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The Right Way to Rock by Nat Amoore is an uplifting story filled with heart and humour, seasoned with songs and garnished with gherkins. 

Mac Fleetwood Cooper’s mum is obsessed with rock music. She thinks rock is the only music worth listening to and is doing all she can to help eleven-year-old Mac become a rock star. Mac wants to make his mum proud, so there's no way he can tell her that he loves Broadway musicals and his dream is to write his own one day.

Mac is invited to join the Secret Society of Broadway Music Appreciation (SSOBMA,) and meets Flynn, a talented pianist who has Tourette’s syndrome. Through the boys' friendship we learn what it’s like to have a condition that causes people to have tics (sounds, movement, words and phrases) that they have no control over. Mac shows us how we can be supportive and accept people for who they are. 

When Mac learns The Arts program at Watterson Primary is going to be cut, he is devastated because music with Ms Fox is his favourite class. Mac knows he has to do something to save the program and his teachers’ jobs. It’s an Arts Fiasco! Mac and Flynn devise a daring plan. Watterson: The Musical! is born and becomes a wonderful celebration of friendship, community and The Arts. Go Gherkin Guys!

Nat’s love of musicals shines in The Right Way To Rock. The story is written in acts and scenes rather than chapters and each scene begins with a song re-written from a musical – so much creativity! Nat has also brought back characters from her books Secrets of Schoolyard Millionaire and The Power of Positive Pranking. I really enjoyed the return of Kathy and Mr Piddles who have some surprises of their own.

You can read The Right Way to Rock on its own, but I highly recommend you read Secrets of Schoolyard Millionaire and The Power of Positive Pranking first if you haven’t read them yet. 

Enjoy Nat's unboxing video of  The Right Way To Rock 

This morning I had a moment of serendipity (“Google it!” Tess Heckleston would say). As I was finishing reading The Right Way To Rock, my phone pinged with a photo memory from five years ago on this day. It was the photo below I took of the stage at Matilda The Musical…. read The Right Way to Rock to find out why I smiled at the amazing coincidence!

Happy reading!

 

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Our wonderful children's book creators are finding lots of creative ways to share their books and reading fun online with YOU their readers.

Here are this week's suggestions of bookish fun to help you get wild about books @ home...

Author Hangout with Adrian Beck

Tune into crazy bookish fun daily at lunchtime at the Author Hangout with Adrian Beck as he live streams chats with Aussie children's book creators. You can watch live on Adrian's Facebook page  (check with your parents) or subscribe to Adrian's YouTube channel from the video below. There are segments like Ready Set Draw where illustrators create pictures out of scribbles (think Mr Squiggle), Story Starters, Boredom Busters and a game of Book or Chook (think Hangman) where the loser has to do the Chicken Dance. There isn't a dull moment on this show!

These are the talented book creators Adrian is chatting with this week.

Book 'N' Boogie with Nat Amoore

Did you ever think you could combine books, fitness and fun? Super talented, energetic author and dancer extraordinaire, Nat Amoore has you covered with Book 'N' Boogie! Join Nat each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am to boogie along to her fun and slightly wacky book-inspired dances. Subscribe to Nat's YouTube Channel to dance along with her.

Here's Nat's first Book 'N' Boogie dance video inspired by Adrian Beck's new book Derek Dool Supercool

Gabrielle Wang's SPARK 

If you like to draw and/or write stories then Gabrielle Wang's SPARK might inspire your creativity.

Every Saturday Gabrielle will be putting up a new illustration to SPARK your imagination. Gabrielle hopes that children from around the world will upload their work to her SPARK page to share with us all.

For her first SPARK, Gabrielle has drawn flying bears and she asks you to draw or paint a picture or write a poem or paragraph inspired by her illustration and upload it to her SPARK page.

Felice Arena - The Besties World 

This is a great time to be learning new skills!

One of the readers of this blog is planning to learn how to play the ukulele and I recommended Felice Arena's  The Besties World website. Click HERE for the chord and lyric sheets for some of the songs from The Besties Ukulele Album. You can also download some pictures from The Besties books to colour.

