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The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

Pierre-Jacques Ober

Jules Ober, Felicity Coonan

Candlewick Studio, 2019

104pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536204827

From the publisher… “About one hundred years ago, the whole world went to war. The war was supposed to last months. It lasted years. It is Christmastime, 1914, and World War I rages. A young French soldier named Pierre had quietly left his regiment to visit his family for two days, and when he returned, he was imprisoned. Now he faces execution for desertion, and as he waits in isolation, he meditates on big questions: the nature of patriotism, the horrors of war, the joys of friendship, the love of family, and how even in times of danger, there is a whole world inside every one of us. And how sometimes that world is the only refuge. “

Published to coincide with the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, one of five treaties formulated at the Paris Peace Conference as part of the peace negotiations at the end of the First World War, the readership of this book is older than what is normally reviewed for this site, despite its sparse text.  However, it is a new and important addition to any collection about World War I  and there will be primary school students who will appreciate the conceptual issues it raises as they become more aware of “the difficult truths of humanity”.

Written by a Frenchman now living in Australia, and illustrated by miniature reenactments of the scenes that have then been photographed, the book is the winner of 1st Prize at the Prix Sorcières 2019, France’s most prestigious award for children’s books.   The story is based on true facts and its connection to the author and the illustrators and their processes have been detailed in the final pages. 

Different, intriguing and utterly absorbing,

 

 

Detention

Detention

Detention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Tristan Bancks

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791799

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one. 

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. 

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block. 

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?

Whatever decisions are made will change their lives forever.

With the rise and spread of nationalist, right-wing conservative governments around the globe, xenophobia is alive and well in communities and countries around the world. In Australia it is always a hot topic particularly around election time and especially since former prime minister John Howard declared, “It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people, taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” in an election speech just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.

Having just had another federal election with the rhetoric of asylum seekers, detention centres and people’s rights claiming a lot of media space and votes, this new book from Tristan Bancks is very timely. In it, through the students in the Reading Superstars class and their teacher Miss Aston, he asks the questions that need to be considered about the plight of refugees, particularly as much of what the children say is the echo of their parents’ perspectives. Bancks says he has tried to tell the story as “a human one, rather than a political one” and he has achieved this as the reader becomes very invested in the plights of Simi and Dan and constantly wonders what would they do if they were either of those characters.

In my opinion, the greatest power of this book is in the hands of a class teacher reading it aloud and discussing the issues as Miss Aston does while she and her charges are in lockdown. That way, a range of points of view can be explored and explained, taking the story to a whole new level, rather than being an individual read that throws up questions but for which the reader doesn’t seek answers. And that teacher should be prepared to answer the inevitable, “What would you do if you were Miss Aston?”

Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get. Superb.

 

 

Pippa

Pippa

Pippa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa

Dimity Powell

Andrew Plant

Ford St, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804270

Pippa the pigeon thinks she is ready to fly the skies by herself and have adventures. Rather than being hesitant to go out of her comfort zone, Pippa wants to experience the world for herself.  But her parents have other ideas. They are worried she is too young and do all sorts of things to keep her  at home and safe . But one day while they are out foraging for food, she flaps her wings and soars.  Over the town, the river and the paddocks she sails, going further and further from home.  But then fatigue and hunger set in and she discovers that while this big wide world is beautiful there are perils in it! Will she make it home safely?

A tender tale about parents wanting to keep their children safe, this is a story that cuts through the middle of parental protection and childish curiosity.  Our children need to be allow to fly; they need to face and conquer the obstacles they encounter if they are to be resourceful and resilient, but they also need to know there is a soft place to fall when it all gets too much.  

Dimity Powell has created a story that reflects both the parents’ perspective and that of Pippa – offering much to talk about as readers think about what they would like to do, whether they are ready and what they might learn as they try. It’s about striking a balance between independence and the security of home and Andrew Plant’s illustrations are perfect. Who wouldn’t be terrified seeing the face of the falcon coming towards you or those malevolent red eyes glowing in the dark?

As our young readers go through a number of stages where their desire for independence becomes overwhelming, this is a book that spans many age groups and there are excellent teaching notes which support this sort of use.  Perfect for teaching about being prepared, being resilient and being able to overcome obstacles without panicking. 

