Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let the Celebrations Begin by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas

Let the Celebrations Begin was shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year in 1992. A girl called Miriam and some other women are planning a special party as celebration of their liberation when the soldiers arrive. No direct mention of the concentration camp is made but older readers with background information would be quick to realize where this book is set. It is certainly not a gloomy book, in fact it is quite an uplifting one. For many Jewish people suffering at the hands of a despotic regime, hope of a better life was paramount.The fact that many Jewish people survived such unimaginable horrors should be celebrated. Wild has written more than forty books for children and she is an author well worth following. Julie Vivas of Possum Magic fame has provided the beautiful water colour illustrations which bring this poignant story to life.

Chasing Rainbows by Lucinda Haslinger

Trevor is different from everyone; he is blind and now he finds himself away from his beloved farm life and thrust into city life by his foster parents in order to learn more about his background. He has his own system of measurement, his steps being measured in pumpkins (big steps), cabbages and broccoli. Whilst he has friends at the school he has to attend for a month, he also senses animosity and is the target for bullying. Brian is a student to be avoided at all costs, continually taunting him and making life difficult. Ronnie is desperate to be his friend but backs off every time Brian is around, and then there's Talia, the angel who takes him under her wing. This book doesn't reveal its secret until close to the end and it certainly surprised me. The books deals with the differences between country and city, cultures and interpersonal relationships. All the action is filtered through Trevor who struggles to understand his new environment.

I am Trevor.
My world is black.
The nightmare is just beginning.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Trickster Ghost by Ellen Showell

Someone or somethings is causing trouble for Stephen. He has just recently moved into his grandparents' house with his family, and things are going missing; Stephen's precious rock, Grandma's hourglass, Rachael's seashell and now Rachael's stuffed animal, Calico. Everyone is pointing the finger at Stephen despite all his protests and the fact that he too has had something that has mysteriously disappeared. The answer it seems is in an old trunk in the attic. This non-confronting book about ghosts is a pleasant little read and a great start if you are not into bigger novels. Every short chapter includes a full page soft pencil drawing bringing the major characters to life.

Peterson First Guides: Dinosaurs by John C. Kricher

Now it might seem odd to see a guide to identifying dinosaurs given that they are all long gone, however, dinosaurs are in the public eye more than ever today than they have been since their discovery about a 170 years ago. Dozens of new species emerge every year, with Argentina and China being hot spots lately for amazing new finds. This little book gives a background to the Triassic Period, Jurassic Period and the Cretaceous Period as well as lots of information on the dinosaurs as well. For each dinosaur mentioned, there is a sketch and often information and additional sketches to do with its anatomical features. There are certainly some weird and wonderful creatures in the book who had some equally bizarre habits. The only draw back for Australian students is that all the measurements are given in the imperial system. This aside, it is a great little read if you are interested in dinosaurs.

A Jar of Jokes by Pancake Press

If you were locked in a room with only a piano, how would you get out?
Play the piano until you find the right key.

So, here is yet another book of riddles and jokes for the shelves, and the book is small enough to fit into your pocket. Why not test out a few on Lucinda?

Try this one:
What do you give others and still keep yourself?
A cold.

Or this one:
What did the road say to the bridge?
You make me cross.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Alvin's Famous No-Horse by William Harry Harding

Alvin is hung up about school; he's really worried about the art exhibit his teacher is planning to hold for the parents. You see Alvin can play ball, he's a great speller and has good friends, but he can't draw. Every child in the class is expected to submit a drawing by the end of the week and his horse is more like "a blob of brown Jell-O." And what's Jell-O an Australian reader might well ask? Well, it is the brand name of a dessert a bit like jelly which is sold prepared or in powder form. The book revolves around that week at school and the strategies Simon tries in order to produce an adequate drawing. The book is a bit slow, but middle primary students might like it.

