Monday, May 28, 2012

Friends A Book of Quotations

I guess this is what you'd call a gift book. It is a collection of quotations about friends and friendships. So if you want some inspiration in this area, it's a quick and enlightening little read.  Here are a few cited in the book:

An honest answer is the sign of true friendship
Proverbs 24:26

It's the ones that you can call up at 4:00 a.m. that really matter.
Marlene Dietrich (Popcorn in Paradise)

Treat your friends as you do your best pictures, and place them in their best light.
Jennie Jerome Churchill

A friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
Walter Winchell

A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway.
Fr. Jerome Cummings.

Friendship is one mind in two bodies.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Teddy Bear's Little Instruction Book by David & Tracey Brawn

This is a light-hearted read which adults and children would enjoy alike. It was given to me by a beautiful young student Miriam back in 1996 and I have read it many times. It has some little words of wisdom, some play on words and some advice from a teddy bear's point of view. At the bottom of each page is an ink teddy. You can flip through the pages rapidly to watch a bear descend from the sky with a balloon and do a  short dance routine...or, flip it the other way and watch him do this in reverse. It sits upon one of the shelves in the little shelves of little books.  Here is some great advice if you are a bear.

If you are a bear
*get plenty of exercise - walk round and round the garden
*Eat up - obesity is more acceptable in a bear than anorexia
*Travel in style - not hanging from the rear-view mirror
*Don't become a projectile in domestic disputes
*Never be a substitute handkerchief
*Avoid the indignity of the Lost Property Office
*When camping, take only the bear essentials
*Handwashing is much more gentler than going in the washing machine
*Don't be ashamed if you are stuffed with old tights.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Pied Piper: Keith Smith's Riddle Book for Kids by Keith Smith

 This lovely little riddle book was published in 1960 and is a real little Australian gem. It contains some really great riddles which I will use in our classroom "riddleoffs" which I hold from time to time. The author, Keith Smith, sadly passed away last year in June.  It so happens that years and years before any of my class were born, or me either actually, that Keith Smith thought it would be a good idea to have a radio program, called "A Word From Children."  In it boys and girls had their say about all manner of things. Then five years later Keith started another program called "The Pied Piper."  Since that time children sent him thousands of riddles and asked him riddles during his Pied Piper program. the program was produced in front of live audiences in theatres and town halls all over Australia This book is the result of all that.


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hypnotiser by Michael Rosen

This is true to Michael's Rosens quirky  and sometimes side-splitting style.  His poems are created out of real situations which confront kids in every day life from the difficulty of eating a soggy pizza stuck in its paper bag on a train to a boy's beloved gold fish dying in its tank. There are many about the family and the funny little situations families are often confronting on a day to day basis. Many students will be able to identify with the themes in these poems. So, this poetry book joins two others by Rosen in our little classroom library. I promise the poems will brings smiles to your faces. Below is Rosen reading one of his poems from this book.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Swan Song by Colin Thiele

Twenty six years on from Storm Boy comes Colin Thiele's Swan Song. It is also set on the Coorong and it is interesting to read about the changes to the area over the last few decades. Bird life is still plentiful but the environmental battles have escalated. This story revolves around Mitchell (Mitch), who lives with his parents in a remote region of the Coorong. His father is the sole Parks and Wildlife officer in the area and seems to have his hands pretty full dealing with petty criminals and dolts. Mitch dutifully does his studies through long distance education and when he is not studying he is enjoying all that this beautiful region has to offer.  One day, Mitch discovers two pelicans abandonded by their parents, and much to his father's disapproval, takes them in and raises them from chicks to adults. Finding fish for them beomes a full time occupation when he is not doing his school projects. Plenty Full and Plenty Empty soon become part of the family's life. Then, Mitch bring home a swan's egg which has also been abandoned and with his mother's assistance rasies it to a graceful adult swan.  Not all runs smoothly though, and just as in the novel Storm Boy, there are issue with environmental vandals and thievery from local boats and shops. Accusatory fingers are pointed in all directions and some of the accused become vengeful. I really enjoyed this gentle novel and if you enjoyed Storm Boy you will love this book too. I read it in one sitting. It now graces the shelves of out Little Library of Rescued Books.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Haunted House by Angie Sage

