Monday, October 31, 2022

My Furry Foster Family, Apple and Annie the Hamster Duo by Debbi Michiko Florence and Melanie Demmer


emergent reader, ages 7-9, upper primary, animals, Florence  Debbi Michiko, Demmer Melanie,                                                

Kaita Takano and her family foster animals that are waiting to find their forever family.  They have themselves adopted a small dog. In this story they take on two hamsters that are waiting for a family to adopt them. They keep them in the spare room so that they won’t be disturbed by the family’s pet dog. Kaita’s friend Hannah helps Kaita to make toys for the little animals. But the stage Kaita has made enables the hamsters to climb out of their box. Dad helps to find them and to make a lid to stop them escaping again. Kata and Hannah make posters to advertise the animals and a family turns up to adopt them.

We have an engaging story here and also some hints about caring for pets well.   

The story is 65 pages long but the book has eight pages of other text at the end.  There are just five short chapters. The text is formatted ragged right. The font is large but with a serif and difficult ‘a’s an ‘g’s.

The main story and some of the notes are illustrated though illustrations are kept to a minimum and reinforce meaning   rather than adding to the story. At the front of the book are some sketches of Kaita and her friends and family. These look as if they are Kaita’s work.      

At the end of the book there are activities for the reader, a useful glossary, some notes about the real Kaita and her experience of fostering animals and notes about the author and illustrator, the latter perhaps being aimed more at adults.        

There are other books in the My Furry Foster Family series.        

Thursday, October 6, 2022

A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes


2002 (first published 1929)

fluent reader, upper primary, Key Stage 2, ages 9-11, Hughes Richard, historical,  classic, pirates,

A group of children are sent from Jamaica to England after a hurricane strikes and ruins their home.  But on the way their ship is captured by pirates. The children befriend the pirates who later hand them over to a passing steam ship with an elaborate story that the pirates actually rescued the children. The children collude with the pirates about this.   

I’m not a great fan of trigger warnings but I will post a few here. There are some very dark sides to this story.

·       One child remains missing.

·       The parents are wrongly informed that the children have died – and seem indifferent about this.

·       A girl murders a man.

·       The pirates make mild sexual advances to the children but the children don’t realise that’s what they are.

However, there are many arguments that children should be exposed to the darker side of life. There is a little of the style of the Lemony Snicket books in this. Of course it is a much earlier text.

Robert Hughes really captures the point of view of the children. However, he seems to be writing to an adult rather than another child.

The language is quite advanced, even for the fluent reader.

This may be a text that could lead to an interesting set of discussions. It will give the discerning young reader plenty to think about.

The text is blocked in the paperback version of the novel and uses a serif font and has difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. It is 195 pages long.

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