Good Reads

11th August 2015

Classic

BK_katie_moragKatie Morag and the New Pier by Mairi Hedderwick (first published 1993)

Katie Morag lives on the Isle of Struay in Scotland. From there the “Mainland” is visible, yet far enough away to remove the hustle and bustle of the mainland. With pride and a certain innocence the isle’s characters come to life with Mairi’s tales of village life on the island and little lessons in humanity. Though slightly rough and ready, the drawings are so expressive and the details of animals, landscapes and activity help create convincing story lines. Maybe Katie Morag is world famous in Scotland but even so this is a classic that everyone with a little pride in their own immediate community can identify with and can enjoy sharing with younger readers.

………………………………………………………………….

Contemporary

BK_dreamers“Dreamers” by Ezekiel Kwaymullina illustrated by Sally Morgan (published 2014)

“We are the dream ad the dreamers the song spinners and the rainbow dancers” This phrases alone sold the book to me. How beautiful and expressions and the final statement; “We are the children wild and hope bright” is so evocative and cleverly expressed that this book has to be listed as an immediate favourite. Colours and imagery, bright bold and full of joy. Combinations of traditional aboriginal designs and modern twits with vibrant fill and figures throughout the book send the reader’s heart soaring into what possibilities and  there are on this planet. Lovely!

………………………………………………………………….

Diverse

BK_love_you_forever“Love you Forever” by Robert Munshi illustrated by Sheila McGraw (first published 1986)

Is this classic or contemporary or diverse? I opted for diverse as the theme in this book is special and the book is clearly written with a purpose of raising the tricky questions of life death and everything. The inscription in my own copy reads;

“This is a very special book with very special message. I’ll know you’ll always treasure what it says even if you no longer have the book. All my love now and throughout life Uncle Michael. “

For me that about sums up the tear-jerker tale and is my wish for its readers.

………………………………………………………………….

4th August 2015

Classic

Bk_Burgular_Bill“Burglar Bill” by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (first published 1977)

Alright I’ll admit it; yes I am a big fan of the “Ahlberg duo”… but how can one not be when their combination of cheerful drawings and sweet little tales have made many happy reading hours for children and their readers throughout the decades. Children love identifying with the characters and spotting all the little details in each picture as the happy stories are read to them. The subtle life lessons that come through the Ahlbergs’ works tell of human nature and how to find the good in others. This story in particular is a tale of redemption. I like that and having just being to the Art Gallery of New South Wales this week to view the 2015 Archibald prize exhibition “This week’s Reading” gives a little nod to this year’s Archibald prize winner Nigel Milsom – a reformed thief)*. Highlights in “BB” include the “Poo discovery” and the moral lesson in honesty and putting things right.

………………………………………………………………….

Contemporary

BK_on_sm_island“On a Small Island” by Kyle Hughes-Odgers (published 2014)

Again there are hidden messages in this story. Though simply told, there are many complex and high level words used to tell the story of an isolated person (Ari) who feels alone and lacking in purpose. I like this reading challenge for the audience and the opportunity it gives the reader to explore new vocab with their listener. In the story, Ari learns to develop resilience and meaning in his life by deciding to take on a project. This leads to fulfilment and to others wanting to connect with him. Ari no longer feels lonely but feels lucky to be surrounded by “remarkable things and interesting friends”. This story is a very important one in today’s culture of social media and the huge pressure young people feel to be connected and to fit in to a wider circle. Ari is an allegory in getting on with your own adventures and projects to inspire others rather than feeling left out and helpless. As for the artwork – ‘shape’ and ‘form’ stand out and the earthy tones make this book look modern and serious.

………………………………………………………………….

Diverse

Bk_Patchwork“The Patchwork Quilt” by Valerie Flournoy illustratedby Jerry Pinkney (published 196

Yes, this is a children’s picture book but over the years I have found it a wonderful tool for teaching about family, the circle of life (and loss) and of course grief. Wonderful realistic coloured sketches accompany this timeline of a grandmother’s ageing. We are spared the dramatics of death yet there are gentle reminders of the passing of time, the frailty of old people and the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. The reader is left with a sense that though there is the inevitable demise of one’s elders there is a continuation of the story and that there are always reminders to connect us with the past and with those we hold dear.

………………………………………………………………….

15th July 2014

Classic

BK_rabbits“The Rabbits” Wedding by Garth Williams (first published in 1960)

Now this is a book from my youth. I only need to see the endearing image of the black and white rabbits on the front to feel all warm and fuzzy. It is a tale of love and need for commitment but with it being written in the Sixties I can’t help thinking that there is also a racial equality message there somewhere. The drawing and essentially sketched with black and white being the dominant tones. Hues of yellow (signifying hope) are throughout and mirror the dandelions that the rabbits so love to eat. A classic feel good tale to share.

………………………………………………………………….

Contemporary

Bk_sheep_leap“The Sheep Gave a Leap” by Hilda Offen (first published in 1993)

Does 1993 count as contemporary – I am guessing it does for my purpose. This little action and rhyme story get the reader and the audience up off their seats and into a dynamic retelling and story sharing as they read. Fantastic! What better story for wriggly little people in an afternoon reading session than this? The colours and the smiling animals join the little person who clearly steals the show. Read this when children won’t sit still and your tolerance and patience are low.  It’ll energise you, raise the mood and make everyone smile! Enjoy!

………………………………………………………………….

Diverse

BK_Camile“Camille and the Sunflowers” by Laurence Anholt

Okay, this book makes me cry; yet its pathos and “Van-Gogh-esque” illustrations beautifully portray Vincent Van Gogh’s tragic life in an age appropriate way. How better to accompany Art topic studies or art lessons than with a background book like this. Told through the eyes of a young child the reader is taken on a journey of enlightenment as to the inspirations and motivations for this painter’s famous works. The motifs of the sunflowers and the stars help the reader connect with the renowned images. A must-have for any art-resource box.