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!

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The lost magician by Piers Torday

If you can imagine it, it must exist. Somewhere.

Four children sent to live with someone they don’t know very well. Four children who have experienced the terror of war in London. Four children who differ in so many ways yet come together to save the world from an evil they least expected.

The lost magician by Piers Torday is an exciting and suspenseful novel which will remind you of stories from Narnia and Wonderland.

We meet the children , Evie, Larry, Simon and Patricia at the end of World War Two. They have survived the horrors of war and their parents need to find a new place to live – so they are sent to live with Professor Diana Kelly in the countryside.

As we read on, we learn that the professor is doing some very important research about a missing man and his extensive library. No one knows where he has gone or where his library vanished to.

This man, named Nicholas Crowne, had read and collected every book ever written and just like a librarian, he was the key to unlocking all of the stories and sharing them with the world.

But now with him missing, the future of the world is unknown, and it is up to the children to find a way to seek him out and understand what he knows before those who choose ignorance take the world he has so lovingly grown.

The Lost Magician by Piers Today will sweep you away into a new and amazing world. As you meet the four children you will understand how important libraries are – not only to ignite imagination but to also spark investigations, develop self awareness and inspire thoughts that you never thought possible.

A wonderful underlying message in this story is the importance of the library and the librarian. Without either of these, the world of stories – told and untold – may cease to exist.

So perhaps support your local library by borrowing a book or petition your local school to make sure students have regular library visits in their own school library. The world of the never reads is one which I am sure you will never want to see exist.

The gum family finds home by Tania McCartney and Christina Booth.

Do you actually know how hard it is to find the perfect home?

The Gum family are in need of a new home – it needs to be safe, secure ,comfortable and of course somewhere amongst the gum trees – where will it be?

Join Tania McCartney and Christina Booth as they take the Gum Family on a rocky adventure around Australia, visiting many different and amazing geological formations in Australia.

They visit the 12 apostles, wave rock, Kata Tjuta and the Glasshouse mountains – just to name a few. At each place the look for the perfect spot for a new home admiring the different ways the rocks have formed and changed over time.

Children have a great sense of wonderment and awe and this book arouses just that.

After we read this book we pulled out a map of Australia, books about each place visited and jumped on the internet to learn more.

The book does contain a map, small pieces of information and real photographs but the need to learn more was inspired – so we did just that!

Many students knew about Uluru and the Three Sisters but that was about it – so thank you to The Gum Family – these students all now know a lot more about the country they live in.

I also enjoyed pulling out old photographs of my trip around Australia to many of these places and reminiscing about how I felt in each location.

So this is what we did after we read the book:

– We researched further into each location and wrote down some more points.

– We worked out why tourists visit here and created a new brochure.

– We discussed what might happen if some of these places crumble up? Get destroyed by human interference?

– We discussed what koalas need in a perfect home.

What have you done with this book?

Read, read and read by Elizabeth Grocery and Liv.

‘When I open a book, it opens a whole new world’

Last year we read and reviewed Liv on Life:Green is good and have been wondering what Liv and her dog Bowie have been up to.

This time they are off to the library to explore new worlds, learn new facts and find comfort when life in the playground gets tough.

Liv loves going to school and has lots of friends – but we all know the playground can get busy and friends can get lost or want to play different things.

It is the day for Liv not to have anyone to play with but luckily the school library is open and within that space she can find comfort, new information and so many new worlds.

School libraries are such important parts of schools and it is so sad that so many schools are getting rid of these precious places.

Liv tells the reader about new worlds she discovers, new insects she never knew about and new ways to play with friends – and she shows us that reading with a friend can even be more fun!

Elizabeth Grocery writes these books with so much engagement within the writing and the illustrations. Children will get so much out of these books – friendships, self confidence and courage.

Young artists can admire the simple colour scheme used throughout the novel and take note of the wonderful books they can see Liv and Bowie reading.

The Liv on Life books are written by Elizabeth Gorcey but inspired by her young daughter – Liv and her amazement at the world.

So what else can you do with this book?

