Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

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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

THE CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOW AND THE JOY OF POETRY

The Children’s Bookshow is a charity that inspires school children with a love of reading through an annual programme of theatre performances and in-school workshops with the very best authors and illustrators from around the world.

In 2020, everything is different and the good news is that you can access the poets reading and sharing great videos much longer than one month! There are some amazing poems by outstanding poets. Just click through and visit the poet for each week. You are sure to find a poem that will be just right for you.

THE CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOW team had been thinking a lot about the joy of poetry. One of the Directors, Siân Williams, was pulling poetry collections down from her shelves and revisiting all of the marvellous poets we have worked with over the years, and some we hope to work in the near future.


In November 2020 they are focusing on a different poet every week, giving you an overview of their life and work as well as some videos of them reading and performing their poetry. Follow each poet as below. It’s a great way to get the fun and meaning too back into poetry.
   
   Poets for each week are


Books Go Walkabout
A landscape of poetry…

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

A tale full of adventure, exploration and excitement as four children find their way home from the deepest part of the Amazon jungle.

A pacy and exciting book, nearly impossible to put down and with an ending that does more than just conclude the story; as life is at risk and new skills have to be learnt so fast. 

A tale full of adventure, exploration and excitement

Four children, who had never met before, are flying  across the Amazon jungle, when the pilot loses consciousness and the plane crashes into the trees. Fred, Lila, her little brother Max and a girl called Con have to help each other to; find food, survive the creepy crawlies and to escape. On their way they find a map, make a raft and discover a ruined city, where they meet The Explorer, who is not exactly friendly but helpful in an eccentric way. But in a terrifying situation they are forced to leave as quickly as they could. 

 Katherine Rundell, author of The Rooftoppers is an award winning author who  lives in Oxford, UK and The Explorer was; Winner of the Children’s Book Prize 2017, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2017 and winner of the London Book Fair Children’s Travel Book of the Year for 2017. She has an amazing talent for creating adventure and in this book she brings her love of places and adventure to children’s minds. 

Publishers are Bloomsbury who have created The Explorer in paperback filled with black and white chapter headed illustrations and beautiful sketches throughout the book. 

Wonderful storytelling, delightfully delivered…

It’s a truly great book and children of all ages will love the adventure, the sense of place, the maps, the ruined city and see themselves as one of the characters, in an adventure of a lifetime. 

In the video clip Katherine introduces  The Explorer and you can just feel her own love of adventure which creeps in every corner of the book. 

A must read for lockdown 2020 and for anytime at all, home, school and library. 

Sue Martin 


 

Creating Poetry during Lockdown

In this global pandemic we have been thinking of just how to reach out to others across the world.  Poetry is a way of finding and releasing feelings.  

And do you know what, children are so good at it! 

Cheryl is a profoundly interesting, engaging and empathetic poet – with children or adults…we think so!

Cheryl Moskowitz is a poet, narrator and writer who works with us at Books Go Walkabout . Since March 2020, when school closures were announced in the UK, Cheryl has been talking to children, their parents and staff at schools. What is life like in this Covid19 world?

Shrewsbury School, Hong Kong is an International School and have experienced huge amount of lock-down time at school. Beth McNeilly, the school librarian talked about a plan with Books Go Walkabout to get children writing. A poem from Wilfred is shown on the page in the link above, what a star!

A great school, committed to poetry and creativity…

At Books Go Walkabout we put the two together and Cheryl and Beth worked on a poetry plan for children in Years 1 and 2. We Zoomed across the world and heard the most amazing poems, and it all started with a poem of Cheryl’s that begins…

Just supposing…

you woke up tomorrow

and there weren’t all these rules

like: YOU HAVE TO STAY HOME!

and: YOU CAN’T GO TO SCHOOL!

The children wrote and they wrote, and they came up with the most amazing collections of thoughts, poems and words( vocabulary was awesome!)

Parents and teachers and librarians were part of the video, the writing and the Zoom session. It was a BRILLIANT session. Releasing fears and worries, turning them into creative and imaginative pieces of written work.

Great job Shrewsbury and Cheryl!! At Books Go Walkabout we loved it! You can read more on Books Go Walkabout.

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

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

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