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.

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Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

A girl stands before a wire, anxious about walking across the tightrope that is so far above the ground.

The wind whips her cheeks and the thunder clouds growl – but she knows she needs to walk it.

Courage, confidence and self belief are strong themes throughout this picture book – but they all come with something else – support from those around you.

We can all have confidence, courage and belief in ourselves but none of this will continue to reign if others around us do not support us.

The young girl in this story is experiencing something that many young children will go through at any time of their life – anxiety, self doubt and loss of confidence. The wire represents the hard times, times when we have to try something new or events that make us uncomfortable. But, with the support of those we love, out toes can curl around the wire a little bit tighter, we can stand a little bit taller and we can walk a little bit more confidently.

Girl on a Wire is a simple yet inspiring story.

Accompanied by the painted illustrations of Elise Hurst, with colours that represent the girls thoughts, we can not only read how the girl is feeling, we can also see how she is feeling.

Girl on a Wire is a an excellent story to start conversations about self confidence and the power of believing in yourself . It is also a story to encourage the awareness that we can allow those who you trust to help support you too – we don’t need to do it all alone.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Explore with your child people who they trust to help them when they need support.

– Explore times we they have asked for support – did it help?

– Explore times when they didn’t ask for support – what happened, could you still do this big task? Could support have helped you?

ACTIVITY: Draw a wire between two buildings and at one end write something that you really want to be able to do. Along the wire write down the people who need to be there to support you and the things you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

– What do you think the feathers represent? What is a symbol for you to help you get through the tough times?

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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?

 

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.

 

 

A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac.

Have you ever wondered which Australian animals you would come across if you wandered through the alphabet, across the desert down by a river or over the ocean?


A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac takes every reader on a magical journey all over Australia where we meet Quokkas, Bilbies, Jumping spiders and even Death adders!

Starting from the letter A, Frane Lessac explores through brightly coloured and detailed illustrations the amazing characteristics of each animal. Each picture is accompanied by 5 – 10 facts that are very interesting and perhaps unknown to many readers.

Did you know that emus have two eyelids?

Did you know that the Perentie Goanna can run up to 30 km/h?

Letter A gives the reader background information as to why Australia has so many interesting animals. In A is for Australian Animals, Lessac explores the habitats of mammals, reptiles, birds and monotremes through each letter of the alphabet- really highlighting the diversity of Australia.

The use of rich Australian outback and bushland colours brings life to the illustrations and allows the reader to feel like they are there with the animals in their natural environment. There are no people or buildings to be seen throughout the whole story – a great way for readers to see this wide brown land.

Frane Lessac artwork is superb and draws the reader to look further into each double page spread, searching for hidden animals, detailed plants and movement of sand or water.

A is for Australian Animals is  a must read for any Australian, and perhaps an inspiration for you to take a drive out of the city and into the outback, hidden rainforests or islands of our diverse country.

So what can you do at home? 

Geography

Find out where each of these animals live and plot this on a map. How big is each animals range of habitat and has this range changed over time?

Science

Group these animals – mammal, monotreme, bird or reptile.

Group these animals according to the types of environments they live in.

Literacy

Compare this book to another fact book, video of facts and podcast of facts. How do you prefer for find out facts? Which way do you think is better for your learning or are they all helpful?

Could you change the animals in this story by creating your own A-Z of Australian animals?

Numeracy

There are more kangaroos than humans in Australia! Where do they all live then? Compare and contrast the population sizes of the animals in this story. You could look into the rise or decline in numbers and try to work out why this has happened.

GeographyFind out where each of these animals live and plot this on a map. How big is each animals range of habitat and has this range changed over time?ScienceGroup these animals – ma

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

How does music allow us to connect with others?

If waste did not exist, how would your lifestyle be changed?

Poverty is a necessary evil – do you agree or disagree?

Ada’s Violin (The story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay), written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport is a true story is told about the people who live in Cateura in Paraguay, a town on the edge of a garbage tip.

Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the rubbish you put in your bin?

I am sure many of us never put a second thought to it, especially if you live in a developed country where tips are away from human habitation.

What we put in our bins should be on our mind as landfill is taking up more space with more things that will never break down. In a perfect world there would be no landfill as people would make their own food, recycle, reduce consumption and reuse products themselves or gift to others what they don’t need.

In the story of Ada’s Violin, The main character who is a young girl named Ada lives on the edge of the tip and often views the garbage truck as a vehicle of surprises – it could be full of toys, jewellery or even plastic which had a going rate of ten cents per pound.