Maple the Brave

Maple the Brave

Maple the Brave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple the Brave

Chloe Jasmine Harris

Walker, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925381924

Nestled in the high branches of a tree deep in the forest is a little house where Maple lived. “No one knew how she got there or where she came from, but nevertheless there she was.” Sustained by the rain that gave her water and the trees that gave her ripe fruit, Maple never ventured from her high house because she was afraid of everything that was below it.  Her dreams were peppered with fierce creatures who lurked below, the wind becoming their terrifying howls.  Until there came a time when the rain and the trees no longer gave her what she needed and she knew she would have to descend the ladder into the unknown…

Facing your fears and even conquering them is a common theme of picture books for the young, but the setting and the isolation of Maple without parents or history, gives this one an olde-worlde feel that will appeal to those who like gentle stories that are neither confronting or confrontational. At some stage in our lives we all have to step outside our comfort zone and face the unknown, an unknown that we may have already built up to be scarier than it is and Maple offers inspiration that it can be OK.

Beautifully illustrated by this debut author/illustrator with pictures that are as gentle as the story itself, this is one that can be shared as a read-along or a read-aloud to encourage young readers to take that first step.

 

 

Land of the Echidna People

Land of the Echidna People

Land of the Echidna People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the Echidna People

Percy Trezise

Mary Lavis

Angus & Robertson, 2019

32pp, hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781460756614

“Aboriginal oral history tells of hundreds of Dream Roads criss-crossing the Australian continent which were made by Ancestral Beings during their travels at the beginning of the Dreamtime. It also tells of a vast freshwater lake at the top of Australia and stories about ancestors like the Anta Moola sisters. There is also scientific evidence to suggest that 36 000 years ago there was a large freshwater lake at the top of Australia. Scientist called it the Lake of Carpentaria…and it was also known as Balanorga, the big water.”

The Journey of the Great Lake series tells the story of Jadianta, Lande and Jalmor, three children of the Kadimakara People who were caught in a storm and stranded across the great lake, Balanorga and their quest to return to their homeland as they journey around Balanorga, along the Dream Road of the Anta Moola sisters to find their way home.  The series, first published 20 years ago, comprises Home Of The Kadimakara People, Land of the Dingo People, Land of the Magpie Goose People ,  Land of the Emu People, Land of the Snake PeopleLand of the Kangaroo People, Land of the Brolga People  and the final in the series, Land of the Echidna People . 

Written at a time when there was very little indigenous literature for young readers  available, the series was and is a valuable addition to the resources supporting studies of Aboriginal cultures, providing young readers with an insight into the life and lands of northern Australia 30 000 years ago

 

 

 

Arthur and the Tiger

Arthur and the Tiger

Arthur and the Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur and the Tiger

Sophie Beer

Puffin Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143791836

Arthur’s circus is full of daring performers.

The Acrobat can soar like an eagle. The Strongman can lift a car with one finger. The Jugglers can breathe fire like dragons. But Arthur has never been brave enough to learn any daring circus tricks. He would prefer to have a picnic and tea with his friends.

So what will Arthur do when a terrifying tiger joins the circus? Especially when his father, the Ringmaster tells him he is to be the tiger tamer!

This new book from Sophie Beer with its bright illustrations with a rather retro look focuses on Arthur facing his fears and overcoming them, albeit with a little help from the tiger itself. Even though  community rumours have built up the fear to fever pitch, perhaps, in reality, things aren’t as bad as they seem.

It also takes readers back to a time when the circus coming to town was a huge event, animals were allowed to be part of the acts and part of the appeal was seeing them as wild creatures being subjugated by humans even though they were supposedly wild and fierce and scary. In fact circus public relations traded on this to attract the crowds so if older students were investigating animal rights in relation to recent news events, this could be a valuable resource to examine another perspective. Similarly, the way the citizens of the city respond to the news of the tiger, each adding to or twisting the story could also be the basis for a discussion about fake news, particularly in light of the current election.  

Good picture books span age groups – this is one of those.

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Three Musketeers

Russell Punter

Matteo Pincelli

Usborne, 2019 

104pp., pbk, RRP $A19.99

9781474938112

In 1844 Alexandre Dumas gave the world his story of Les Trois Mousquetaires and now 175 years on it is again being made available to young readers in graphic novel format so they, too, can share the adventures of  young  d’Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Although d’Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, “the three inseparables,” as these are called – and gets involved in their adventures. Set in the France of 1626 when there was fierce rivalry between the republicans and the monarchists, and bound by the famous cry of “All for one and one for all” 

Graphic novels have proven to be an invaluable way of introducing young readers to the classic stories of old and this is no exception, and with the current thirst for high action, high adventure with superheroes, this is the perfect way to lead children’s reading on to something just as exciting while opening up a new world of literature.  To help with understanding the context because it is set in the real world but a different time, there are pages at the back that set the scene and Usborne have their usual Quicklinks page to help the reader explore even further. 