  •  Visit the library and borrow some books – of course!
  •  Create your own home library by ordering them into categories, authors or colours! Create some library cards for others to borrow or swap books with you and your library.
  •  Explore all the different things you can do at school if your friends are doing something else.
  •  Make a list of your friends and the things you like to learn about together.
  •  Make time to read every day
  •  Check out the other books in the Liv on Life series

Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

Buy this book now from Fishpond:

Find your treasure #4

Where can you find treasure in storybooks? With dragons of course!

This week we found as many dragon books as we could and created a display.

Dragons can be treasures

And

Dragons can be the guardians of treasure

Dragons can be mysterious and dragons can be dangerous.

Dragons can be kind and dragons can be helpful.

There are so many wonderful journeys you can go on with dragons in mind. Check out some ideas we are using in the library!

  1. Using at least 4 books with dragons in them, compare the different roles they play in each story.
  2. How can a dragon be mighty yet meak. Explore this concept with examples.
  3. Explore the myths behind dragons and try to discover early tales of these creatures.
  4. What is a dragon? List as many attributes as possible.
  5. How did the creation of the dragon change the world of storytelling? How does the addition of a dragon change a story?
  6. Dragons are frightening and should not be included in any children’s story.
  7. Do dragons become more frightening the older we get? Discuss this question with examples.

Find your treasure #3: Book mark treasure

Treasure is the word in our library and this week we have created some book marks that will ignite thinking about the wondrous treasures books can bring.

These book marks have been created by children of all ages and through this I can see the different ways students think about treasured books, the different books they love and how they want other students to love the books they have enjoyed.

 

Each bookmark will be hidden inside a book that is on a shelf in the library and whoever finds it, gets to keep it!

I wonder who will find these treasures?

 

Treasure

 

What type of treasure will you find in your library today?

What will it look like?

Will it be what you expected?

Will it surprise you? horror you? confuse you? love you? worry you? engage you?

Will it make you talk about it for weeks and week?

Will you share it with others or keep it for yourself?

There are so many treasures in the library and they are all there to share.

Today might be the day to visit the library and find a treasure that is just right for you!

Find your treasure #2

This year the theme for book week is Find your treasure, so each week in our library we will be taking part in a small activity where the theme will be promoted.

I have some much loved covers from my Who gives a crap toilet paper and instead of putting them straight into the bin they are being converted into book covers (see below)

Each book that has been covered has three clues on the front. The idea behind this is for children to see what sort of books could be ones that they treasure.

We have books about adventure, women’s rights, battles and laughter. Not only will children get to guess which books are hidden behind the paper, they will also discover these covered books hidden on our shelves throughout the year.

Finding treasure is exciting and I hope that by covering some much loved books other children will also discover that exploring in the library can be fun!

Take a step inside

Have you ever wondered – why we still need books and why we still need a library?  


Perhaps you might think that the internet has everything we need so why use up the extra space and paper? 

Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs has recently been discussing the importance of libraries and the vital role they play in our children’s lives. Not only do they foster a positive reading culture but they allow children to see beyond their interest.

The internet can be a very closed space and we can search and be shown only what we want to see. When a child enters the library they do gravitate towards what they like but they can also be easily shown books by the librarian, parents or teacher that might be a little bit different and might just stretch their world a little further.  Libraries promote a sense of community and hopefully encourage people to take care of the books that they need to share with others.

Perhaps next time rather than buying a book or downloading one, step into your library and see what else is on offer!

Our school library

Our  library is a place to mingle with different types of books and pick up new books that you may never have thought you liked.


Our library has a Non-Fiction section focus each week – a chance for children to learn about new topics and the books available. 

Our  library is a place to sit still and listen to books being read out loud.

Our library is a place to share book reviews, try out books and ‘shop’ for free.

Our  library is a place to be creative, learn about how a library works and see how author’s think.

Our library is a place where all children can access books at their level and their interest.

Our  library is a portal to different worlds, different times and different people who might just resonate with you and inspire you to take yourself on a different path in life.

Our library books can be accessed online from any student login or accessed any day of the week at school.

 

What do you like about your school library?

It’s our world

How do we raise our children to be more environmentally conscious children?



