Gleebooks Education 

September 2007

Gleebooks Bookshop - Saturday, September 01, 2007

No 30, September 2007

Kate Shepherd, Austral Ed

And so 30 newsletters already!  And that means that I have been sending out newsletters for 15 years.  Just amazing!  I have met a lot of teachers and librarians in that time in schools all over the world.  Wherever you are, very best wishes to everyone for the new school year.

Since the last newsletter in February we attended the IB Asia Pacific Conference in March.  Singapore is a very close and familiar neighbour and it is always great to visit and eat the marvellous food and walk along the river.  I think the first time we did this was in about 1968!  So many changes there now.  I enjoyed meeting up with so many teachers from this region (and to also see so many Australian teachers - we usually meet up overseas rather than in Australia.)  

At the beginning of July we went to the PYP Workshops in Bucharest.  They were interesting sessions and I always enjoy getting feedback from teachers re some of the books we display.   And then Ron and I had a holiday for about 11 days with a French friend in her holiday house in the south of France.  It is a beautiful part of the world and quite idyllic at that time of the year with beautiful stone villages resplendent with flowers, and I can still almost taste the luscious peaches and nectarines.  It was a holiday to remember and thanks to Ruth who looked after everything so efficiently while I was away.

As many of you know I haven’t been going to as many Conferences over the past few years.  However there are a few coming up next year that I really want to get to.   The first one is the ECIS (European Council of International Schools) Librarians Conference in Berlin from February 29th to March 2nd 2008.  Since the Conference is only for librarians and is only held every three years, it is very special. The speakers (some of whom are authors) are always very interesting and there is a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  If you are interested check out the website: 

Now to some exciting news.  The long awaited fantasy novel, Sasha, written by Joel, our son, was published in July by Hachette Australia.  They have done an excellent job as publishers with a beautifully produced trade paperback with a strikingly attractive cover.  The book has been some time in coming and the world is very familiar to me since I have read three drafts in which the plots were different even if the characters and the world were mostly the same.  It has been fascinating to see the development in the characters and the writing.  This final book is excellent with strong and believable characters, intriguing plot and the action so gripping that it is hard to stop reading.  It is a fantasy world with a difference in that there is no magic but another world that has been created with its own cultures, languages and peoples.  Sasha is a fiercely independent character who has exceptional sword fighting skills but she is young and can be impulsive and headstrong.   While still a child, she abandoned the world of royalty into which she was born and has been raised by a renowned warrior, Kessligh.  She has conflicting beliefs and loyalties and is forced by events to make decisions which at times she fears she is not yet ready to take.  Since it is impossible for me to be an impartial critic (Joel is my son after all and it is a bit hard to be objective!) here is part of an objective review from Tehani Wessely.   She writes “It is an original and fresh heroic fantasy, showcasing a well drawn, well realized world filled with fascinating, three dimensional characters who pulled me in for the ride and carried me away.  I got totally sucked into this book, completely against all expectations, which, when you think about it, makes it all the better.”  The full review and others are available on Joel’s website    Sasha has been published for the adult market but would appeal to students from 14 years up. 
Sasha : A Trial of Blood and Steel series by Joel Shepherd  pb $32.95

I am sure you will be surprised at one of the attachments to this email.  Haese and Harris are Maths publishers and as many of you would know my knowledge about maths textbooks is negligible.  However I have been intrigued by the story of this small South Australian publisher.  Some 28 years ago Bob and Sandra Haese and Kim Harris started writing maths text textbooks on their kitchen table.  They were all practising maths teachers and passionate about their subject and wanted good texts with which to teach and so they wrote their own.  These books were originally typed on a typewriter with hand drawn diagrams and they proved very successful within Australian schools.  In 2004 they published their first maths text devised for the IB Diploma.  I assume the books are very good because we have received orders from schools from all over the world.  The books are continually updated and revised and in 2008 they will publish a complete Middle Years programme for international schools.  (They have already published a Pre-Diploma book (MYP Plus).    Maybe you know as little about maths as I do, but do pass on the info to the maths coordinator.  I am sure it will be of interest (unless they already know all about it).

