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I can’t wait for my room
down the hallway
Mum’s old study
Dad said one more lick of paint
and it’s mine!

Mina has been waiting forever for her own room, gathering her treasures and eagerly planning the perfect layout. Until…

‘someone is coming
to stay with us
for a while,’ mum says
‘someone who needs a home
and…a room.’

Mina’s parents have offered to foster a refugee boy from Afghanistan who needs a place to stay. Mina knows her family is doing a good thing, but her heart is broken and it’s hard to be kind to the stranger who has taken her new room. His name Azzami means ‘one who is fierce like a lion’, instead he is a boy who is scared and small as a kitten and doesn't seem at all grateful to be in Mina's room.

At school, Azzami doesn’t speak and when Oliver and his mates bully him, Mina can’t understand why he won’t stand up to them and instead ‘curls up in silence like a snail in his house’. In class, she doesn’t know if Azzami can read or write, but soon discovers he has his own way of storytelling. When Mina looks closely at Azzami's detailed drawing she sees his life in Afghanistan through his eyes. Azzami's story opens her heart and an unexpected friendship begins.

Mina and the Whole Wide World by Sherryl Clark is a gentle verse novel about friendship and kindness. The world comes to Mina’s house not just in the world globe she finds, but also through Azzami. Mina discovers that even though the world is wide, we are all connected and there is room for us all.

The story is told from Mina's point of view using simple poems and imagery complemented by Briony Stewart's black and white illustrations that beautifully capture feelings and moments as they weave through the text adding another layer of meaning.

Mina and the Whole Wide World is a heartwarming reminder of the power of story to connect us.

Thank you for the copy of this book to review UQP.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by the true story of Muslims who saved the lives of Jewish children in the Second World War.

It is no longer safe for Ruben and his parents to shelter in Uncle Abe’s cellar so his mother reluctantly takes him to the Grand Mosque in Paris which is secretly providing shelter for Jewish children. Ruben is to wait there until the mysterious Fox can take him to Spain to reunite with his parents and his missing older sister, Rosa. Ruben’s mother tells him “You must be strong like the cedars in Jardin des Plantes. You must not bend like the sapling in the wind.”

To hide his true identity Ruben has to learn to pray, eat and speak as a Muslim. Ruben becomes Abdul. The only link he has left to his family and religion is the tattered yellow Star of David he hides in his shoe. At the mosque, Ruben is offered shelter and kindness, but one mistake and his life and the people protecting him could be killed. The Imam warmly welcomes him into his family and Daan becomes Ruben’s protective older brother. He also befriends feisty orphan Amra who he works with in the garden until Nazi soldiers raid the mosque and he is forced to flee.

Ruben is helped by Evette and Fida to escape along with orphans Hana and her little brother Momo. He has to be strong like the cedar and needs courage and resilience to survive the dangerous journey through filthy sewers beneath the streets of Paris and  a life-threatening river crossing to reach the South of France where he finally discovers the surprising identity of the infamous Fox.

Beyond Belief is a moving story of family, friendship and faith that shines a light on brave people from different religions working together with courage, compassion and kindness during one of the darkest times in history. 

Beyond Belief was inspired by Dee White’s own family's story during the Holocaust and her older brother provided inspiration for eleven-year-old Ruben. Dee also travelled to Paris for the research that brings this story to life with its detail. This is the first I have heard of the Muslims who saved Jewish children in Paris. I'm so glad their little known story has been told and I hope Dee will be writing more stories of 'Heroes of the Holocaust'. 

When you have finished reading Beyond Belief, look closely at the front cover for seven clues from the story. Can you find them? Why do you think the title is Beyond Belief?

Look HERE to read more about how Dee wrote Beyond Belief or if you would like to try some of her ideas for writing your own story.

Happy reading!

