CBCA Clayton’s Night

This week I was honoured to be invited to talk about Books for Younger Readers at the CBCA Clayton’s Night. We are very lucky to have so many talented Australian authors writing books that make us laugh, spark our creativity, inspire and empower us. It was a big challenge to only choose six of my favourite books from last year!

These are the six books I chose and I have also written about them on the Wild About Books blog…

Tales of Mr Walker by Jess Black

The Mystery of the Magic Stones by Sally Rippin

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Pommavanh

Fearless Frederic by Felice Arena

Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler

His Name was Walter by Emily Rodda

Some other books I would also include are…

The Book of Answers by A.L. Tait

Missing by Sue Whiting

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

I wonder which books you would include in your favourite books from 2018…

that doesn't look like me! 365/11

Eric.Ray via Compfigh

Happy reading!

Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay

It’s 1979 and the sky is falling.

Skylab, that is.

Skylab, the U.S. space station is starting to break up and will re-enter earth’s atmosphere. NASA can’t control Skylab’s path or predict exactly where the pieces might land. Western Australia is on its flight path. As everyone focuses on the sky, Skylab brings back memories that 12-year-old Frankie Avery has tucked away of nights in the Space Shack gazing at stars on clear cloudy nights with her Dad an amateur astronomer before he went missing.

As Frankie makes a solar system birthday cake for her little brother Newt, it reminds her of her family. Frankie, Newt and Mum are like the planets rotating around the sun in their own orbits, near each other but not touching. These days Mum is working long hours and doesn’t talk about Dad. Frankie feels like she is the one keeping their family together, cooking meals and watching out for Newt while keeping up with her school work and finding time for her best friend Kat.

Newt is an 8-year-old with a curious mind who inhales facts and loves doing science projects. When he starts obsessively gathering data on Skylab and tracking its every move, Frankie wonders what Newt is up to as she tries to keep her smart, but accident prone brother safe from harm. As Skylab tumbles to earth, Newt is torn between the scientific facts he knows are true and the wish he has in his heart. “Did you know,” he says, “that even if you wish for something really hard … I mean, really really hard… that it still doesn’t make any difference?” 

When Skylab finally crashes to earth it brings Frankie and Newt’s Dad back to their family in an unexpected way.

Catch a Falling Star is a poignant, and beautifully written story about wishing and hoping and holding on and letting go when you lose someone special in your life. It will touch your heart.

Find out more about Meg McKinlay who is a children’s writer and poet who lives near the ocean in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

Lottie and Walter by Anna Walker

Every Saturday morning Lottie goes to her swimming class, but she is afraid to go into the water. Lottie watches the other children swimming and having fun, but Lottie has a secret. Only Lottie knows there is a shark hiding in the swimming pool that wants to eat her! 

One day Walter appears at the pool and Lottie discovers her secret friend loves books and  bubbles, eating fish fingers and playing hide-and-seek too. Most of all Walter loves to sing! When Lottie feels scared of the dark Walter quietly sings her to sleep…

Humbelly doo,
Lumbelly la,
Loopy loo!

Can her friend Walter help Lottie find her courage to jump in the pool so she can enjoy the pool party with her friends?

I was lucky to hear Anna Walker talk about Lottie and Walter. Anna’s idea for her story came from when she was little and her cousin told her there was a shark in her grandparent’s pool. When Anna was young she had lots of secret companions and decided a walrus was a perfect secret friend for Lottie. Anna wanted her walrus to sing and Walter’s song is one of her son Sam’s funny poems.

Anna’s ideas for stories come from her everyday life, travelling, her pets or even feelings and she paints or draws them in her visual diary. You can read more about how Anna created Walter and Lottie HERE.

Anna loves to bring her characters to life by making and knitting them and using them in stop motion videos. She is very talented, patient and humble.

Walter is wearing his party hat!

Can you tell that Anna loves drawing walruses?

Download your own Lottie and Walter activity pack and have fun creating Walter in different ways!

Thank you Anna, Lottie and Walter for reminding us that even though we might be scared at times, we all have the courage we need inside…

Happy reading! 

A Great Escape by Felice Arena

 Felice Arena takes us on a daring adventure set in Cold War Germany in 1961 when the government built the Berlin Wall that divided Germany into East and West and separated families, friends and neighbours for twenty eight years. 

