Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Here is a round up of some great graphic/ illustrated books I've recently read.
Jane, the fox and me is a gorgeous graphic novel. The protagonist is a pre-teen girl, left behind by her peer group and now ostracised and convinced that she's fat. She takes solace in reading Jane Eyre, particularly in Jane's sense of self-worth despite her lack of beauty and status. On summer camp an encounter with a fox and meeting another "outsider" changes her outlook. Beautiful, restrained illustrations and clever use of colour makes this a fabulous read, one for 10+.
Azzi In Between, winner of last year's Little Rebels award, tells the story of Azzi and her family, escaping from a war and travelling to a new country. They leave behind a happy, comfortable home and Azzi's beloved grandmother. In the new country, they have a small apartment, very few possessions, and Azzi'z father can't find work. However, little by little, Azzi finds familiarity in her new land. A great, important book, definitely not one to save just for Refugee Week. 7+
Flora and Ulysses: the illuminated adventures won this year's Newbery medal in the US, and Kate DiCamillo is US ambassador for young people's literature. I adored this book. Flora Belle Buckman is a cynic and keen comic reader, living alone with her mother since her parents' separation. In a bizarre encounter, she meets Ulysses, a poetry-writing squirrel with super powers. Together they overcome enemies and discover that love and hope can be found in the most unexpected places. This part-novel, part-comic is a joyful read, for 8+. Do yourself a favour, and get a copy today.
I am linking to Hive from now on. Hive is an excellent network which benefits independent bookshops. You can choose to have books delivered free to your local participating shop, or to any UK address.
Posted by Ali at 11:58
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Catherine Johnson is one of my favourite writers. Author of Brave New Girl and Nest of Vipers, she writes fantastic novels for young people, many set in multicultural London both contemporary and historic.
This wonderfully creepy tale is the story of Ezra McAdam, a mulatto boy, the apprentice of an anatomist. He is an intelligent boy, eager to learn all he can from his master. However, events take a sinister turn following the dissection of a corpse who has injuries that don't seem easily explained away, and Ezra's comfortable life becomes precarious. When he meets up with Loveday Finch, who is convinced that her conjurer father was murdered, it becomes positively dangerous, with all leads seeming to end up at the Ottoman embassy.
I enjoyed every minute of reading this book. London of 1792 leapt off the page, with its smells, noise and dangers. The scientific advances of the time are well explained, and the interlocking plots added intrigue and interest for me, with the political and trade links between England, France, Turkey and Russia coming to life. I cared about Ezra and Loveday, and exclaimed so much that my partner has read it too, and recommended to the YA librarian at the library where he works. I was delighted to discover that Catherine is writing a sequel, and I can't wait to read it.
Posted by Ali at 08:30
Friday, 3 January 2014
In this, his latest adventure, Claude wakes up in a loud sort of mood. The day before he had exuberantly visited the library, but discovered that his one man band outfit is unwelcome there, so had been very quiet. So he decides to get some fresh air- and discovers that it has snowed. He and Sir Bobbysock follow whooshing people on sledges and skis to the Snowy Mountains' Winter Snow Centre. Here they play with snowballs, sledge (and Sir Bobblysock investigates Apres Ski) but Claude learns that Outdoor Voices are not always good to use Outdoors...
I love these books. I love the nostalgic warmth and wit of the illustrations- my friend Princess of VP said that they remind her of the illustrations for Anatole the Mouse- and I love the affection with which Alex T Smith writes about his characters. If you haven't met Claude yet, then do seek them out. They would be great to read aloud to 5+, and a good reader of 6+ should enjoy reading them independently.
Thursday, 12 December 2013
Lonely Yeti lives in the forest. One winter's day, he finds a little bird lost on her migration south. He takes her home and looks after her, and the two friends have fun together, until it is time for her to leave. A sad Yeti lets her go, but discovers that his kindness to Bird has made the other forest animals less scared of him, so he has lots of new friends- and Bird comes back to visit now and then.
