Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

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Shackleton’s Endurance by Joanna Grochowicz

An Antarctic Survival Story

Ernest Shackleton’s remarkable story is a terrifying adventure with the happiest of endings – another brilliant narrative non-fiction Antarctic adventure from Joanna Grochowicz, featuring an explorer who was a true polar hero.

Shackleton’s Endurance is newly published by Allen and Unwin in UK on September 2nd, 2021, and was published in Australia and New Zealand in May 2021.

Adrift on the Antarctic pack ice with no means of escape and no hope of rescue, Ernest Shackleton and his men are surely doomed.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and his men set sail for Antarctica, where they plan to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, his ship, the Endurance, becomes locked in pack ice. Later, it sinks without a trace.

To survive, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men must undertake a trial even more extreme than their planned crossing of the frozen continent. Their aim is to make it home against tremendous odds, with only lifeboats to cross the heavy seas of the South Atlantic – and the life-saving power of Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills.

‘An incredible true story brought to life in a highly readable style.’- Michael Smith, author of Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer.

Joanna Grochowicz’s  third amazing book in her series of Polar Explorers in the early 1900’s,  written for young people from 10 years and above. A daunting tale of heroism, courage, tenacity and teamwork, the book provides so much more than the bare facts of this well-known polar explorer. Joanna has an incredible gift of searching out the hidden stories behind her detailed research.

Joanna on the ice…

Shackleton’s Endurance is a perfect book for Yr5/6 in their studies on Arctic regions. It embraces many areas of the curriculum especially  history, geography. English and a huge input into the PSE curriculum. There is a comprehensive set of teacher notes provided by the publishers, Allen and Unwin, based in Australia.

Books Go Walkabout are so pleased to be working again with Joanna on her next visit to the UK in September 2021. This is mainly a research visit, but Joanna can do a few of her  highly engaging and informative talk to schools during this visit, time and other things permitting.

 More info in the next blog or send an email for immediate info. suemartin@bookagowalkabout.com

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Consultant

Stories across the world…

diamonds by Armin Greder

A powerful book in graphic black and white images, showing the true relationships between diamonds, the mine diggers and gift receivers. Through the images we follow a journey from a home, where the mother is explaining about diamonds to her daughter before she goes out. The young girl is put to bed by her African Nanny Amina, and later has a nightmare.

It is a book for us all, as we learn more about the differences between wealth and poverty, and the corruption the diamond industry brings to financing wars and conflicts. It is a hard hitting book. The Afterword by Riccardo Noury, a spokesperson for Amnesty International, Italy,explains how the diamond industry works, and how there is now a certification process called the ‘Kimberley Process’ which aims to reduce the sales of diamonds to finance conflict.

Armin Greder lives in Australia and is an artist who illustrates highly impactful graphic novels in startling black and white style, packed with meaning. Other books include The Island and The Mediterranean. There is an excellent review on Playing by the Book about Armin.

Allen and Unwin are Australian publishers who have an excellent commitment to books which enable us to think outside the box and not accept our world as it is.

Definitely a book to engage with students and with your own mind on issues today and stop our complacency in our Western world.

Sue Martin

Authors around the world…

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Anna Chiu has her hands full looking after her siblings and helping out at her Dad’s restaurant, all while her Mum stays in bed. The new delivery boy Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though things aren’t right at home, Anna starts to feel like she could be a normal teen,

But her Mum’s condition gets worse, life becomes increasingly hard for Anna as between them they have lots to work out.

An incredibly good story about life as a young person, moving from childhood to adulthood in a world which seems to be increasingly difficult and foreign. A time when you really do need your Mum. But for Anna, her Mum really needs her.

A powerful and moving story from Wai Chim, the highly acclaimed author, whose previous novel ,Freedom Swimmer, was a huge success. Following the stories of young people in the changing world of China then and now, Wai has a great eye for understanding of young people as they face their own dilemmas as well as difficult situations.

Published by Allen and Unwin from Australia, this book crosses geographical boundaries and unites all children as they move into adulthood.

A wonderful book to sit and read. the story and text are real page turners. Highly recommended for any persiond when you just need a good book to read.

Sue Martin

Hasina by Michelle Aung Thin -Through My Eyes Series

A gripping story of one child’s experience of the refugee crisis in Myanmar. The men come at night. The first Hasina knows of it is her aunt’s voice, urgent,full of fear.’Up, up.Get up! ‘The second thing is smoke.Then there is a scream.’Run,’ her father shouts. ‘And don’t stop!’

Hasina races deep into the Rakhine forest to hide with her cousin Ghadiya and her little brother, Araf. When they emerge some days later, it is to a silent, smouldering village. Their own house has not been burnt down,but where are the rest of her family?Perhaps they have been gathered up and taken away … or worse.

