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Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia

Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia

Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia

Julia March & Rona Skene

DK Publishing, 2018

180oo., hbk., RRP $A129.99

9780241310106

One might wonder if the Reverend Wilbert Awdrey  ever thought that the stories about trains that he created in 1943 to amuse his son Christopher while he recovered from measles would still be creating such interest and joy all these years later.  While there are photos of him with the realisation of his creations not long before his death in 1997, 20 years on the characters and stories about them are as popular as ever.

Now, in this new release from DK, little ones are able to learn more about the Island of Sodor, its trusty railway system run by The Fat Controller and each of the steam engines he is in charge of, each with the common goal of being Really Useful.  There is the Steam Team comprising Thomas the Tank Engine,   Edward the Blue Engine, Henry the Green Engine, Gordon the Big Engine, James the Red Engine, Percy the Small Engine,Toby the Tram Engine and Emily the Stirling Single Engine as well as Harold the Helicopter, Sir Topham Hatt, and all the other steam engines, diesels, vehicles, and characters from Sodor.

Each has its own entry describing where they fit in, what they do and a lot of other information and photographs that will make them come alive for the young reader.  

Not only would this be a great addition to the home library of the young Thomas fan who can begin to relate to books as being sources of information as well as imagination using both the contents and index to find their favourites, but at this time of the year with thousands of littlies starting big school for the first time, it is a familiar link between the familiarity of home and preschool and this new, often overwhelming world that they are venturing into.  A display of Family Favourites featuring all those familiar faces was a top priority for the first few weeks of school and this one, with its cute little Thomas that rolls along the top of the book, would be the perfect addition.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary & Incredible Cross Sections

The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary

The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary

Pablo Hadalgo

DK, 2017

80pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241281093

 

The Last Jedi Incredible Cross Sections

The Last Jedi Incredible Cross Sections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Jedi Incredible Cross Sections

Jason Fry

Kemp Remillard

DK, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241281079

In 1977, when most of the world was dancing to Saturday Night Fever  George Lucas created a collection of characters who lived  “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.  Who could have foreseen that 40 years on those characters would still be as popular as ever and the eighth episode in the saga would break box-office records in its first weekend of release.

In The Last Jedi , the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.  And, like its predecessors, it is packed with memorable characters and amazing machinery so it was inevitable that these two publications would accompany its release as fans and fanatics strive to know more about everyone, everywhere and everything.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi™ The Visual Dictionary is the definitive guide to the movie revealing the characters, creatures, droids, locations, and technology from the new film whilst The Last Jedi Incredible Cross Sections reveals the inner workings of 13 key vehicles from Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi™. Each vehicle is shown as an intricately detailed, full-colour cross-section artwork, complete with callouts to the important features of each ship. Clear, comprehensive text makes this an indispensable reference guide for the new craft in the Star Wars galaxy.

The Star Wars phenomenon has spanned almost the entire length of my teaching career and I wish I had $1 for every child, particularly boys, who has sought out the publications accompanying each film, pored over them with mates for hours discussing, reading, searching, and learning so much more than just about the topic of the book.  With the usual excellent and now expected standard of DK publishing they have been stand-outs, almost impossible to keep on the shelves and these two new additions are no exception. 

There will be few students who have not seen this movie over this holiday period and so to come back to school to a display which features the very latest in print accompaniments will be like a huge welcome banner telling them that the library really does have something for them in 2018!

Can’t get better than that!

This Book Isn’t Safe

This Book Isn't Safe

This Book Isn’t Safe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Book Isn’t Safe

Colin Furze

Puffin, 2017

192pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780141386959

According to Wikipedia, “Colin Furze is a YouTube personality, stuntman, inventor, filmmaker, and former plumber from Stamford, Lincolnshire, England. ” He has his own YouTube channel  with over 5.5 million subscribers  which is “the home of crazy inventions, brilliant world records and constant disregard to health and safety” and he has now encapsulated his philosophies and inventions into print to continue his desire to inspire kids to embrace engineering, invent and create things and be comfortable and confident with the tools and materials that he uses daily.  

It contains contains ten awesome inventions for girls, boys and parents everywhere to make at home with a basic tool kit. Ever wondered how to make concrete shoes? Or how to build your own downhill trike? Or how to tidy your room in three seconds using a lever?

With the current focus on STEM, makerspaces and encouraging students to be both problem posers and solvers this will be a great addition to the collection.  Laden with photographs that are explained with captions or step-by-step instructions it may just be the way into reading that you have been searching for for those reluctant readers. Beginning with making a pair of concrete boots as a taster, there is a series of pages about inventions and inventing and the tools needed followed by pages of the things he has done and how he did them as well as more inventions for the reader to try for themselves.

