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! 

Beware The Deep Dark Forest by Sue Whiting

“You must beware the deep, dark forest,”
Rosie told Tinky.
“Never, ever go in there.”

Rosie has never gone into the deep, dark forest, but when her puppy Tinky runs off into the forest she has to find him. 

“But the deep, dark forest is thick with danger,” warned Rosie’s Grandma. “Carnivorous plants they say.”
And venomous snakes,” said Rosie’s dad. “So I’ve heard.”

Would you go into the deep, dark forest?

Rosie can’t leave Tinky lost and alone in the dangerous forest and goes on a quest to rescue him. She needs to have courage as the forest becomes deeper, darker and muddier. Along the way, Rosie has to bravely sneak past a big, bristly brute, find a way to cross a place that is dizzily, dangerously, dreadfully deep and face a menacing, monstrous, muddy creature to save Tinky.

Sometimes like Rosie we don’t know how brave and clever we can be.

Sue Whiting has written a story that is like a fairytale. It is lots of fun to read aloud with its repetition and descriptive words, especially when Rosie stands up to the muddy creature at the end! Can you find ways Sue has used words to make her writing scary, exciting and fun? 

Annie White‘s earthy water colour illustrations take you into the forest with Rosie and often as the reader you can see things in the forest that Rosie can’t see. Can you see any carnivorous plants and venomous snakes or spot the shadow of the menacing, monstrous muddy creature? What has been printed on the purple endpapers, can you explain why?

If you like scary stories that are fun and going on quests where you can be a hero, then Beware The Deep Dark Forest is just the book for you!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes by Sue Whiting

Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald

Did you know your city is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting pigeons? Yes, pigeons!

Some pigeons might spend their day cooing or looking for breadcrumbs, but not the Real Pigeons! This feathered secret crime-fighting squad solve mysteries and fight bad guys to keep your city safe. Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood reveal all in Real Pigeons Fight Crime.

GrandPouter has gathered together his team of pigeons who are perfect for fighting crime because they are fast, can attack and they’re everywhere! Each pigeon in the team also has his own unique pigeon power. They hold their top secret team meetings in rubbish bins (which can be dangerous on bin collection day!) and are always on the look out for animals and people to help and mysteries to solve. They might be checking out your neighbourhood right now!  

In the three stories in this book, GrandPouter, Rock, Homey, Tumbler and Frillback work together using some very creative (or is that crazy) problem solving combined with their pigeon powers to solve The Great Breadcrumb Mystery, track down an elusive Bat Trapper and prevent a disaster at the Food Truck Fair. Keep an eye out for Rock’s clever (and sometimes wacky) disguises and Tumbler’s impressive flight moves when he flies at night with the bats. 

If you’re looking for a new funny series to read then this is it. I’m sure you will have as much fun reading Real Pigeons Fight Crime as Andrew and Ben have had writing and illustrating it. They are a fabulous team who share the same wacky sense of humour that bursts out their book! You won’t look at pigeons in the same way ever again!

Create your own Real Pigeon
Research pigeons to help you create your own Real Pigeon character.

What are its characteristics and pigeon power?
What is its name?
What will it look like?

Lucky for you, the second book in the Real Pigeon series called Real Pigeons Eat Danger will be coming in November! Read more about it HERE

Happy reading and being Super Coo fighting crime with the Real Pigeons!

Teacher notes