Cicada by Shaun Tan

Another brilliant book by Shaun Tan – Cicada is a book with subtext for both older children and adults but with illustrations that young children will enjoy too.

Cicada is a story about a cicada who works in a dreary office building, performing the same task day in, day out with no recognition or appreciation of the effort he puts in.

Cicada is treated poorly, ignored by colleagues and constantly calls out ‘Tok, Tok, Tok”, which could represent the noise of a keyboard, the clicking of a clock, the noise cicadas make or perhaps even the monotone thoughts of the office workers. Whatever you take it to mean, it shows the bland existence of humans and this cicada.

But all this changes on Cicada’s last day of work, where instead of having a farewell party or a thank you handshake he simply packs up his desk and ascends the stairs.

The stairs to say farewell to this greyscale existence.

The stairs to something much more wonderful, so much so that the cicada wonders why the humans haven’t worked it out yet.

I won’t spoil it here – you’ll have to read it yourself!

So what else can you do with this book at home and at school?

Younger readers.

Younger readers may not see the subtext of this book but other issues can be explored such as:

– Explore the life cycle of a cicada and the time the spent underground compared to the time above.

– Think about what you would do if you had to live in a world without colour, creativity or fun. How would you feel?

– What does ‘Tok, Tok, Tok” mean to you? What sound would you make if you worked in a world like this?

Why do the humans think he is worse than them? Why do they ignore him or make him go to the toilet out of the building (this can be linked to some women’s prejudice issues of the past).

Why do you think the cicada never left his job?

– What is the importance of getting out into the world around us and exploring more than just making money?

– Why do we need nature? Why do we need to explore?

– Is money really that important? (Big idea – take time to discuss this)

And here are some more in depth ideas if you wish to study this book for older readers:

Notes from Hachette, click here.  

Join my facebook group – growing globally and socially conscious children to swap ideas to help young children tackle the big issues!

Advertisements

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

When you get home, tell them how large the world is, and how green. And tell them that the beauty of the world makes demands on you. They will need reminding.

Although I found this book slow to start, once it did start it was amazing. So many different themes shine through this book – friendship, courage, environmental stewardship, adventure, kindness, creativity, problem solving, teamwork and independence.

Four young children – Fred, Con, Lila and Max – are aboard a tiny plane flying over the Amazon Rainforest when it crashes – leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere and without an adult to help guide them.

Using their own basic knowledge they start to look after each other in an environment that is completely foreign to them.

BUY NOW
The Explorer

Eating new food, sleeping outdoors, observing animal behaviour and hunting for meals are all a part of survival in this green and lush rainforest.

But it is only by chance that Fred discouvers a map and with his own knowledge of past explorers convinces the group that they need to follow the river to get back home.

The children discover much more than they thought they would and learn so much more about themselves that they ever knew. I can’t give anymore away – you’ll have to read it to find out.

Young children will want to go out and explore after reading this book and hopefully realise how important it is to explore places but not destroy them. Many beautiful places on this earth have been destroyed by humans because we all want to see it.

Perhaps we can still see these amazing places but we need to see them for what they are – not what we want them to be.

If you take anything away from this book it should be the idea of conservation. Conservation of indigenous tribes and their language and culture, conservation of plants in their natural habitat and conservation of all types of animals.

Without conservation there will be nothing left on earth to explore and without anything to explore the human spirit dies.

Let’s keep our planet for what it is – think about what you can do to ensure it is conserved in the natural state it once was.

‘You don’t have to be in the jungle to be an explorer,’ he said. ‘ Every human on this earth is an explorer. Exploring is nothing more than paying attention….that’s what the world asks of you. If you pay ferocious attention to the world, you will be as safe as it is possible to be. ‘

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

I read my first real graphic novel in my twenties – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – it was amazing. Not only the storytelling and the story to be told, but the fact that this huge and terrible part of history could be told in a simple and easier to understand way.


Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin also does just that. We are all very aware of the horrible refugee crisis in our world but perhaps many of us do not know of the journey that these people need to go through in order to reach a new country.

Told through the eyes of young Ebo, we learn about where he lives in Africa and his desire to leave his home town where there is no work and little family left. Following his older brother he makes a dangerous journey into the town of Agadez where he meets his older brother. It is there that they work hard to leave the city and make the perilious journey through desert and then the sea for a better life.

The reader experiences the highs and the many lows of Ebo’s journry. Giovanni Rigano’s illustrations show the reader the love, hope and desperation of the people. We are also able to see the harshness of the desert and the terror of the sea.

Through  Coulfer and Donkin’s storytelling we feel Ebo’s emotions, understand his desires and hope for a better future with him.

We meet other refugees who also desire a better life and we learn why they risk everything in order to reach a country, which they think will help them.