This is an enchantingly beautifully, but straight forward, little hard back that is aesthetically pleasing to hold and which focuses on Araminta Spook, affectionately known as Minty who lives with her Aunt Tabby. The ink drawings are certainly a winning point in the book. Her aunt  Tabby is definitely not right in the head and spends a large part of the novel  yelling at and complaining about the boiler in the basement of the humungus, gothic house which they share with Sir Horace, a somewhat boring, but secretive,old suit of armour. Araminta's uncle Drac, who is also somewhat dysfunctional, sleeps upside down in a sleeping bag suspended from the ceiling along with some random bats. We don't hear a great deal from him I might add.  Why is Araminta there? Well, it seems that her parents have strangely disappeared whilst hunting for vampires in Transylvania. Her aunt desperately wants to sell the house and to a find a  more comfortable and less sooty abode. This is a very quirky story which has some simplistic elements of a Tim Burton production. Araminta  is reminiscent of Wednesday Adams and spends the majority of her spare time searching for ghosts and laying traps for unsuspecting visitors who come to inspect the house. Araminta attempts to sabotage the house sale and much to her delight, discovers a strange key which leads the reader on through the rest of the plot to the balconie!. This is a basic and reasonably satisfying read but not much decoding is required. Truthfully, it was  the illustrations by Jimmy Pickering which kept me turning the pages.

Shoovy Jed by Maureen Stewart

This hard hitting book is aimed at the middle high school age group and carries a poignant message about helplessness and suicide. Fourteen year old Jed is obsessed with Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam and feels he has nothing to offer anyone. It doesn't help that his parents are too wrapped up in their own marital issues to notice or spend any time with their very anxious and  emotionally fragile son. He can't understand how they ever got together in the first place, such is the constant discord in the family. His younger, eleven year old sister, India, is the exact opposite, outgoing funny and able to water down  or dismiss the caustic arguments her parents have by singing songs out loud which encapsulate the topic of the argument. For example, if her parents are embroiled in an argument about mail, India sings Return to Sender, or if her father is feeling bleak, she will spout  off Don't Cry Daddy or Such a Night. She coins her brother's name, Shoovy Jed,  and devotes a great deal of time in trying to lighten him up.  Jed loves and appreciates India, and also desperately to make a connection and  to confide in Skye, a young girl who is equally troubled. He also attends sessions with a couple of his teachers, but it is just proves to be too difficult. So the book grinds its way onto its inevitable and shocking conclusion. But it is certainly not the end you are expecting. Time for a wake up call. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ten True Animal Rescues by Jeanne Betancourt

This simply written book contains ten true stories about amazing animal rescues in the United States. The story about the shark attack is pretty amazing, especially the part about how the dolphin managed to get its cargo safely to shore. There is also a lovely story about a hamster which saved a family from a house fire and one about a dog who saved the life of a diabetic boy.  It is an easy read for a middle or upper primary student and makes you realise just how intelligent animals are. My favourite is probably the one about Daisy the cow who saved her owner, Donal Motram, from certain death at the hoofs and horns of a deranged bull.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Garfield is an animal at heart and in the wilds of suburbia he reverts to his primal self, stalking his prey with buttered bread in hand. Mustering all the skills at his disposal; cunning, resourcefulness and an active imagination, he transform into the night stalker, lurking in the shadows, invisible to his adversaries he seeks out his target and strikes!  Quite a few of my students are devouring these books about Garfield as they are added to the shelf. I have just finished reading this one and it is quite funny. The first few pages have a few little texta embellishment buy generally it's in okay condition. Enjoy!

The Boy Who Was Afraid by Armstrong Perry

Want something a little different to read?  This beautiful story tells the story of Mafatu, an islander boy who lost his mother to the sea when he was very young. Mafatu has an intense fear of the sea and because of this his father is ashamed of him and the village children ridicule him.  Mafatu decides to try and overcome this fear and sense of shame so he sets off in a canoe out into the open sea. His only companions are his dog Kivi and a tame albatross. Mafatu's courage grows as he learns to survive on an uninhabited island. However, this island is visited occasionally by the fierce eaters-of-men who come in their big war canoes. How will he cope with this? 

This is novel is a real classic about coming of age and confronting one's fears. It is also a salute to the navigational prowess of the Polynesian people. 

Dizzy by Cathy Cassidy

Dizzy's mum Storm suddenly waltzes back into her life afters years of absence. Dizzy has a shrine in her room with the postcards she receives yearly from her mother, and she has waited all her life for this moment. Twelve year old Dizzy is swept of her feet and leaves her Dad temporarily to go on six week trip in a glitzed up combi  to hippie type festivals where she finds herself sleeping in teepees, eating natural foods and learning all manner of crafts.  Suddenly, she is missing her dad, babysitting a younger child called  Mouse, and not so sure about her decision. That is, until Finn, another festival child captures her attention and they become close friends.
I read this book in a night, if you enjoy Cathy Cassidy, you will not be disappointed with this one.