The rule of one by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders.

Without thinking, I touch my right wrist, where a microchip should be. A permanent reality of being the second-born in a Rule of One America: I don’t really exist.

With vivid descriptions and conversations between key characters engaging, The rule of one by Ashley and Leslie Saunders, is a new dystopian book series set in the not too distant future.

Written from the point of view of twins – alternating chapters – we meet the new America, one which has brought about the rule of the one child policy in order to save humanity from destruction.

The new world is tightly monitored by a ruthless government who monitors every microchipped citizen. Everything is controlled for the apparent greater good, but the cracks are starting to show.

Our key protagonists, Ava and Mira, are identical twins, who have lived life safely by carefully engaging with society in an identical manner with no one noticing them. Each day one twin attends school while the other stays in the basement. Each day they eat as a family swapping the smallest of details so the other twin can rise to the surface and play the role again.

Life seems well played by the twins until someone notices a difference and this is wear the adventure to not only save their own lives begins, but a journey to save the people from the overruling government.

Tweens and Young adults will enjoy the story, although similar in some ways to other dystopian books and I wasn’t quite sure the ending was powerful enough, they will enjoy reading this and the sequel

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The elephant by Jenni Desmond

Once upon a time, a child took a book from the shelf and started to read……

About elephants.

The elephant by Jenni Desmond is a beautiful non-fiction picture book which will teach you almost everything you need to know about elephants and the important role they play in the world.

Did you know that without elephants watering holes would remain shallow? Or that pathways through the rainforests would not be accessible to smaller creatures? Or perhaps that their poo is not only a source of food for other animals but also a place to carry seeds for many different types of plants.

The pictures in this book are stunning and although the writing is lengthy for younger readers they will soak up the information whilst staring at the sketches.

Jenni Desmond has written two other books about endangered species, highlighting the importance for us to take a lot more care of them. With growing population and a demand for space to grow food, humans are encroaching on their space to live and pathways to move.

I only just read an article last week about elephants in India and the deadly clashes that are occurring each year. 

Stories about endangered animals are important but so are factual books. We need to know more about these species so we can talk to governments around the world and demand that more care is taken.

So what can you do after you have read this book?

  1. Look at other books about elephants – non fiction and fiction!
  2. Work on your own project about the history between humans and elephants. How have we felt about them throughout history? Why have things changed?
  3. Explore the different places elephants live and the positive encounters people have with them.
  4. Explore other animals who have helpful poo. What might the world look like if poo was not deposited they way it is?
  5. Create your own information book like Jenni Desmond’s that highlight important facts about another endangered animal.
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Captain Jimmy Cook discovers third grade by Kate and Jol Temple

Mum said she was looking forward to hearing about it, but we were having Kale for dinner and she had to get things ready. So this is a little tip for anyone who ever hears those words: Kale is not a person.

Written in log format (diaries are for girls) children will enjoy the discoveries young Jimmy makes at home and at school.

Jimmy (or captain Jimmy Cook we he likes to be called) is a young explorer determined to make a new discovery just like his predecessor Captain Jame Cook.

He has to keep a log for his school project and takes it very seriously detailing any new discovery and plan to make his way to Hawaii.

Jimmy shows determination in collecting as many stamps from the ‘Wheat blocks’ packs to win the prize that will take him to Hawaii. He is sure he will be one of the first to discover its uncharted lands and weird new animals. But will his enemy Alice Toolie beat him to it?

Young kids will love this ( and their adults will too!)

Onto Jimmy’s next adventure when we get back to the library!

The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon by Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti and Linda Blackall.

The squid sucks in water and the current whooshes Ali and Mai closer and closer

Meet Ali and Mai , Vibrio fischeri Bacterium, who live inside Sepio – a Bobtail Squid. These three creatures need each other and live in ‘Symbiosis’, helping each other to grow and survive.

This story has been broken up into three sections – the first explores the life cycle of Ali and Mai and their need to find a safe place inside Sepio’s body where they can not only survive but provide the Squid with something precious too – light!

The second part of this book explores why Sepio needs the light organ to light up inside of this body as without it he will not be able to hide from hungry predators!

The third section of this book if full of facts about each character in the story, what symbiosis is and how bacteria create light. The fantastic thing about this section is that the facts are written for children yet done in a way that even younger children can draw some meaning from the pictures.

The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon is another well written book published by CSIRO that gives all readers the opportunity to learn more about topics that may be otherwise too difficult to understand.

Giving the helpful bacteria (Ali, Mai), protozoa (perhaps too scary for a name), Spirillum (Spiri) and Haemocyte’s (I am the guardian Haemocyte) names , make the existence of these microscopic creatures real to younger children. When something can’t be seen (even for adults) it’s hard to know it even exists. BUT with names and personalities given to these life forms, you can talk about them in much more depth and explore what they do with more interest.

All children who I have read this book to have enjoyed it for a myriad of reasons – some enjoy the facts section at the back, others enjoy the story, some enjoy the sketches of the different sea creatures and of course many enjoy the whole book!