Heaven’s Net is Wide by Lian Hearn  hardback 39.95
This is the last book to be written in the wonderful Otori Triology set in feudal Japan.  However it is the first book chronologically.  It gives the background to the stories of so many of the characters in Across the Nightingale Floor.  It explains why Shigeru is so loved and respected by the people of the Middle Country and how so much of the land was occupied by the hated Tohan and their ruler, Iida Sadamu.  It is a strange feeling to read about these characters already knowing what will befall them later but is an immensely satisfying book as it answers so many questions and sets such a wonderful landscape and atmosphere for the world of the Otori.  It is beautifully and elegantly written, and describes very convincingly this world of great beauty and savagery.  A world that is vividly realistic but which also has fantastical elements adding to its fascination.  I had already read the whole series but now found I had to continue reading and to go back to Across the Nightingale Floor in order to experience it again in the light of so much new information and insight gained.   (13 years up)
The series in chronological order is: 
Heaven’s Net is Wide by Lian Hearn  hardback 39.95
Across the Nightingale FloorGrass for His Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon pb $22.95 each    
Harsh Cry of the Heron hardback $39.95  pb $24.95

Keeper by Mal Peet  pb $16.95
I am not a soccer fan.  There are elements of the game that I find most frustrating, notably the low scoring and penalty shootouts.  And so I was very surpised when I found myself so intrigued by this book about El Gato, world famous goalkeeper.  It describes his life as the son of poor logger in a South American rainforest and how he rose to fame as a goalkeeper.  It is extremely well written, the characters believable and the plot gripping.  However I could hardly believe that I was fascinated by the detailed descriptions of the art of goalkeeping; of how a keeper can learn to anticipate where a ball is coming from and how he can teach his body to move and how he can intimidate other players. It is a wonderful novel, with an element of otherworldliness.  It is also a story of great determination and courage and is full of wonder for the rainforest.    (10 – 16 years)
Keeper by Mal Peet  pb $16.95

Picture Books and DVDs

Did you know that some of the picture books from Walker books now have accompanying DVDs of the story? The illustrations in the book have been animated so that the characters come to life as the story is being read aloud.  The animation has been very tastefully done by King Rollo Films.  The combined package of the paperback and DVD cost AUD 19.95 each.  
Some of the titles follow.  Contact me if you would like the complete list of titles.  
Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? By Martin Waddell illus Barbara Firth
Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell illus Helen Oxenbury 
Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins 
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell illus Patrick Benson
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen illus Helen Oxenbury


I often have requests for autobiography and this is an engaging and lively story written by Cathy Freeman.  As an Olympic winner of the 400 metres in the Sydney Olympics and a famous Aboriginal Australia, the story of her childhood and how she developed her running skills is very interesting, and especially how she became determined to be a world class Olympic athlete.    There are many anecdotes about her early life and her first experiences in running races.  She writes in a straightforward manner and with a lot of humour.  She is very conscious of her Aboriginality and wants this book to inspire other young athletes to follow their dreams.  (9 – 12 years)
Born to Run: Cathy Freeman My Story  pb $17.95


Children of the Tusnami :  Khao Lak – A story of Hope  compiled by the students of Bangkok Patana School  edited by Robin Nagy     hardback $30.00  
Any schools involved with community service will be very interested in this project undertaken by 52 senior students of the Bankok Patana School in Thailand to help the children of Khao Lak, a coastal village in Thailand.  The community at Khao Lak was shattered by the effect of the tsunami which devastated so many regions in South East Asia in 2004.  The students collected stories, poems and illustrations drawn by the children of Khao Lak and they also took photographs of the children and of their village and put them together in a beautifully presented hardback book.  It is a very moving tribute to the children and their courage in re-building their lives.    All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the education and schooling of the children in Khao Lak.  It can be purchased directly from Macmillan Education in Australia, from the Bangkok Patana School in Thailand or through Austral Ed.    (10 years up) 
Children of the Tusnami:  Khao Lak – A story of Hope  compiled by the students of Bangkok Patana School  edited by Robin Nagy     hardback $30.00 

A School like MineA Unique celebration of schools around the world  hardback 39.95
Published in 2007, this book follows the same format as the title A Life Like Mine (also hardback $39.95) from Dorling Kindersley.  Children from schools around the world describe their school, what they learn, the time it takes to travel to the school and they also talk about their teachers, friends and family. Lively photographs show the school buildings, school equipment and the children at their lessons and play.  Some schools are very poor with little in the way of equipment.  Others are wealthy.  Some schools have so many students that they have several shifts.  This is a beautifully presented book which gives an insight into children from around the world and the schools they attend.  (6 – 12 years)        