Imagine your city has been divided by a wall and and your family is on the other side…

Peter stays with his grandparents when his parents and sister go on a trip across the border to the West. They wake to find the government is building a wall through their city. It is guarded by soldiers, tanks and fierce dogs so nobody can get through and people can no longer go to the West. Peter feels trapped and is scared he might never see parents and little sister, Margrit again. Finding a way past the wall will require courage and ingenuity. Peter and his friends Otto and Elke desperately want to escape, but whose daring plan will succeed…

A Great Escape is an exciting adventure story, but it is also a reminder of how strong the love of family can be, even when a wall tries to separate them. Peter’s story will tug at your heart.

United States Information Service, Department of State [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was lucky to hear Felice talk about A Great Escape on it’s publishing day and he celebrated  by bringing Peter’s favourite Kalter Hund cake (also known as ‘Cold Dog’ cake!). Despite it’s name, it’s a scrumptious chocolate biscuit cake and you will definitely want more than one slice! Thanks, Felice!

Here’s the recipe if you would like to make it yourself. 

Felice explained that a visit to Berlin sparked the idea for A Great Escape as he wondered what if he had been there when the Berlin Wall was built…how would he have felt and what would he have done if he had been separated from his family? Stories often begin by writer’s thinking “What if….”

By chance, Felice also discovered his neighbour Peter was a guard on the West side of the Berlin Wall, and he could tell Felice about life in Berlin at that time. In fact, Felice named his main character after Peter and Peter’s dog, Otto became the name of Peter’s friend! 

As Felice was writing his book he gave it a ‘working title’ that eventually changed to A Great Escape. What do you think his ‘working title’ for his story might have been? 

Historical fiction books are portable time machines that can transport us back in time to experience places and events and help us to understand our world and ourselves a little more. 

I wonder where Felice will take us on our next historical adventure…what do you think?

Happy reading!

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables on the Lookout by Tim Harris

“So that’s why I needed to run away. I need to change. And the best way for me to turn things around is to be less like Vex Vron and more like you, Mr Bambuckle. I’m going to copy you.”

Vex Vron has run away! He has left a note and its up to Room 12B to work together to find him before his family and Mr Sternblast find out he’s missing. Trapped by the rules she strictly enforces, Miss Frost is not happy about having to help so she can save her job. However, something quite remarkable happens to Miss Frost and her silver hair during the search for Vex.

Canteen Carol once again finds she is no match for Mr Bambuckle, Myra learns a tough lesson about generosity from the Kindergarten kids and Vex Vron reminds us of the importance of being yourself. 

In so many positive and fun ways, Mr Bambuckle has transformed the lives of the students in Room 12B and the teacher we all wish we had, is going to receive the highest teaching award in the country. This means there is no way Mr Sternblast can get rid of Mr Bambuckle now! 

After much anticipation we finally get to see the mysterious Indian spark-maker beetle in action as it helps Mr Bambuckle reveal an important message for Room 12B and also for us…

TOFFLE TOWERS

Tim Harris has a new series called Toffle Towers coming out in August! You can read a short preview at the back of Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables on the Lookout or read more about it HERE and watch for the front cover to be revealed…

Happy reading! 

Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge

It all begins with an idea…

Roald Dahl’s stories often began as tiny ideas scribbled into his ‘Ideas Book’ before they became his much loved stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches and The BFG.

Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge is looking for creative and exciting story ideas from 5-12 year olds across Australia

Could it be YOU?

HOW TO ENTER:
Submit your BEST story IDEA in under 100 words
You can only enter once
by
16 April 2019

PRIZES:
CHOOSE which major prize you want to apply for
Your story idea turned into a book
Your story idea turned into a theatre creation
Your story idea turned into a Minecraft world

Roving reporter and reviewing the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory play

There are also FIVE libraries of Roald Dahl books to be won

All the information you need is at
Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge Australia

fly high

stuart anthony via Compfight
Let your imagination take flight…

The Year of the Pig by Charles Hope

Pig was full of hope.
When the school race came around,
he was sure in his heart that this year
his luck would change.

Pig has never been a winner. He was last to finish tests, the last picked for games and even the last to have his birthday. This year he hopes it will be his lucky year and he will win the school’s Annual Running Race across the forest.

Pig’s classmates race off and leave him behind, but Pig calmly keeps making his way to the finish line. Jess Racklyeft’s playful water colour illustrations show each of his classmates getting side-tracked along the way through the forest. When Pig arrives at the finish line he is surprised to find himself the first one there and just a few hoof-steps from winning! However, Pig is worried about his missing friends and decides it is more important to find them and help them to the finish line. Today Pig is a winner!

At the back of the book you will find the animals in this story are based on the Chinese Zodiac.  Find your year of birth and read about the qualities of your animal. Does the description sound like you? What would have happened to you as an animal in the story?