 

Bedtime Stories Podcast with R.A. Spratt

This is a weekly podcast of funny stories for kids by R.A. Spratt the author of Nanny Piggins, Friday Barnes and The Peski Kids. Tune into Bedtime Stories for fun stories, laughs and silly voices.

 

Macca the Alpaca and Celeste the Giraffe Easter activities

Matt Cosgrove has created fabulous Easter activities for you to do with with Macca the Alpaca and Celeste the Giraffe, including a gorgeous Macca the Alpaca Easter egg basket. Lots of Easter goodness here to fuel your creativity!

Harry Potter At Home hub

For the Harry Potter fans, you will be excited to learn that The Wizarding World Team have created The Harry Potter At Home hub to banish boredom while everyone is keeping safe at home. Read the news about The Harry Potter At Home hub and register for the newsletter HERE.

Click HERE to enter the Harry Potter At Home hub and just like Hogwarts and its staircases, this page will be changing all the time...

Happy reading!

 

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Now is the perfect time to get wild about books...

Our wonderful book creators are finding lots creative ways to share their books and reading fun online with YOU their readers.

Anna Walker

If you've read Mr Huff, Florette, Peggy, Lottie and Walter and other picture books by Anna Walker then you will know how creative she is! If you love making and creating and using your imagination then visit Anna's new website called Twiglet for ideas and inspiration and on the Twiglet Instagram page

Judith Rossell

Judith Rossell is the author of the Stella Montgomery series and makes the most amazing model houses. Judith is currently running an Art Challenge on her Facebook page. The first challenge was making tiny houses and you can watch Judith's video HERE.  

Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is sharing a story from her latest Evie and Pog series. Stay tuned for more content on Tania's YouTube channel.

Gus Gordon

It is always a privilege to hear an author read their book. If you enjoy Gus Gordon's picture books you can listen to Gus read his stories on Gus' Instagram page

Sally Rippin

Sign up for the Sally Rippin Holiday program - it's free! Did you you know there are THREE new Billie B. Brown books?

Matt Stanton

Matt Stanton the creator of the popular Funny Kid series is currently doing videos from his studio. In this video you can draw a monster for Monster Monday and have a sneak peek at his new Funny Kid book!

Mo Willems

Fans of Piggy and Elephant and The Pigeon will know Mo Willems. You can have fun doing LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems  HERE 

 

Book Publisher Activities

Penguin Random House has fun activities for you to download for some of your favourite books.

In Puffinalia for Kids you will find puzzles, crack the code, drawing activities and perhaps a little bit too much information about Adrian Beck the author of Derek Dool Supercool.

 Puffinalia Littlies for younger readers has mazes, finger puppets to make and you can go on an insect safari in your backyard.

Penguin Random House also have stacks of activity packs for some of your favourite books HERE

 

Stories at Home

Story Box Library - Australian Stories online

With  nearly 300 stories to choose from you will definitely find some of your favourites on Story Box Library. If your local library subscribes to Story Box Library then you can log in and select your library and type in your library card number to watch the stories for free. (If you belong to the Yarra Plenty Library like me - we can use our library card!)

Story Time from Space

You can even listen to stories from space read to you by astronauts on the International Space Station with Story Time from Space . Now that's pretty cool! 

 

Writing Fun

Gross Stories Competition

My favourite podcast One More Page has a Gross Stories Competition for kids up to 12 years old. You can email your story to onemorepagepodcast@gmail.com before April 5th. The winning story will appear on the podcast. Good luck!

 

I hope these stories and activities will help you to get 'Wild about books @ home'. I'll be adding more blog posts like this one so stay tuned! 

I would love to know what you're reading. You're welcome to tell me in the comments...

Happy reading! 

Meet two very best friends.
One is a girl and one is a dog.
And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.


Evie and Pog are two quirky very best friends who live in a tree-house in a beautiful silver ash tree with pink leaves in Granny's backyard. The tree-house has a reading nook, a hanging chair and a slide with soft daisy-spot grass to land on - I could happily live there too!