A Water Report series by Michael and Jane Pelusey   hardback $29.50
This past year there seems to have been drought or floods in most countries of the world.  Our winter season began with such promise and the Adelaide Hills are beautifully green now but there has been very little rain for the past month or so and people are beginning to fear that the drought will continue just as before.  This series was first published in 2006 and is being reprinted now.  It discusses water and its conservation in general terms but the emphasis is on water and its use in Australia.  Even through most of the examples given are from Australia, it is still a useful series since there are very few books which discuss in such detail this precious resource and the pressures on its use.  Titles are: 
Natural Water
Recycled Water
Water Conservation
Water Quality
Water Supply
Water Use           (9 – 12 years)

The Usborne Internet-Linked Introduction to Weather & Climate Change by Laura Howel hardback 34.95    
I found this to be a fascinating and clearly explained introduction to this most complex subject.  The subject of what makes the weather and its extremes is explained in clear language and there are many helpful photos, illustrations, maps and graphs.   I was also impressed by its description of the most controversial topic of climate change.  It describes changes in climate and their possible explanations over many millennia and offers a number of possibilities contributing perhaps to the present changes in climate.  It also looks in detail at many other phenomena of our weather including local climates, water and oceans, clouds, air masses, weather forecasting, clues to past climates, ice ages as well as climate and living things.  It is a most attractively presented book with a lot of accessible information.  (9 – 14 years)

Body: An Amazing Tour of Human Anatomy by Robert Winston and  Richard Walker   hardback (includes CD)  $39.95
I have just realised that this was published in 2005.  (It takes me a while to catch up with some books!)  We noticed this first when a school ordered it.  It is remarkable.  I know there have been many books which try to reconstruct the human body and give an idea of its amazing complexity but this one I think does it extremely successfully.  The book looks at the various body systems such as skeletal, muscular, nervous etc but then looks in more detail at the head, and upper and lower body sections.  The illustrations are exceptional and enable us to visualise the amazing complexity of the body through reconstruction which has been made possible apparently through modern scanning machines and computing.  Ruth has a son who is studying physical anatomy at the moment and he has found the book to be a great assistance in visualising the various parts of the skeleton and muscles and understanding how they fit together but also a great help in remembering their names since each part is so clearly labelled and described.  (10 – 18 years)

Illustrated History of the South Pacific by Marcia Stenson  pb $32.95
There are not many books published on the South Pacific and this books published just in 2006 is an important reference.  It discusses the geology and geography of this vast region and also the archaeological evidence which provides so much information about the arrival of the Polynesian sea faring peoples who settled these islands about 6,000 years ago.   There is discussion of how the arrival of the Polynesians affected and changed the environment.  There are chapters on the First and Second World wars and also on colonial rule and their impact on the Pacific.  There is detailed description of the following islands: Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, and Tuvalu (Hawaii is not included).  Excellent use of modern and historic photos, maps and illustrations.  ((12 years up)

Professional Development

Right Book Right Time:  500 great reads for teenagers  by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen  pb $35.00
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen has an extraordinary knowledge about books for young adults and has written over the years a number of books on this subject.  I was especially impressed with this book, just published in 2007, because its layout makes it so accessible and it is a book which invites browsing.  Books are discussed under various subject areas such as action, adventure and crime, life, love and loss, extreme & edgy, this sporting life and fantastic worlds.  Agnes has reviewed many of the books herself but there are other reviewers and so there is a variety of voices.  About 200 of the entries are recent books, by writers from Australia and also from many overseas countries.  Throughout the book there are suggestions of other titles that teenagers could try next.  If you like this author, then try … If you like crime, then try this classic.  Agnes hopes that this will provide stepping stones and links for readers to take them to more books that they will enjoy.  A number of translations are also reviewed.  This is an extremely helpful reference for teachers, librarians and parents and it is also a book that teenagers can browse through and where they will hopefully be directed to other books that they will love.  “The challenge, as Doris Lessing emphasised, is to find the right book at the right time.”       (12 years up)

