years). MC

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