This lovely book has vibrant, colourful winterscapes, and would be a fantastic read on a cold winter's bed time. The language is adventurous- it's one to read to children rather than them reading for themselves, I think. I particularly liked "Every evening, the friends sang sad, sweet songs together, which soothed the forest to sleep." I have bought this for some small people in my life, and hope to make a Yeti finger puppet from felt, and a pom pom bird, with the four year old, like these.these.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
|Image: Walden Pond Boks|
As the snow falls, she and her best friend, Jack, talk about superheroes and supervillains, play fantasy games based on their reading, and make plans to go sledging. However, at the same time, a magical mirror gets broken, and in a playground accident, Jack gets a piece in his eye. The shard travels to his heart, making him cold and careless. He forgets about his plans with Hazel, and arranges to sledge with some boys who tease her in class. On arriving at the hill, he sledges by himself, in defiance of neighbourhood rules. On the hill, he meets a mysterious woman, who is in a sleigh pulled by wolves. She tucks him in her sleigh, kisses him on the forehead, and takes him into the woods.
Hazel is badly hurt by Jack's behaviour, but on hearing from one of the boys that he has gone into the woods with a strange woman, she resolves to go after him. On the journey she encounters wolves, a woodsman, a woman who wears the skin of a swan, and other characters from traditional tales. However, the imagination and knowledge of fantasy fiction that has earned Hazel mockery at school and got her into trouble for daydreaming allows her to navigate the difficult journey through the woods and face not only danger, but the knowledge that whether we want to or not, we must accept that change is inevitable.
This wonderful book was a joy to read; a bookish 9-12 year old will delight in encountering references to Hans Christian Anderson's fairy stories, Wolverine, Narnia, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time and When I Meet You, amongst others. I'd have adored reading this to my class, and guiding them to the texts referenced in it. This would make an exciting blogging project with Year 5 or 6, I think. Unfortunately this book doesn't have a UK publisher, but it could be easily ordered from your local bookshop for not much more than buying it online.
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Following Scott Pack, Big Green Bookshop and Maggie Bob's lead, I'm going to write briefly about how, when, why and where I read.
1. I read anything and everything. Literary fiction, crime (though not gory; see below), horror (as above), romantic fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, historical , cookery books, even though I don't cook much: everything.
2. Books with a lot of graphic violence/ sexual violence, particularly against women, I find very difficult to read. Particularly rape as character development: see a lot of urban paranormal. Ugh.
3. I read anywhere and everywhere, except on the loo (eww) and on buses (make me travel sick). I feel a bit anxious if I don't have at least one book on the go.
4. I mostly read paperback books, bought from physical shops. It depresses me that so many high streets are just betting shops, charity shops, pound shops and "cash converters". I'm the same with music- I support record shops. Use them or lose them and live in clone-town.
5. I don't judge you if you read differently from me. Reading should be pleasurable, fun and enhance your life. It shouldn't be like eating this bowl of twigs and dust that I'm chewing because it's good for me.
Now, what are your reading habits?
Posted by Ali at 18:00
Monday, 13 May 2013
This post is part of Playing By The Book's I'm looking for a book about... carnival. This month the theme is Inventors and Inventions.
Violet Baudelaire, the oldest of the Baudelaire siblings, is 14 in the first of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. She is the greatest inventor of her age, having won her first inventing competition at 5, having invented an automatic rolling pin. Throughout the series, whenever threatened with their evil guardian, Count Olaf, Violet ties her hair back to keep it out of her eyes and uses her skill as an inventor to rescue them. She ingeniously uses materials to hand to create her contraptions: for example, in The Bad Beginning she uses picture wires and torn clothing to create a grappling hook to climb a tower and rescue baby Sunny.
If you haven't read A Series of Unfortunate Events, then you have a treat ahead. They are incredibly funny, with a deadpan style with very formal language, and sardonic authorial comment. I think it would be great fun to read them with children and create inventions with household objects.