How we do we raise them so that they are not caught up in the world of consumption, acting for the Instagram followers or having a total disregard for tomorrow?

In the western world where convenience is key it seems to our survival we, the adults, need to change our ways and show our children that convenience isn’t always the best way forward.

Raising environmentally aware children is paramount. This doesn’t just mean awareness of the natural world, it also means awareness of how our actions impact other people’s lives.

But how do we do this when convenience is right there to make our lives easier when many of us work full time, need to keep a tight budget or want to relax rather than clean, cook or sew?

We can do this – one step at a time. And that one step at  a time should be together with our children and on display to them.

How can you slowly move from a life of convenience to an eco-conscious life?

– Go to the library and borrow some of the books I have reviewed. By educating your children about the world around them they are more likely to make changes. Try Feathers by Phil Cummings

– Eat more fruit and vegetables from a coop, markets or fresh delivery. Vegetables and Fruits have little or no packaging and have less of an impact on the environment that plastic wrapped things. Try a Patch from Scratch by Megan Forward

– Try baking your own biscuits, cakes and bread. I’ve just started making my own sourdough and it is a lot easier than what I thought! I’ll share my recipe some day soon. Try this delicious recipe Coconut carrot cake

– Get outside into the natural world every day. It might just be the park and that’s fine. We need to teach our children about these spaces that allow us to slow down. Try Last tree in the city

– If your children are old enough watch the news but if not there are plenty of books out there that explain these issues in a much more gentle way. Try Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Phasmid by Rohan Cleve, The Hairy Nosed Wombats find a new home by Jackie French

– And most importantly be a part of your community. Check out the Crop swap groups, local community gardens, markets, second hand stores, food delivery groups and repair cafes. Being part of your community will help you to move away from a life of convenience. Try The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba

Is there a change you need to make? Perhaps a book will inspire that change – ask me and I can help!

 

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss.

Bunny loves reading books and listening to stories being read by the librarian during summer.

But when the weather cools down storytime moves inside and bunny can no longer hear the stories she loves as she thinks that animals are not welcome in the library .

Bunny can’t live without her books so she comes up with a plan to sneak into the library and borrow some books by herself!

Bunny entices her friends and they all end up in the library every night until the librarian discovers them…what will she do?

You’ll have to read it to find out!

The value of reading

I recently read an article that highlighted the value of reading. 


New research has shown that not only does reading impact on all learning areas it also impacts our cognitive abilities, social and cultural functioning. Reading ignites imagination, allows us to explore ourselves through other characters and sharpens our skills of critiquing.

With so many things to read these days we need to bring ourselves back to books. Back to reading material that has been honestly published , edited and proofread. Parent’s need to read with their children and continue to encourage them to pick up books that they will enjoy.

With many fake news items and celebrity news swamping our screens the humble book is the best place to lean back on. Reading doesn’t need to be relaxing as such – it can cause sadness, a rush of adrenaline or an inspiration of ideas. But overall, reading helps you to understand beyond your own life existence.

Danny Blue’s Really Excellent Dream by Max Landrak

How would you feel if you lived in a world where everything was the same?

Would you accept? Would you rebel?

Perhaps take a read of this story and see where both those paths might take you.


Danny Blue lives in a world where everything is blue –  bowls, spoons, chair and table. And at first Danny is pretty happy about this blue world. It is all he knows, he is happy and so is everyone else it seems.

That is until one day Danny has a Really Excellent Dream (R.E.D.) which he just can’t shake.

Danny takes it upon himself to follow his dream despite many people around him telling him otherwise . He uses the ideas from his dream and through perseverance he discovers what else is out there. Danny Blue shows determination and by following his dream he begins to make a difference in his blue world.

Danny Blue is a strong character who shows self doubt at first but then displays the ability to see that his idea can work and that it will benefit those around him.  He also shows that even when those around you don’t support you, you need to give things a go – because you just never know!

Max Landrax has cleverly illustrated this picture book. Children love the pictures and in this story the illustrations add more depth to Danny and his different activities. Danny is portrayed beautifully as a tiny boy living in an adult world but with a big dream – and each illustration entices the reader to love Danny and his project even more.

