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Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin's brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Libby Hathorn

Phil Lesnie

Lothian Children’s, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734417879

Imp is a wild child, roaming the paddocks of the farm where Miss Franklin is employed as governess to the Davis children. Disdained by them as a “real naughty girl” they have been warned by their mother to keep away from her, although Florrie has struck up a friendship of sorts, and dismissive of learning to read and write as a “waste of time”, nevertheless she continues to hang around the schoolhouse and gradually a trust builds between her and Miss Franklin.

Miss Franklin, who had taken the job to help her family out of financial difficulties, has bigger dreams than being a governess, and when she eventually confesses these to Imp, Imp gives her some advice that changes her path and her life forever.

Written about Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career,  and namesake of two major literary prizes, this not only shines a light on the author’s early life but demonstrates how famous people start out as very ordinary and it can be just chance that sets them on their path to fulfil their dreams. And while most of us have dreams, sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that gives us the impetus to pursue them and the courage and determination to make them come true.  Even though Imp’s dream was nowhere near as grand as that of Miss Franklin, she too was able to take the first steps towards achieving it. The endpapers tell her story! So as much as Libby Hathorn and Phil Lesnie have captured Miss Franklin’s story, it is also an encouragement to anyone to take and chance and chase what they want. 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book (Not Yours)

My Book (Not Yours)

My Book (Not Yours)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book (Not Yours)

Ben Sanders

Lothian Children’s 2019

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

9780734419040

Lento Sloth is all set to share his book with the reader but first he needs a little nap. But as he puts his head down. Fox swings by and steals the book- “You snooze, you lose, Sloth!” Telling Lento that a book needs “a dynamic lead character, a star with style and pizzazz, a hero with wit and talent”, Fox is determined to be the star of the story.  But Lento does not give in and there follows an hilarious duel as he struggles to get his book back so he can be its star. Can he do it?

This is the first in a new series of adventures featuring Lento and Fox that is likely to appeal to young readers, particularly those who are almost independent because all the action is in the dialogue and the illustrations. However, it would also work as a read-aloud as children can use the illustrations to predict how Sloth is feeling and what he is going to do and who will be the victor. They might even investigate the characteristics of sloths to imagine just what Lento’s story might be, while examining the behaviour of fox as cunning and sly and discuss stereotyping. There are lots of subtle tweaks in the endpapers, title pages and even the cover that add to the story -something a little different from the usual, that demonstrates that print can have as much action and humour as the screen. 

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

Jane Solomon

Louise Lockhart

Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2019

112pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9781786038104

From the time a little one first says a recognisable word like “mum” or “dad”, a great fuss is made as new words are added, two-word phrases become sentences and so on until new words added to the vocabulary are so frequent that the novelty wears off.  Memories are made when words like ‘spaghetti” and “hospital” are mispronounced or the loss of the front teeth make talking tricky. We make a fuss when big words like “tyrannosaurus” are learned and understood but generally after that initial flush oral language is taken for granted as successes in reading and writing take over.

But whether we speak or write, listen or read, the fundamental unit of communication is the word and in this collection of over 400 words, lexicographer (a person who writes dictionaries) Jane Solomon brings together a range of words that are long, short, common, not-so, fun-to-say, tongue-trickers, have beautiful meanings or weird ones so those with a fascination language can add to their own lexicon. Some of the words like “sesquipedalian” are very old and not in common use; others like slugabed are more recent and one is amazed they are more than just an in-family term.

But whatever its age or origin, each word has a guide to its pronunciation and an easy-to-read meaning so that even the most reluctant reader can understand what is meant by Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Many words are illustrated with some words getting special treatment with a full-page spread, and unlike other dictionaries which try to cover every word, the careful selection of these means that the layout is clear and open and very easy to read. It’s chatty style, such as the notes about how to read it, engage the reader and it’s perfect for those who are newly independent readers or well-practised.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lots of teachers and teacher librarians love to challenge children with Word-of-the-Day tasks and this would be the perfect source for those words while encouraging students to use more conventional dictionaries to discover the meanings.  But as a stand-alone book in itself it is fabulous because of the serendipitous nature of opening a page and learning a host of new words just because. Even wordsmiths will have fun with this, especially the aspiring sesquipedalians!