Learning Together through Inquiry: From Columbus to Integrated Curriculum by Kathy Short, Jean Schroeder, Julie Laird, Gloria Kauffman, Margaret J Ferguson and Kathleen Marie Crawford  pb $49.95
Although this book was published first in 1996, I came across it only recently and having met two of the authors recently at the PYP Workshops in Bucharest, I read it with interest.  I found it fascinating as an account of how five teachers and a university lecturer, Kathy Short, struggled to put into practice a change in their classroom teaching from thematic teaching to inquiry based.  The first chapter discusses their beliefs that thematic based teaching did not inspire the children to discover more.  The second chapter discusses how they planned to implement the change to inquiry based teaching and their resolve to meet regularly to discuss and collaborate over a year.  Chapters 3 – 7 tell the stories of each particular classrooms as each teacher describes the implementation of inquiry based learning into their classroom over the year.  I found the book’s discussions of how ideas were developed and implemented fascinating.  There were of course many problems and difficulties.  I think the descriptions of their experiments, the reactions of the various children of different ages in various schools and the ways each teacher gradually developed and understood this new way of teaching will be illuminating and also comforting for teachers who are endeavouring to change to inquiry based teaching for the first time. 

Texts on Theory of Knowledge

The following reviews written on books about Theory of Knowledge are by Ron Shapiro, former senior lecturer in English at the University of Western Australia.

Nicholas Alchin, Theory of Knowledge, Hodder Murray (2003) 2006.
This was one of the first really good books covering the requirements of the I.B. Theory of Knowledge programme, in its own way defining the likely core areas of such a programme as having to do with different ways of human knowing, and thence the further application of kinds of knowing to the arts, sciences and philosophy.  The book is visually attractive employing various formats, page colours, etc., to avoid any sense of dry theory. It is also a text which questions as much as explains in order to maintain reader involvement.  The fact of a recent second edition suggests it has been seen as especially useful in the presentation of this programme.

Dombrowski, Rotenberg, Bick, Theory of Knowledge: Course Companion, OUP, 2007
This more recent book on the Theory of Knowledge builds on the approach of the Hodder Murray edition while possibly improving on the former in several ways.  For instance, while the Hodder Murray edition tends to get into quite complex discussion rather quickly, here the introductory discussion and subsequent lead-ins to various subjects areas seem more carefully graded.  A notable improvement too is the general use of student voices from a wide variety of countries giving their own cultural perspectives on a variety of questions to do with the way one might “know” things (very relevant in a programme with international parameters).  Moreover individual student voices are accompanied by photos serving to personalise the discussion at every point and serving to dispel any feeling of “text-book” On the other hand this is a rather large (as opposed to thick) book to handle and is by no means as attractively presented as the Hodder Murray edition.

Richard van de Lagemaat, Theory of Knowedge for the IB Diploma, Cambridge, 2005
Again this excellent book builds on the Hodder Murray edition approach but the discussion seems better graded and organised.  Unlike the Hodder Murray and Oxford editions, this book employs a simple non colour (black and white) format, fewer visual learning ‘devices”, etc.  The effect is for a more readerly text with plenty of interesting sketches and genuinely funny cartoon drawings.  But it is especially the organisation of the material which allows a sense of natural “follow-on” which accounts for its readability, the sort of book one might decide to read from cover to cover.  Its sections on language and translation are especially good and often extremely amusing, and also good is the discussion of mathematics and questions of certainty.  On the other hand, there is not the same sense of internationalism in the examples used compared with the Oxford edition which, as the most recent of the three books, has tried to plug some obvious gaps. 


There is always controversy over Awards and this year there has perhaps been more than usual.  These awards are chosen by one judge from each of the Australian states.  Each judge reads a large number of books and they come together to discuss the shortlist and also 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 didn’t always agree with the judges.