Danny Blue’s R.E.D., shows how society can really take hold of the individual and how the individual can just go on accepting what the status quo is.

Children will feel empowered after reading this story as Danny Blue is a young boy and despite being told his ideas were not possible by the adults in his world, he was still able to make a change.

As parents we have a lot of influence on the young people in our lives and we need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to think for themselves.

How can you add more to this book?

 – Before you turn the last page ask children to predict what Danny Blue’s next dream will be about.

– What do you think Yellow would stand for?

– Research some famous inventors who have changed history despite being told they couldn’t make a difference.

– Research some famous people in history or perhaps even today who have done something that others thought they couldn’t. Look at people who have made changes that have helped society to become a better place.

– Design a world where everything is the same. Work out what would have to change in your world if you were to be similar to everyone else.

– Discuss – If we all lived in a world where we all agreed would we need elections? Would this be a good or bad thing for us all?

– Have you ever had a really excellent dream? Discuss dreams and try to keep a journal for a week to see what you dream about.

 

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup

We live under the same sky….

We feel the same love….

We play the same games…..

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup is a picture book for young readers that shows us the beautiful connection that we all have no matter where we live, what we look like, who we love, what we do or how we play.

Delicate illustrations add a soft and gentle touch to the words that quieten young minds and allow them to reflect on the different walks of life around the world.

We have read a few of Teckentrup’s books and this one is definitely another favourite.

Each page follows on from the next with a peek-a-boo type window so that similar ideas can carry on for two pages. Children will love looking through the window and perhaps guessing what will be said on the next page.

Under the same sky is a subtle way to talk to young readers about the world and the many people within. It is a way to teach children about discrimination in its many forms. It is a way to teach children acceptance of others and understanding that ultimately everyone who lives just wants to love, wants to play, wants to sing – just wants to enjoy life, be kind to others and seek out joy.

Britta Teckentrup is a beautiful writer and her illustrations add great points for discussion.

A great picture book read for younger children but also a great one to get older children thinking.

So what else can you do?

  •  Explore how children live around the world. How do children the same age as your children play? What do they sing? How do they learn?
  •  Look up at the sky and talk about what you can see. What can others see? As a group talk about how we all see different things in the world we live in.
  •  Create a book just like this one using the same sentence starter to bring across a message.
  •  Do you treat people like you would want them to be treated? Does your government treat people like they all live under the same sky and have the same hopes?
  • Explore the rhyme used in the story and how it helps to portray the message of equality. Create your own rhyming sentences that have the same starter.

Snap review: Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris

Mr Bambuckle is every student’s idea of a dream teacher and perhaps some teacher’s wish they could be more like Mr Bambuckle!


I loved the way Tim Harris presented each short story and through each short story we were able to meet the different students in 12B.

I particulary loved the story of the washing machine as I know that in my childhood I was once afraid of the noise the washing machine made.

Tim Harris has a great ability to make children laugh, connect with the characters and perhaps learn a lesson or two as they read.

This book is also a great way to show students the many different ways stories can be presented.

A great book to read out loud to your class – and perhaps inspire some great storytelling amongst a group!

Dear picture book section

Dear Picture book section,

It was really lovely seeing you the other day. You were full of some new releases, some hidden gems and of course some old favourites.

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Whenever I come across your smiling face I am able to stop, relax and take stock of what has been happening in the real world. I can slip into a world of imagination and learn lessons that help me to get by in my every day life.

Your magical stories give me new ideas and your haunting tales caution me about the dark side of life. The new lands you introduce me to help me to see my world from another perspective and different characters help me to see myself and my friends in a different light.

So many of your tales involve animals that can talk and I always wonder why that is. Do we relate better to big issues when a normally speechless creature can suddenly speak words of wisdom?

Picture book section, I don’t know why we have to go weeks without seeing each other so I am starting my own picture book section in a corner of my house. Every time I borrow some pieces of you from the library I am going to store you in my bookcase, not in my bag. I am going to read a story every day and share these new ideas with those around me.

Picture book section, without you I would be in a land of screens, simple stories and cats that just sit and purr in a basket.

