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Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

Jack Noel

Farshore Fiction, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781405294065

The classic tale of Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Squire John Trelawney, Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and an assortment of other characters who set out on the Hispaniola to find Captain Flint’s long-buried treasure is brought to a new audience in this adaptation by illustrator Jack Noel to graphic novel format.

Adapted into numerous films, plays and other productions, this epitome of pirate stories really belongs in every child’s literary repertoire and using all the visual techniques that attract today’s young readers, the once-difficult language of the late 19th century storyteller is now accessible to today’s generation. So much of what we believe about pirates, their vocabulary and actions stems from Stevenson’s imagination so even if the student can’t manage the original, this interpretation will give them some insight and understanding of a story that they are expected to be familiar with in their later studies. 

This is the second in this series – the first is Great Expectations – and it would be a worthwhile addition to any library collection that seeks to extend children’s reading into the realm of stories to be read again and again. 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Enid Blyton

Hodder Children’s, 2020

638pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781444959437

Imagine being able to walk to the woods at the bottom of your garden where the leaves of the trees whisper to each other that you are there and find yourself at the bottom of a tree that has the most remarkable inhabitants like Moonface, Silky and Dame Washalot living in its branches and a revolving world of magical lands at its top, high in the clouds.  That is what Joe, Beth and Frannie (PC’ed from the original Fanny) discover when they move to the countryside and  discover that their new house lies next to the Enchanted Wood! And in that wood stands the Magic Faraway Tree where they have so many amazing encounters and adventures.

This collection comprising all three books in the series – The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree – is now, once again, on offer to parents, teachers and independent readers to share.  Over my 50+ years in teaching, I’ve lost count of how many children I have shared this magic with. Apart from transporting the children to new worlds of imagination and wonderment, it was my go-to read-aloud when they were ready for a serial that had continuous characters and settings so they were familiar with the background, but still needed a complete story within each session.  

There is a reason that Blyton’s stories (over 700 books and about 2,000 short stories) have not dated and have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children’s author and remain in print more than 50 years after her death.  Apart from being childhood favourites of previous generations and thus handed down through families like fairytales, her imagination gave her readers the wings to fly away from whatever circumstances they were in to a world where anything was possible, anything could happen and usually did.  In series like The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven,  Malory Towers and Noddy, there were no everyday constraints on the characters and they could become heroes in the most mundane of circumstances, resonating with the audience in ways many authors have envied and tried to emulate since. 

Visiting a new world every read, this is truly a perfect collection for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and because my own grandchildren have had this series on their bookshelves for many years, I know just which family needs this copy to start their tradition. 

 

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

Russell Punter & Kenneth Grahame

Xavier Bonet

Usborne, 2021 

104pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781474968867

In 1908 British author brought children the story of Mole, Rat and Badger and their efforts to reform the friendly but conceited and mischievous Mr Toad of Toad Hall who is fascinated by the latest fads, particularly motorcars.  But Toad is not the best of drivers and after many mishaps, finds himself in prison for 20 years for stealing a car.  Even though he eventually escapes, during his absence his magnificent Toad Hall has been overtaken by weasels and stoats, and it becomes a battle to get it back.

Now, over 100 years on, it has been interpreted in graphic novel format to appeal to a new generation of readers,  offering them an introduction to this classic story which has delighted so many before.  This is the latest in this series which includes The Wizard of Oz  and The Three Musketeers which opens up a new world of literature from past generations, inspiring independent readers to seek out the original versions. It is fast-paced and funny and has all the ingredients that have enabled it to endure for so long.

Mr Tickle

Mr Tickle

Mr Tickle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Tickle 50th Anniversary 

Roger Hargreaves & Adam Hargreaves

Penguin, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781761042157

Fifty years ago, a little boy asked his father, “What does a tickle look like?”  That question led to the writing of Mr Tickle and that led a whole series of  84 little books, just the right size for little children’s hands, that are as popular today as they were then.  Mr Men and Little Miss  are embedded in the reading of children the world over, and now, all those years on, not only are we celebrating the birth of Mr Tickle and all the others, but that little boy is now writing the stories following the death of his father.

But this isn’t just the original little book with a fancy gold cover – this one also tells the story of that little boy’s conversation with his dad and how, after a long walk and a long think, he was able to answer that question. From his pen emerged a character who was small and round and who had arms that could stretch and stretch, perfect for tickling.  And reaching out 50 years later to embrace a whole new generation of readers…

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

Libby Hathorn

Julie Vivas

Angus & Robertson, 2021

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

9781460759660

Sydney in the 1930s and Kieran is fascinated by the trams as they rattle past his house and down the hill to Bondi Beach.  But even moreso, he loves to watch Saxon the paperboy swing his way along the running board, deftly selling papers and giving change as he goes.  He is determined that he too will be a paperboy and finally, when he is 9, Mr Francis gives him a job. The only trouble is, when the newsagent hires him,  Saxon tells the younger Keiran this tramstop is his territory.

Keiran is determined and tries to copy Saxon’s technique on the trams. It all ends in a fall and his dad’s fury and the threat of losing his first job. Are Keiran’s dreams shattered before they have really formed?

