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Posts Tagged ‘Schools’

Only Freaks Turn Things Into Bones by Steff Green, illus. Bree Roldan

August 7, 2019 Comments off

freaksOnly Freaks Turn Things Into Bones by Steff Green, illus. Bree Roldan. Pub. Obscura, 2019.

Little Grim is a freak and he knows it. His dad is the Grim reaper and he wants little Grim to go to school but little Grim is going to face rejection and hostility because of hoe he looks and what happens when he touches things.

He runs to the graveyard where he feels at home and he meets Suzie who introduces him to others who have been rejected and bullied. Together they work on a mural about their lives.

Beautifully illustrated with a great last line “When “freaks” become friends we have way more fun”.

A sophisticated picture book with the theme of difference for everybody  especially those who are bored with reading.

The Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, Illus. Rob Jones.

July 31, 2019 Comments off

teachersThe Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, Illus. Rob Jones. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is the sort of book that you need in a library because the cover says to the reluctant reader “pick me up and have a look”.

It is the sort of book that you don’t have to read at the start and go through to the finish, you can pick it up and read from anywhere. It is a collection of short ditties about every aspect of school life with emphasis on the teachers.

It describes teachers in the classroom, in the staff room whether they are nice, good, bad, or evil with an emphasis on the ridiculous and the funny. It describes the library and the librarian, the school secretary how to give an excuse for being late and how to do a fart without pooing yourself.

The illustrations enhance the silliness and describe aspects of British schools that are not common to New Zealand like school lunches and the infamous dinner lady.

All in all a good laugh especially for reluctant readers.

Harriet and the eye of the bird by Julie Lamb.

May 26, 2019 Comments off

harrietHarriet and the eye of the bird by Julie Lamb. Pub. The Cuba Press wellington, 2019.

This novel for primary and intermediate girls could well have been sub titled “the secret life of girls” because that is what it comes down to.

Harriet loves her dad and can see no wrong in him, but after staying out all night with a mate he leaves after a torrid argument with Harriet’s mum. He stays away, phones once and misses Harriet’s birthday. Her mum tells her to get used to it but Harriet sees only herself.

Her life is coming apart and she has a lot of learning to do. The family move to a house they can afford and the mother and big sister Claire accept the circumstances. Harriet misses her friends but is shunned when she goes back for a birthday party.

Harriet tries to make friends with a girl who is under the control of a very nasty girl. Why? A shy girl Alice comes into her life through school and Harriet treats her the same way she is treated by the girl she wants so much to befriend. She has to learn the true meaning of friendship. Read it and find out how. There is a tree and birds to help her.

Great conversation between characters who are nearly all female but there is a lovely granddad. As a granddad of two girls this book spoke to me and I read it in two sittings. You will too.

Julie lamb paces the novel perfectly and builds on her success  with The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain, also reviewed on this blog. A writer to watch.

 

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

May 11, 2019 Comments off

I ClaudiaI, Claudia by Mary McCoy. Pub. carolehoda Lab, 2019. Imprint Walker Books.

Sometimes there comes a novel that you don’t want to ever finish and this political thriller about a student council in a Los Angeles high school is one of them.

I savoured this novel over 10 days and was not disappointed by a thing. Yes I was. I was disappointed that the Head and Board of Governors of the school did not step in earlier in spite of ample evidence to do so, but then that would have ruined the story

The Imperial Day Academy is a prestigious school that is run by a student body titled the Honour Council which is structured somewhat like the Roman Senate with representatives from each class level and a President and vice President. The candidates are elected annually and have as many qualities as everyday American politics – liars, cheats, bullies, power freaks and idealists. . The aim is to destroy your opponents character and intentions and make you seem like the only wise choice. Whether it is true or not.

The novel is told by Claudia McCarthy in the form of a testimony and you the reader will find out why this is when you finish the book. The aim is to work out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and it is not easy. Claudia’s approach is this “I make a habit of identifying the psychopaths in my environment as quickly as possible”. But is she right? Claudia’s character is charismatic. She appears to be a nobody and describes herself as an historian and is ultimately totally brave.