Image by Goran Horvat: Pixabay

Evie and Pog love to have fun and in this book you can join them on three adventures.

Puppy School Mess

Granny Gladys constantly cleans and gets carried away tidying the grass by snipping the heads off Evie's precious daisies! Evie and Pog try to make her stop. Whoops-a-daisy! Granny Gladys ends up wearing a chocolate cake and poor Pog has to go to dreaded Puppy School, where it turns out Evie is better at the Puppy Challenge than the puppies!

School Play Drama

Evie is so excited to be the Butterfly Queen for the school play. Pog is not about happy being a fairy pug. When Granny Gladys tries to tidy Evie's wings, there's chaos as threads get tangled and the stage becomes a big woolly spider web. How can an enormous sneeze and a flying friend save Pog and the play?

Cake Stall Chaos

To raise money for the Puppy School at the annual Fair, Evie decides to have a cupcake stall. In Granny's shiny kitchen they all dance and bake and wipe and sing as they make 100 cupcakes -  kids' cupcakes, doggy cupcakes and spinach cupcakes (for Pog). Whoops-a-daisy! What are the chances of the cupcakes getting mixed up? Anyone for a caramel kidney cupcake??

Look out for Evie and Pog: Puppy Playtime too!

In her first junior fiction series, Tania McCartney has created two delightful characters for you to meet. Evie is a full of energy, often accident-prone and sometimes dog-like. Pog takes life a little more seriously and would rather drink tea and read the newspaper than learn to sit, beg and speak. They have lots of zany fun together and are good at solving problems in creative ways. Tania's gorgeous illustrations are a highlight as they bring Evie and Pog's adventures to life.

Happy reading!

 

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The second book in the Toffle Towers series by Tim Harris will have you laughing out loud once again.

Thanks to ten-year-old Chegwin's creativity, Toffle Towers is filling up fast with guests and even more are expected for the annual Great River Race. All is going smoothly until some of Chegwin's staff are 'reverse mugged' by two mysterious men in black. The hotel is thrown into chaos as Chegwin tries to find a solution and work out who is behind the attacks. 

When Chegwin discovers that Brontessa Braxton (owner of the rival Braxton Hotel) is the mastermind, his attempt to be kind to her backfires. Chegwin finds himself competing in the Great River Race to save both Toffle Towers and its staff from her greedy clutches. Underpants, yes underpants, will help decide the race winner!

Will you find out who is in Room 49? I'm not going to say, but you will get to explore secret tunnels hidden in Toffle Towers. There's also fun to be had at the upside-down check-in, dancing on the musical staircase and your mouth will water as you read about the newly upgraded Room 1 that is now The Lolly Room where everything is edible - yum! 

Once again James Foley's fun illustrations bring the story to life. His illustrations of nasty Brontessa Braxton are some of my favourites, especially her eyebrows!

If you enjoy funny books and taking your imagination for a walk, the Toffle Towers series is for you and great way to start your year. Fully Booked is the first book in the series and you can read more about it here.  

Watch out for Book 3 - Order in the Court that will be coming soon.

Happy reading!

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What would you do if you inherited a hotel?

Chegwin Toffle is a ten year old whose wild blond hair is almost as wild as his imagination and he is regularly in trouble at school for daydreaming. When he unexpectedly inherits the Toffle Towers hotel from his long lost uncle, Chegwin will need to unleash his imagination to help save the hotel and its loyal staff.

Chegwin and his eccentric parents arrive in the town of Alandale to discover Toffle Towers hasn’t had any bookings for two years and they only have three months to save the hotel. Chegwin believes it's time to think like kids to save Toffle Towers because "Adults only ever think of restraints, but kids think of the possibilities. There are always new ideas waiting to be imagined. You just have to come up with them”. 

It’s not easy learning to run a hotel and there are challenges and disasters along the way, especially when Chegwin accidentally orders sixty thousand litres of fresh milk instead of sixty litres! However, Chegwin’s daydreams start turning into reality with help from wacky head groundskeeper, Barry Rake. The beaten up hotel shuttle bus is given a boost in more ways than one and the Grazing Room is transformed into the Gazing Room with an out of this world dining experience that I would love to try! The rooms at Toffle Towers are filling fast as Chegwin's clever ideas put the hotel back on the map as an exciting holiday destination for kids and their families. 

