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Posts Tagged ‘Difference’

Along Came a Different by Tom McLaughlin.

May 15, 2018 Comments off

differentAlong Came a Different by Tom McLaughlin. Pub.Bloomsbury, 2018.

This outstanding picture book discusses racism, prejudice and difference in the most simplest of ways – using colours and shapes.

The Reds are first on the scene with their red hats, songs and apples. Then came the yellows with their bananas and they didn’t like the Reds because their hats were too pointy and music too loud. They divided the territory up, then the Blues turned up with their bow ties and twangy guitars.

Nobody liked each other and things got sillier and sillier. So they drew up rules. Being friends was banned.

Something has got to give and then something really different shows up. See what they do.

Superb illustrations using colours of course with large written text some of it in dark black for emphasis.

Excellent read aloud and superb message. Why can’t we all be friends?

How To Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.

January 18, 2018 Comments off

hang witchHow To Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

The Salem witch trials of 1691 make some of the most sordid reading in American history. Cotton Mather was a leading instigator in these trials, this novel is written by a descendant Adriana Mather and the main character in the novel is teenage girl Samantha Mather. It’s a family affair.

Samantha and her step mother Vivian sell their New York apartment to pay the medical expenses of Samantha’s father who has mysteriously gone into a coma. They move to Salem and stay in a house once owned by Samantha’s grandma that she didn’t know about.

Samantha is a difficult girl she has an affinity for sarcasm and doesn’t have any friends. Why is this? Her first day in the old house results in mysterious happenings, secret rooms, things that go bump in the night.

Her first day at Salem high school is no better, she makes enemies of a group of black clad girls called the Descendants who are related to the witches of 1691. They threaten her and say she is cursed. Then Samantha meets handsome boy Elijah who is a ghost and only she can see and hear him. He tells her to leave or else, but Samantha is built of sterner stuff and is not intimidated by the threats. She should be. Elijah tells her that when one of each of the main families involved in the original trials is in Salem a curse is invoked and the death rate mounts. Can the curse be broken?

A fascinating read that sheds light on the Salem trials and likens them to modern day bullying. Not a lot of laughs in this novel that has the power to scare the s**t out of you but fortunately there is a touch of romance to lighten the mood.

Superbly written and structured in 47 short sharp chapters so that you can read it in short bursts like I did. Senior secondary but I suspect younger readers will clamber to read it as well. It will do them no harm.

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.