These holidays I was mostly reading … John Green books

Quentin Jacobsen, known to his friends as Q, has loved Margot Spiegelman for just about his whole life. Margot is out of his league, so when in the middle of the night she taps on his window and asks him to be his partner in crime for some pretty risky revenge pranks he really just can’t say no. After an exhilarating night and Margot is nowhere to be found, Q finds some subtle clues to what may have happened to her and they seem to have been left just for him.

This funny and moving book will appeal to boys and girls in year 7 and 8.

An Abundance of Katherines was OK but Looking for Alaska was my favourite John Green book from the holidays, really funny and I think will appeal to boys particularly. I felt it was more suitable for high school though, year 9 or even 10.

Commonsense media is a website which reviews books and films and helps to give an idea about which age group they are suitable for. This is a really useful guide for teachers, librarians, parents and students because books are given a recommended age rating both by parents and children. It is often interesting that parents will rate a book as being for younger children than the children themselves do. Click on the link below and search for a book you are thinking of reading or buying for a child to get another opinion.

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The Thing about Jellyfish – great new book in the library

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When I read Wonder for the first time I couldn’t stop thinking about it for quite a long time afterwards and this book had the same effect on me. The Kids’ Lit Quiz man, who has read every children’s book ever written, talked about this as a Must Read so luckily I had already ordered this and it arrived the same day!

Suzy’s friend has died suddenly and because she no longer sees the point of small talk she decides not to talk at all, to anybody. We discover that she actually lost her best friend some time ago, to the challenges of fitting in at middle school, and Suzy’s account of this painful transition is heart breaking. Weaving through this and the counselling sessions¬†that her parents have set up to help her start talking again is her science project in which she means to disprove that her friend just drowned and could more than likely have been stung by a jellyfish.

Like Wonder, which has not enjoyed any shelf time since we talked about it early in the term, I feel everyone should read this before they leave primary school and I will be sharing this book with the 5-8s in the library this week.

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There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom – a review by Sadie

Sadie read this book recently and recommends it highly. Here’s what she has to say about it:

If you are a fan of the wonder series and are looking for another book to read this is perfect. It is about a boy that has anger issues and is asked to have a personal trainer / helper for his anger . He does not want to go to her for assistance … After a couple of lessons he really likes going to her and his friend starts going as well !
By Sadie

We think this is another one of those must-read books for students in years 5-8. Tolerance and empathy are big values to learn and use at school and this book covers them in a very amusing way. Come and borrow it!

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Celebrating Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!

On the 20th March every year the children’s book community celebrates Very Hungry Caterpillar Day. We celebrate the start of spring (in the northern hemisphere) by telling this much loved story of the caterpillar who eats his way through an enormous amount of fruit and treats until he’s full. We can guess what happens next. Here’s some Room 9 children joining in with the story.

After we read this story with the Seatoun Kindergarten children we were joined by their buddies from Room 10 and they enjoyed some quiet buddy reading time.

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Here comes Frankie – talking about Synaesthesia

This is what our year 5/6s have been reading and talking about in the library this week. Here comes Frankie by Tim Hopgood is about a boy who lives in a very quiet and colourless world until the day he decides he will learn to play the trumpet. Although the sounds he makes aren’t great at first, he soon realises that the notes he plays produce the most vivid smells and fabulous colours. His parents can see and smell these effects too and soon his whole street is alive with colour and sound. This is a lovely book with wonderful illustrations.

Frankie has a condition called synaesthesia, basically a tangling of the wires in the brain causing some senses to interlink. A great website called Your Amazing Brain gives a good description – click on this link here.

A number of famous artists and musicians have synaesthesia, including the artist Vincent Van Gogh and the musician Billy Joel. Many musicians and artists see having this condition as an asset but unfortunately, when Vincent started having piano lessons and the teacher realised he was associating colours with certain notes, he took this as a sign of insanity and asked him to leave! Poor Vincent!

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The Fabulous Friend Machine – great story for older primary students

Popcorn the chicken is without doubt the friendliest and kindest animal on the farm, and when she discovers a Fabulous Friend Machine in the barn she is delighted to find that there are others out there just as friendly as she is – or are they? After ignoring her old friends to stay glued to her machine and keep up with her new friends, arranging to meet them seems to be the obvious next step….. will these new friends be quite as friendly as she thought?

We enjoyed reading this book with Year 7/8s and Year 5/6s and raised all kinds of questions like knowing who we are communicating with online, staying on devices into the night and looking out for our friends even if they ditch us for fancy new ones. A great fable delivering some messages that are well worth talking about.

 

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Our Junior Students fill the library Nickle Nackle Tree

Students from Rooms 4,5,6 and 9 and some visiting Seatoun Kindergarten children have been busy producing beautiful birds for our Nickle Nackle Tree, based on a counting book by the creator of Hairy Maclary, Lynley Dodd.

