Let me start by saying that this sucks.
‘What sucks?’ I hear you say.
No, actually that’s stupid. I don’t hear you say that. How could I?
For a start I don’t even know who you are, so what would you be doing here talking to me in my bedroom?
Andy Flegg does not want to write in a journal. but if he wants his parents to buy him an XBox, he has to write in it every day until his birthday, which is 124 days away. He has no idea what he is going to write about, but he desperately wants that XBox, so he’s going to do it. Luckily (in an unlucky kind of way), life is about to send lots of curve balls Andy’s way, so he’ll have plenty to write about – as the book’s title The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing Your Dog, Your Dad and Your Dignity in 138 Days suggests. The journal might even help him get through it all.
While the use of a journal of diary written by a reluctant protagonist is not new, but it is a format which works, allowing the reader direct insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings. Of course it also allows for plenty of humour in the form of an unreliable narrator and plenty of misunderstandings. Readers will enjoy Andy’s voice, and also empathise with the pain of the quite traumatic events he experiences, a pleasing blend.
The Andy Flegg Survival Guide is suitable for middle and upper primary readers.
The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing Your Dog, Your Dad and Your Dignity in 138 Days, by Mark Pardoe
Puffin Books, 2013
Available from good bookstores and online.
Everyone crowded in behind Abby, craning to see.
“Oh dear,” said Melvino.
“Our glacier!” said Lianna.
“Our whale!” said Sam.
“Quack!” said Max.
Max is back. He charmed readers in Duck for a Day, and now this wonderful little duck, and his human friends Abby and Noah (and their classmates) are back in a new adventure. If you haven’t yet met Max, what you should know is that he is a special duck – because he’s the class duck. He waddles around the classroom, curling up on the feet of the children and brightening their lives. He’s especially made a difference to Noah, helping him build in confidence and bringing Noah and Abby together as friends. Now, though, Max is in trouble. Someone – or something – has destroyed the class Antarctica display, and the principal says he will have to go. Abby and Noah are determined to prove that Max is not the culprit. If they don’t they’ll lose him.
Definitely No Ducks! is as compassionately quirky as its predecessor. The concept of a class duck, and a teacher with a touch of Mary Poppins magic about her, is one which will amuse young readers, but the messages about honesty and acceptance and friendship, are important ones, and ones which McKinlay handles deftly.
This is a delightful little offering which will appeal to readers ages six and up, and would be perfect for sharing in a classroom setting – though it may lead to pressure for a new classroom pet!
Definitely No Ducks!, by Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2013
Available from good bookstores or online.
Because I got a terrible suitcase for my going-to-school present instead of the red backpack with yellow rockets and a silver sipper, I was mad.
M A D, mad!
When the young narrator gets a suitcase instead of a backpack for school, she is unhappy. And why wouldn’t she be? Her friend Max has the rocket backpack she wanted, and all the other kids have backpacks too, with attachments and pockets and stickers. Starting school should be fun, but how can she be happy with a terrible suitcase? Change comes when she hides away with her suitcase and makes a friend. Soon, their game draws in other children, and the suitcase comes in useful for all kinds of things.
The Terrible Suitcase is a beautiful picture book about the power of imagination, friendship and starting school. The terrible suitcase proves to be a tool for bringing children together in a gentle story brought to life in the tender watercolour, gouache and pencil illustrations by Freya Blackwood.
Perfect for reading with youngsters about to start school, but also lots of gentle fun for younger and older children too.
The Terrible Suitcase, by Emma Allen & Freya Blackwood
Available from good bookstores or online.