Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Merlin Mystery by Jonathan Gunson & Marten Coombe

New to our bookshelves comes a mystery read. Can you work out the puzzle? It seem the whole world couldn't. The Merlin Mystery was written in 1988 and is a children's puzzle book. It was published by Warner Books and certified by Mensa. It is like going on a treasure hunt and the reader is asked to solve the mystery by decoding the illustrations and learning how to cast a magic spell. It so happened that not one of the 30 000 entries received at the authors' official office contained the correct solution, and so the World Wildlife Fund was the lucky recipient of the  £75,000 which was up for grabs.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Looking at Paintings Cats by Peggy Roalf

Looking at Paintings is a series of books which helps students to understand what great artists see when they paint. This one is all about cats in the art world. Five thousand years ago, the ancient Egyptians worshipped the cat as a god. Ever since that time artists have been fascinated by the mysterious characteristics of this animal.  It is after all a skilled hunter, is fiercely independent, has keen vision and a graceful form, it can be aloof or affectionate. Some artists have depicted  heroic or destructive historical figures through the images of cats. In medieval Europe cats were believed to be demons and hundreds were burnt to death. This book contains paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, and many more, all depicting cats in one way or another. I found it to be a very interesting and enjoyable read. This book is currently on display in our art area.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Origami by Makiko Ikeda & Shun Ikeda

This origami book shows basic folding techniques and is a good start for those who have little experience with the art of origami. The first section deals with symbols and folds and has large, clearly labelled diagrams. The instructions are easy to follow. You will learn about the valley fold, the mountain fold, the inside fold, the cover fold and the staircase fold. The projects begin with the simplest folds and finish up with the more complex folds. Learn to make animal faces, a house, a piano, a cicada, a penguin, an airplane, a turtle, a pig, a  nodding dog, a balloon, a crab, a star-shaped box, a crane, a jumping frog, and a top.It's lots of fun.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome to the Dead House by R.L.Stine

Now I thought this book would be pretty tame but it is actually quite scary. Josh, his sister Amanda and their parents inherit a big, old house in a town called Darkfalls  from an unknown Uncle Charles. They make the decision to move from their cosy, but humble little suburban home for a more affordable and relaxed lifestyle. Amanda keeps seeing faces and people in the house and in her bedroom, Josh has never liked the house from the start, and their dog Petey begins acting in a very peculiar manner and is always running towards the cemetery for some strange reason. Throw in one Mr Dawes from the local Real Estate Agency, and a gang of children who one by one reveal they also lived in that house at one stage, and you have the recipe for a pretty engrossing story. I read it in one sitting and found the plot to be most satisfying. There is one loss I wasn't expecting and some children might find this a bit sad. Anyway, it's the number one book in the Goosebumps series and at least worth a look at.

Blakes Maths Guide by Bev Dunbar

This is probably one of the best guides to mathematics that I have seen for upper primary and I have a considerable number of such books in my collection. I collect maths dictionaries and whilst it is not a dictionary as such, it thoroughly explains all the content of the Australian Curriculum for grade 5 and grade 6 students. Its main section match the new headers for maths: Number & Algebra, Measurement & Geometry and Statistics & Probability. Mathematics is a way of thinking and this book explains how the world works and helps students to see the maths around them. It assists students in talking about, drawing and recording mathematics. The definitions are clear and concise and written in friendly language. Many teachers would benefit from owning a copy of this little gem too.  The author, Bev Dunbar, is a well-know and respected maths educator and has worked with students, teachers and parents in both the public and private sectors. She has also lectured in Mathematics Education at the University of Sydney. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Timmy by Colin Thiele

As with many of Colin Thiele's books this one deals with the relationship between a young boy and an animal. Denny is devastated when he watches a beautiful hare ripped apart by the Lukins' greyhounds. He is a timid and insecure twelve year old who has recently lost both of his parents and struggling in his new country evironment. He has a favourite pepper tree which he climbs, and his aunt has just given him Uncle Andy's old binoculars, so from the safety of his tree Denny  observes the rituals of his neighbours and the happenings in his district. There is definitely something strange going on oat Mario's farm next door. He comes across a baby hare and captures it believing this to be necessary to its well-being. The novel then follows the individual growth of  Denny as he cares for his hare, whom he names Timmy. The soft pencil drawings by Lyn Wood are scattered throughout the novel and reinforce the relationship between Denny and Timmy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Specky Magee by Felice Arena and Garry Lyon

