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Posts Tagged ‘Difference’

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival.

August 17, 2017 Comments off

perfectly normanPerfectly Norman by Tom Percival. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

This superb picture book has a touch of genius about it as it helps children who are different understand that they should not be embarrassed or ashamed about their difference and tells them they are not alone.

Norman is,in his parents eyes, perfectly normal, but you the reader know this is not true by the illustrations. Norman and his kite are in colour and everything else is in black and white.

Then the imaginative Norman grows a pair of multi coloured wings and celebrates with a flight with the birds. Norman worries how his parents will react, so wears a warm coat which he never takes off. This makes his life miserable until he realises that the wings are not the problem but wearing the coat is.

He sheds the coat and other children with the same difference shed theirs and we have a wonderful celebration of colour as winged happy children take to the air.

Perfectly Norman or is that normal. Great to read aloud to juniors.

The illustrations are superb. The contrast of black and white with colour enhances the theme of difference and the isolation that people with difference sometimes feel. I repeat, a touch of genius.

Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures: Beautifully Different by Dana Salim, illus. Pavel Goldaev.

March 28, 2017 Comments off

differentYousuf’s Everyday Adventures: Beautifully Different by Dana Salim, illus. Pavel Goldaev. Pub. dana@ds-publishing.com

Taylor Swift once said “if you have the good fortune to be different don’t ever change“. This is very much the theme of this positive picture book about difference.

The book opens with this line- “Daddy, some of the kids in my class are different than me. Why is that? Why can’t we all be the same?”

Then we go on a fantasy adventure that involves travel to a land where the flowers are attacked by weeds and unite together to defeat them. The message is difference is beautiful.

The illustrations are bright, large and colourful. They start with a father and son both with big expressive eyes who go on an Imagination Time Travel game and it ends with a positive lesson.

A picture book with International appeal for primary school children and probably best read aloud to a class or individuals.

This is where the World Ends by Amy Zhang.

April 19, 2016 Comments off

world endsThis is where the World Ends by Amy Zhang. Pub. Greenwillow Books imprint HarperCollins, 2016.

If you like tragic young adult stories this is about as tragic as it gets, but so wonderfully told.

Janie and her secret boyfriend Micah share the same birthday. They call it Metaphor Day after a pile of rocks that stands near a deep quarry full of water near both their houses. They are different yet together. Micah likes Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor, Janie is Let it Be by the Beatles. Janie carries rocks from the Metaphor around in her pocket.

They tell no-one of their relationship because Janie wants it that way, meanwhile she has a relationship with a jock called Ander from school. He is repulsive and his actions ultimately lead to Janie’s collapse.

Lewis Carroll once said “all the best people are crazy” and I think this sums up the characters in the book well, but then aren’t we all. This is a school story about growing up.

The novel is structured in two parts, Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After and within each part their are three narratives – a Before narrative by Janie, an After narrative by Micah and a Journal kept by Janie which provides a fairytale dimension to Janie’s life and to the story.

It took me a while to get into this novel but once in there I dwelt for long periods digesting every word, action, emotion and fantasy. You will too. It is not unlike All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It is very deep and not for everybody but those that like it will remember it forever.

The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain by Julie Lamb.

April 11, 2016 Comments off

summer rainThe Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain by Julie Lamb. Pub Makaro press, 2016.

Summer Rain is 12 years old and in year 8 at a country school. She is a bit of a tomboy, likes to make the boys laugh and struggles with having girl friends. She is worldly wise, has a terrific but bizarre sense of humour and is very self sufficient. She has to be.

Her mother ran off when she was very young, her father was unable to cope so she has been brought up by her grandfather, Pop. He is a stingy old codger with some very blokish habits and attitudes, hence Summer is a Tom Boy.

Summer is changing from girlhood into womanhood and she is a bit uncomfortable about it all, but in the course of the novel this changes.

