Sunday, August 14, 2022

Voyage on the great Titanic by Ellen Emerson White



Margret Anne Brady has been brought up in convent. She is hired as a companion for a Mrs Carstairs, and American lady who is returning to New York to  meet her first grandchild.  Her daughter has just given birth.  Margaret hopes to join her brother William who is already living in Boston.  Of course, in the early hours of 14 April 1912 the Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks.  Margaret, Mrs Carstairs and her dog Florence all survive. The cabin boy, Robert, who has befriended Margaret does not. Margaret names one of her children after Robert.  She does manage to meet up with her brother who finds her in New York.     

Margaret uses a sophisticated language for a young girl who has been brought up in convent. This may affect the reader.  For this reason I also recommend it for lower secondary.  The text is delivered in diary form     

There is a useful timeline at the end of the book and some interesting photos with quite detailed notes.

The text is blocked and uses a serif font and has difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. The print is small throughout the book and even smaller when it accompanies the photos. The novel is 189 pages long.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Find Fergus by Elizabeth Dale and Becky Davies



This is a very carefully written book produced by Reading Champions.    It is a turquoise band book.  This means that there is a fair amount of text on each page, with some pages having no illustration at all. This gives the child the opportunity to read like a more experienced reader across longer passages of text.  Where there are pictures, they may only depict one aspect of what is going on in the story, as the plots become more complex.  They illustrate. They don’t offer extra story.

Imran loses his toy rabbit; he is not able to sleep without this rabbit.  The story shows us how he finds it and what happens next.

The text is ragged right.  The font is plain and quite large. It has simple ‘a’s and ‘g’s. 

Two pages at the end of the book offer suggestions to adults as to how they might use this book with their children.

There is a picture quiz for the reader; they are asked to put the captioned pictures in order - in effect creating a story board of Imran’s adventure.

Politeness for Penguins by Zanna Davidson and Duncan Beedie



pre-school, ages3-5, lower primary school, Davidson Zann, Beedie Duncan, Good Behaviour Guide,    

The penguins are a bit of a mess.  But the Emperor is coming and they must mend their ways.  So, they learn to become super polite. However the Emperor he is not particularly well-mannered himself.  Despite this the penguins decide to hold on to their new ways as they realise that good manners come from kindness and kindness is a good thing to practise.

Usborne describes this as a “Good Behaviour Guide”.     

This is a very busy book. The pages in which the penguins behave badly are full of entertaining pictures and colourful vocabulary.  The pictures tell a supplementary story. The last double spread is particularly busy. Many of the pictures are integrated into the text and there are speech bubbles in some of them.  Pre-schoolers may enjoy attempting to read some of the words.   

The font is large but is definitely one for the more sophisticated reader.    

Sunday, July 24, 2022

When Fishes Flew by Michael Morpurgo



Nandi’s Great Aunt Ellie usually visits them every year. She comes from the Greek island of Ithaca. Nandi’s father is Greek but he and his family live in Australia.  Then Aunt Ellie stops coming; she is getting too old.  When Nandi is seventeen she works in a café and saves up in order to go and visit her great aunt.  She arrives at her aunt’s home only to find that Ellie has left.  According to neighbour and friend Maria, Ellie has been doing this regularly but always comes home safely.  Nobody knows where she goes. Nandi develops a friendship with a flying-fish who is the incarnation of the Greek god Proteus. He tells her much about her aunt’s past and present. Aunt Ellie returns, bringing with her two orphans from Syria. Aunt Ellie has worked all of her life caring for people less fortunate than herself.  Her young husband, Alexis, died less than a year after they were married. Nandi decides to live with her aunt and the two girls she has adopted. Every year she pays for her Australian family to come and stay for a few weeks.        

As ever Michael Morpurgo uses a rich voice to tell this story.

The text is accompanied by line drawings which illustrate the story.  There are also some maps.

The text is blocked and uses a simple font but one that has difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. It is double-spaced. The text is 179 pages long.  

Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Tractor Factor by Amanda Brandon and Maarten Lenoir



ages 5-7, lower primary school, Brandon Amanda, Lenoir Maarten, emergent reader, non-fiction, transport,  farms, Maverick early readers,  orange band,  

This is a very carefully written book produced by Maverick Books.   It is an orange band book. This means that it is approximately 300-450 words per story with one story per book.
There is a quiz page at the end of each story. The story is mostly decodable at Letters and Sounds Phase 5. Up to five non-decodable words are included.

Scotty and his tractor outwit the fox in this story set at an agricultural show.

There are only a few words on each page and the picture mainly illustrate with very little extra detail in them. The text is ragged right.  The font is plain and quite large. It has simple ‘a’s and ‘g’s.  

The quiz at the end of the book introduces a fun element but also offers the new reader the opportunity to study the text in more detail.  

Sunday, June 19, 2022

William Bee’s Wonderful World of Trucks




In this story William Bee works with trucks at his garage.  He introduces us to all manner of heavy vehicles.   The final pages become even more information rich than the opening ones.  The penultimate page shows all sorts of products you can buy at William’s garage.  One double spread near the end of the book shows facts and figures about the size of two of the vehicles. Another gives us information about types of fuel and how a lorry is structured.

In some ways this is a very conventional picture book. There is only a little text on each page. The pictures are in places integrated with and at other times apart from the text. The pictures all contain supplementary story.  At times these are quite amusing: they often contain details of traffic cones that have become human and a dog who very much remains a dog.

The font is clear and large with simple ‘g’s and ‘a’s . This implies the text may be suitable for the very early reader though some of the language and concepts are quite demanding.     

Voyage on the great Titanic by Ellen Emerson White

  1998 Margret Anne Brady has been brought up in convent. She is hired as a companion for a Mrs Carstairs, and American lady who is ret...