Book of the Year: Older Readers 

(NB Some of these books are for mature readers)

Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan       pb $17.95
Margo Lanagan’s beautifully written, otherworldly stories are loved by judges and she wins many awards.  However I am not sure how many students will appreciate these highly original, often disturbing stories.     (14 years up)

Honour Books
Monster Blood Tattoo Book 1: Foundling by D M Cornish hardback  $25.00
I couldn’t finish this book.  I know it is has had a lot of publicity and people have been thrilled and amazed by the complexity of the world created by David Cornish.  However for me that is the problem – there is too great an emphasis on the world and not enough on the characters and the development of the story.  At the end of the story, there are over 120 pages of “explicarium being a glossary of terms & explanations including appendices”, drawings and maps.  Students that love world creation will probably be enthralled by this amount of detail.  Film rights have also been sold for the book.  (11 – 15 years)

The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky pb $19.95
The story is told through the eyes of Matilda, the youngest of three sisters growing up in the northern Sydney in the 1950s.  For her it is a strange world where there are many unsettling events and nothing is explained but she figures out quite a bit and is very observant.  The story is punctuated by extracts from newspaper articles about the Cold War and the defection of the Russian spy Petrov and the threat of polio.      (11 – 15 years)

Shortlisted Books
Don’t Call Me Ishmael by Michael Bauer  pb $16.95
This book is written with a flair and vigour and love of language which is invigorating and very, very funny.  Ishmael Leseur is bullied at school but describes his humiliation in a very funny self-deprecating way.  He is amazed when James Scobie comes to the school and shows no fear of the class bully but wins encounters time and again through a very clever wit and fast thinking.  When Ishmael becomes involved with James Scobie and an attempt to set up a debating team, it looks disastrous but is hilarious as the team attempts to work on a topic from totally different perspectives.  However the team does learn to work together and their thinking and communication skills improve greatly.  This is the book that I think should have won this Older Readers category.  It is rare to read a book with such appeal and which makes the reader laugh aloud.   (11 - 16 years)

One Whole and Perfect Day  by Judith Clarke       pb $16.95
An engaging story about Lily who was In Year Ten, a sensible girl who helped her single mum but who wished for just one perfect day.  When everything would go just right and amazingly enough there was just one day when her dysfunctional family comes together for an 80th birthday party for her argumentative but loving grandfather.   Judith Clarke writes realistic stories about families and friendship.     (11 – 16 years)

My Big Birkett       by Lisa Shanahan pb $16.95
Humour is a strange beast and perhaps I needed to read this book on another day.  For me some of the characters seemed to be extravagant caricatures.  It appears to be split into two very different stories; one about the way-out preparations for a family wedding and the other about a school drama performance of The Tempest.  Parts of the story about the dramatic performance were moving and convincing but somehow the two stories didn’t come together for me.  (13 – 16 years)

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Being Bee   by Catherine Bateson pb $16.95
Generally I like Catherine Bateson’s writing and this is a heartwarming story about a girl called Bee who is having problems adapting to her father’s new girlfriend.  However there are problems with the characterisation in that Bee seems to behave like a 7 year old at times and by the end of the book is acting more like an 11 or 12 year old.  I think she is about 9 years old.   It would be interesting to see if children find this a problem.  (8 – 10 years)  

Honour Books
The Tuckshop Kid  by Pat Flynn, illus. Tom Jellett  pb $16.95
Pat Flynn has written a humorous book on a serious subject.  Matt is an expert on junk food that can be bought from the tuck shop and he is seriously overweight.  When he is diagnosed as probably having Type 2 diabetes, he and his mother try to change make drastic changes in their life styles, with considerable success.      (8 – 11 years)

Bird & Sugar Boy  by Sofie Laguna       pb $14.95
A story of close friendship.  Two boys are best friends.  The boys are unusual (and Bird is just fascinated by birds and their behaviour) but the boys get along so well together that they are devastated when one of them has to shift to Broome with his family.  I am unsure if it would have a wide appeal.        (10 – 13 years)

Shortlisted Books
The Cat on the Mat is Flat  by Andy Griffiths illus Terry Denton  pb $14.95
Kids will probably love this latest Andy Griffiths title because it reads a bit like a rhyming reader or nonsense verse.  Because the text is so simple it could be useful as an ESL text.  However I don’t really think it warrants its choice on the CBC shortlist.   (6 – 8 years)

Macbeth and Son  by Jackie French       pb $14.95
This novel is about the truth in history and whether it really matters. Jackie French’s complaint is with Shakespeare who wrote about the Scottish King Macbeth who was by historical accounts an honourable king but was turned into a villain in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.  Jackie uses the dreams of a modern-day boy, Luke who is studying the play at school to show what really? or possibly happened to Lulach and his father Macbeth in eleventh century Scotland. The most fascinating aspect of the story is the theme of truth in history and whether Shakespeare was justified in making Macbeth a villain for the sake of the play.  This would make a fascinating book for discussion.                 (11 – 14 years)