There are a host of strange yet appealing characters that Summer relates to especially Juanita a girl Summer regards as up herself, then there is Apple who is as close to a witch as you can get, in the best possible taste of course. But the character that really gets up Summer’s nose is Mrs Macy. She is an old flirt who is after her Pop because she thinks he has money. You will have to read the book to find out what happens.

Told with some relish and enthusiasm by Julie Lamb. Her language is vibrant with imagery that is original and witty. I think she has read Margaret Mahy and the book has this feel about it. The word discombobulated has that Mahy essence about it. This is not a criticism as I am glad that the Mahy mantle has been taken up. I may be wrong.

Will have wide appeal to girls in particular but boys would be silly not to try this book out too. Female relationships have always fascinated me and this book will fascinate you.

Primary and intermediate readers but adults who read this novel will get some of the more earthy humour.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo.

March 26, 2016 Comments off

raymieRaymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2016.

This is a novel for primary/intermediate students that will draw you in once you have read one page. It begins on a day when the sun is in a cloudless sky “it seemed like someone had put it up there and then walked away and left it”.

The style of writing with short sharp sentences makes for easy and compulsive reading. Kate Di Camillo draws the imagination out of the reader with her descriptions – “she looked like a mermaid in a bad mood” and when describing one of the characters grandmother it was “like looking at Louisiana in a fun house mirror”

The story is about three girls who are all broken hearted.  Raymie’s father has run away with a dental hygienist and she wants him back. Louisiana’s parents have been killed and she lives with her grandma who has put her cat in a home, and Beverley has a father who is a cop and has left home.

They meet at Baton twerling lessons and each has a motive for being there and all three want to enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition which involves doing good deeds. The three become friends and as the plot progresses their priorities change.

Set in Florida in 1975 it tells of an innocent age long since passed. It is refreshing reading from the same writer that gave us Because of Winn-Dixie and the Tale of Despereaux,

You have to read this beauty, a smile will rarely leave your face.

Adventures of a Bowling Shoe by Tom Rozek

December 4, 2015 Comments off

bowling shoeAdventures of a Bowling Shoe by Tom Rozek. author@bowlingshoebook.com

This short novel for middle school children is a hoot. I had a smile on my face through all 85 pages and you will too.

The novel is zany, perceptive about the human condition and funny. It is written to be read. 32 short chapters with an illustration by Zach Wideman at the head of each chapter.

It is the story of Jim a piece of cow skin that is cured and made into a size 12 left bowling shoe. He deals with smelly feet, having food and bowling balls dropped on him and the taunts of other bowling shoes.

Life is not great but he sticks with it. He befriends the cockroaches that live in the bowling alley where he works and they give him a lifeline to fulfill his one dream. On the way from the cow to being a shoe he met another piece of cow skin named Sally and wants to meet her again. Read this novel to see if he does.

Two additional chapters can be found at http://www.bowlingshoebook.com/bonus

From The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

October 29, 2015 Comments off

barney kettleFrom The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi. Pub Penguin Random House, 2015.

I always vowed that I would never write a bad review about any novel and I hope people do not conclude that this is a bad review. But in all honesty this is not my kind of novel. I love De Goldi’s Clubs and Honoria Lee was diffident on The 10PM Question but this novel was too busy for me. I found the plot was cluttered with trivia that prevented me getting at the story.

It took me five weeks to read the novel and one week of thinking what and if I was going to review it.

The story is a good idea. Barney is an aspiring film maker who has a filmic view of the world. He is looking back at the world of central High Street Christchurch before a 32 second shake killed it for everyone. Its the way he goes about telling it that gets me. I wish his more level headed sister Ren had been the narrator I probably would have liked the novel better.

Nonetheless people will love this book and Kate De Goldi is too dominant a literary figure to be ignored or dismissed just as this novel is.

Not my cup of tea but few who know me will not be surprised by this.

I think this is an adult book but senior students, young adults and readers with that theatric flair will like this novel.