Illegal is a story that needs to be shared. The way refugees are treated by many countries is beyond comprehension and this story just shows how desparate theses people are. No one would ever undertake the journey if they didn’t need to.

At the end of the story the reader can view a map with explanation of where Ebo travels which I found and those children I shared the story with most informative.

There is also another short graphic story at the end of Illegal, that speaks to us about a young refugee woman. This story brings to light the plight of young women who may be travelling with young children or pregnant and their desperation to flee terror and poverty.

Illegal is a story to share and a story to reflect on. It is a story that will hopefully stir emotion and action so that more people do not need to take these journeys.

 

So what can you do?

  • Find out where the refugees in your country are from and plot the journey they have taken to get to your country.

 

  • Find some news articles that tell you a story about someone who has come you’re your country as a refugee. Find out how they came here, who they left behind or lost and what they needed to do.

 

  • Look at how the graphic novel is set out and create your own graphic novel that will teach others about an important story like this one.

 

  • See if there is a way you can help people who are refugees in your country.

You could:

– Write a letter to your local member, Premier or Prime Minister.

– Contact Local refugee organisations and see if there is any way you can help.

– Raise awareness in your community by submitting a short graphic novel to the local newspaper or school newsletter.

 

  • Learn more about the UN charter of rights and also the Rights of a child. Which rights did Ebo, his brother and many people not have along the journey? Can you think of anyone you know who is not being given all of their rights?

Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid

The idea of swimming on top of freshly mown grass which has been swamped by fresh water conjures up ideas of the simple and care free nature that comes with being a child. This scene, amongst others in Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin really sums up how beautiful childhood can be when we are free to take life slowly, not worry about money, war or jobs and just play with our friends and imagination.


Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid is a cleverly written fiction book written for 10-15 year olds. Written from the perspective of young Farida, the reader explores life in Sudan before the war consumes the nation.

Farida is a carefree, playful and imaginative girl who not only enjoys helping her mother around the house also enjoys learning about the world around her. Farida has an English  Mother, A sudanese Father and sister and two brothers and experiences traditional Sudanese culture on a daily basis but also learns English and some western ways from her mother.

Hot beans for breakfast, endless cups of tea, outdoor meals and stifling heat are all part of growing up in Sudan. Visits to the local library by foot, picking oranges with neighbours and helping out with a friend’s mother birth are something perhaps foreign to many children in the western world.

Through the eyes of Farida we learn about the Sudanese traditions of prayer, mourning ceremonies and important religious days. The reader is also exposed to each chapter being written in English and Arabic.

Swimming on the Lawn is a quiet read and through the simple short stories there is so much to learn about a life devoid of electronic devices, fast food and a fast life. The childhood of Farida and her siblings seems idyllic until the war begins – and we all know where that has led the nation that once flourished.

Fremantle Press have provided some thought provoking teacher notes for you to use. It is a great book to debrief about and explore more about how children in other countries live.  This book can be used to ignite children into thinking about how they can make their life a bit slower and a bit more playful.

 

 

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van T Rudd

It has painted on lights and a bark numberplate that keeps falling off and we have to remake it.


The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van T Rudd is a fun book filled with onomatopoeia, vibrant adjectives and outside active play.

As you read through this story the energy seeps out of the pages as the children tumble through the streets, run up and down hills and zoom along on their homemade bike.

Set in a small village on the edge of the No -Go Desert, the children need to make their own fun. The children get inventive and create their own bike made from old bits and pieces (and perhaps some things that mum might need…). They create wheels out of wood, a number plate out of bark and handlebars out of branches. These children use their imagination and problem solving skills to create a bike that can shicketty shake them over sandhills and winketty wonk them through fields.

This book is lots of fun to read and really makes you think – that if you didn’t have access to toys, televisions and screen then perhaps more of this would take place in our backyards and parks. Perhaps more children would be outside playing, thinking creatively and using up their extra energy.

The Patchwork Bike is a celebration of children and play and the joy of owning a bike. The artwork in this story is superb and more can be seen here. Each page exudes energy, we can see the children playing at all times of the day and all over the village. We can feel the joy and smell the freedom these children have despite the fact they do not have much more.

The Patchwork bike is Shortlisted for the 2017 CBCA and I’m thinking it has a good chance of winning!

So what can you do to link this to Sustainability? 

  1. Look at some ‘junk’ you have at home and create a bike, pushcart or scooter! Draw up plans first and then create. What extra things do you need? How will it work?
  2. Can any of the toys or things you don’t need anymore go somewhere else apart from the bin? Charity? Garage sale? Repair cafe? A friend?
  3. Explore local repair cafes and see how they fix up things that many people think are useless junk.
  4. How can you create less waste in your life? Do you really need to latest toy? Can you make do with simple things and still have fun?
  5. Try to pick up less free things just because they are free. This especially includes toys that are given as part of store giveaways – you can sign my petition here to stop this.