Each bird brings its own style and humour to the tree and our students have made each one unique. The sleepy Snooze birds snore side by side, the cheeky Chizzle birds are cheerful and chirpy and our fussy Fissick birds have feathered vests which are now not necessarily yellow!

Here are the children hard at work with their birds:

See how the tree has filled up! Even the Kindy children came back in today to see how beautiful our tree is. Come in and have a look at our tree and see if you can count how many of each bird there are.

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Detective Gordon and his new colleague Buffy

We have two great books in our library about the great Detective Gordon who somehow manages to keep law and order in the forest. When the squirrels start to complain that someone is stealing their nuts, he sets about finding the culprit and along the way finds himself the perfect assistant, a baby mouse who he names Buffy. Buffy and Detective Gordon combine his wisdom with her agility and between them a lovely friendship and a great crime-solving team emerges.

In the second book they try to work out who in the forest is being so mean to everyone. Detective Gordon is trying to teach Buffy the basics of The Book of Law but it appears there are too many laws to remember. There are laws like:

It is forbidden to splash water on tired badgers.

It is forbidden to tease a pig and tell him his tail is curly.

It is permitted to wash dishes for old badgers.

It is permitted to offer juice to a hedgehog.

How can Detective Gordon make the law easy for Buffy to understand? These books are for sharing as a read aloud or for anyone who can read early chapter books. There is another one due out this year in which Buffy must work by herself.

 

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Julia Donaldson, David Walliams and a new soon-to-be favourite, Emer Stamp.

This week in the library we enjoyed some books which are new to our library but by two authors that are big favourites already, and another that I’m sure will be popular.

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We all love Julia Donaldson’s picture books – they rhyme so wonderfully and are full of brave, kind and clever characters. The Gruffalo is the one we know the best, but we also love the Snail and the Whale, Tabby McTat, Sharing a Shell, and many more which we have in the library. This week we shared The Scarecrow’s Wedding, in which the beautiful Betty O’Barley and her dear friend Harry O’Hay set about finding everything they need for their wedding. When Harry is delayed on the search, is the smooth talking Reginald Rake going to take his place at Betty’s side? Read it and find out!

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David Walliams has written a book about a group of children staying in the rather unpleasant children’s ward in a large hospital. There is Tom with a sore head, Amber with two broken legs and two broken arms, Robyn, who pushes her around in her wheelchair, has had an eye operation and can’t see anything, George likes food and has had his tonsils out, and finally poor old Sally is too sick to go on any of the adventures but could have input at crucial times. They are the Midnight Gang because only in the middle of the night when their mean nurse is fast asleep can they get out of bed and have some fun. This is a great action packed adventure story from one of our favourite authors.

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Finally here are a new set of of extremely funny Top Secret Diaries of Pig, a set of three books by Emer Stamp. Pig loves his farmer, Mr Sandal, who feeds him yummy slops, calls him Sausage and loves him more the fatter he gets. Pig also has a best friend Duck who makes up great games for them both to play (we read about a particularly rude game in library time this week), and another friend, Cow. Pig, Duck and Cow make each other laugh and look out for each other. Pig doesn’t like Hens because Hens are Evil. Find out more by reading one of these books. They really are laugh-out-loud funny that everyone will enjoy.

 

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A week talking about Kindness in books

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At school this week we have talked about kindness because some of our books help to us to understand the effects of kindness on others. Wonder by R.J. Palacio features a boy born with facial differences called August who goes to mainstream school for the first time when he is 10. The reactions from students are varied. This book is told from the points of view of August himself, his sister and some of the students at his school, and it can be sad at times, full of cruelty, but also full of charm, humour and kindness. Anybody from about year 5 upwards would like this book. It is in our library. Read it.

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The author of Wonder talked to some students about what they felt being kind meant. Here is the link to those interviews:

rjpalacio-kindness-video

We talked about this at school this week, and the great suggestions we heard were:

  • playing with anyone who is by themselves
  • putting your arm round someone who is hurt or crying
  • giving someone a compliment
  • talking nicely to people and smiling
  • keeping unkind thoughts to yourself and not joining in with anyone who is saying unkind things
  • being yourself and not joining in with nasty conversations to fit in

Roald Dahl also liked to portray the nice children and adults in his books as being very kind and didn’t hold back on his descriptions of unkind people. Remember Mrs Twit? We heard this week about how Mrs Twit used to be quite pretty when she was a girl but how having ugly thoughts every day and every week and every year she became uglier and uglier until she looks like this:

mrs-twit

 

Roald Dahl books are funny and exciting and full of adventure. They also contain characters who can be really kind and really cruel too. We have all of them in the library. Come and try one or read one again, you can never be too old to read a Roald Dahl.

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