 

Just like the contours of a map ripple outwards, so do the challenging events in Fred's life in Sorrento, Victoria during 1999. Winifred (aka Fred, Freddo, Winnie) is eleven years old and her family is changing. Fred's mum died when she was six and she is being raised by her adoptive father Luca and her Pop. When Luca's girlfriend Anika and her son Sam move in, Fred feels like her life is swirling out of control and she is being left off the family map, especially when she learns Anika is pregnant. 

At the same time, the impact of the Kosovo War that Fred sees snippets of nightly on the TV, moves closer to Sorrento. A group of 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to stay at the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean as part of 'Operation Safe Haven'. Fred's life becomes entwined with the refugees when she meets Merjeme, Arta and Nora and her moral compass is tested in her attempt to stand up to injustice. 

Fred learns a lot about herself during these twelve months as she navigates and tests boundaries to find her place in her changing map of family, friends, her local community and the wider world. 

Fred's teacher Mr Khouri says:

 "What I think is very important, and truly rare, is to try to gain a different point of view...a little more perspective of the world, which usually entails stepping out from your little corner of it, and seeing through someone else's eyes."

Danielle Binks' heartfelt story encourages us to step out of our little corner of the world...

Read an excerpt of the story HERE.

Teacher notes

Happy reading! 

The Search for the Silver Witch is the final book in the Polly and Buster trilogy by much loved author and illustrator Sally Rippin.

Polly has put the gorvan back to sleep and its purple mist is no longer infecting Blackmoon Coven. Life should be peaceful in the town once again…shouldn’t it?

Things have become worse between the witches and monsters at Blackmoon Coven and a war is looming. Miss Spinnaker has been dismissed from the Miss Madden's Academy and Polly’s magical stones have told her to find a Silver Witch to save the town. It isn’t until she finds her Aunt Hilda that Polly finally accepts that she is the Silver Witch that Black Coven needs. It is not going to be easy….

“The time has come for you to decide what kind of Silver Witch you will become. Every time you do a spell from a place of fear or anger, it will take you in one direction. And the further you go along in this direction, the harder it will be for you to return…You, Polly can choose to find power in love and kindness.” (Aunt Hilda)

Deidre Holloway has returned with Buster in her sights and forces Polly to make the hardest of decisions, but she hasn’t reckoned on the power of true friendship and kindness. It's a heart-racing 'Broomstick 500s' ride with Polly and Buster as they bravely try to help the witches and monsters work together to defeat a beastly menace and save Blackmoon Coven before it is too late. 

Thank you Sally for creating Polly and Buster who have touched our hearts and reminded us of the power of kindness, friendship, empathy and acceptance.

Kindness is the most powerful spell of all.

Happy reading!

Ava has Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leaves her unable to speak or walk and she needs help with moving and eating. She is a regular 11 year-old girl on the inside who hears, sees and understands everything, but Ava can’t communicate because she is trapped in her body that won’t work properly.

How do you say you want jam and not vegemite on your toast, that your favourite colour is pink not purple or tell your big sister that you don’t want to be an embarrassment and just want to hang out with her like sisters do?

Ava has a disability, but she is also strong, feisty and funny, and as the narrator of the story she gives us an insight into the challenges of every day life with Rett syndrome as well as the challenges it can also bring to a family.

One day I'll talk like Aimee.
One day I'll find a way.

Thanks to the encouragement of her new friend, Aimee and the determination and problem solving of Kieran, her occupational therapist, it is Ava’s eyes that provide the key for her to be heard at last. You are going to be cheering Ava on alongside her family when she communicates with them for the first time!

I didn't know about Rett Syndrome until I read this book. Samantha Wheeler has written this story with so much heart and understanding because her own daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome when she was fourteen. 

If you enjoy books that give you an opportunity to walk in somebody else's footsteps and experience a life that is different to yours then Everything I’ve Never Said is a perfect choice.

“Everyone has something to say, whether they communicate in a conventional way or not. We just need empathy and understanding” (Samantha Wheeler)

Happy reading!

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