Dear Picture book section, thank you for being you.

See you soon,

 

Vanessa

 

 

Beyond the first shelf….

You may not think of yourself as a creative writer or an avid reader but we need to encourage our children to be just that.

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Deep inside the library there are many books that have not been discovered and perhaps there is one hidden away on the bookshelf that will waken up your thirst for reading and ignite your imagination and creativity.

So rather than judging a book by it’s cover or the latest book review, read the first few pages for yourself. Allow yourself to sit for five minutes and meet the characters and explore the new land. If it doesn’t hook you in then try another – there will always be one waiting for you somewhere!

Every day libraries have many new books that arrive – a story about the battle between scissors, paper and rock, a tale of the germs who live on your teeth and your shirt, a story about women who have made a difference in the world and a story about a boy who has a friendly robot. There is non-fiction, fiction and picture books. There are comics, wordless stories and books that open up to three metres in length.

Don’t forget about the library. Borrowing books allows you to share your stories with the whole community.

Library borrowing time

How often do you and your child visit the library?

When you are there – how long do you spend looking for a book?

booksAs I have spoken about in previous posts – borrowing from the library is important. In many ways it is more important than buying your own copy of a book as you become part of a community. As part of this library community you need to care for the book so others can read it and you need to return it on time so others can read it.

However a really important aspect of the library is learning how to borrow a book. When we visit a library there should be at least thirty minutes set aside to read through books, flick through the pages and look over the covers.

Rushing over the library borrowing process is not enjoyable and doesn’t teach the value of borrowing books.

We want our children to love reading and we want them to find books that they want to read – and make them go back for more. We want them to see what is popular, we want them to talk to the librarian and we want them to see something new.

My four suggestions when we go to the library

  •  Encourage your child or class to take their time borrowing.
  •  Take time to try out a new type of book each time you borrow.
  •  Borrow fiction and non fiction
  •  Read part of the book in the library to generate excitement.

The library is a wonderful resource and something we all need to utilise to it’s full potential.

 

Families and reading

On the 15th May it is the UN’s international day of families. Families play a vital role in the education of their children. Families are the first educators of their children and it is within the family group where the love of literacy can blossom.

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Reading is a gateway to imagination, being literate and developing empathy. If you can take the time to read as a family then these skills are being embedded into your child and also reinforced within yourself. Reading as a family gives you time to be close together and to discuss things that aren’t happening in your daily lives (imagine talking about dragons, talking trees and magical stones!)  

Show your children that reading is a pleasurable activity, show them how important searching a  library for the perfect book is. There are no bad authors or books, you just need to take the time to find the books that suit you or perhaps open your mind to new ideas.

As a family take the time to visit your local library, the school library or even the online library catalogue. Borrow some loved books and books that will stretch your mind. Read together or read apart and then discuss what you have read. Reading is the key.

As Albert Einstein once said: “If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales”

Library visits and learning to read

Why should you take the time out of your weekend or afternoon to visit the library if your child already does so during school hours?

Here are my seven reasons as to why you should visit your local library:

  • You’re promoting the idea of sharing within the community. Many children have been brought up to expect everything new. Libraries promote the idea that we can share wonderful resources, take care of them and lend them to someone else. Lucy’s Book is a great read to instil this! img_4836
  • Community activities. Many libraries run after school clubs and activities. This is a wonderful way to meet other people in your community who are like minded. These activities are often free or at a minimal price and may run over school holidays.

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  • Libraries promote a love of learning – forever. There are many different sections and types of reading material in the library which allows your child to see beyond the picture books.

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  • Borrowing books promotes a love of reading which in turn helps literacy skills!

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  • You learn how to research through books and well designed online material. Help your child to know that research isn’t just a google search – show them a book and the index page – they will gain so much more knowledge this way!

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  • You can borrow talking books, music and movies! There are so many different ways to learn and through the library your child can find the best way they can enjoy literature.

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  • Librarians are great. They are passionate about books and are there to help the youngest of readers. Say hello to your librarian and tell them what you are reading – there is a chance they haven’t had time to read that latest book and they love hearing your thoughts!

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