The Bitser Book compiled by Roger Mansfield

The Bitser book is just what the titles suggests, a bit of this and a bit of that. It is much more than a joke book. Yes, it contains jokes and riddles but it also contains tricks, games, tongue twisters, puzzles, optical illusions, quizzes, facts, and some real mind benders. If you like problem solving and thinking through puzzles or just learning some interesting new facts, then you will probably enjoy this book. The text is supported with cartoon pictures. It is an Australian publication.

He's a real drongo.
A drongo is someone who is stupid or clumsy or both. Drongo was the name of an Australian racehorse in the early 1920's who failed to win even one of the 37 races in which he took part.

What do you get if you cross a kangaroo and a calendar?
What do you get if you cross a kangaroo and a sheep?
Read this little gem to find out.

Uhu by Annette Macarthur-Onslow

This is one of the first books I purchased for use in the classroom when I started teaching in 1985. The book itself was first published in 1969 and it is still a very accessible text for todays' students. It won the Book of the Year Award in 1970. This book records a family's efforts to raise a baby owl to maturity.

For Uhu it was bound to be trouble from the start. He was one of the inquisitive ones who must tempt providence. There he was on the ground, having fallen out of the nest in his pine tree...a defiant white ball of fluff with enormous blackcurrant eyes and tiny beak clicking a warning to anyone daring to enter his territory among the roots and pine needles. For a creature born to inherit the forest this was all most humiliating. No doubt if I had not come along, a fox would have found him and made a hasty meal.

The language is very descriptive with challenging vocabulary, but entirely suitable to a capable upper primary reader.

The Laziest Boy in the World by Wendy Orr

The title is a bit misleading as you will find out. Simon Brown is quite the reverse in fact. I found this little novel a little on the boring side to be quite honest, despite the quirky illustrations and all the strange and somewhat ridiculous inventions that Simon makes. The plot jumps around a lot and it's hard to really get to know any of the characters, except for maybe the manic dog, Tam, who terrorizes the Tupperware party. I pushed my way through the book to its painful conclusion. Read it and see what you think.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Plants by David Alderton

New to our little library comes this beautifully illustrated and informative book on plants. Pages 26-27 are all about pollination and seed dispersal, just what we have been looking at in Bay Unit as part of our unit on seeds. If you are struggling with your concept map, then have a quick squiz at this book as it will be very useful. It has sections on how plants survive hot and cold climatic conditions, on how plant protect themselves...and their weapons, and also a section on those strange meat-eating plants. It is a very accessible text with well-labelled diagrams and a glossary. The Amazing Plants Facts page at the back is also worth a look. There is also an eight-page fold out explaining the life cycles of trees and featuring vital features of all plant life.

Treasure Trove by Dick King-Smith

Young Ben just loves to save money, some would even call him a miser. But, he definitely has a business brain as well as a conscience. When he finds a stash of gold coins hidden under a floorboard at his house he sets out to find out what they are worth and tries to find out about to whom they used to belong. Accompanied by his best mate Jamie, he visits a numismatologist called Harry Garter who informs him of their great value. One afternoon after school when they are exploring the local cemetery, they come across something very strange which turns out to be connected to the mysterious coins. Whilst this little novel is a bit on the lame side, and Ben is just a bit too goody-two-shoes for my liking, it is a pleasant little read which could be read quite easily in a couple of silent reading sessions.

Mind-Bending Classic Logic Puzzles composed by Jenny Lynch

Do you like a challenge? Or maybe you are after some additional practise for Naplan? Maybe you just enjoy the challenge of solving logic puzzles. This little book has a wide variety of mathematical problems for you to solve. The answers are all in the back of the book so you can check your progress or challenge a friend. The money problems are in pounds but that doesn't really detract from the challenges and these only comprise a small ratio of the book at any rate. This book is also a good way to improve your comprehension of written mathematical questions. Some are easy whilst others may require a concerted effort. Each puzzle comes with an interesting and sometimes striking illustration.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lockie Leonard Legend by Tim Winton

