This is our third year to embark on our annual Term 4 adventure; Leaping into Literature. A time when we immerse ourselves in picture books, and chapter books for the older children. This ties in well with our focus this term, literacy; reading, writing and spelling, which deserves a whole post in itself, but suffice for now, we’re seeing wonderful results. To ‘free up’ time for picture books we omit history, science and geography from our studies, though in reality we cover these in our picture books anyhow.
Our library cards are nearly maxed out, with 12 cards in the family and a capacity of 20 reservations per card, we’re already in the 200s! As our library has 5 branches it takes a while for the books to come trickling in, but we’ve had a great haul to begin with.
I do apologise for the length of this post, it is epic, well done to those who make it through.
Sharing the older children’s reads first.
Princess has been on a binge read of Harry Potter. Our family ‘rite of passage’ is HP at 14 years old, Princess passed this milestone a couple of weeks ago, so once she finished her birthday gift, the Mapmaker’s Chronicles, Harry Potter was picked up and hasn’t gone down yet. Regards Mapmaker’s Chronicles at this stage it is only available in Australia in print form, readers in the UK and USA can purchase it via ereader editions.
Jelly Bean (11)
Encyclopedia Brown – several
Fantastic Fox – Roald Dahl Read this aloud for two hours straight to her brothers, totally impressed as she has been a later reader.
Jack Jack (9, later reader)
Cowboy Sam – a couple of books
Mercy Watson – a couple
Cowboy Sam – a couple
A small selection of easy picture books.
Family Read Alouds (to the 11-7 year olds)
Ongoing from last term and still not finished.
Ongoing from last term, nearly finished.
Picture Books (read to the 11 – 4 year olds)
We’ve read through slew of picture books this week with our younger children and the children have faithfully given them a rating for your edification. Frankly the kids are tough critics.
Informative and attractive, we are introduced to 60 different types of eggs and many facts.
The snow lies deep in the forest, the animals; the moose, the crow, the fox and the chickadee long for the dawn’s warmth.
Wiggleskins live by the rule; “necks in to eat and necks out to hide.” One day all the clams are scooped up but Edwin, he goes on to have an adventure and save his family.
Monarch and Milkweed – Helen Frost 4.5 Star
Every spring the monarch butterfly migrates thousands of miles in search of the ideal milkweed plant. Living book full of information about the monarch, extra information at the back of the book.
A crowd waits for the pelicans to arrive on the beach for feeding time, all give up waiting only a young boy and an old man continue to wait. Warm illustrations.
Dory Story – Jerry Pallotta 3.5 Star
Danny heads out to the bay alone, he encounters plankton, the bluefish, huge tuna, killer whales and the humpback whale. He began to worry he would become part of the food chain.
The Littlest Owl – Caroline Pitcher 3.5 Star
The smallest owl struggles to fly, one night a storm forces the owls to leave their nest, the littlest owl flys to safety. Lovely illustrations.
Fly, Chick, Fly! – Jeanne Willis 3.5 Star
The owl chick refuses to fly, will she ever learn. For the very young.
Rain Dance – Cathy Applegate 5 Star
It hasn’t rained for two year on this farm in the Australian Outback. Suddenly storm clouds come, they dance in the rain. The hardships, the despair and then the relief are all highlighted. Highly recommend.
Aussie humour, light story line.
The Gum Queen – Maree Coote 2. 5 Star
Explore the ways to be an individual seed pod. A bit strange.
Junjardee of the Wadja country (central Queensland) is a small, hairy greedy boy. This is the story of how the elders dealt with his greed.
Fire – Jackie French 4 Star
Highlights the devastation of bushfires in Australia to people, animals and their homes.
Flood – Jackie French 4.5 Star
Flood tells the story of the 2011 Brisbane flood that devastated the City. Yet there were stories of bravery and selflessness, ordinary Aussies who lent a hand to strangers. Most memorably there arose many, many heroes whom we have not forgotten.
The Flood – Nigel Gray 2.5 Star
When the rain pours and the flood water rises Mrs Farmer invites the farm animals inside; sheep in the laundry, hens on the stairs, cows in the dining room. Slightly humorous.
The Rainbirds – David Metzenthen 3.5 Star
Gleeson waits for the winter, for the arrival of big black mountain birds who fly down from the Alpine region to shelter in his City.
First Flight – David Miller 3.5 Star
One morning Joey the yellow-bellied glider ventures forth from his nest, all day he watches life in the forest, at night he scampers back up to his nest. Written simply for the very young.