So many Rohingyas are gone, how will she survive? Will her parents return? Hasina must find the courage to save her family amid the escalating conflict that threatens her world and her identity. 

Hasina is written by Michelle Aung Thin who tells this story, based on real life, with immense feeling and with the real sense of a child’s helplessness, in fear but still retaining courage and hope. Michelle is a novelist, essayist and an academic and this book written for children and young adults shows her ability to reach out to all.  

There are excellent teacher notes available for school use only on Michelle’s website to accompany Hasina and would fit with curriculum across the world for ages 11-14 years. 

Allen and Unwin are the publishers and Hasina joins one of my favourite series, Through My Eyes, which recount world crisis and tragedies through the eyes of children and young people.  

As I write this we are in a lock-down, in the Covid 19 period in the UK. Unable to do my usual travels I have really enjoyed this amazing book and maybe I should travel to Burma/Myanmar soon? 

Sue Martin 

Landing with Wings by Trace Balla

Beautiful illustrations…

A story of hope- a way forward, beyond boundaries and fences towards belonging, community and country, welcome and home.’ Trace Balla

A spectacular book! Children will just love this way of recording stories, with pictures, annotations, and conversations. It has so much meaning and misses all those extra words which can detract from the events.

Finding roots where you can call a place home is important. Landing with Wings does just that as it follows the story of Miri Miri and her Mum, as they set up home in a place in the country in Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Australia. Finding friends in the world outside is the first thing, like the frog in the creek, the spotted pardalote and the silver eyes birds.  Miri Miri goes to school and starts meeting other children and people, being part of the community and the place.

But her Mum, who has stayed at home making the house feel like home, is sad and thinking about moving away. Until that is, Miri Miri introduces her to Swee and Laylah, and it just all starts to work out.

There is so much in this book, which records life in Australia, providing the wings to fly, finding somewhere new, and the roots to make the place your own. The annotations and descriptions of wildlife, nature and the earth are amazing. The First Nations people of  Dja Dja Wurrung, the Elders and especially Uncle Rick (in the illustrations!) are key to this book as well as the young Aboriginal leaders of the future.

Trace Balla talks about her book…

Trace Balla is author and illustrator is an award winning Australian children’s author and illustrator. Her book Rivertime won the 2015 Readings Children’s Book Prize and the Wilderness Society Picture Book Award in the same year. Trace is often found sketching in nature, riding her bike with her son, dancing, and growing vegies in her garden in central Victoria. She works as an illustrator, community artist, art therapist, animator, and writer of songs and stories.

Don’t we all need more ‘rivertime’?

As you can tell, Landing with Wings has touched my soul and I hope one day sometime soon I can be back in Australia and out there in the countryside (bush!).

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

Girl From the Sea by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner

A haunting quality…

A shipwreck, a house by the sea and a family. This is a beautiful story, a book with incredibly spiritual illustrations and just a few words, and yet it says so much. I read it and looked at it many times picking  up a subtle undertext through the illustrations. It is a book to have when times are hard and maybe we are all lost for words.

Margaret Wild is an Australian author and her thoughtful, award-winning children’s books have been published with great success in many countries. They include Old Pig (shortlisted, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), Fox (winner, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), The Dream of the Thylacine (honour book, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), and On the Day You Were Born, all illustrated by Ron Brooks. Margaret has been the recipient of the Nan Chauncy Award and the Lady Cutler Award for her contributions to Australian Literature.

Jane Tanner began illustrating picture books in 1984 with Margaret Wild’s There’s a Sea in my Bedroom (shortlisted, Kate Greenaway Medal. Her many awards and shortlisted books include Drac and the Gremlin by Allan Baillie (joint winner, CBCA Picture Book of the Year. In 2017 Jane illustrated Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan (nominated, Kate Greenaway Medal; shortlisted, Prime Minister’s Literary Award; shortlisted, Queensland Literary Awards).

Allen and Unwin are the Australian publishers Girl from the Sea joins an incredibly powerful list of beautifully published books with meaning and power to touch people and bring changes to our world.

There is a haunting quality to Girl From the Sea and it fits a perfect place for thoughtful and evocative life experiences.

Sue Martin

Wonderful words and pictures, everywhere

Shoestring The boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman

But trouble is brewing…

A gripping illustrated adventure about a travelling circus troupe, a future-telling macaw and a cursed pair of gloves that Shoestring must conquer once and for all. A companion to the award-winning KidGlovz.


Twelve-year-old Shoestring is leaving behind his life of crime and starting a new career with the Troupe of Marvels. Their lead performer, he has an invisible tightrope and an act to die for. But trouble is brewing – the magical gloves that caused so much turmoil for KidGlovz are back.

When he’s wearing the gloves, the world is at Shoestring’s fingertips. It’s so easy to help himself to whatever he likes – even other people’s hopes and dreams. But when he steals his best friend’s mind, he’s at risk of losing all he values most.

