Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Category: The Book Monitor

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…

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…

Tree Beings by Raymond Huber and Sandra Severgnini

Incredible trees, incredible graphics

Tree Beings takes you inside the incredible world of trees. How do they talk to each other and how do they enrich the whole planet. There is a foreword from Dr Jane Goodall, who brings real soul and understanding to just why we should all know and understand about trees. They are a big clue in how we can save the planet.

This is a book where you will become engrossed in stories, facts and a future. The stories include…

  • A young woman who lived up a giant tree for two years
  • A scientist who discovered trees have their own internet
  • A woman who faced a dangerous dictator to protect trees
  • Young people who fought to save their last native trees
  • A nine year old boy who found a way to plant a trillion trees

Raymond Huber is an author, freelance editor and creative writing teacher. He has a passion for writing about nature and making worlds come alive for children. Tree Beings is  a book that will bring a new world dimension to all children.

Sandra Severgnini is an amazing illustrator with some wonderful children’s books and botanical illustrations too. The intricate and evocative illustrations are intriguing and keep the facts alive.

The book is a resource and teacher workshop all in one, the covers have hidden creatures , there are mazes, hidden insects and a wealth of images and facts to keep you reading this book for ages.

EKBooks is part of Exisle publishing based in Australia and New Zealand. Established five years ago they have a great publication list on issues that matter, books to make a better world.

I really love this book and as a girl who spent much of her youth reading books in the boughs of a leaning oak tree, I know exactly what it means when it says that trees can communicate!

Sue Martin

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 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


Joanna Grochowicz, Antarctic Explorer author, Zooms to Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong

Joanna and statue of Amundsen

Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong have been working with Books Go Walkabout for some years. We had planned a wonderful author visit to the school in October 2019, by Joanna Grochowicz, New Zealand author of Polar Explorers. But then the Hong Kong protests meant it was no longer safe.

With children still working from home, due to Covid 19, in the spring of 2020, Beth McNeilly, school librarian and a passionate believer in the benefit of direct contact with authors, helped us to find a way. So, along with three quarters of the world in June 2020 we used Zoom. And hey it was fantastic!

A great school…

We had over 300 children, staff and parents joining the Zoom presentation with Joanna. We found our way to the Antarctic; where Joanna had visited in February this year, we reached the South Pole, and saw the photographer Ponting taking a photo of killer whales, we heard that the ice block he was standing on was upended by the whales, but he managed to escape, which was good as they would have eaten him.

Joanna in disguise as Herbert Ponting

There was so much fascinating detail of the journeys of both R.F Scott from the UK, and R. Amundsen from Norway in the early 1900’s, that the stories of adventure, courage, determination, skill and expertise were incredible. All the stories which brought the presentation and the books to life had been meticulously researched by Joanna with visits to many places to gather the story behind the journey. Joanna visited Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, where she also came to Books Go Walkabout office.

Joanna in disguise as Amundsen

Her books are just made for reading, the first in the series is, Into the White, Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey and her second book is, Amundsen’s Way, with her third book about Shackleton being published later this year. They are some incredible stories and immensely well written, good for ages above 9 years and including all adults.

Into the White

We are indebted to Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong for their perseverance in enabling the visit for Joanna to take place and especially to Beth McNeilly and staff for their commitment to the project and of course, to all the children who joined into the presentation. It must have been as hard for them to sit still for an hour without asking direct questions as it was for Joanna to present her stories to many, many black screens.

Amundsen's Way - The Race to the South Pole

We hope that one day all will be well and international travel will enable Joanna to make a direct visit to Hong Kong. But there is also so much scope now for children to have virtual visits with authors who have so much to bring to learning and adventure.

At Books Go Walkabout, we are committed to an international dimension to with books, and authors; stories across the world and knowledge transfer through reading and sharing.

Sue Martin

Amazing Women of the Middle East – 25 Stories to inspire girls everywhere by Wafa’ Tarnowska

Truly amazing women

This is a book you will enjoy from cover to cover!

From Nefertititi, a beautiful and powerful Queen,to Zahra Lari, incredible ice skater, this book brings a huge dimension to the creative and powerful influence of women in the Middle East.

Discover Sheherazade, the famous storyteller, dive into the musical world of singer Fairuz, and meet Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Here in one unique volume are twenty-five outstanding women from the Middle East, who have created a legacy through strength of vision, leadership, courage and sheer determination.

Written by award-winning children’s author and trailblazer, Wafa’ Tarnowska, this unique collection of short biographies is illustrated with stunning, contemporary art by five internationally recognised artists.

There is so much amazing information in this book which will provide a further valuable insight into the world of the Middle East. Whichever era may interest you, there will be a remarkable story about a woman with insight and vision.

Amal looney – Human Rights lawyer

Maybe my favourites are Sheherazade in 9th Century BCE, the daughter of the vizier, and a storyteller, writing about tales on the Silk Road from China to Arabia; and Amal Clooney, a modern-day Human Rights lawyer, whose quote is, “ Giving up is not an option!

Wafa’ Tarnowska is the award-winning author of Arabian Nights, published by Barefoot Books. Wafa’ has a large repertoire of work including several children’s books, many translated into numerous languages. She also translates plays and books including Victoria and Abdul, which was then made into a film. In 2018, Wafa’ performed Palestinian stories with Jumana Emile Abboud at the Tate Modern in London.

The illustrations in the book are beautiful with an amazing use of colour and different styles throughout.

Pikku Publishers produce the most beautiful books and Amazing Women from the Middle East is a special book in their collection. The hardback book is a joy to have and each page has its own individual colour and shade. Pikku Publishers produce quality books for children in schools and at home and they reach far across the globe in sales and achievements.

If I could step outside my door today and buy one book, this is the one that I would choose. such a good book.

Sue Martin

How to Design a Novel – Rehan Khan

Rehan Khan, author of Carnegie nominated ‘ Tudor Turk’ will be running a live 2 day course on; How to write and design a novel, on 12-13th December 2020. (...this is an entrance fee event, see link below…Ed.)

You can register for this event herehttps://courses.rehankhan.com/Pjr25

We know there are many of our blog readers who would love to write a book themselves. Maybe you are one of those? Do you have a story inside you to tell? Do you love reading and would like to to write a book? This course may be just right for you.

Rehan is the author of A Tudor Turk and A King’s Armour, an historic fiction series with Hope Road Publishers. They are great books and bring a totally new dimension to that period in history.

This is a unique opportunity and the focus on designing the novel will enable a way into writing. Finding the backdrop of the story, providing the setting, thinking about the characters, planning and enabling some hooks for the story to unfold.

In the UK as we head into lockdown 2, maybe this will give you some inspiration and motivation to find a way to write that book.

But in any case, try reading A Tudor Turk and A King’s Armour over lock-down. You will find yourself in another world, full of daring adventure.

Sue Martin

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