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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!

 

 

 

 

2

It's 1969 and change is in the air...

Man is about to step foot on the moon as Sharnie Burley takes her first steps into high school with its new rules, new subjects and the challenge of making new friends. 

Sharnie's view of the world is widening. As the Vietnam War rages overseas, people at home in Australia are protesting in the streets against the war and sending young men to fight without having a choice (conscription). Opinions are dividing society and friends are becoming enemies at school. There is conflict in Sharnie's family too when her big sister Cas gets involved in anti-war protests and upsets their father who believes fighting for your country is an honour. Sharnie wants to share her worries with Gran, but her beloved Gran is fighting a battle of her own. Along with Gail, her unlikely new friend, Sharnie finds her voice through art and begins to make her own mark on the world. 

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood is a verse novel with many layers skilfully and sensitively woven together using beautiful imagery linked to the moon landing.

Thank you for the copy of this book to review University of Queensland Press. 

Happy reading!

Teacher notes 

 

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus celebrates the fun and adventures you can have bike riding with friends and caring for our planet at the same time.

When their new teacher Ms Dillon introduces Grade 5D to a Bicycle Bus, travelling to school becomes a lot more fun!

Ms Dillon leads the bicycle bus
with her shiny red bike
and she calls for us
to
stay
in
single
file
nottooclosetogether
not     too     far     apart.

We roll down Burton Street,
a caterpillar of clanking gears
and whirring pedals.

But there’s a narrow stretch on Fisher Road with no white line to separate the cyclists from the traffic where the cars feel louder and closer and faster. When a ute carrying a pile of timber passes dangerously close to Ms Dillon, it's Zoe and Max who come up with a bold and clever plan that might involve breaking a few rules. Will they succeed in making the bike ride to school safer?

As the students in 5D ride their Bicycle Bus to school it's heartwarming to see their friendships and independence grow. Dabir's grandfather was a wise man when he said  'A bicycle makes a sound heart'. What do you think he meant?

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus is a free verse novel. It has verses, but it doesn't rhyme like a poem. There are less words, but each word is carefully chosen. The length of sentences, sentence breaks and use of white space are important in writing free verse. In this book there are different perspectives as the characters narrate their story and reveal their feelings about riding to school. Jordi has been wearing his bike helmet at breakfast every day hoping his mum would let him ride to school one day, Max loves doing wheelies, Olivia can fix a puncture in no time, Dabir's dad has proudly given him the bike he rode as a boy in his village, while Zoe's bike named Esmerelda has been carefully cleaned so it sparkles.  

Steven Herrick's passion for bike riding and the environment shine in this story, particularly through Ms Dillon as she quietly empowers her students and the school bike racks begin to fill.

 Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus is a book that will have you smiling and wanting to grab your bike and ride with your friends!

If you have enjoyed reading this verse novel, I highly recommend you read Bully on the Bus, Too Many Friends and On Track by Kathryn Apel or The Little Wave by Pip Harry that have also been published by UQP.

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

Happy reading!

We're getting special visitors
this term.

Kids from the bush who
want to swim at Manly.
They're driving a long way,
just for a dip.

Some of them 
have never seen 
the ocean. Imagine that!

I don't know about you, but I am always intrigued to know what sparks the idea for an author's book. Pip Harry's spark came when she was sitting on the sand after a swim at the beach. As she watched a group of country school children visiting the beach for the first time, running along the sand, playing in the waves and exploring rock pools and building sandcastles, Pip wondered how the trip would affect their lives and the lives of the families who hosted them.

The Little Wave is a about three very different kids with their own challenges. Their lives connect when a city school plans to bring a country class from Mullin to visit the beach at Manly. Together Noah, Lottie and Jack discover the power of friendship, courage and being true to yourself. 

Noah has no fear when surfing, but doesn't know how to stand up to bullying from his best mate.

Lottie is fascinated by bugs, but worries about her dad who has filled their house with junk.

Jack wants to be a cricket star, but has to do well at school if he wants to see the ocean.

How do a surfer grommet and a a bug collector from the city and a cricket player from the country become friends? 

Discover what happens when Mr M surprisingly pairs Noah and Lottie to organise the class fundraiser and how being pen pals helps Jack and Noah to encourage each other.

The Little Wave is a verse novel written in the first person point of view. This gives readers a window into the thoughts and feelings of Noah, Lottie and Jack as they tell their part of the story. Verse novels are easy to read (but not easy to write!) Their authors often use imagery to paint pictures for readers. This is how Noah describes surfing

Being on a wave
is like riding 
a rolling ball of energy
that's travelled hundreds of kays
across the ocean.

and how Lottie feels when she is ignored on the bus

I feel
like a shiny helium balloon
slowly deflating.

If you have enjoyed reading Kathryn Apel's verse novels, or like reading about kids like you, books about friendship or a story that simply makes you feel good, then The Little Wave is a book you need to read!

The vibrant cover by Sophie Beer captures the beach setting and warmth of this story. Look out for the little symbols Sophie has added to each of the character's chapter headings.

This is Pip Harry's first verse novel...I hope there will be more to come!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

Leave taking: (noun) the act of saying goodbye.

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood is a gentle and heart-squeezing verse novel about saying goodbye, cherishing memories and new beginnings. Toby and his mum and dad are leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister Leah. ‘Deep Well Farm’ is the only place Toby has called home and it’s hard to understand why his parents want to leave.

Toby’s dad gives him a map of the farm he’d drawn as a boy and marked with his special places. Toby creates his own version of the map that he calls 'Leave taking'. Armed with his map, a tent and sleeping bag and his trusty best friend,Trigger by his side, Toby uses his map to say goodbye to the chook house, Pa’s truck, the machinery shed and other places and things that hold a special meaning for both he and Leah. Toby’s map is on the back endpaper so you can follow along as he recalls precious memories and says his goodbyes.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Toby reminds us that saying goodbye isn’t always easy, but the people and places we have loved will always be with us in our hearts and our memories.

Lorraine Marwood's carefully crafted words in Leave Taking leave you feeling as though you have been wrapped in a warm and comforting hug.

(You might need some tissues as you read).

Leaving Taking is on the 2019 CBCA Short List: Books For Younger Readers

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

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