Along the way, Tim Harris encourages you to be creative too. What you would add to ‘Strange Things People Might Inherit’ and ‘Uses for Sixty Thousand Litres of Milk’? There are also mysteries to solve and I really want to know why the door to Room 49 in Toffle Towers is locked and who might be in there. 

It's great to see the dynamic duo of Tim Harris and James Foley bringing their creativity and humour to Toffle Towers. You can find out more about the zany Toffle Towers characters and see some of James' original sketches on his Instagram page. (Am I the only one who thinks Barry Rake looks like James Foley?)

If you enjoyed Tim Harris' fabulous Mr Bambuckle series and you’re looking for a new fun series and an opportunity to take your imagination for a walk then Toffle Towers is for you!


Happy reading! 

Teacher notes

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This year is the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing when man walked on the Moon for the first time.

"It was one small step for a man…and one giant leap for mankind.’

When Apollo 11 blasts off for the Moon, the whole world is watching. On the other side of the planet, Billy, Mickey and Buzz decide to be astronauts too...

In a sheep paddock near Billy's house stood 'The Dish', one of the largest telescopes on Earth that astronomers use to track space missions and faraway galaxies. Billy  loves space and wishes he could fly to the Moon like the astronauts on Apollo 11. As it gets closer to the Moon Landing, Billy builds models of  the Saturn V rocket and Command and Lunar Modules. He teaches Mickey and Buzz how to be astronauts and they have fun making shiny foil space suits, collecting 'moon rocks' and practising lunar gravity in the bath! 

In their very own Command Module they eat chocolate pudding and astronaut ice-cream as they blast off into space...

It felt like the stars were whizzing by.

The moon hung
like a silver ball,
glowing and growing
bigger and brighter...
Closer and closer.

and Billy, Mickey and Buzz go Moonwalking and bouncing and leaping as they explore the Moon until they drift off safely into astronaut dreams. 

What a fabulous team effort by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton to create Moonwalkers! The Apollo 11 mission captured the world's imagination and Mark and Terry have delightfully captured Billy and his siblings' imagination, creativity and fun being Moonwalkers.

At the end of the book, Terry has also illustrated the successful Apollo 11 Mission - to put humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth.

The whole world was watching on July 16, 1969 as Apollo 11 blasted off into space carrying three astronauts headed for the Moon. Three days later on July 20, (July 21 in Australia) an estimated 600 million people watched Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. I had just turned five and can still remember all the students from my little country school in Guyra, NSW all excitedly squashed into a little room in front of a small black and white television to watch the Moon Landing and history in the making.

Ian Sutton [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Australia had a special part to play in the Moon Landing with our large radio telescope in Parkes, NSW nick named 'The Dish' and the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station in Canberra. 'The Dish' helped to beam photos of the moon walk around the world. In fact, Australian audiences saw Neil Armstrong's historic first step 0.3 seconds before the rest of the world. You can read about it HERE

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

2

Nat Amoore is a shiny new author whose shiny new book Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire is a story filled with heart and humour.

Finding a million dollars in your backyard - every kid's dream, right?
That's what me and my best friend Toby thought too. 

Tess Heckleston is ten years old, wise for her age and a natural born entrepreneur who is always dreaming up ingenious plans to make money. Toby her best friend, is a numbers guy who is smart, organised and her moral compass. Coming from a large family where money is tight, Tess wants to get rich while Toby who was adopted from Bolivia, wants to donate to every worthy cause he can find. Together they make a formidable team.

When Tess' dodgy neighbour Scotty dumps a million dollars in her backyard it changes everything. There's so much Tess and Toby could do with a million dollars, but there are also a lot of unexpected decisions and problems that come with that amount of money.

Who knew it would be SO hard for kids to spend a million dollars even when they want to do good with it?