A must for independent readers seeking to expand their horizons, as well as an addition to a unit comparing superheroes past, present and future!!

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Gavin Aung Than

Puffin, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9780143795865

“Superheroes have it easy. They don’t have to clean their secret headquarters, wash the alien bloodstains out of their costumes or be responsible for taking Super Mutt out for a walk. No, they leave all that for their sidekicks like me, while they get all the credit! “

But Junior Justice (aka JJ) is tired of all that – “Being a superhero sidekick isn’t as fun as you think. You do all the work, beat the bad guys and save the planet, only for your grown-up partner to get all the credit.”  So he and his sidekick pals, Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo, have decided to form their own super team. But before they can start saving the world they’ll have to prove to the adult heroes that they’re more than just sidekicks. And once the evil Dr Enok discovers his favourite pet Goo has left him to join a super team, the world might need saving sooner rather than later!

This is the first in a new series that will appeal to those who like lots of action and adventures in their stories and a graphic novel format making it an easy read for the newly independent reader. Given the popularity of superhero movies and the anticipation for Avengers: Endgame  with young and not-so-young projecting themselves into the roles of world saviours, this is a series that has the protagonists at a similar age to the reader so they will be able to take on their favourite role as they immerse themselves in it. 

The second, Ocean’s Revenge will be published in September so there isn’t too long a wait in between, with an activity pack to complete while they wait.

 

A Cat Called Trim

A Cat Called Trim

A Cat Called Trim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cat Called Trim

Corinne Fenton

Craig Smith

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760631840

On a dark night 220 years ago a little kitten. more adventurous than his brothers and sisters, fell from the deck of HMS Reliance into the deep, dark sea doomed to drown if it had not been for the quick thinking of a sailor, Matthew Flinders who threw a rope to the struggling creature and it was smart enough to clamber to safety.

And so began the story of Trim, the cat that became the constant companion of the man who was to be the first to circumnavigate this continent, prove it was an island and give it its modern name of Australia.  In some places, Trim is almost as well-known as Flinders himself, being immortalised in several books, including Flinders’ own biography Trim, Being the True Story of a Brave Seafaring Cat; Matthew Flinders’ Cat by Bryce Courtenay; news stories, and various monuments around the world, including Sydney.

In this stunning picture book, Fenton and Smith have drawn on a wide variety of sources to present the story of this famous cat to younger readers , offering not only a true tale but also a glimpse into the early exploration of this country, perhaps sparking an investigation of Flinders’ own story and its wider ramifications. Fenton’s factual retelling of Trim’s adventures combined with Smiths detailed, lifelike illustrations bring together a story that all our children should know in a way that puts a human face on history, bringing names and events to life in a unique way.

A peek inside…

 

A must for both primary and secondary collections.

 

Hotel Flamingo

Hotel Flamingo

Hotel Flamingo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel Flamingo

Alex Milway

Piccadilly Press, 2019

192pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781848127753

When young Anna inherits a dilapidated once-grand hotel from her Great Aunt Mathilde, she’s determined to restore it to its former glory. But this is no ordinary hotel – all of her staff and guests are animals! Anna soon rises to the challenge. Whether it’s a flamingo, a penguin or a hippo knocking at the door, Anna is ready to welcome them all – with the help of her trusty sidekicks T Bear the doorman, Squeak the friendly mouse, and Lemmy the lemur receptionist … As she soon finds out though, running an animal hotel is no easy task. Can Anna make Hotel Flamingo a success once more?

This is a heart-warming story for newly independent readers who just want to immerse themselves in the land of what-if? Peppered with line illustrations with pops of pink, of course, it will appeal to those who imagine a life surrounded by animals and making things the best they can for everyone.  It has a strong theme of inclusion – even the cockroaches are welcome – and that the warmth generated within is because of its diversity.

The first of a series of four, this is a quirky new series that will sit well on your shelves, but not for long as it will soon gather a fan following.