Malu Kangaroo teaches the first children how to surf, illustrations show the beauty of the North Coast of NSW.
The Glow Worm Cave – Anne Morgan 3.5 Star
Limestone blasting is disturbing the Glow Worm Cave, a cave that resonates with the echoes of people and animals of a thousand years. The town is divided as to whether to continue to blasting or not, eventually the Minister makes a decision. An odd book, we weren’t clear about some of the threads.
Set to the beat of a familiar rhythm, the author introduces various favourite native Australian animals.
Groundbirds in the rainforest look out for one another. One day they forget and a fox pounces, Nightjar is the only bird that is looking out for danger, risking himself, he alerts the others. Lovely illustrations.
The Great Whale searches for thousands of years for a family. He eventually stops and sleeps under a cliff, becomes part of the rocks and each year blows his greetings to the whales as they migrate past. The children were particularly drawn to this tale as it’s the story of the Kiama blow hole, a blow hole they are most familiar with as their Grandmother lives in Kiama.
Freya Blackwood has illustrated one of Australia’s most loved poems, always so stirring and moving. Was a little disappointed in the illustrations, as I have seen more stirring illustrations to accompany this classic.
Big Red Kangaroo – Claire Saxby 4.5 Star
Inland Big Red and his mob wait for nightfall so they can search for food. Younger male kangaroos wait for their chance to challenge Big Red. On one level runs the story line, yet we are also given extra information on each page about kangaroos. Recommended.
Ride With Me – Jane Tanner 3.5 Star
Emma’s mother dies, devastated she can’t bring herself to care for the horse they both loved. Each day the horse becomes more neglected and wild, one day Emma finds the courage to ride again.
Fox – Margaret Wild 4.5 Star
Dog has lost an eye, Magpie a wing, together as friends they are a team. Fox enters full of rage and envy. A drama ensues in which friendship and loyalty are tested, one part is quite confronting but then the resolution displays bravery and loyalty. Powerful illustrations, admittedly I didn’t like the print and nearly didn’t read Fox as a result, glad I did.
A River – Marc Martin 4 Star
An imaginary journey along the river from the city to the sea, passing factories and farmlands, freeways and forests.
A Forest – Marc Martin 3 Star
There was a forest grew, was decimated, eventually it was renewed.
A foreign mom may speak, eat and dress differently and yet…she speaks the language of all moms, love… Each illustration highlights mothers of different nationalities, their cultures, their differences. The expressions of love of the various mothers pays homage to all foreign mums. Highly recommended.
Pinduli – Janell Cannon 5 Star
A young hyena is teased about her looks by the other animals. She is then mistaken for a ghost and grants the scared animals ‘words of wisdom’ about one’s actions and also convinces the animals to leave food offerings. Extra information about hyenas at the back of the book.
Cinco de Mouse O! – Judy Cox 3.5 Star
Mouse visits a Cinco de Mayo festival, he is determined to get a piece of candy from a pinata high in the trees. Cat is determined to get Mouse.
Chavala loves chewing gum, one day she chews magic gum and blows a giant bubble that takes her into the air, and to Mexico where she meets the chicleros collecting chicle(gum).
Living picture book of a female Emperor Penguin’s heating habits, the dangers she faces and how the male penguin nurtures the egg until the chick is born. Highly recommended.
Max’s botanist Uncle gives him a bag of seeds for his birthday, encouraging him to drop seeds along the way to school each morning. Before long the city is transformed with flowers blooming wherever there is soil.
Anna’s Prince – Krista Ruepp 4 Star
Finally after 4 years Anna’s horse is ready to learn to carry her.
Ali is ‘now ready to be a man’ and he travels with his father to the market three day’s camel ride away. A sand storm howls and Ali and his father are separated. Stranded in the Sahara Desert Ali must find shelter, food, courage and then his father. A tale of adventure, friendship and courage. Highly recommend!
Dust – Colin Thompson 2.5 Star
This book was inspired by Niger 2005, when thousands were dying of starvation. The author collaborated with 14 different illustrators and it ‘packs a punch’. It brings a powerful awareness on behalf of the poorest nation in the world about their destitution. However as a book for children it was quite confrontational, the book opens with the words, “I died last night” and some of the pictures very graphic for children. It certainly is important for our children to be aware of the wider world and of those in need, but I’m not sure this was the best way, my children rated this book lower than I did as it “was too sad.”