Tess and Toby's skills and friendship are challenged as they 'creatively' try to find ways to spend the money. Personally, I loved their idea of a coffee and donut cart for the school staffroom, but you might prefer the jumping castle and lollipops and they might be on to something with their solution for a home for Kathy and Mr Piddles. But what happens when the Really Bad Guy, Scotty wants his million dollars back...all of it!

This book cleverly begins with the end as Tess opens her school locker to reveal a million dollars in front of the whole school and you want to keep reading. I read the first three chapters to Year Four classes in the library and one student said "I normally don't like reading, but I HAVE to read this book!!"  So don't just take my word for it!

Nat has written one of my favourite books this year and between you and I, I think there might be quite a bit of Nat in her character, Tess!

Here is Nat at her million dollar book launch for Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire at The Little Bookroom in Melbourne.

If you found a million dollars in your backyard
what would you do with it?

Happy reading!

Let Me Sleep, Sheep! by Meg McKinlay is so much fun to read! 

Do you lay in bed counting sheep to help you drift off to sleep? What would you do if two of those sheep landed in your bedroom with a THUD?

Amos is counting sheep when two annoyed sheep land in his bedroom. Felix and Walter as they prefer to be called (Not 'One' and 'Two'), are not happy about being dragged away from their dinner and wool clipping. They insist the only way they will leave is if Amos builds a fence for them to jump over...

"If you want to count us, you need a fence. It's in the rules." 

Felix and Walter are VERY fussy about their fence. It can't be too low, too high, too wobbly, too hard and definitely not boring! The mess in Amos' room grows as he tries to build a perfect fence and the two wily sheep keep adding more crazy demands for drinks, a finish line and even a dance party.

"You'll have to test it, of course.
We have to save our energy for the big jump."

Will his fence pass the test so Amos can finally get to sleep?

suju / Pixabay

Leila Rudge's pencil illustrations brilliantly capture the hilarious chaos as Felix and Walter take over Amos' bedroom and turn the tables on him.

If you were Amos what would you have done?

What does the final illustration reveal?

How would you continue the story?

It might be time to design a fence for Felix and Walter and their sheep friends in case they land in your bedroom one night...

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

 Felice Arena takes us on a daring adventure set in Cold War Germany in 1961 when the government built the Berlin Wall that divided Germany into East and West and separated families, friends and neighbours for twenty eight years. 

Imagine your city has been divided by a wall and and your family is on the other side...

Peter stays with his grandparents when his parents and sister go on a trip across the border to the West. They wake to find the government is building a wall through their city. It is guarded by soldiers, tanks and fierce dogs so nobody can get through and people can no longer go to the West. Peter feels trapped and is scared he might never see parents and little sister, Margrit again. Finding a way past the wall will require courage and ingenuity. Peter and his friends Otto and Elke desperately want to escape, but whose daring plan will succeed...

A Great Escape is an exciting adventure story, but it is also a reminder of how strong the love of family can be, even when a wall tries to separate them. Peter's story will tug at your heart.

United States Information Service, Department of State [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was lucky to hear Felice talk about A Great Escape on it's publishing day and he celebrated  by bringing Peter's favourite Kalter Hund cake (also known as 'Cold Dog' cake!). Despite it's name, it's a scrumptious chocolate biscuit cake and you will definitely want more than one slice! Thanks, Felice!

Here's the recipe if you would like to make it yourself. 

Felice explained that a visit to Berlin sparked the idea for A Great Escape as he wondered what if he had been there when the Berlin Wall was built...how would he have felt and what would he have done if he had been separated from his family? Stories often begin by writer's thinking "What if...."

By chance, Felice also discovered his neighbour Peter was a guard on the West side of the Berlin Wall, and he could tell Felice about life in Berlin at that time. In fact, Felice named his main character after Peter and Peter's dog, Otto became the name of Peter's friend! 

As Felice was writing his book he gave it a 'working title' that eventually changed to A Great Escape. What do you think his 'working title' for his story might have been? 

Historical fiction books are portable time machines that can transport us back in time to experience places and events and help us to understand our world and ourselves a little more. 

I wonder where Felice will take us on our next historical adventure...what do you think?

Happy reading!

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