Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

Middle School. I Funny. School of laughs by James Patterson, illus. Chris Grabenstein.

May 16, 2017 Comments off

school laughMiddle School. I Funny. School of laughs by James Patterson, illus. Chris Grabenstein. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2017.

I have reviewed a number of books by these two authors and they always have a funny way to address issues that concern children such as bullying and friendship which always have a positive ending.

The novels are easy to read, appeal to the reluctant reader of primary and intermediate age and are expertly illustrated.

In this novel wheelchair bound comedian Jamie has finished with his TV show and returned to school with his friends Gilda, Joey and Pierce. Once again they have to contend with bullies Stevie and Lars but this time the bullies have an ally in the new Headmaster, Coach Ball.

Coach Ball has a flattop haircut and a closet full of tracksuits and has a desire to close the school library and turn it into a wrestling arena. The new librarian Ms Denning has a month to prove that more than 50% of students are using the library or the die is cast.

Jamie and his friends set out to help, but how come Coach Ball drives a $140,000 Masaerati? Read it and find out.



Bruno by Catharina Valckx illus. Nicolas Hubesch

February 1, 2017 Comments off

bruno-daysBruno by Catharina Valckx illus. Nicolas Hubesch. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

This brilliant piece of work is subtitled Some of the more interesting days in my life so far and that is exactly what it is. For Bruno every day above ground is a good day and if it is not, then there is always another day.

Six days in Bruno’s life with his friends Ringo the old pony, Gloria the dairy owner, Bup the fish, Georgette the turtledove, Gerard the wolf and my favourite, Tweety the canary. There are other characters and they are all superbly developed with their own mannerisms and language.

The six days are not all good but they are very interesting. Included are a peculiar day, a day when the power went off and an almost perfect day. These days spent by Bruno with his blue cloth cap and his friends are all connected. They will make you laugh and recognise human foibles.

The illustrations show a French urban setting in which the detail is absorbing and has a strong sense of accuracy. The characters are brilliantly drawn but my favourite is the elegant giraffe in white skirt and top, with sunglasses and a bag over her shoulder at the escalator.

If you get bored with this book you have no soul.

A book for everybody but the writing is for primary and intermediate students. The cover makes you want to pick it up. This is a beauty.

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Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

January 30, 2017 Comments off

helperHelper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

There is an old adage about relationships that goes “it is not the similarities that make a relationship but the differences”. Well Snake and Lizard or Helper and Helper put this to the test in this excellent sequel to Snake and Lizard.

Firstly they haggle over business when a rival helper in the form of a grey rabbit starts stealing Snake and lizard’s clients. A new sign is needed but whose name should go first?

Lizard is fairly easy going and feels that Snake is taking advantage of him with his more ruthless attitude. The dialogue between them is like a marriage.

Then Lizards bludging relatives call and clean out the larder. Snake has to break a vow to ensure that they don’t come back but does lizard work this out? Does he want to?

The old pass the message through a number of characters to see how it ends up trick, is then used to make Snake understand what his relationship with lizard means to him.

Lots of little surprises and scenarios understandable to everyone are acted out and as always Gavin Bishop’s superb illustrations enhance the characters and the story line.

Great read-a-loud for primary schools. Lots of wisdom here and justly called modern Fables in the Aesop mould.

Fox & Goldfish by Nils Pieters

October 26, 2016 Comments off

fox-goldfishFox & Goldfish by Nils Pieters. Pub.Book Island, 2016.

Friendship is beyond words and the friendship between Fox and Goldfish is out there.

Fox sees that goldfish is not long for this world and considers goldfish has much to see before shaking off this mortal coil. Fox takes him on a journey carrying goldfish’s bowl in his arms, on his head, on a bike and dragged along on a little cart.

Goldfish is ecstatic. Perhaps he knows he is going to die? or does he?

Together fox and goldfish visit the forest, the sea and across the desert EasyRider style on  a cut down motorcycle. Mt Fuji and the jungle follow then it is Singing in the Rain. Up a mountain, skiing down, up to the moon and then as the sun sets Fox says “Ok my friend Now you can go”.

The epitaph is very moving. Read it and see.

Brilliant idea, even better illustrations. One of the best picture books this year.

Middle School Story: I Funny TV by James Patterson, Illus. Chris Grabenstein.

August 12, 2016 Comments off

funnytvMiddle School Story: I Funny TV by James Patterson, Illus. Chris Grabenstein. Pub.Penguin Random House Imprint Young Arrow, 2016.

Jamie Grimm is as nice a person as you are ever going to meet yet he is in a wheelchair caused in a motor accident that killed his parents and little sister. Jamie stays with his aunt and uncle and his bullying cousin Stevie.

In a previous book Jamie won the best funny kid competition and pocketed a million dollars which he spent wisely and generously. He never thinks only of himself.

One of the other prizes he won was  his own TV Show and in this book that’s what he gets. Hollywood and all its eccentricities and extravagances comes to Jamie. The pampered stars, the expanded egos, the tantrums and the bullshit.

Jamie is under pressure, so how will he cope? Read it and find out.

As always bullying is a huge theme of this novel and now Stevie the perennial is out bullied by a huge monster of a boy Lars Johannsen. Both get involved with the new TV show as does Jamie’s special friends Gaynor and Pierce.

I have read a half dozen of these novels and could be excused of having enough but I think this is the best yet. It is funny, the values are good and Jamie is such a wonderful character. Primary and intermediate readers will love it.



Starlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas

July 21, 2016 Comments off

saving starlightStarlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Puffin Books,imprint penguin Random house, 2016.

This fourth part about a horse riding stable has the same quality and values as the previous three which are reviewed on this blog. Set in Australia and mainly written for horse crazy girls and there are a lot of them, this continues the story of Poppy, Milly and Katie and their horses Crystal, Joe and Cody.

Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark have financial worries after a sponsor hits hard times. Starlight Stables is under threat. The girls have a competition of their own and Aunt Sophie is riding for an Olympic place at an event in Melbourne on her impressive horse Jupiter.

The girls want to help save Starlight and poppy wants to do well at her role of groom for Aunt Sophie’s horse Jupiter. What will happen if the stables go broke?  Will the impressive colt Prince have to be sold?  Will the girls be able to hold on to their horses? Read it and find out.

Starlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas.

July 20, 2016 Comments off

bush boltsStarlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.

Poppy and her two horse riding friends Milly and Katie return to Starlight stables for a long weekend but this time they have another companion who doesn’t share their fanatical love of horses.

Her name is Sarah and she was a good friend to Poppy when her father died and her mother was grieving badly. poppy badly wants Sarah to love horses like she does but that is a big ask. However Sarah has other qualities as a friend and a human being especially her love for all animals.

Starlight Stables is tinder dry and bush fires are a threat. While out riding the girls come under threat from a lightening storm that threatens catastrophe. Read the rest and find out what happens.

The other Starlight books are on this blog and the author can be reached at