 

 

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Megan Daley

UQP, 2019

244pp., pbk., RRP $A27.95

9780702262579

In the early days of European settlement in this country, establishing schools became a priority particularly for those with a religious bent because they believed it was imperative that the emerging generation of children be able to read and understand The Bible and thus not follow their parents’ errant ways. That was a school’s key purpose. Decades and generations on and while society has changed, and schools themselves are almost unrecognisable from those early institutions, the expectation that a child primarily attends so they can learn to read has not. 

Right from preschool children are tested on their literacy development and judged according to it, underlining the importance that is still placed on being able to read and write. Five year olds head off on their first day of ‘big school’ fully expecting to be able to read by the time they come home and are often disappointed that they cannot. However, research and experience has shown that schools alone cannot be the child’s primary teachers in this critical endeavour. It is a partnership between home and school and those who make the best readers are those whose roots in reading extend back to birth. Indeed, author Mem Fox has stated that the illiteracy problem in this country could be solved if children just heard 1000 stories before they come to school (which can be achieved in three years with a favourite, a familiar and a first-read as the regular bedtime routine) and the concept of the ‘million word gap’ is not new.

So this book from Megan Daley, a respected, qualified teacher librarian (we must have qualifications in both teaching and librarianship), which explores how parents can help to raise readers is a valuable contribution to the lives of new parents, particularly in these days of the screen being a dominant feature in children’s lives.  For those who can read it is hard to remember not being able to do so; for those who can’t read or don’t like to it is tricky to overcome the personal prejudices that already exist, so to have a “manual” that helps explain some of the best practices and what underlies them is eye-opening.  

While there have been a number of books on this sort of topic in the past, many have been written bu either authors of children’s books or university lecturers, This one is by a practising teacher librarian who is in touch with what is happening both in and out of school as Megan has two daughters.  She examines the place of the school library in the child’s reading journey while at the same time encouraging parents to attend book launches; getting involved in Book week while setting up a book-themed bedroom; explaining the most popular genres of young readers while offering tips to host book parties and be “best book-givers”. Interspersed with the user-friendly text are comments from some of Australia’s favourite children’s authors as well as suggestions for books to support the young reader as they grow their literacy skills.

For the teacher and the teacher librarian, this is a refreshing read with lots of tried-and-true and new ideas and perspectives in amongst the host of academic and professional reading we have to do; to parents it’s a simple explanation of the what, why and how of raising a reader so both child and parent fulfil their expectations..

One to encourage staff to read and to include and promote in your parent library.

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Kate Gordon

Sandy Flett

Yellow Brick Books, 2019

92pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780994557094

A disaster is on the horizon! Muttonbird Bay School might be closing. 

Juno Jones loves her school, but the Men in Suits want to close it down! With three schools in the area, including a posh school and a public one near the sewerage system (known as the poo school) , and not enough children, one of the schools has to go. And, according to their principal,  there’s only only one thing Juno and her classmates can do to stop it… show they are smarter and dedicated and so they need to READ! Which is perfectly fine for people like Perfect Paloma, Smelly Bella and Genius George, but Juno Jones is a kid who doesn’t like reading. She prefers being a secret ninja, telling jokes and drawing so she strikes a deal with her teacher to write a book rather than reading one. She needs to become a Word Ninja.

And the result is this new addition to the series scene for newly independent readers for those who like something different with a quirky, feisty female lead in a setting they can relate to, but with a balance of male and female characters that means its appeal is not limited to girls. Each character has talents and skills that contribute to the development of the story, setting the series up for a whole range of new adventures.

 

 

 

52 Mondays

52 Mondays

52 Mondays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

52 Mondays

Anna Ciddor

Allen & Unwin, 2019

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760523480

Melbourne in the hot summer of February 1964 , in the hot car on the way to Nana and Zayda’s and Anna clutches the library book she can’t wait to read. It’s called Hitty: the life and adventures of a wooden doll and it not only inspired young Anna to own her own antique doll, a dream that lasts 52 Mondays, but also inspired the older Anna, the author, to tell the tale of the joys and disappointments of her real-life childhood search for the doll.

Based on her own life and following the success of The Family with Two Front Doors  which tells the story of  her own family, the Rabinovitches who “dance, laugh and cook their way through an extraordinary life in 1920s Poland”, the author takes the readeron a journey through the life and times of children growing up in 1960s Melbourne.  No computers, no Internet or social media, in many homes, not even a television set – just the day-to-day adventures of children who had to seek and make their own fun.  For those like me it is a trip down memory lane to the days of warm school milk, Mr Whippy, and desks in rows in schools, while for more modern young readers it is an insight into the lives of their grandparents -something very different to that which they know.