Layla, Queen of Hearts  by Glenda Millard, illus Stephen Michael King pb $12.95
This is the sequel to The Naming of Tishkin Silk (pb $12.95).  Layla is searching for someone who she could take to school as part of Senior Citizens’ Day since her own Nana died a year ago.  She meets Miss Amelie who has wonderful memories of long ago but cannot remember the present.  (8 – 10 years)

Book of the Year: Early Childhood

(Picture Books)

Amy & Louis  by Libby Gleeson, illus. Freya Blackwood       hardback $25.00
A simply written and poignant story about the close friendship of two children who lived next door to each other and who are bereft when Amy moves away with her family to the other side of the world.   Beautiful illustrations by Freya Blackburn make the two children come alive.

Honour Books
Doodledum Dancing  by Meredith Costain, illus. Pamela Allen hardback $24.95
This is a fun collection of simple poems that lend themselves to lots of action and movement because of their rhyme and bouncy rhythm.   Pamela Allen’s lively illustrations in this picture book format add to the fun.  There is lots of repetition and the poems will be great fun for kindergarten and Grade one children. 

Chatterbox  by Margaret Wild, illus. Deborah Niland  hardback  $24.95
The charming story of Daisy who is a lively baby sister for Max but who can’t say any words.   To everyone’s surprise when Daisy does start to speak, she speaks in sentences and 
then the family wonders when she will ever keep quiet.

Shortlisted Books
Grandpa and Thomas and the Green Umbrella by Pamela Allen hardback  $24.95 
Another delightful story about Thomas and his grandpa who go to the beach with a green beach umbrella which tumbles down the beach when the weather changes suddenly. 

Ella Kazoo will not brush her Hair         Lee Fox, illus. Cathy Wilcox  hardback  $28.95
This is a rhyming rollick about Ella Kazoo who refuses to brush her hair but when her hair grows ever wilder, both mother and daughter are blissfully happy when it is all cut off.

Eight  by Lyn Lee, illus. Kim Gamble  hardback $28.00  pb $15.00
Timmy is very upset when Eight, a toy octopus, is left behind in a Park.  When they can’t find him, they imagine all sorts of things that Eight could be doing.   Eight finally reappears and Timmy is pleased that Eight was big enough and strong enough to look after himself.  Of course Timmy was also big and strong and no longer needs Eight in the way he used to.  Kim Gamble’s gentle illustrations are perfect for this comforting story about personal growth.

Picture Book of the Year Award

(These picture books may be for mature readers)

The Arrival  by Shaun Tan  hardback $39.95
This extraordinary book has amazed and delighted everyone I have shown it to. It is textless and depicts many strange things and a world that we do not understand and yet at the same time, the book is not difficult to understand.  It shows the experience of an immigrant when he or she comes to a country where they know no one and understand very little. Shaun Tan wants us to understand the feelings of apprehension as a young man leaves his young wife and daughter and his country to travel a vast distance to a completely different country where he can’t speak the language or read any signs. A country where the landscape and the creatures and even the pets are very different and where he doesn’t understand how things work or what is the purpose of so many strange things.  However on his arrival in this new land, he meets new friends who show him how to get to places and how things work and they also tell him the stories of how they too came to this new land.  And so we get the very moving stories of a number of immigrant families.  The illustrations are meticulously drawn in detailed panels of illustrations or sometimes full page illustrations in black and white or various shades of grey and sepia.  It is a very evocative and moving book.  It could be used with children from about 9 years up I think but it would be especially effective when used with older students in upper elementary and middle school.  It is especially helpful for discussion with any study concerning immigrants.  (9 years to adult)

Honour Books
The Rainbirds     by David Metzenthen, illus Sally Rippin  hardback $28.95
A story with an environmental theme about a young boy who watches with delight as the black and white currawong birds arrive in the city.  They leave the storms in the mountains during the winter and return in the spring.      (7 – 9 years)

Woolvs in the sitee        Margaret Wild, illus Anne Spudvilas    hardback  $26.95
This book is most controversial.  It is deliberately confronting and disturbing.  Some teachers have found it challenging and have been very interested in the various possible interpretations of the story.  It can be read as about homelessness, mental illness, or a post-holocaust world.  The illustrations are disturbing and somehow made more so because of the deliberate use of incorrect spelling.  One teacher has described the book as incomprehensible and pretentious.  However the judges obviously consider the book to be innovative and of literary merit.  I would be interested to see what you think.  Definitely for middle school and up.      

