Friday, February 26, 2021

The Proudest Blue Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Ali, Hatem Aly



emergent readers, Key Stage 1,  pre-school, picture book, ages 4-6, Muhammad Ibtihaj, Ali  S KL, Aly Hatem,  bullying, prejudice, otherness

Asiya, her sister and mother go to the shop to buy Asiya her first grown-up hijab. Previously she has only worn one for special occasions and then gradually at school if she has no sports lessons. Now she must start wearing one all the time.  Her mother wants her to have a pink one but she chooses a vibrant blue one.     

The story is told form the point of view of her younger sister who is very proud of her sibling in her new hijab. Unusually the story for this reader the story is told in a first person narrative. Asiya’s younger sister makes the comparison between the hijab and themselves; the blue is how the ocean meets the sky and in the same way that there is no line between her and her sister. One day others will understand the hijab. There is some bullying and lack of understanding but the two girls stay strong.  

The text is not too dense. It is printed in an adult but large font.  There is information about the writers and the illustrators at the back and also a note from Ibithaj Muhammad, an Olympic fencer. Muhmmad describes her experience of wearing a hijab and what it means to her.   


Friday, February 12, 2021

Beauty and the Bin by Joanne O'Connell


Laura Larskie is proud of her parents and ashamed of them at the same time. They are well on their way to saving the planet. They grow their own food – hydroponically because they weren’t allowed an allotment. They have fruit, vegetables and herbs gowning all over the house. Her parents’ latest venture is raiding supermarket bins for perfectly good food that is being thrown away. Whilst Laure agrees with her parents’ values she knows her peers will find them eccentric. It is all very embarrassing. She doesn’t invite her friends to the house as she is ashamed of it. She never has any money to buy anything new.
Students at her school are invited to become entrepreneurs.  She teams up with sophisticated Year 9 Charley to produce a range of beauty projects that can be made from what you find in the kitchen - or in Lara’s case, in the bins at the back of the supermarket.
There are moments that make you chuckle. But there are also some graver notes. Joanne O’Connell helps to increase the readers’ awareness of the damage we are doing through our over uses of plastic and how the fashion industry exploits workers.
There are also some glimpses of a tender family life.  Laura is particularly close to her younger sister Fern who helps her to make the products. The family members all support each other. 
The ending is upbeat and there are also some delicious recipes for beauty products that you can try at home.
This book is labelled as suitable for 9-11. Lower secondary students would also enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

South & North, East & West by Michael Rosen



Michael Rosen has collected folk tales here and retold them in his great story-teller voice.  There are twenty-five stories in total and they come from all around the world.  Each story is illustrated by a different artist. This particular edition of the book supports Oxfam.    

It’s a little hard to identify the reader exactly. The stories resemble those for younger children but the text is tightly packed and on most pages in two columns which suggests an older reader. It uses a sophisticated adult font and is blocked.

The stories would work well read aloud but the “reader” ought to see the delightful illustrations.

There is a blurb for story at the beginning of the book.  These often tell us where the story comes from and how it was collected as well as enticing us to the theme.   Each story anyway as you make your way through the book is labelled with its origin.

At the end of the book there is some information about how Oxfam works. This and the blurbs at the beginning of the book are perhaps aimed at adults rather than the young reader.      

Find a copy here


The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

  2012   teen, upper secondary   Key Stage 4, ages 14 -17, Dashner   James, science fantasy, thriller This is the second book in the Maz...