It is a book that can be used as a springboard into both Science and English lessons in the classroom. Mathematic skills could also be drawn upon with the comparisons of different sizes of each character.

Teacher notes can be accessed here: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7852/#forteachers

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Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak I

Loved, loved, loved this story.

I laughed and cried all throughout the book.

Set in suburbs of Sydney and surrounds, we meet the Dunbar boys and their many tragedies and pets.

It’s a story of family, of brothers, of mothers and of fathers. It’s a story full of memories. A story of love, laughter, tears and hardship.

It’s a story of endings and new beginnings.

And bridges.

Loved it. Read it.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley

We are all equal.

Let’s shout it out loud.

We share hope and dreams, we’re equal and proud.

A book to make your heart sing, a book to teach others, a book to realise how similar we all are and a book to read again and again.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley is a simple yet rich book in the message it sends to anyone who reads it – we are all equal.

The story and the pictures match perfectly as they show the differences that we have in looks but the similarities we have in feelings, the differences we have in how we do things but the similarities we have in emotions.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley is a great book to share with young children as it can start a great conversation as to why we are all equal. It will put aside any prejudices children may have from learnt behaviour and it will open up a space to ask questions about the world and the people within.

We are all equal by P.Crumble and Jonathon Bentley is a must read for any home or classroom and there are so many things you can do with the book.

What can you do?

  • Draw your own picture of why you think we are all equal at school , home or in the community.

  • Explore times when people do not think they are equal – this could open up into a project for older students. They can examine an event which showed how people have shown hatred or mistrust for another group of people. Examine why this happened and if there was a resolution.

  • Explore why animals have been used in this picture book instead of people.

  • Go deeper into each page and explore what – in human terms – does each double page spread mean to us? Try and find links in your own lives and recreate pages for your home or classroom.
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When the whales walked by Dougal Dixon and Hannah Bailey

When the whales walked by Dougal Dixon and Hannah Bailey is an excellent book for both young and older readers.

Learn about the evolution of not only whales but many other animals that walk this planet.

A great book for budding scientists, environmentalists and explorers of the world!

So what else can you do with this book?

We have created our own puppet show with some pictures we cut out from the exhibition at the Australian Museum.

We have also created a timeline on our kitchen wall which shows different animals who were present in the different eras leading up to ours.

We have wondered what might evolve next….can you think of what might be evolving right now?

Letters to change the world

Christmas has just passed and perhaps your house is now filled with excess toys and packaging.

Over summer we have been talking about toy quality and how some last, while others don’t, which toys are great to have and which ones we will forget about in one week.

From this we have decided to write letters to toy companies and asking them to make changes to the material toys and their packaging is made out of.

I have done this in class with a group of Year 2 students so any age group can follow the following formula to make a letter be read and replied to.

Here is a suggestion of how to get children to enjoy writing letters to companies of their favourite toys…. It’s simple and allows the children to still enjoy having toys – but gets them to think about how small changes can make a big difference!

Dear (Try to find the name of the CEO),

  1. Talk about why you love their toys and all of the things you like to do with them.
  2. Give them a suggestion as to how these toys could be changed so they have less of a devastating effect on the environment.
  3. Tell them that you hope you can see a change and you are looking forward to a reply.
  4. Sign off and add a return address.

Can you inspire your child to write a letter to a company asking them to make a change for the good of the world?

Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

I’ve just finished reading Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

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This is the second book in the Nevermoor you won’t be able to put down.

Morrigan is still living in Nevermoor and is finally part of a society filled with many other people who have gifts – just none like hers. Read along as Morrigan navigates school, tries to make new friends and of course encounters adventure and danger along the way!

The characters, especially Morrigan are so real, so alive and in so many ways relatable to everything that you are unsure of or proud of in your own life.

I loved this book – can’t rate it highly enough.

Buy it for someone who needs some extra magic and another wonderful book in their collection! Ages 10 and up!

Yours troolie, Alice Toolie by Kate and Jol Temple

We’ve had a lot of laughs whilst reading ‘Yours troolie, Alice Toolie ’ by @katejoltemple

You don’t need to have met either character before to enjoy the conversation between two classmates who have been made to write letters to each other because of a huge fight they had.

Letter writing between two enemies could not get any better!

The format of this story is fun – the font, the doodles on each letter entry and the honesty of how kids really see the world.

Letter writing may even make a comeback….you never know.

A great book to read and an even better book to use in the classroom to instigate some fun letter writing!

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What can you do with this book?

  • Write some letters between classmates or friends. You can use the post and integrate learning about the Australian postal system or just post the letters in a made up box in the classroom.
  • Investigate the best way to capture and store a ghost. Compare this to the method Alice and Jimmy used. Which way is better?
  • Learn about where and why emoji’s were invented. Create some that you think may be needed in the future.
  • What is eco glitter? Create a list of all the things you love using that are not so eco-friendly. Are their alternative products out there that will not harm the environment?
  • Do you think another letter writing book could come out of this one? Write down some future ideas for Alice and Jimmy if there was to be a second book (it may not be letter writing – could it be something else?)