The characters are stunningly conceived from the ruthless, manipulative Livia, to the power crazy Cal and the heroic Claudia. There are deaths, there are inhuman episodes, there is corruption, there is sexual violation and there is love albeit misused.

The tactics used by Nixon during the Watergate scandal are a blueprint for the political drama at Imperial Day school and there is a lot of Trump’s America in there too.

This is a novel of today’s America and if you miss this one you will kick yourself. The ending provides all the answers but leaving some doubt as well. In politics do we ever learn the truth?

For High school students and Young Adults. Just superb. Stunning cover.

Bloom by Nicola Skinner.

April 1, 2019 Comments off

bloomBloom by Nicola Skinner. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is the most bizarre children’s book for primary and intermediate children that I have read for a long time.

It is set in an old town called Little Sterilis that has now been concreted over throughout the centuries by a ruthless family called the Valentinis. It once was a settlement around  a lovely cottage called Little Cherrybliss now resided by the hero and narrator of this novel Sorrel Coriander Fallowfield. Yes it is a garden herbal name and that is the point of the story.

Sorrel is the perfect student, doesn’t cause trouble and goes to Grittysnit School run by a crazy headmaster with a control freak mentality Mr Grittysnit. The two are going to clash.

The novel rolics along at a rate of knots as Sorrel is one of those gushy, enthusiastic girls who has a good heart and amplifies everything.

When Sorrel’s cottage suddenly erupts and discards a packet of Surprising Seeds, the whole world of Little Sterilis changes and so does Sorrel. Bizarrely Sorrel her friend Neena and her mother scatter the seeds on their heads and they begin to grow. This starts a sequence of events that are over the top but have a conservation and environmental message  underneath.

History comes back to haunt the present.Read it and see what happens

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illus. Suzanne Kaufman

January 20, 2019 Comments off

all welcomeAll Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illus. Suzanne Kaufman. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is a read-a-loud picture book that celebrates cultural diversity through the eyes of children in the classroom.

While adults do not seem to embrace cultural difference in this hectic World we live in, for children it is a different story. Kids just get on with it celebrating similarities rather than differences in dress, food, habits, language and religion. Whether you wear a hijab or a baseball cap it doesn’t matter.

The front cover shows 12 different cultures and the back page has welcome in 24 languages. In between the play in the classroom it is stressed All are welcome. You have a place here. We can learn from each other.

The simple illustrations highlight the differences in culture and the similarities in needs and in relationships.

All schools and families need to have this picture book. Children are the future and adults just have to get it together to make a better World.

Maudlin Towers2. Treasure of the Golden Skull by Chris Priestley

December 6, 2018 Comments off

golden skullMaudlin Towers2. Treasure of the Golden Skull by Chris Priestley. Pub. Bloomsbury Childrens Books, 2018.

Cor blimey O’Reilly this is good. Quality writing, crazy plot, even crazier characters, full of humour and wit and so easy to read.

Mildew and Sponge are friends at a run down private school called Maudlin Towers. The opening chapter has one of the spires falling through the headmasters office. Both teachers and pupils are full of gloom about going to the school but feel they have nowhere better to go.

Then the School Board refuse to fund the repairs and the school is rumoured to be closing. How can this change?

Well it is discovered that the founding fathers of the school were pirates led by Greenbeard, captain of the Golden Skull, and the captain’s treasure could be hidden somewhere in the school and environs.

Firstly the school Board, who look and act like pirates, remove all the teaching staff and a new boy called Newboy joins the school. Sponge is walloped on the head and keeps seeing a parrot around the school grounds but his friend Mildew is skeptical “I had a cousin once who thought he could see Charles Dickens. It turned out to be a hatstand. He’s an MP now so be warned.”

The characters are weird. Miss Bronteen pines for a lost love on the moors and Kenningworth is a total rotter out of the top drawer. Then there is Miss Nevermiss!

Superb humour and excellent pen and ink sketches of the characters make this an excellent read for even the most reluctant boy reader. I was fascinated from go to woe and there is a lot of woe.

Intermediate and junior secondary.