As a book that encourages kids to have a go, this is brilliant and with all the accompanying online sites, easily found by searching for “Colin Furze” there could be a new generation of engineers spawned!!  

 

Tashi Storybook

Tashi Storybook

Tashi Storybook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tashi Storybook

Anna Fienberg

Barbara Fienberg

Kim Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2017

256pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760295684

If I were asked to name one of the most popular series for newly independent readers that has endured over my time as both a teacher and a teacher librarian, I would undoubtedly answer, “Tashi” and now it is time for another wave of emerging, newly-independent readers to get to know this magical little fellow who has such big adventures.

This special selection of stories includes Tashi and the Baba Yaga, Tashi and the Genie, Tashi and the Big Stinker, Tashi and the Haunted House, The Book of Spells, The Three Tasks, Tashi and the Phoenix and a brand new story Kidnapped!   Tashi, the imaginary friend of Jack, is a delightful little character who is so clever, resourceful and brave as he confronts fearsome opponents set on destroying his village and his peace, often having an ethical dilemma to come to grips with as he seeks a solution.

Not only is he a lovable character, the short stories and the amazing monochrome illustrations that break up the text are perfect for starting newly-independent readers off on their journey through novels giving them the confidence and satisfaction of reading a “chapter book” for themselves.  Tashi and his adventures have been the springboard for many a young reader over many years and this new selection will no doubt encourage many more.

Billy and the Minpins

Billy and the Minpins

Billy and the Minpins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billy and the Minpins

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2017

112pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780141377506

Billy’s mum is always telling what to do and what not to do to be good,  But all the things he was allowed to do were boring, and those he was forbidden were exciting.  The one thing he was not allowed to do was to never ever go outside the gate all by himself and certainly to never go into the Forest of Sins  which he could see from the loungeroom window.    His mother painted a fearsome picture of the beasts that lived there – Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers, Snozzwanglers, Vernicious Knids and most terrifying of all, the Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler- and told him that while many went in, none came out.

Billy figured this was just mother-talk to keep him from breaking the rules so when one day The Devil whispered in his ear, he could resist no longer and out the window he climbed, through the gate he went and into the forest he disappeared…

Roald Dahl is  master storyteller and he loved to write stories for children that made them not only the heroes but also in defiance of the adults in their lives, so this is Dahl at his best.  While not as well known as some of his other works, it is nevertheless just as gripping and intriguing and engaging as the others.  This new edition is the first time that Quentin Blake has done the illustrations for it in his iconic style and as usual he has brought Dahl’s imagination and words to life.  They are liberally scattered throughout the text, breaking up both the words and the tension so that this is a perfect version for the newly-independent reader venturing into the world of “chapter books’ while, at the same time, introducing fans to a not-so-familiar story.

To me, the perfect novel is one I can hear and see myself reading to my students and just as The BFG captured me from the get-go so did this.  This needs to be on your read-aloud list for 2018.  

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Matt Sewell

Pavilion, 2017

96pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781843653509

If there is one section of the library that can never have too many items, it is 567.9 – the home of the dinosaurs.  There seems to be an eternal fascination with these long-ago creatures that has been the door into reading for so many children, particularly young boys who like to get the biggest and thickest books and pore over them with their mates.

So this new addition by Matt Sewell that introduces favourites and familiars and also some first-read-abouts will be welcome as it is targeted at those who want to know something but not so much that it is overwhelming. Who knew there were so many – but then they were on the planet for 170 million years! Each creature has a one or two page spread dominated by the illustration, an illustration that is somewhat different from the norm as they have been inspired by new ideas from palaeontologists that the creatures were not only colourful but some may have had feathers rather than the traditional scales and hide.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Each entry includes the length and weight which can always lead to some interesting maths activities and well as the time period (delve into history and create a chart) and their diet with ‘proper’ descriptors like ‘carnivorous’ to extend the vocabulary.  There are other basic facts written in a conversational tone that makes the language accessible to those early readers. Given that not every dinosaur is included, perhaps they could produce an extra page exploring and explaining their favourite dinosaur as an initial information literacy exercise.

Produced in conjunction with the Natural History Museum in the UK. this is a worthwhile addition to that critical section of the collection.

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Bill Condon

Dave Atze

Big Sky Publishing, 2017

130pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781925520590

A worm who wants to be an anaconda, an elephant that won’t do tricks, a gorilla named Harry Hairybutt… these are among the memorable characters that The Simple Things     author Bill Condon has  created in these 14  animal-based short stories that will appeal to the young emerging reader transitioning to novels.  