Interested in football? Do you play football? Well, then you might enjoy the Specky Magee series. Twelve-year old Simon Magee is a huge Aussie Rules fan, in fact he's downright footy mad. He is a champion full-forward on the school football team and he has earned the name Specky as a result of the spectacular marks he takes. He's just loving life, except for the fact that his dad won't come and watch him play his favourite sport. Unfortunately, all his family hate the game which is why Specky is confused when he finds a photgraph of himself as a baby dressed in footy clothes. wants to give him a straight answer when he inquires about this. There is a great website which goes with this series which is worth a visit:

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Sisters' a Yo-yo by Gretel Killeen

This would have to be the most ridiculously silly book I have ever read but it is funny. Zeke and his sister Eppie are sitting in the car waiting for their mum. He is bored:

Then he got bored again, so he did a little fart, and then he imagined that all the air was gone from the car and he was dying of suffocation (this actually wasn't very hard), and then he stopped, and burped the alphabet. Then he breathed out deeply, rolled his eyes and checked under the car seats for jewelled boxes of hidden treasure, and that's when he found his favourite thing in the world. That's when he found his yo-yo.

Eppie his sister suddenly shrinks to the size of a strawberry and Zeke gets the yo-yo tangled up in her hair when he is being silly. And, basically the whole book is about the saga of Eppie being caught up in the yo-yo for the day at school. It is all about: a blind mum, escape, theft, brats, bullies, a fat school nurse, two goody-two-shoes, garbage trucks, magic lamps, scabs and snot. It is so far-fetched that you just have to laugh. Leigh Hobbs' illustrations as always are very comical and add greatly to the off-beat humour of author Gretel Killeen.

Hansel & Gretel by Brother Grimm & Lisbeth Zwerger

Lisbeth Zwerger, winnmer of the 1990 Hans Christian Anderson Medal,  brings to life this well known story of two children, Hansel and Gretel, who are abandoned in a forest on the order of their stepmother. Unable to find their way home, they come across the gingerbread house of a wicked witch who plans to fatten them up and eat them.  Their faith and cunning help them prevail. The illustrations are striking images and reinforce the contrast between two innocent young children and the sinister witch. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Good-bye Charles Lindbergh by Louise Borden

In  the spring of 1929, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, famous for his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris, set down his biplane in a small field near Canton, Mississippi. On his various flights around the country he liked to land in out of the way places for the night to avoid the crowds. In this story, Gil Wickstrom witnesses the landing in a neighbour's field and is lucky enough to meet Lindbergh in person. This book has been beautifully illustrated by Thomas B Allen. This book could be easily enjoyed in one silent reading session.

Snake Live!! and Snake Too by Sols

Snake is desperate for friends, he wants arms and legs but no-one takes him seriously. These cartoon books are very 1970's and 80s but many of the jokes are still very funny. They are in the Fun Stuff section of our classroom and can be read on Popular Literature Day, which is a Friday.  SOLS' real name is Allan Salisbury and he was born in Victoria, Australia. He is best known for his newspaper comic Snake Tales. His other creations include Lennie the Loser and Fingers and Foes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Children's Zoo compiled by Julia Watson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

This is one of my favourite poems, The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson and it is one of the poems in this book. We had to learn it for an Eisteddfod when I was in grade 5 at Ulverstone High School. This poetry book, as the title suggests, is all about animals. It includes poems by Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, Ian Serraillier and D.H. Lawrence, as well as many others. The first section is all about the insect world, the following section is about four-footed animals, then there's a section on two footed creatures with poems entitled The Ostrich, The Bat, The Red Cockatoo, and the final part is an assortment ending with a poem called Wilderness. 
The poems are accompanied with ink drawings done by Karen Strachey.