Julie Hunt is the author to this amazingly intriguing and, like nothing else you will ever read book! It is a compelling sequel to KidGlovz, winner of the 2016 Queensland Literary Award and named as one of Booktrust UK’s 100 best books for middle readers.

Dale Newman has captured the imagery of Shoestring perfectly and she
has been engaged in creative life for many years.and now works as a freelance illustrator. KidGlovz was her very first-ever epic graphic novel. Dale lives on the New South Wales coast of Australia with her partner and son, who kindly agreed to model for the book. Her artwork also appears on the cover of Julie’s award-winning novel Song for a Scarlet.

Obsession, revenge and the threads that bind us…

Allen and Unwin are the publishers,they have created wonderful materials to go with this book. You can download a free set of Teacher’s Resources to go with Shoestring which will create some excellent writing skills.

Every so often a book lands on my desk in Cambridge, UK which grabs me! After ten minutes on the sofa, Shoestring is coming home with me to read tonight. Definitely one to read.

Sue Martin

Books and authors from around the world

I Was Only Nineteen, words by John Schumann and pictures by Craig Smith

 

A truly remarkable book about the Vietnam War and Australian soldiers. The book uses the lyrics of the song with poignant pictures illustrating the hardships and efforts the soldiers endured in the jungles of South Vietnam between 1962 – 1975.

A deeply moving story about young men conscripted into the war.

It was made even more real for me as, I on my most recent visit to Vietnam, I met a Vietnamese veteran who had flown helicopters for the Americans for 14 years. A reminder of this deadly war that was never winnable.

On each page in the book the illustrations are vivid and meaningful, from the passing out parade in Puckapunyal to the crawling through the tangled undergrowth trying to avoid being shot.

The illustrations from Craig Smith make the lyrics from John Schumann so real and follow the young recruit as he is called up with the sixth Battalion.

Published by Allen and Unwin of Australia, this amazing book is part of a wide portfolio of powerfully evocative books in Picture Book format for any age.

This is truly an excellent and remarkable book to have at home or a school library. It is full of moments of companionship and personal challenges. It is not only a reminder of the Vietnamese war but of any war that becomes futile resulting in a huge loss of life.

Sue Martin

The House on the Mountain by Ella Holcombe & David Cox

The House on the MOuntain - cover image

A wonderful read!

Atmospheric and immensely moving, this is the story of a family experiencing a bush fire in Australia. The aftermath is a harsh reality for a family whose home is in the middle of the woods. 

It is though, a story of healing and reconciliation. Lives are changed but not broken, there is a future through the devastation.

‘ We drive in silence, with the windows down. The hills are bald, with black spikes where the trees used to be. I don’t recognise any of the old familiar turns or corners. I don’t recognise anything’.

Before the fire this family in Australia have fun and do all the normal things that families do. After the  fire they eventually return and start all over again.

In real life it didn’t always work out so well.

A great picture book style story of a real life event with some changes. What an accolade to the author, Ella Holcombe and also to the illustrator David Cox, for setting the atmosphere so well.

Allen and Unwin, publishers have terrific books which are meaningful, good to read and so well produced. The House on the Mountain is well up there and especially as a reminder of Black Saturday.

Highly recommended for all ages.

Sue Martin

Angel: Through My Eyes Series – Natural Disaster Zones

Angel, Through My Eyes Natural disaster ZOnes cover image and web link

Buy this great book here…

Angel’s family have seen many typhoons. For generations the violent storms have passed across the central Philippines around November. But Typhoon Haiyan is a super-typhoon and came across the Philippines in 2013, destroying everything in its path.

Angel lives in Tacloban with her family and when the news of the typhoon is announced the family take extra measures to keep safe.

But Typhoon Haiyan is stronger than anyone has ever seen before. Angel stays near the coast with her father whilst her mother, brothers and sisters go into the hills to their grandparents, but only just in time.

‘There’s an ear splitting crash as the first wave hurls itself at the little house, forcing open the door and gushing through the window. Angel screams. The ladder is torn away just as she jumps onto the roof beam. Water is up to her chin and she is fighting to keep her head above its churning mass. ‘ Papa! Papa!’ She searches desperately for any sign of her father as the water sweeps her away, but he’s vanished.’

An amazing book, written by Zoe Daniels, it is harrowing and full of anguish as Angel searches through the debris and disaster areas. Several days elapse before any help arrives by plane.

Buy this book icon and web link Buy this book here

Through My Eyes  is a stunning series, and highly recommended. They are published by Allen and Unwin, Australia and the series editor is Lyn White. As the reader you are immersed into a disaster zone of epic proportions.

We really love these books and Angel is a brilliantly depicted story of life when the super typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful ever to be recorded, hit the Central Philippines.

Recommended for ages 8- 15 and adults too!

Sue Martin

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