Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sydney and the Sea Monster by David Elliot

This is the first book I have read by New Zealander author/illustrator David Elliot and I was impressed. It proved to be a superb tool for teaching my students how to write a narrative focusing on character development, conflicts and resolutions. It also affords some nice examples of literary devices such as similes, personification and the deft use of adverbs. My upper primary audience really appreciated the humour in the book, especially the "candles with strange long wicks" which the main character Sydney Penguin discovers in a mysterious box that has been thrown up out of the swell of the sea. The story focuses on this would-be inventor and an Antarctic community of animals who live in constant fear of sealers and whalers. day indeed they do arrive:

Next morning, the monstrous shadow of a sailing ship loomed out of the mist. It bristled with harpoons and cudgels and a feeling of menace. 
A boat was lowered over the side. The terrified animals began to run.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Magic Hat by Mem Fox

True to Mem Fox style, quirky and with repeated rhymes designed to get your child to read, this picture book is the full package. It is a funny, dynamic read-aloud book which both entertains and allows for prediction from page to page. The illustrations by Tricia Tusa brings to life both the magic and the unpredictable nature of the marauding hat which flies into town out of the blue. It adorns a toad, a baboon, a kangaroo, a bear and then suddenly its wizardly owner appears...This book is now part of my grandson Archie's collection.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Archie and the Pirates by Marc Rosenthal

The illustrations as well as the title of the book drew me to this publication.  Apart from Archie the ship-wrecked monkey being an ingenious designer and builder, he is also a selfless hero who values his friendships with Clarice the ibis and Beatrice the lonely tiger. The main conflict in this book involves the rescue of his new-found friend Beatrice from Captain Pequod and his band of supposedly fierce but in reality hapless advocates. The sentiments of the importance of having good neighbours is a strong one. The last double page spread is priceless. I really loved this book...and hope my grandson Archie will too. The main characters are pictured below:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Archie and Archie by Ruth Rendell

This is the first book, written in 2013, by well known British crime fiction writer Ruth Rendell for younger readers. Archie, the golden cat with golden eyes, and Archie, the quiet King Charles Spaniel, are neighbours and they inhabit a street full of feline friends and foes. When Pearl, Archie's pussy cat house companion dies suddenly Archie takes more notice of the dog Archie who lives next door and also of Gracie the cat next door. And then there is Tess, Rosie,  Boat Cat and White Leg and of course the Bengal cat, Loki. This small book has a huge cast of characters. Whilst this book may well appeal to animal lovers, it is very thin on plot and really much more of a lyrical run down on the personalities of moggies and mutts who happen to live in the same street.