Ada’s grandmother notices a sign up for music lessons and promptly enrols Ada but a large problem arises – the lack of instruments to learn on.

It was the creativity and persistence of Senor Gomez , Tito Romero and Senor Chaves that led to the creation of instruments made totally from junk !

After many hours of practise the Recycled Orchestra was born! This orchestra has since toured the world, enthralling audiences with their talent, amazing sound and ability to rise up from the poverty that bequeathed them.

So what can you do with this story?

Sustainability 

OI.3: Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
OI.4 : World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice, are essential for achieving sustainability.
  • Investigate where your landfill goes in your neighbourhood. Are their any tips that recycle rubbish?
  • Investigate how long different items take to break down.
  • Investigate poverty in the world – how many people in the world are living on the edge of a tip? How many people live off a tip. Is it fair that people live like this?
  • Reflect on your own waste habits – do you do enough to minimise landfill? Keep a rubbish diary and note how much you throw out to waste for a week. How much do you recycle? Use for compost/wormfarm/backyard animals?

Music & Science

  • Create your own instrument out of rubbish. How can you make it solely of rubbish? What can you use for glue? binding?

Literacy

  • Investigate the word ‘recycled’. What does it mean to you? What did it mean to Ada? Explore how we can go beyond the meaning in the dictionary depending on perspective and context.
  • Investigate the word ‘orchestra’ .  What does it mean to you? What did it mean to Ada? Explore how we can go beyond the meaning in the dictionary depending on perspective and context.
  • What does this quote mean to you? They had discovered the surprise waiting in the landfill. Buried in the trash was music. And buried in themselves was something to be proud of.
  • How do the illustrations help the story? Explore different pages throughout the book to highlight how they work together.

    ** Create your own recycled instrument, write a description of it – how it looks, how it is made and the items you would need to create it.

    ** This is a story about music. Does it make music throughout the story? How does this book sound? Explore musical words and sounds throughout the story.

    Two lessons for you: 

    Lesson One

    To help students re ne their understanding of the word recycle, have them complete a concept wheel about the Recycled Orchestra. Have students answer the following questions on the appropriate section of the wheel, using both words and illustrations:

    • What does recycled mean? What does orchestra mean?
    • Who recycled? Who is part of an orchestra?
    • Where did this recycling take place? Where can orchestra’s be?
    • What did they recycle? What music did they play?
    • Why did they recycle? Why did they want to be in an orchestra?
    • What were the results of the recycling? What were the results of creating this orchestra?

    Lesson Two

    In order to create the Recycled Orchestra, Favio Chávez had to solve several problems. Explain how he solved the following problems:

    • Problem #1: There were not enough instruments for the children.
    • Problem #2: It wasn’t safe for the children to have expensive instruments.
    • Problem #3: There were no classrooms.

    • Problem #4: The children struggled as they learned to play their instruments.

     

Bee and Me by Alison Jay

 ~ A story about friendship ~

Have you ever read a book without words? Some people may find this difficult as it opens up many possibilities, different interpretations and imagination. But it is something we need to introduce ourselves and our children to – as just because the words are not on the page does not mean they are not there.

I have always loved books without words as you can decide what happens on each page and look more closely at the illustrations which can tell us so much more.


Bee and Me  by Alison Jay is set in a bustling city of cars, trucks, people, shops and high rise buildings but no flowers.

A little girl is frightened by a bee who lands on her windowsill but luckily rather than swat it with the fly swatter she looks after the exhausted insect and sends it on it’s way.

The bee returns in need of more care and the two form a beautiful friendship.

The double page of play between the girl and the bee is wonderful to sit and stare at with your child. Talk about what they are doing together and the emotions they are feeling as they spend wonderful moments together.

The bee soon realises that although he has the girl – he longs for flowers. So together they embark on a magical journey to find flowers, seeds and more green to the dull city.

Bee and Me warmed my heart – the friendship between the two is infectious and the message about the importance of bees is also taught – which is vital as so many cities are lacking bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects due to lack of flowers, plants and green!

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

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  • Alison Jay has left a parting note at the back of her book about the beneficial flowers you can plant in your garden. Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

 

Literacy

  • Visual Literacy – Books without pictures open a myriad of possibilities. One activity to try is to tell the story from the bee’s perspective and then the girls. Compare the two stories – compare the emotions, the goals and the thoughts of the two characters.
  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.