Meerkat Mail – Emily Gravett 4.5 Star
Sunny Meerkat leaves the Kalahari Desert and sets off to visit his various relatives. Each day his sends home postcards to his family, in the end he decided home is best.
An old man explains to his his great-granddaughter the stories behind his ‘matchbox diary’. In each box is a memory, a photography, a seed, a ticket. He shares his immigration from Italy to America as a young boy. The hardships they left behind and the hardships his family encounters in America and yet he overcomes this with the gift of literacy. Delightful illustrations, fantastic storyline, history taught effortlessly, absolutely recommend!
A small boy’s village is ruined, torn apart by war, a barbed wire fence and soldiers separate him from the hills he loves. When he sees a tiny green shoot he nurtures the plant with water and care. A book about hope
Yet More – 5 Star
When baby Jack is born his parents plant an apple tree to honour his birth. Jack leaves home and his parents learn of his happiness and sufferings by observing the tree. The tree thrives when Jack is happy and withers when he is suffering.
A Princess without a Kingdom though she was kind, clever and beautiful. Does she find her Kingdom, does she find her Prince. We were mesmerised by this book, traditional, gorgeous illustrations with traditional language and then, the language and plot became a little quirky. Loved it.
Tom’s grandmother is very forgetful, she even forgets important matters such as how to get home from the shops or to turn off the stove. Tom is gentle and patient with his grandmother and they both enjoy each other’s company. A fantastic book about dementia, although I admit I understood it on a level the children who have not had this experience didn’t. Highly recommend.
In the magic of a moonshower a childless couple find 12 babies in the meadow. The couple shower them with love and in the end they are rewarded with their heart’s desire.
Inspired by the reproduction of the painting, he Hare by Albrecht Durer. Excellent, highly recommended.
Henny Penny – Vivian French 4.5 Star
A retelling of the classic story, only this time Henny Penny ‘saves the day’.
Ella’s Grandma and Grampa come from an island home, Ella’s Grandma has an infectious belly laugh. Ella doesn’t laugh as she is serious, she has to find “sunshine within herself” says Grandma.
Every night an old woman fishes with a mouse for bait, she is fishing for…the moon. Strange tale though the children loved it and our rating is a big compromise between our different reactions to the book.
Kaito’s butterflies have died, she finds a way to honour the beauty of her butterflies. Lovely story though a little odd.
The rain comes, the river rises, a family needs rescuing. Various machines attempt to save the family, Farmer John’s tractor locked in the shed, Rusty yet trusty and orangey-red saves the day. For the very young.
Ruby – Colin Thompson 4 Star
A family of ‘small people’ who live in the roots of a tree, son accidentally becomes trapped in a vintage car. In pursuit of their son they set off on an adventure as the car returns to the city. Intricate illustrations.
A message of unity, love and forgiveness, written for the very young child.
Pass it Polly – Sarah Garland 3.5 Star
Girl power at play here. Two girls join the school soccer team, they don’t know how to play and the boys won’t teach them. One of the girl’s grandfather teaches them, they become the stars of the soccer team, winning the match and grandfather is asked to coach the team.
Cottonwool Colin – Jeanne Willis 3.5 Star
Colin’s mother kept him inside, the world was too dangerous for him. One day she allowed him outside wrapped in cotton wool. Colin faced challenges, the wool fell off but he survived.
Mr Gumpy goes for a drive in his car with children and a car full of animals. For the very young.
Papa reads little chicken a bedtime story but little chicken keeps interrupting to save the storybook characters.
A wild moonchild is tired of his white surroundings and zooms to earth in search of colour.
Lyrical text about the joys of Summer.
Jaspar goes camping at the beach with his family. Catchy, repetitive rhyme captures his summer holiday experiences.
The Rain Train – Elena De Roo 0.5 Star
A train ride through the night. Rhythmic, for the very young child. Bit boring actually.
Buckamoo Girls – Ellen A Kelley 0.5 Star
If two cows could be cowgirls, what they’d do. Frankly… lame.
The Box – Martha Lightfoot 0.5 Star
A box arrives and two sisters imagine what is inside. Precisely what is inside is never revealed. Written for the very young.
Day in the Wind – Ted Kooser 0 Star
‘A day in the life of a plastic bag’ as it drifts about town and into people’s lives. I’m all for recycling but this story didn’t feel subtle, I felt strongly ‘manipulated’. Very long.
The illustrations looked promising but the storyline was..lame
Two unlikely characters become friends, lame, totally lame
Green – Laura Vaccaro Seeger 0 Star
How many different kinds of green are there? I’m afraid…boring