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Posts Tagged ‘self esteem’

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, co writer Andrew Weiner, Illus Brittney Williams. Pub Harper Alley, imprint HarperCollins, 2022

May 24, 2022 Comments off

A powerful graphic novel that looks at the lives of poor kids from the projects in an American city and how their lives and aspirations are affected by their situation. It will be popular with Maori and Pacifica students and .anybody who is a graphic reader from intermediate through to high school students and beyond.

Co written by pop singer Alicia Keys and based on a hit song of the same name, this novel looks at the lives of Lolo Wright, her brother James and her school mates. They live in a tough neighbourhood that is riven with drug dealers lead by a nasty man called Skin who controls everything.

When Lolo’s brother James is falsely accused of a crime he didn’t do, Lolo develops a characteristic she didn’t know she had and it is super powered in nature. At the same time a short boy named Runt who is also bullied and abused develops the same power.

Conflict results with a few surprises and ends in a satisfactory manner. Message is we all have the power within us to shape our own destiny no matter who we are.

Lots of friendship stuff particularly between girls and family stuff too. Great reading.

I read this book twice in a row without stopping. Firstly I looked only at the graphic images to see what they told me, then I read the written text. They complimented each other perfectly. Lots of tough ghetto talk and action images. This book will be popular.

The Tale of the Tiny Man by Barbro Lindgren Illus. Eva Erikson, Translated by Julia Marshall. Pub Gecko Press 2022.

March 7, 2022 Comments off

This is a simply told story from Sweden about a tiny man who is very lonely because he has no friends. Although he is polite and courteous around people, raising his hat in greeting towards them, people don’t seem to like him.

He lacks self esteem and blames it on his ugly hat. He cries in bed at night but believes he is a kind man, and he is. He pins a note to a tree that says FRIEND WANTED and waits on his doorstep for an answer as 10 days go by and the first signs of winter appear.

Then a dog with a curved tail and wet nose comes to him and happiness abounds. He feeds the dog and they become friends, you can tell cos the dog leaks on his gate to mark out his territory. They have fun together and those that used to mistreat the old man change because of the dog.

The winter ends with spring and a young girl with a polka dot dress and a ribbon in her hair appears and the dog loves her. Is friendship exclusive? Will the dog take off with the girl?

Read it and see you will not regret it.

Easy to read text particularly good for juniors and primary students when read aloud.

The illustrations are a treat. The little man and the dog and girl are superbly drawn but do not drift into sentimentality. Brings about great opportunities to discuss self esteem and friendship.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Pub. Usborne Publishing 2021.

November 29, 2021 Comments off

A young adult novel that will shock with its women hating violence and racism.

Deka is a 16 year old black girl living in a cold environment and largely scorned by the villagers around her. Her mother was also black but has died and her father raises her with an aloof manner. She does have friends and like her fellow 16 year olds awaits the ceremony, The Ritual of Purity, to see if she has purity. Purity means red blood in her veins not gold and all the girls are cut to reveal their status.

Deka fails and for that she goes through an ordeal in which she is killed and drained of blood 9 times but survives. She has extreme powers which she doesn’t know about.

The society she lives in have a god called Oyomo and their holy book is Infinite Wisdoms by which the people live. It is a book that keeps women down and makes them the playthings of men who lust after gold. Not pleasant but not unlike many religious groups on Earth.

Deka is saved by the Emperor of the land of Otera who wishes to put together an army of demon women to fight the Deathshrieks who are vicious monsters that threaten humans and dispose of them in most horrible fashion.

Deka is taken to the capital city Hemaira to a training site to develop her considerable talents and be groomed to fight the deathshrieks with other girls who are her sisterhood. You wonder while you are reading this novel ” why is Deka and her sisterhood fighting for such and evil society?” Well the answer is in the true nature of Deka and this you will discover as you read the book.

Deka is a good role model and the writing is expansive and catchy.

Read it and check out what happens but expect some gore and very cruel treatment. There will be a sequel in 2022.

Rosie the Rhinoceros by Jimmy Barnes, Illus. Matt Shanks. Pub. Angus & Robertson, 2021

November 20, 2021 Comments off

When Rosie looks at her reflection in the mirror or in the water she sees a unicorn not a rhinoceros. Whats wrong with being a rhinoceros?

She believes her Pretty horn and dainty hooves are like those of a unicorn. She lives with a rhinoceros family who she finds “impressive but not magical like her’

Nonetheless in spite of her efforts all the other animals know she is a rhinoceros.

Rosie is very sociable and enjoys her day and especially loves the morning. After Mrs Lion and the elephants call her a rhinoceros Rosie gets her friends together to tell them she is a unicorn and shows them her pretty horn and delicate feet to prove it.

The animals all smile but will they accept her as a unicorn? read it and find out.

Great African scenes in the illustrations and a happy story about identity, difference and acceptance.

The author is none other than the rock singer Jimmy Barnes.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, Illus. Sophie Blackall. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

November 1, 2021 Comments off

This is story telling at it’s very best and if it were a fine wine it would be described as nectar of the Gods.

It is the story of a prophecy written in the Chronicles of Sorrowing that states “there will come a girl child who will unseat a king and bring about great change”. The prophecy has been ignored by the current king who rules his kingdom unwisely but he is aware of the prophecy and conducts a search of his kingdom to find the said girl.

When Beatryce is found by Brother Edik in the company of a goat called Answelica, he realises that this girl is the subject of the prophecy but she doesn’t know it. Her memory has gone but she does know her name is Beatryce

Brother Edik takes Beatryce, against the advice of the Abbot, into the monastary for protection and finds out she can read and write against the expressed wishes of the king. He cuts Beatryce’s hair off, dresses her as a monk, and urges her not to tell anyone of her literary skills and pretend to be mute.

