Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business:


2021 (first published 1991)               

Someone had pooed on Mole’s head.  He makes it his mission to find out who. So, we are introduced to a series of animals and are shown what their poo looks like.

This is a conventional picture book in that more story is put into the pictures, though in this case not so much as in other picture books.   It uses the familiar “mask” to show facial expressions . This is something the young child needs to learn how to “read”.  Further body language conveys emotions and opinions.   

Throughout the text more information is given in brackets about the mole

A turn comes in the story as he accuses the flies. They explain though that their business is business and they know that this has come from the butcher’s dog.

This is an anthropomorphic text: Mole wears shoes and Horse wears glasses.    

The text is printed in a serif font which has difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s.  This is reasonable as the text will most likely be read by an adult.  The font size is large so reading glasses may not be needed.  


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Aaron Slater and the Sneaky Snake by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts


This is part of the Questioneers series. This is a good name for the group of friends; the books pose questions about how society works. In this story a mum is disturbed because at the zoo, a small snake falls on the head of one of her sons.  The incident gets blown out of all proportion, and even the mother recognises this.  There are calls for the zoo to be closed. The Questioneers see this as a mistake; the zoo is an important educational resource. Opinion is divided. However, the young people can see that the zoo should stay open but it must be made safe; they perceive that there is a possible win-win situation.  They combat the ignorance about snakes by giving away copies of Uncle Fred’s book about them.  The council initially votes to close the zoo but relents after the efforts of the Questioneers.         

There is quite a lot of text but also many pictures which to some extent tell more story but also illustrate what is happening. Sometimes these are presented as a separate page.  Sometimes they are integrated into the text. They are in an unusual type of monochrome: orange, brown, white and beige.   

The text is blocked and uses a simple font, though it still has a difficult ‘g’. It has 155 pages.  

There are short bios at the end of both the writer and the illustrator.  There are also some pages of extra information about snakes, frogs, hearing aids and American Sign Language. This is all written in the same style as the story and is aimed at the younger fluent reader.  

Monday, July 24, 2023

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino


2021 (first published 1937)

Copper, nicknamed thus after Copernicus, learns a lot from his uncle. Here we have the story of an ordinary school boy.  Bullying happens at school.

Copper lives with his mother. His father has died. His uncle is the male role model for him. His uncle helps him to rationalise everything.  He writes his notes in a special book and these cover science, philosophy, history and ethics. Copper has a lot of thinking to do.    

This resembles a fluent reader book in many ways and Copper is the right aged protagonist for this reader. However, some of the issues that are raised are quite complex and might be of interest to Years 7 and 8     

This is a thought-provoking book for the young reader.   


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...