This is a classic story from one of Australia’s most established children’s authors that has lasted the test of time as it takes the reader back to an era barely recognisable in today’s hustle and bustle.  The lives of Keiran and Isabelle are quite different from that of today’s 9 year-old – could having a job as well as school be a normal thing today? The signature style of Julie Vivas’s illustrations add a richness that demand a compare and contrast that will show that while there are many outward differences as time has moved on, not just between 1931 and now but also 1981 when it was first published and now. that inner strength of family remains unchanged. 

It also highlights the current controversy of the delivery of news, including the situation with Facebook withdrawing access to news sites, setting up an investigation into how people have got their news over time, its integrity and its relevance, making it a book that could be used at any level across the school. 

 

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wizard of Oz

Russell Punter & L. Frank Baum

Simona Bursi

Usborne, 2020

104pp., graphic novel, RRP $A16.99

9781474968850

The classic story of Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow the Cowardly Lion, the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of the West has been beautifully reinterpreted in this colourful graphic novel, perfect for younger readers who have not yet made the journey from Kansas to the Emerald City and just in time to be a focus for the 2021 Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds. 

Declared by the US Library of Congress as “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”, this is a story that all children should be familiar with given the references from it that appear in life today, and so to have it in graphic novel format which makes it accessible to newly independent readers and a whole new generation of children is a bonus. The full plot of the story is summarised here, and it could be wise to have the unabridged classic version available for those who are enticed to read that as well. 

 

A Christmas Wish

 

A Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Wish

Beatrix Potter

Eleanor Taylor

Puffin, 2017

18pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9780241291757

It’s Christmas Eve and Peter Rabbit and his sisters are excited, but Peter is worried too. They have all wished for a special present but Peter can’t sleep, and he knows Father Christmas won’t visit if he’s still awake. As the hours drag by anxious Peter hears a little creak here, and a little bump there, so now he’s even less likely to fall asleep, especially as he is convinced each noise must be Santa and he gets up to investigate. Then he decides to sit and gaze at the lights on the Christmas tree…will Santa come while he’s there?

The charm and delight of Beatrix Potter’s tales about Peter Rabbit have endured over decades and this adaptation is no exception.  Perfect for that final sleep on the BIG night, little ones will empathise with Peter as they share his excitement and find it just as tricky to get to sleep it will become a classic part of the annual Christmas Countdown.

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Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Wishes

Enid Blyton

Hachette, 2020

316pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

 9781444957198 

After a year like no other, when things that have been taken for granted for decades have suddenly become novelties, Christmas is coming again -almost the one certainty – and people are returning to the old classic rituals and routines in a way unseen for many years. It is as though the security of the past is bringing comfort in this uncertain present and so it seems logical that we should also turn to the stories that have endured and given such joy in previous times.

If any writer of previous generations has survived that test of time it is Enid Blyton and in this collection of 30 Christmas tales taken from her series and short story collections of yesteryear, young readers will be taken back to a time when there was just the written word, the imagination and the magic.  Even those who are not as old as me and who don’t recall Blyton being an integral part of their reading history will revel in the sheer innocence and joy of these simple stories. From a dog who discovers the joy of Christmas to Santa Claus who gets himself out of a muddle with a little help from his friends, these stories celebrate shared times, festivities and wonder. Even if there is no opportunity to organise a full-blown Christmas Countdown, sharing just one story a day as a family or a class will bring back that sense of calm and normality in a world that seems to have gone mad. 

This is a collection that holds so many memories for me that I’m passing it on to Miss 14 and Miss 9  knowing they will enjoy them regardless of their ages and that they are likely to hang on to it for that distant day of their own families. Thanks Hachette for adding to the nostalgia.

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Linda Chapman

HarperCollins, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 9780008340070

First published in 1911, The Secret Garden is the story of Mary, a  sickly, neglected, unloved and unwanted 10-year-old girl whose care has been mostly left to the servants who care for her English family in colonial India. After her parents die in a cholera epidemic, she is sent back to England into the care of her unknown uncle Archibald Craven  at his isolated mansion Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. 

At first, Mary is rude and obnoxious, disliking everything about her new circumstances but eventually she warms to Martha Sowerby who tells her about her aunt, the late Lilias Craven and how she would spend hours in a private walled garden growing roses. After his wife died in an accident in the garden,  Mr Craven locked the garden and buried the key.

Mary becomes interested in finding the secret garden herself and once she discovers the key, her life begins to change…

This version is based on the screenplay of  2020 movie which has finally been released and which many students will have seen.  Telling the core of the original story it evokes a magical world that encourages self-discovery and change and perhaps an interest in reading the original.  A stunning way to introduce a new generation to a classic. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2019

24pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9780141338484

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf…”  So begins one of the most well-known stories written for children in the modern era.  First published in 1969, who doesn’t know this classic story of the hatching of that little egg, and the caterpillar’s journey through a an orchard of fruits throughout the week, an un-caterpillar feast on Saturday and culminating in a massive stomach ache?  So big, in fact, that the little caterpillar has to eat through a nice green leaf to ease it and then goes to sleep for another week, snug in a cocoon until he emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

With an engaging character, bright pictures created in Carle’s signature collage style, cut and cutout pages that promise new things when they are turned, counting and predicting and reading along, and a most satisfying ending, this book has endured to become a classic, one that should be on the bottom shelf, your read-aloud basket and your teaching toolkit. Being a larger board book edition, it is designed to stand up to the constant reading it will have as it is passed along and around families, sparking and creating memories of times spent together. A classic that needs to be kept alive for generations, despite screens and other distractions.