I've decided to begin this blog as a way of sharing new books, old favourites, award nominated/winning books and anything else that I feel like writing about. So welcoma and lets begin!
My inspiration for this post is ‘The word collector’ by Peter H. Reynolds. I sometimes feel just like Jerome. I collect all of these wonderful words and they only have a purpose when shared with everyone else. This is a lovely picture book filled with terrific words. Most of them are found in the illustrations. The end papers show words flying across the page. On the front end paper the words float on the breeze, but on the back end paper they make a statement - “Reach for your own words, tell the world who you are and how you will make it better.”
Last week I was asked to present my top six books from this year’s Children’s Book Council notable books. My category was the Younger reader section. This age range is between 7 and 12. This group of books covers emergent/ independent readers, up until those ready to go to YA. There are 37 notables in this category this year and I was asked to pick my top 6. This was not an easy job as there were many excellent books on the list. Unlike the judges I did not have to stick to any strict criteria when I picked my top six, so I chose those that spoke to me.
My picks included (in no particular order): The Elephant by Peter Carnavas The shop at Hoopers bend by Emily Rodda Too many friends by Kathryn Apel Pip and Houdini by F.C. Jones The blue cat by Ursula Dubosarsky Nevermoor. The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jane Townsend
The actual shortlist is released on the 27th of March. It will be interesting to see what the judges pick.
The Elephant by Peter Carnavas Grab some tissues you will need them. I have loved Peter’s picture books for years and was very happy to see his first ‘chapter book’. It is filled with lovely black and white illustrations of the main characters in the story. There is also an elephant at the head of each chapter. These elephants are worth keeping an eye on as each is different and they play an important role in the story. Olive lives with her Grandfather and father. Her mother died when she was very young and her father is still very depressed by her loss. Olive sees this depression as a large grey elephant that makes everything dull and unhappy. When she tells her friend Arthur this he accepts it as most young children accept imaginary friends. They come up with an idea to get rid of the elephant and combine this task with the celebrations of the school’s 100th birthday. There are problems along the way and a very satisfying ending. The tears will come, so be prepared, but they are cleansing tears. The final twist is one I didn’t see coming.
The shop at Hoopers Bend by Emily Rodda
Emily Rodda has a winner on her hands with book. This is a return to her earlier stories with a contemporary setting in familiar surroundings. Four strange and seemingly disconnected events happen at exactly the same time to bring Jonquil, Bailey and a small black and white dog together. Each of these characters is looking for something and feels a connection to the dilapidated shop at Hoopers Bend. Lies, half truths, and criminal behaviour find their place in this story. Jonquil, Quil to everyone, lives with her high flying aunt and is bundled off to boarding school and camp as her aunt doesn’t have time for her. Her parents died when she was four and she knows very little about them. On her way to camp she gets off the train at Hoopers Bend after feeling compelled to do so. Bailey inherited the shop from her uncle, but has never found the time to go and see it because of her work. She is ‘let go’ at work and on a whim drives up to the shop to decide what she wants to do with it. These two people and the dog come together and revitalise the shop, find a home and solve some mysteries of the past and present. For both Quil and Bailey the journey is a coming home in spirit and in truth. This is a wonderful story and is a great read aloud.