Our favourite hippopotamus is back and this time he’s having lots of fun getting ready for Christmas in There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake. A perfect book to add to your Christmas collection!
Deborah Niland’sclassic illustrations show hippo busy writing his present list (that’s a LOT of cakes), having messy fun icing his large Christmas cake, doing a special Christmas cake dance, some Christmassy dressing up and singing Carols by Cakelight. The little boy in the house below is also excitedly getting ready for Christmas with his family and has made a scrumptious Christmas present for his hippopotamus friend.
What does your family do to get ready for Christmas? Do you have a favourite activity?
Hazel Edwards wrote her first hippopotamus book There’s A Hippopotamus on Our Caravan Roof Eating Cake in 1980 and this is the seventh book about her much loved hippopotamus. These days, Hazel is often called ‘The Hippo Lady’!
Do you have a favourite hippopotamus book by Hazel?
Karen Foxlee, will take your feelings on a roller-coaster ride when you read Lenny’s Book of Everything asLenny and her brother Davey burrow their way into your heart and remind you of the wonder and preciousness of life.
On the day Davey Spink was born his mum had a ‘dark heart feeling’ and felt ‘something’s not right’. Her feeling is right when Davey turns five and starts growing faster than he should. Davey is diagnosed with gigantism, a rare condition that causes him to keep growing. By the time Davey is seven he is man-sized and this is harmful for his health. Lenny is very protective of her younger brother, but she has her own challenges and it’s not easy being the sister of ‘the giant’.
Lenny, Davey and their mum who works two jobs don’t have much, but they have each other. Their mum wins a free subscription to Burrell’s Build-It-At-Home Encyclopedia and Fridays become the highlight of the week when each new volume arrives. The encyclopedia transports Lenny and Davey to places beyond the walls of their tiny apartment and brings knowledge and the wonder of the world into their lives.
The B volume fuels Lenny’s fascination for beetles and her dream to become a coleopterist and the bird section introduces Davey to golden eagles. He even invents his own imaginary eagle called Timothy who sits on his shoulder and he feeds him imaginary crumbs. When the C volume arrives they discover Canada. Lenny as ‘chief imagineer’ imagines them travelling to Bear Lake. Planning their adventurous trip there and the log cabin Davey wants to build, carries them through the ups and downs of Davey’s health until the day Lenny and Davey squeeze goodbye in Morse Code.
Karen Brownlee exquisitely weaves the story and its characters together using the volumes of Burrell’s Build-It-At-Home Encyclopedia with Lenny as the narrator. As you read, think about how Karen’s words make you feel, how she describes her characters or the images she creates in you mind with her carefully chosen words.
If you have read Wonder by R.J. Palacio or Ugly by Robert Hoge you might also like Lenny’s Book of Everything. Auggie, Robert and Davey’s stories give us an opportunity to walk in their shoes and help us to understand a little more some of the challenges of living with a disability.
Click HEREto read this National Geographic Kids’ interview with Karen Foxlee.
Look closely at the front cover. How does the image connect to the story? ClickHEREto see how the cover was created. This is a rare novel with endpapers. Why do you think they have been included?
Click HERE to read an extract of Lenny’s Book of Everything.
Ava has Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leaves her unable to speak or walk and she needs help with moving and eating. She is a regular 11 year-old girl on the inside who hears, sees and understands everything, but Ava can’t communicate because she is trapped in her body that won’t work properly.
How do you say you want jam and not vegemite on your toast, that your favourite colour is pink not purple or tell your big sister that you don’t want to be an embarrassment and just want to hang out with her like sisters do?
Ava has a disability, but she is also strong, feisty and funny, and as the narrator of the story she gives us an insight into the challenges of every day life with Rett syndrome as well as the challenges it can also bring to a family.
One day I’ll talk like Aimee. One day I’ll find a way.
Thanks to the encouragement of her new friend, Aimee and the determination and problem solving of Kieran, her occupational therapist, it is Ava’s eyes that provide the key for her to be heard at last. You are going to be cheering Ava on alongside her family when she communicates with them for the first time!
I didn’t know about Rett Syndrome until I read this book. Samantha Wheeler has written this story with so much heart and understanding because her own daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome when she was fourteen.
If you enjoy books that give you an opportunity to walk in somebody else’s footsteps and experience a life that is different to yours then Everything I’ve Never Said is a perfect choice.
“Everyone has something to say, whether they communicate in a conventional way or not. We just need empathy and understanding” (Samantha Wheeler)