In the Chinese calendar, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. Read the Chinese Zodiac description for a Pig. How does Pig demonstrate these qualities during the story? How is he a winner?

In this this gentle and heartwarming story, Pig reminds us to be hopeful, be true to ourselves, be a good friend and to keep a look out for others.

Happy reading!

Teacher Notes

Rainbow Bear by Stephen Michael King

I am a huge fan of author and illustrator Stephen Michael King whose illustrations dance with joy and creativity.  Stephen says that he loves to draw and dream and likes nothing better than when a small idea grows beyond his original imagining.

Stephen Michael King lives on an island and I love that he has added a few “Henry and Amy” wiggles and a bunch of squiggly “Milli” somethings to his house. You can find out more about Stephen HERE and the books he has created over 20 years HERE 

Rainbow Bear is a playful story set in a white snowy world. When Bear returns from a trip to the city with gifts for his family, he wakes the next morning to find himself looking rather different. Who are the secret artists that decorate his furry canvas with colourful swirls and dots and lines and circles each night while he’s asleep? When Bear finds a clue, he turns the tables on the little artists and they share a fun family day of colour and creativity before diving into the deep blue ocean, blowing bubbles and turning somersaults.

After reading Rainbow Bear, you might be tempted to colour in the black and white endpapers. (I think Stephen Michael King might love his readers to do just that!)
Why do you think the endpapers are black and white? Did you also notice that the endpapers are different? 

Did you know Stephen Michael King often includes a little red bird in his picture books (you can see a picture of it on his website). I wonder if you can find his bird in Rainbow Bear

“I love colouring outside the lines – and that made creating ‘Rainbow Bear’ a whole lot of fun.” (Stephen Michael King)

Happy reading and creating!

Teacher notes

The House on the Mountain by Ella Holcombe

The Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria on Saturday, 7 February 2009 were among Australia’s worst bushfire disasters.

Ella Holcombe grew up in Kinglake and The House on the Mountain was her childhood home that burnt down on Black Saturday.  

At the end of her book Ella has written an important message that she would like you to read with a grown-up.

Remembering Black Saturday
There is fire coming, and we need to move quickly. Mum and Dad start packing bags, grabbing woollen blankets, the first-aid kit, torches and then the photo albums. Dad puts Ruby on her lead and ties her up near the back door. My chest feels hollow, like a birdcage.

The House on the Mountain is told through the eyes of a young girl as she remembers the fiercely hot and windy day in February when her family drove down the mountain at Kinglake to escape a raging bushfire. When her family is allowed to return home, she is shocked to see ‘the hills are bald, with black spikes where the trees used to be’. In their street everything is silent and it’s like ‘stepping into a picture book after all the colour has been drained out’. It’s hard to make sense of what remains of their house.

It’s strange living at Nan’s house and returning to school to learn some teachers and kids will never come back because of the fire. Months pass before the family can move back to their block of land where they live in two caravans as they rebuild their house with help from friends. Slowly shoots of green start to appear in the trees and plants poke through the blackened ground as wildlife returns and life moves forward.

David Cox’s illustrations are a special part of this book in the way they capture both the power and destruction of the bushfire and the natural beauty of Kinglake that Ella remembers from her childhood days. David used photos so the house in the book looks exactly like Ella’s mudbrick family home. 

The House on the Mountain is a story of of resilience, healing and hope and a love letter from Ella to her parents.

One More Page Podcast

I enjoy listening to podcasts when I’m out walking and because I’m wild about books, most of the podcasts I listen to are about books! 

One of my favourite podcasts about children’s books is One More Page which is hosted fortnightly by three fun, book-loving ladies who also happen to be authors. 

I regularly laugh out loud as I’m walking and listening to Nat Amore, Kate Simpson and Liz Ledden. Their One More Page podcast is chock-full of entertaining interviews with authors, illustrators and other people from the book world. Whatcha Readin? will have your TBR (To Be Read) pile growing into Mt Bookerest! There’s bookish fun in Kids Capers, competitions to win great books and you can hear about upcoming book events. I also look out for Marianne Khoo’s vibrant illustrations of each podcast’s theme. What a talented team at One More Page!

You can also listen to the podcasts HERE on their website and find more information in the Show Notes.

You shouldn’t, but if you need one more reason to listen to One More Page…their guest author for Episode 25 on Wednesday, February 13th will be Tim Harris whose new book Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables On the Lookout is out now!

Thank you One More Page for highlighting kids’ books and reading in a fun and engaging way and making this teacher librarian’s heart sing!

Happy reading…and listening to One More Page!