Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

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A House Without Walls by Elizabeth Laird

Could losing her home mean finding herself…

An incredibly moving story of Safiya, and her family who were forced to leave their home in Damascus, Syria. Taken from a life where her father was a lawyer, where they had a house and Safiya went to school, as well as her brother. But the Syrian war destroyed all of that and Safiya and her family were no longer welcome in the place they called home.

The story in which Safiya, aged thirteen is the protagonist, and her family are being driven out of Syria by civil war. Safiya knows how lucky she is to be at a relative’s house, lucky to be living near her family and not in a refugee camp, lucky to be alive.

But it’s hard to feel grateful when her house is a tent. As they struggle to survive, Safiya realizes that her family has always been incomplete. With her own future in the balance, it’s time to uncover the secrets that war has kept buried.

An intriguing story of a family in a time of crisis but uncovering issues hidden in the past. This book gives a glance at life in the midst of a war torn country, the consequences on individuals and the immense changes to life and life opportunities.

Elizabeth Laird is a remarkable traveller and award winning author of books which bring issues and concerns from all over the world into a narrative where we can have a smattering of understanding with situations of war and crisis which otherwise we would leave behind us. Her website has brilliant pdf’s for teachers , as free downloads. Here latest book, The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown was published in July and is the next book on my reading list, it looks excellent.

Panmacmillan are the publishers who have a great portfolio of books about a modern day understanding of war torn places in our world.

Definitely a great book! It’s for teachers, class projects and reading at home.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

What Are You Doing Today, Mother Nature? by Lucy Brownridge & illustrated by Margaux Samson Abadie

Mother Nature all around the world in 48 stories

This is a book to fall in love with. An exquisitely illustrated treasury showcases the most dramatic and beautiful Natural History stories that play out right under our noses year after year.

Every moment of the year, Mother Nature is hard at work, making clouds for the rain to fall from, preparing a squirrel to hide nuts for the winter cold, or guiding a little chick on its first flight halfway around the world. Find out what she is doing right now, in 48 stories of nature’s ever turning cycles across the world.

There are forty-eight double spreads which tell in wonderfully illustrated pages, stories of animals and nature across the world. This is  a great way to learn about our planet, the seasons and the huge diversity that exists in a wide variety of climates  and ecosystems.

Lucy Brownridge, has written and compiled this powerful and intriguing collection of stories from ‘A Hot Bath in Winter’ to ‘ The Sky Ablaze’. There is something for everyone with chunks of text, intriguing and evocative.

England in April…

Margaux Samson Abadie has created incredibly beautiful illustrations which are full of artistic images with diagrammatic forms, wonderful tools to enable understanding.

Wide Eyed Editions have produced a masterpiece, I highly recommend What Are You Doing Today, Mother Nature? for any age in schools, libraries and at home.

My favourite page is The Wood Wide Web, which tells how trees in a wood have a system of communication through the root systems and fungus spores…. Amazing!! Read the book to find our more…

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

Poems Aloud by Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett

Vibrant, colourful and a wonderful book of poems for reading aloud!

Tackle tongue twisters, confound your classmates with riddles, make your friends laugh and transform into a bowl of slime as you perform these poems. Build your confidence from the award-winning poet Joseph Coelho. This is the perfect book for confident children and shy readers alike. This brings the real fun of poetry to life for everybody.

The illustrations are brilliant, warm stylish and just make the words come alive.

One of my favourite poems in Poems Aloud is This Bear which is set over a double page and the bear is shown gazing into the pink sunset. He is an older bear and wandering quietly along.

This poem sounds best when read slowly take your time pause and breathe to add emphasis

‘This lumbering bear is old.

 This lumbering, bumbling bear has shuffled over rugged imagined mountains.

Urged his bulk slow and strong.

 Slow as geography.

Strong as tree growth

Through the forests of his mind.’

Joseph Coelho is an award-winning poet and performer from London. He has been long listed for the Carnegie children’s award. He won the 2015 CLPE CLiPPA poetry award with his debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules.

Watch this link from Edinburgh International Book Festival

Daniel Grey Barnett is an Australian illustrator and author living in Tasmania. He has illustrated for the New York Times, Sydney Opera House, The New Yorker. He brings a huge dimension of fun and engagement for this collection of poems for children.

The publishers are Wide Eyed, and they have a stunning portfolio of books for children.

Whether this book is for you at home or to use at school or nursery it is definitely one to buy. It will support reading and writing, and you will hear the words being remembered again and again.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

Stories Across the World

Storm Dragon by Dianne Hofmeyr & illustrated by Carol Thompson

Storm! Storm!

Rain raps the windows, wind rattles the door.

‘Let’s look for storm dragons,” says Grandpa.

Watch  out dragons. We’re coming.”

Off they go, Grandpa and grandchild, down to the beach for a wild and wonderful adventure…And what do they find? Dragon footprints, dragon jewels and even a dragon baby, but who is the REAL storm dragon.

A great story and amazingly engaging illustrations as Grandpa and grandchild find their way along the beach as the storm blows, and waves crash on the shore. There are chants and repetitions to shout out as the adventure progresses.

The loving friendship and imaginative play between the generations is wonderfully expressed, both with the words and in the illustrations.

Dianne Hofmeyr, an award-winning author, livening in London, was born in South Africa and grew up between the mountains and the sea. Author of many books for young children including Zeraffa Giraffa, Tiger Walk and The Glassmaker’s Daughter.