Shortlisted Books
Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow  by Chris McKimmie  hardback  $24.95
For me this is another strange book.  Brian stays with his grandparents at the weekend and they have nicknames for him.  One reviewer who is full of praise wrote “This picture book is a celebration of the child's search for identity…It's a quirky, totally original, visual poem to the child's innate celebration of all that is creative in the human heart.”  It is certainly quirky.  The font and the illustrations give the appearance of being written by a young child and feature strongly the colour yellow which Brian Banana Duck loves.  The book appears to be for a younger audience but I think they would be perplexed.  I can’t recommend the book but would be very interested to get some feedback.     

Home  by Narelle Oliver       pb $15.00
Illustrated in a collage of various media, this book describes an increasingly common phenomenon of wild predatory birds (in this case peregrine falcons) adapting to urban life.  These two birds live on the top of a tall building on the riverfront in Brisbane.  And the story is taken from the true-life story of Frodo and Frieda who have adapted well to city life in Brisbane.    (7 – 10 years)

Water Witcher       by Jan Ormerod  hardback $25.00
This is a story of drought (all so relevant).  It is set in an earlier time, perhaps the first part of this century, and shows a family struggling to survive on their farm in the outback. The family has to cart water bucket by bucket with the horse and cart from the well which is an hour away.  When Dougie learns that his grandfather had the gift of finding water with a forked stick then he too is determined to find water on the farm.  Jan Ormerod has captured the harsh beauty of the Australian bush and also brings to life a farming family in tough times in the bush.   (6 – 9 years)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

(NOTE: Some of these books may be for mature readers)

The Penguin Book: Birds in Suits by Mark Norman  pb $16.95
Great photos and lively text make this a very informative and interesting book.  There are 17 species of penguins throughout the world and surprisingly they are only in the southern hemisphere.    (8 – 12 years)

Honour Books
Red Haze: Australians & New Zealanders in Vietnam by Leon Davidson  pb $16.95
This is a vivid portrayal of the Vietnam War mainly from the point of view of the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought there.  There are many quotes from the soldiers.  Davidson tries to present a balanced view in presenting reasons for and against the war and he has also included quotes from Vietnamese soldiers.  It is a readable and informative account of a terrible conflict.  (11 – 16 years0

Queenie: One Elephant’s Story by Corinne Fenton. illus Peter Gouldthorpe  hardback $24.95
Queenie was a much-loved elephant who gave rides to thousands of children at the Melbourne Zoo from about 1906 to 1944.  The book is beautifully illustrated and describes her life from her capture in the jungles of India, her time at the Zoo and finally the very sad end to her life.  (8 – 11 years)

Shortlisted Books
Amazing Facts about Australian Dinosaurs by Scott Hocknull and Alex Cook  pb $14.95
This book is crammed full of amazing facts about dinosaurs mainly within Australia but also contains information about dinosaurs in general.  It will delight children who want to continue to learn more about dinosaurs.  It is extremely well documented and illustrated and has been written by two palaeontologists who are obviously passionate about their subject.  (9 – 15 yeas)  
All Cats have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman  hardback  $27.95
This is a surprising book which will invite lots of discussion.  The text describes the characteristics of children who have Asperger Syndrome.  However the accompanying delightful photos are of cats in various poses, such as cats being aloof, being adventurous with no sense of danger, being scared by sudden loud sounds or movements and of being comforted by daily rituals.  It is surprisingly effective in giving us a better understanding of Asperger Syndrome through these engaging photos of cats.   (6 – 11 years)

Leaf Litter  by Rachel Tonkin     hardback $29.95
Incredibly detailed and realistic illustrations show the changes that occur as this world hidden under a layer of leaves changes from autumn through to summer.  It is just one small patch under a large tree but here seeds grow into plants, grubs hatch from eggs and various animals eat and reproduce.  Children can also search for 10 things to find on each   page.  It would be a good excellent resource and could inspire children to find and research their own patch of leaf litter.    ((8 – 12 years)

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