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Monday, 27 October 2014

Review: The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson

My first encounter with Colin Thompson was during my training as a student teacher. My English teacher read The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley. She was a great orator and it made me want to read the book to my eventual kids.

Move onto 2014 and another ex-teacher (Julie) is reading me The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness

Happy Sadness is about George, a young school aged boy who is lonely. More than lonely, he just has nothing in his life besides an old grandma who doesn't understand him. George likes to head down to the dog pound, something that actually makes him happy. One day he walks to the back of the pound and spots a three legged dog. As he stared at the dog and the dog stared back at George, it was like he was seeing a reflection of himself. The pound was closing in 1 hr and that was all the time he had to run back home to ask his grandma's permission to adopt the dog.

Like all Colin Thompson's books I have read, they are sophisticated picture books. The story has a deeper meaning, uses great vocabulary and requires the reader to infer. While this book is an older book (2009), like anything good it stands the test of time. 

However, having a good story is not why I really love this book. Julie (the ex-teacher) showed me that there are so many things you can do with this book as a teacher. Getting kids to infer meaning, learning new vocabulary, being inventive and creative (three legged dog...what's missing ^_^), comparing the changes in George throughout the story. 

I'm in the process of nutting out a great series of lessons because of this book and hopefully can share with you all. For the moment, just enjoy this book for what it is, a great adventure with George.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Moon Dragons by Dyan Sheldon

The Moon Dragons by Dyan Sheldon is a tale of a selfish King and his greedy subjects. 

When the King hears about the existence of Moon Dragons he is immediately enraptured by the idea of them. Without thinking of the consequences of such actions he offers a huge reward for the capture or any evidence of them. Alina is a small village girl who would love to see them as well. She also ventures forth in search, but her goal is much difference than those of the local herdsmen, huntsmen and mountaineers. 

There are many stories like The Moon Dragons, but what sets it part is the beautiful art by award winning artist, Gary Blythe. 

There are also a couple of great underlying messages which is what you want from a picture book. Determination and selflessness are good values to impart on your little ones.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Review: Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou

I love this book. It has so many twists and turns; you think it is all fine but then something bad happens. That is what I would explain this book as. I have trouble finding books I like but then I found this one. 

The main characters that you will meet are Cuckoo, Tebow, Flatso, Eggy, Brainzilla and Zitsy. Now these people are in a group called the "Freak Shows." In North Plains High, there are a number of groups such as The Barbies, Jocks, Goths and Zombies. But I should explain the personalities of the Freak Shows. Cuckoo is a not so normal girl. She is quite the crazy one but she is the main character in this book. Tebow is a jock with a kind and very strong religious heart. Brainzilla is a super smart barbie and is Cuckoo's BFF. Egg is a swag chilled out girl and sometimes a bit of a goth. Flatso is a nice girl who can beat a boy in a fight with one punch. Then there's Zitsy and I think we all know what his nickname means!

Some of the main events in the story are when the new teacher Winne Quinn arrives at North Plains High. Cuckoo and the other girls start to fall for him. That changes learning quite a bit. As this event unfolds, the Cuckoo's caretaker (Mrs. Morris) is having a bit of trouble and the ending is quite a surprise. 

James Patterson has many other books that I have also enjoyed, books with great twists and turns, just like this one. However, I think Homeroom Diaries is his best yet. 

By Grace, age 10.