Carol Thompson is an internationally acclaimed illustrator of books for young children with a huge skill in seeing the world through their eyes. She has received honours for many of her books  and is a member of IBBY UK.

Otter-Barry are the publishers who have an enormous skill in publishing beautiful children’s books which children love and enjoy for years. Storm Dragon was published in March 2021. Time to reserve a first copy edition!

We love this book and will take home this weekend to share online with a very young person, who just loves books at the age of nearly 2!

Sue Martin

Stories around the world…

World Book Day 4th March – Antarctic Stories to Shanghai

Books Go Walkabout is working with Harrow International School in Shanghai to deliver online author visits direct to classrooms. Working globally is no problem online!

Harrow International School, Shanghai

Our second event at Harrow International School, this time with author and polar explorer Joanna Grochowicz from New Zealand. The audience of Years 4-6 came ready dressed up as book characters and armed with questions at the end of Joanna’s presentation .

Joanna and model Amundsen

Joanna enthralled the children from the start with slides and tales of life in the Antarctic in the early 19Century. This is real history and gives amazing insights into how tough life could be. Imagine having your fingers so badly frost bitten they are the size of sausages for instance, I could hear some sounds of ‘Yukk!” from the children.

Then there were the orcas, who surrounded Scott’s photographer, Ponting, on an ice floe. He thought he was going to take a photo. The orcas thought he looked like lunch! They tipped the ice floe and Ponting was only saved by landing on another ice floe.

Orcas looking for lunch!

Or the story of the dog on the Terra Nova who went overboard in a terrible storm in the Southern Sea and the Roaring Forties, fortunately  a wave brought him crashing back.

Joanna is expert at great detail of research around the expeditions of Scott, from Britain, Amundsen from Norway and Shackleton from Britain(her next book).

Amundsen’s Crew in the Antarctic

Children from Harrow International School were exceptionally well led by Tess St Clair Ford, who organised Book Week in 2021, not an easy task  with many places still in lockdown. The pupils’ questions to Joanna showed that good listening skills were in place and they had done their homework too.

World Book Day 2021 and a great way for Books Go Walkabout to engage with Harrow International Shanghai, far away but really very close!

Joanna’s new book Shackleton’s Endurance is out soon to join her Polar Explorer’s Trilogy Into the White and Amundsen’s Way.

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…

The Story of Inventions by Catherine Barr & Steve Williams, illustrated by Amy Husband

The Story of Inventions is just the book for anyone interested in  discoveries and uses today. From wheels and lodestones to vaccines and engines, this book is packed with information and illustrations which bring life to the words.

The page on flight, for instance, explains that for many years planes were only used for cargo. But now planes fill our skies carrying people all over the world, making the world a smaller place.

Surprisingly, the idea of computers was first invented in 1830’s with machines to do the maths. By the 1940’s computers were used to crack codes which helped to finish the second world war. Today we would be totally lost without them.

Catherine Barr is well know for her books for Frances Lincoln Publishers; especially The Story of Life and The Story of Space. She has worked for the Natural History Museum, among other places and is a keen author of non fiction titles with enormous appeal.  Steve Williams is a biologist, a teacher and beekeeper ,as well as an ardent writer of interesting books for children.

Amy Husband is a talented, award winning illustrator and her illustrations in this book are brilliantly supportive of the text.

A book for me to read this evening and I am sure I will find out and remember much about inventions that I never knew before.

Sue Martin

Wild in the Streets- 20 Poems of City Animals

This is a captivating book full of poems about different animals living in cities across the world. A book of adaptation; bats, boars, coyotes, huntsman spiders, honeybees and reticulated pythons. Poems which reflect the nature of the animal and its new habitat and at the back is a glossary with  different types of poems like cinquains to sonnets, and acrostics to reversos.

‘It may be hard to believe that wildlife can survive among the densely packed houses, huge skyscrapers, tarmac, pavements and sewers. Some animals were there before humans encroached on their territory and others have been introduced on purpose, like the Honeybees in Vancouver.’ Marilyn Singer

Reticulated pythons were in Singapore before the city existed and survive in the sewers and waterway, living on rats, cats and birds. Monarch butterflies have long migrations but at the end of the summer gather in Pacific Grove,California before travelling north again in the Spring.

Marilyn Singer is the author and Gordy Wright is the illustrator and they have combined their talents to produce this beautiful book published by Words and Pictures.

An exciting and inspiring way to think about animals in our cities.

Sue Martin

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

Everybody Counts  by Kristin Roskifte

An amazingly illustrated book, packed with illustrations to find your way into and beyond, through the story and the numbers. There are hosts of visual stories and things to spot on every page. Counting games from 0-7.5 billion! It celebrates difference throughout the book and it says it all in the title, Everybody Counts! It is the winner of the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2019.

In the book, there are an amazing 2768 people! It has been sold already to 26 countries, a great success and crosses the barriers of language. It is also perfect for prompting stories and curiosity, with lots of questions to encourage interaction and thoughtfulness . Celebrating  differences is a keen theme in the book, where the illustrations show everyone is different and every one counts.

It is the winner of the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2019 and Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art says, “ Everybody Counts is an extraordinary book for our times, which I’m sure will go on to win many more awards.”

Wide Eyed Editions are delighted to be publishing Everybody Counts in 2020 and release date is 4th February.

Kristin Roskifte is a Norwegian illustrator and author who studied illustration at Cambridge School of Art and Kingston University and she is inspired by differences and similarities between people.

Everybody Counts is a fantastic book to have in your home, at school and in libraries, it will be read, looked through, explored and much more.

Sue Martin

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