A 12 year old boy Jack Cory, whose parents have been killed by a robber in the Dark Forest, comes into the story and befriends Beatryce when the Abbot slings her out of the monastary because he is scared of what the king will do.

A showdown with the king is inevitable but there is much adventure to go through first. You will have to read it to find out what happens.

Beautifully written in simple text and short chapters comprising six books within the story. All are beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall who capture all the characters perfectly especially the goat.

There is a strong message of knowing who we are and being true to yourself. Easily the best children’s novel for primary and Intermediate children, this year. Answelica the goat is a sensation.

Curly-Cat by Jennifer Somervell. Illus. Zerika Van Jaarsveld. Pub. Landing Lights Press, 2021

September 12, 2021 Comments off

This is a first class picture book about more than a cat with a long straggly tail. It is about bullying, it is about cats and how they communicate with their tails and it is about friends and their importance for self esteem.

Curly-Cat has an unruly tail. He thinks it is different and weird. He tries everything to make it look better including a trip to the Laundrocat to make it curly, remove hairballs and look good. It doesn’t, and a very impressive Meany cat taunts him about it.

Curly -Cat goes to Barber Cat to shorten his tail but that is not the answer and Curly -Cat leaves with tears in his eyes. Then Barber Cat has a brilliant idea that will change Curly-Cats life for ever at the Best Tail in Pawsville Competition. It is great as tails are judged to the music of the Hot Tin Roof band.

The illustrations are superb and in the back information is given about the breed of cat used to make all the characters. There is also an information page on what bullying is and a picture of the cat with the longest tail.

The happy ending is illustrated as the cats play Tails and Ladders while eating Mouse Mallows, choc Fish and wing chips.

One of the picture books of the year. This book will keep youngsters occupied for hours.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

The Life and Times of Eddie Mcgrath by Brigid Feehan. Pub, Onetree House, 2021

June 11, 2021 Comments off

Eddie short for Edwina is an imaginative junior high school student with a caring and bizarre family including two older sisters and an aunty who is a Druid. She has stunned everybody by winning a competition in which she becomes an MP for the day in his or her constituency office, then has to prepare a speech and meet the Prime Minister, all on camera.

She has a couple of good friends Meri and a boy named Liam and it is all innocent and idealistic. Such is young life. Their lives are hectic and things change very quickly but they are caring and well meaning. The story is narrated by Eddie and she agonises over her life with her friends as young girls do.

Hanging over her head is of course the meeting with the PM and her speech but many other things are happening. Her father has an accident and a boy from Christchurch who also won the competition wants to come to Wellington to meet her.

The best story however involves Liam and his arthritic dog Russ. Liam is not happy with some chickens that are being mistreated by a neighbour so he removes them in a chilly bin and ensconces them on the top floor of an abandoned and earthquake risky former convent. Then he changes his mind and decides to put them back but is caught. This introduces another character and another situation.

Brigid Feehan links all the stories together in a witty spirited novel for intermediate and junior secondary readers. Eddie is a committed reader herself and this novel is probably best suited for girls although not necessarily so. I enjoyed it and it shows that life doesn’t always go smooth but if you adapt to the changes you might get a better than asked for result.

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

June 23, 2020 Comments off

one bobThe One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

Children love animal stories and so do I. This excellent novel for primary and middle school readers is a sequel to the award winning The One and Only Ivan.

Ivan is a silver backed gorilla who was taken from the jungle as a baby, brought up by humans and never understood that in his own community he would be in charge. He is a gentle giant and when confined to a small zoo off a major highway he is befriended by Bob a small dog who has been abandoned by humans.

Bob has a human care giver, Julia, who taught Ivan art, and still visits him and his elephant friend Ruby at the zoo. Bob has doubts about himself but a massive hurricane and tornado wreck the zoo putting all the animals and humans in jeopardy. Bo finds strengths that he never knew he had.

Superbly narrated by Bob who has doubts over whether dog is man’s best friend or that man is dogs best friend. See what you think yourself.

The illustrations by Patricia Castelao are superb and add a necessary dimension to the characters and the story. Don’t miss this beauty.

Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival

August 22, 2019 Comments off

ravis roarRavi’s Roar by Tom Percival. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Ravi is not happy being the youngest and smallest in his family even his dog biscuit is bigger than him.  He is always last in a race for anything, he is not allowed on the big slide and he can never find anyone during hide and seek.

When he is last to the ice cream cart and there is none left, Ravi sees red and turns into a tiger that scares everyone off. this loses him all his friends and he has to make a big decision. Read it and find out what it is.

Easy to read script and illustrations that enhance the plot and highlight personality differences. Tom Percival is good at this sort of thing and two others of his picture books are on this blog. Check them out.

If I Was a Banana by Alexandra Tylee & Kieran Rynhart.

September 4, 2016 Comments off

bananaIf I Was a Banana by Alexandra Tylee & Kieran Rynhart. Pub. Gecko Press, 2016

When I read this outstanding picture book for children of all ages my thoughts were that the pairing of author and illustrator was an experienced one and they must have worked together several times. But no. It is Alexandra Tylee’s first book and the only time she has worked with Kieran Rynhart and what’s more they are Kiwis.

A boy who is neither big or little is walking with his mother looking at the world around him. He plays the What If game. If he was a banana he would be fat and full like the one in the shop window, if he was a cow he would be the self important one standing in the field and if he was an elephant he would be very careful where he put his feet.

There are more What Ifs before he decides he is most comfortable being himself.

The illustrations are superb. In coloured pencil and varying in size from whole page to smaller images placed strategically within the written text and melding beautifully with the imagination and emotion of the boy. The lion, the tree the storm clouds even the banana are outstanding.

I shall be watching this one when Award time comes round next year.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,