Lockie is missing Egg, his best friend who has moved away to Freemantle, his brother Phillip is blowing things up in his quest for the ultimate scientific experiment, and Blob...well, she is still chewing on linoleum and filling her nappies. Lockie, who is now fourteen, hasn't been able to shake off his infatuation with Vicki Streeton although he fools himself that he has, and Sarge, his Dad, is still into poetry and other great literary classics. But something is not quite right with his Mum. The house is a mess, she sits staring into space and she is crying all the time. Sarge calls in the golf-obsessed grandparents to supposedly help, but they only make life in the house more complicated and Lockie finds himself sleeping in the laundry. Then, in an unexpected twist, Sarge brings home Cyril the merino ram who is attracted to Phillip's bike.

Finally, the third book in Winton's Lockie Leonard series has made it onto our bookshelves. Lockie takes on many new household responsibilities when his mother is diagnosed with depression and hospitalised. This book is quite different from the preceding two in that it is mainly set at home and focuses on household life and the way Lockie, Philllip and the Sarge cope in the absence of Joy, the family glue who would normally deal with the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the meals, the baby and everyone's problems.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making Friends With Frankenstein by Colin McNaughton

Well we have just finished a unit on poetry so some of you might appreciate this book of poetry. It is chiefly made up of humorous poems to do with monsters and just plain weird stuff. There are some very clever forms of poetry in this book. The Wild Bill Hickok Bird is probably one of my favourites. Another which I found very imaginative was:


"Spare a penny, mister?" said the sea urchin.

"Neigh!" said the seahorse.

"Outta my way!" said the mussel.

"Halleluiah!" said the angelfish.

"You'll get nothing from me," said the clam.

"Weeee!" said the flying fish.

"Woof!" said the dogfish.

"Shocking!" said the electric eel.

"Do you think I am made of money?" said the goldfish.

The Gizmo Again by Paul Jennings

Not really into big novels that take a while to read? This small novel which deals with bullying and bystanders and is a quick and enjoyable read. Jack is being bullied, and relentlessly, so he decided it is time he joined Gutsit's gang, at least that way may they might leave him alone. However, he finds himself caught up in their disgusting acts and doing things he doesn't really like. Then out of the blue Mr Whippy gives him a gizmo, and now he has even more to worry about. Whilst this books deals with the complexities of bullying, it also has many light-hearted moments that will have you very amused. It could be read in a couple of hours and might just make you a fan of Paul Jennings who has a lot to offer upper primary students. We have two copies in our little library so you could read it with a friend.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Bad Book by Andy Griffith & Terry Denton

Just ask James in my class if this book is worth reading and he will give you a resounding YES. I must agree they are pretty funny and definitely a little off beat, and sometimes, somewhat foul. Take this little one about grannies; totally politically correct, of course...NOT:

The Bad Granny
Once upon a time there was a bad granny.

She was bad
and evil
and mean

In fact she was so bad and evil and mean that they put her in a truck with all the other bad grannies and took her to the Granny Smith Apple Factory.

The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Poo is quite a take on the traditional old lady who simply swallowed a spider!

Terry Denton's ink drawings add greatly to the humour of the poems and riddles. So if you are feeling a bit sad or slightly depressed this book will bring you some cheer.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lockie Leonard Scumbuster by Tim Winton