Whichever, it is a very readable story about a little girl with a dream, parents who understand and support it, the  highs and lows of following it, and the determination and resilience  required to achieve it. 

 

 

The Greatest Book in the World

The Greatest Book in the World

The Greatest Book in the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Book in the World

Matt Porter

Dave Atze

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804157

Rudolf Wordsmith is determined to write the greatest book in the world.  But he believes that such books are always written in rhyme so he speaks directly to readers inviting them to help them complete the rhyming couplet.  Of course, he sets up the words (and Atze sets up the illustrations drawing Rudolf in humiliating predicaments,)  so that readers finish them with a rude word, and admonishing them when they do so.

While Rudolf always supplies a socially acceptable alternative, this will appeal to that particular brand of humour that all boys seem to pass through as they emerge as independent readers, and is a LOL book that will have them gathered around and enjoying that collaborative reading experience that is also essential to their reading development.

One to encourage boys to keep reading beyond the home readers…

 

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2018

168pp., hbk., RRP $A45.00

9780008294342

In 2004, Oliver Jeffers set out to do a painting of someone trying to do something impossible – a boy catching a star with a butterfly net – and that idea evolved not only into the  book How to Catch a Star but into a series of four stories including Lost and Found, The Way Back Home and Up and Down. 

Now collected into one collection, this book also offers a unique look behind the scenes at the development of each book. As well as a letter from Jeffers himself explaining how the series grew (and may still do so, although that is unlikely), it contains more than 100 distinctive sketches, notes and ideas that he has chosen from his archives that show  the thoughts, events and incidents that shaped the stories.

Apart from its inherent beauty, this book has much to offer about how stories grow in the minds of their creators, giving it an appeal and a use far beyond the target audience of the original stories themselves.  

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

101 Weird Words (and Three Fakes)

David Astle 

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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

9781760633660

Young readers who love playing with words and learning new ones to baffle their parents can journey from ambidextrous to zugzwang in this new book of words from “full-time nerd word” David Astle. He is the devious crossword-setter in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age but children will also know him as the “dictionary man” on the TV show Letters and Numbers.

In this pop-in-your-pocket volume, he has collected lots of new words that children will delight in getting their tongues around and using in their conversations and stories.  And just to add some extra zing, he has included three fake words as well!  Each word, real or fake has a roll-off-the-tongue appeal and is presented with its meaning, pronunciation, history, fun facts and examples of use in a way that is engaging and demands to be read to the end. 

Extending children’s vocabulary is one of the primary goals of reading and writing, and as well as being a great Christmas present for the family word nerd, it would also be an ideal gift for the teacher who likes to challenge students with a word of the week.  There’s always room for a thumbs-up or more tangible reward for the student who uses the word correctly in a conversation or a story. It’s fun books like these that make me wish I was back in schools again!

 

Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight at the Library

Ursula Dubosarsky

Ron Brooks

NLA Publishing, 2018

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279316

A long time ago a boy looked out of a window and wondered about the world. And as he thought and wondered, his head filled with words and they came out of his head, down his arm, into his hand and into his fingers and onto the page… Over time and place that little book was opened and loved, given and taken, closed and lost, found and forgotten as it journeyed until it is now waiting to be discovered in a library.

In this beautifully written and stunningly illustrated story by the familiar team of Dubosarsky and Brooks, young readers are introduced to the concept of a book and its critical place in society as the purveyor of stories that tell us about who and what has gone before, the roots of who we are as a nation and indeed, as people.  And just as this little book lives on in the library to tell its seekers its stories, young readers can imagine what story they could write today to be discovered and revered years and generations hence. 

As well as telling the story of the book, Dubosarsky and Brooks also celebrate the importance of libraries as the safe havens of the written word, a concept also explored on the final pages as some of the books, as magical as that in the story,  that are available to be explored at the National Library of Australia are highlighted.

Apart from just being a wonderful read, the potential to use this book across the curriculum is almost endless as students consider the role of the written word, the history of its communication, the changes in format, the types of books and stories on offer and the need for a common set of symbols, syntax and semantics to make our message understood regardless of the language we speak.

Formal teachers’ notes are available but for me, this has so much more potential than just satisfying some AC outcomes. It’s all wrapped up in the universal wonder of story.