Each is based on a familiar proverb but that proverb is twisted to suit the story, and, depending on your opinion of puns, they are clever or dreadful. But each story is very funny and just the right length in a well-spaced font with plenty of illustrations.

At the end there is a glossary of the original proverbs with their actual meaning that introduces them to the reader, enriching their experience with the stories themselves. 

Fun and entertaining.

Icky-foodia: The Ultimate Guide to Disgusting Food

Icky-foodia

Icky-foodia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icky-foodia: The Ultimate Guide to Disgusting Food

The Listies

Puffin, 2017

210pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143784388

When the blurb of the book begins, “It’s a CROOKBOOK full of INGROSSIENTS to make every kid into a DISASTERCHEF. It contains smelly and just plain horrible words, scribbles, COOKING DESTRUCTIONS and a guide to the world’s worst RESTAURWRONGS. Full of made-up history, bonkers definitions, food unfacts and packed with illustrations …” then you have an idea of what this book is like and who its target audience is. If the blurb doesn’t warn you then the realistic cockroach on the front cover should.

This is an “alphabetical guide to disgusting foods, horrible recipes and weird meals”  that will appeal to those who like the weird and wacky and almost-naughty and who don’t particularly like reading but cope with tiny bits of information and lots of visual features. 

The follow-up to Ickypedia which became a stage showThe Listies are comedy duo Matthew Kelly and Richard Higgins whose aim is to make kids laugh using the sort of humour that boys of a certain age relate to.

While not necessarily having a lot of literary merit, if you want to entice reluctant readers into the world of books this may be the bait you need.

 

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha Building?

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

ABC Books, 2017

32pp, hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733334153

Every day on his way home from school Little Davey Durak watches the old milk bar on the corner being demolished, another victim of the ever-encroaching city inexorably guzzling all in its path. And every day Bruce the Builder would say hello to Davey as he carefully pulled the building apart and put the pieces in the skip, their final resting place.  

One afternoon, Davey asks Bruce for some wood -something he begins to do each day.  Sometimes it is a long piece and sometimes, short or chunky or thin.  But no matter how often Bruce asks what Davey is building, Davey doesn’t tell.  Bruce has heaps of ideas about what it could be but Davey keeps his secret.  Until the day Bruce helps him heave the old milkbar sign home…

Set against a backdrop of a city built like no other, one that could only be constructed in the mind of Stephen Michael King, Daddo has created a story that has many layers to it.  Young readers will have fun trying to predict what it is that Davey is building while others will relate to their neighbourhood slowly but surely changing as “progress” comes to town.  Others might like to investigate how the collage effect of the main characters superimposed on the landscape adds to the image of the layering of the landscape and how, in reality, everything is an imposition on the original.  And there might also be discussions about why King has chosen to depict the modern city using everyday objects in new ways while thinking about how they themselves might recycle or upcycle instead of throwing out. 

So many conversation starters – Is progress always good?  How do Bruce and Davey represent the past and the present? How has the children’s community changed over time? Has this been for the best?  Perhaps that could even inspire a local history project with interviews with long-term residents and a photographic journey or perhaps the children could create a record of their community as it is now so that future generations can do a compare and contrast. 

Teachers’ notes are available but all of that is wasted if it is not built on a solid, engaging, entertaining story – and this is certainly that.

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy and the Spy

Felice Arena

Puffin, 2017

176pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143309284

Little did Antonio know that when he stuck an irreverent sketch of Hitler and Mussolini on the windscreen of a German jeep that that his life would change forever. Chased by a German soldier, leaping from the treacherous il Diavolo, and rescuing a wounded American spy is not in the script of life for a rota, an abandoned child who is despised and ridiculed by his Sicilian village even though he has been adopted and taken in by and cares for Mamma Nina. 

But that one act by an innocent 12-year-old sets off a chain of events that keeps the reader enthralled as Antonio lurches from one situation to another seeing the reality of war and understanding the true meaning of family. Set in his homeland, Felice Arena has always wanted to create a story there but it took a long time for Antonio’s voice to echo in his head and demand that his story be told. It is a story worth the wait,

Any story that encourages boys, particularly, to read is to be commended but it is wonderful to see what could be termed a true, rollicking, boy’s own adventure being published. Moving apace with credible characters, both good and evil, Antonio gets into such situations that you wonder how he will get out of them but are willing him onward to success even though he is technically helping the enemy.  That said, it will also appeal to girls because without Simonetta’s help Antonio would have stumbled at the first hurdle and Arena himself says that there could be another story in the escape of Simonetta and her mother.  That’s one I will be looking out for!

This one is for the slightly older independent readers who are looking for a bit of meat and tension in their stories, who like something that compels them to keep reading and appreciate story-crafting at a high level.