There are two copies of this in our little library. A beaut Australian novel through and through which is all about the trials and tribulations of teenage "surfrat" Lockie Leonard who lives in Angelus and who likes to surf the Sound. Lockie befriends Geoff, known as Egg, who is a Metal Head and together they embark on an ecological crusade to save their harbour from industrial vandals whose nose and ear-rotting goo they spew into the waterways (indeed Lockie has the inopportune moment to spew it right back). Throw in a complicated relationship with Dot, another young surfer who has the looks of a model and whose mother is a well-known ecological activist, and you have a book you won't be able to put down. This is the second in a series of three books by Tim Winton. It was preceded by Lockie Leonard, the Human Torpedo and followed by Lockie Leonard, Legend. These books were adapted for the 26 part television series which was filmed in Albury, Western Australia and first screened in 2007. This series was then followed by a second series in 2010. The appeal of the books is universal but I believe teenage boys would particularly enjoy them. This second novel is humorous, moves along well, and has lots of Australian slang: "His hair was black too, and cut in a stiff dunny brush do." - "Snagged the wedding tackle, eh?." - "Neil Young's a bit of a drip." - "...the rest of the year had been a bit of a hoot." - "His Mambo tee-shirt and Rusty boardshorts would identify him as a true grommet." There are also many references to Australian towns and famous Australian personalities, and whilst this book would not be so accessible to non-Australians, it is nevertheless enjoyable and gettable! I guess it is like when I read Scottish writer Stuart MacBride and he constantly refers to all things Scottish, totally alien to an Aussie reader, like butties and shoogeling. Still I am intrigued and I keep reading his books. Tim Winton is one of Australia's best!

Speedy by Colin Thiele

Set in South Australia, this little novel is a snapshot of a few years in the lives of a fishing family. Ben and his father Mike spend a lot of time in their boat Swordfish out fishing in the Gulf and enjoying the freedom of the sea. They have formed a very special relationship with a dolphin whom they named Speedy after he saved Mike's life when Mike was just five years old. Enter taciturn Boris Butler, who believes dolphins are stealing all his fish, and who wants to win the annual fishing boat race at the Pebble Bay Fish Festival at all costs. Life in the bay becomes even more complicated when big game fishermen, Darcy Drake and Wolf Haast, enter the scene and rumours abound that sea lions and dolphins are being used as bait. This book is only 80 pages long and makes for enjoyable reading. The accompanying ink illustrations are done by Tasmanian illustrator Coral Tulloch. News of the passing of this great Australian writer in 2006 was minimal as he died on the same day as media personality, Steve Irwin.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What a Joke: The Puffin Book of Kids' Jokes by Phillip Adams and Patrice Newell

This really is a book of kids' jokes. Hundreds of children across Australia contributed to this collection. Teachers asked children to write down their favourite jokes and the best were compiled into this book. The jokes, riddles, knock knocks and cartoons are organised into the following chapters:

Animal Antics
School Daze
Farmyard Funnies
Ghoulish Gags
Ridiculous Riddles
Knock Knock
Jungle Madness
Sick, Sick, Sick
Grub's Up
Crazy Families
Bush Giggles
Totally Dumb Jokes

A couple of my favourites are:
"I just ran into a great big bear!"
"Did you let him have both barrels?"
"Heavens no, I let him have the whole gun."

What do you get if you sit under a cow?
A pat on the head.

This is probably one of the funniest joke books on our shelves in The Little Library of Rescued Books and it is well worth picking up. Terry Denton fans will be pleased to know he did the illustrations for this book and they are up to their usual quirky standard.

The Fairground Ghost by Felicity Everett

This book is probably the easiest read on the bookshelves. Evicted from the ghost train by the Ghost Inspector, because of his low score on the scare-o-metre, the little ghost finds himself alone and out of a job. Then he meets young Jake who knows exactly what to do. The text is accompanied by soft watercolour with ink overlay illustrations and is organised into short chapters. This could be read in one Silent Reading session.

101 Pet Jokes by Phil and Hope Hirsch

Here is another joke book for the shelves. I wouldn't say they were "purrfectly hilarious" but some of the riddles are quite clever. They are mainly about cats and dogs.

What do you call it when our feline friends show good manners?
Eti-cat, or course!

There are also pet proverbs such as:
No mews is good mews.
Mice guys finish last.

And there are Pet Puns:
What kind of dog does Count Dracula prefer?
Any bloodhound

What dog stands the best chance of winning the heavy weight title?
A boxer, of course!

The detailed ink illustrations are appealing and it's a light-hearted read.