Sandcastle – Einat Tsarfati – Candlewick Press – Published 5 May 2020
A young girl loves building sandcastles. But not just any sandcastles. She builds one so big and grand and lovely that all the royals of the world come to visit. There are banquets and balls and tournaments, a greenhouse for cacti, a staircase for skateboarding, and ice cream around the clock. Everyone seems to be having fun, until they discover sand in the royal almond strudel . . . and the fig milk bath . . . and everywhere! With a keen eye for the absurd, author-illustrator Einat Tsarfati invites readers beyond the crocodile moat to explore the intricately detailed, increasingly wild festivities that echo the arc of a day at the beach, from euphoria to gritty discomfort. The diverse cast of regal guests, from a Rapunzel-esque princess in pj’s and unicorn slippers to a pair of knights playing badminton, is just as inspired.
Sandcastle is a feast for the imagination. Our main character is a young girl, who while at the beach, builds a sandcastle. But it is not just any sandcastle. Her sandcastle is a castle, with hundreds of rooms and a kitchen that serves ice cream all the time. Kings and queens from around the world come to visit. But there are some problems with living in a castle made of sand, as the guests soon discover.
I love the cover of this book. Bright and colourful, the sandcastle has a rough texture that stands out from the rest of the smooth cover. It will be a shame to cover this library book.
Book Clubs #3 – Activities and Interactives
Over the course of this mini series we have looked at starting a book club and all the things to consider when you are setting a book club up. We have also looked at how to promote your new (or old) book club and recruit members. Now I want to talk about all the fun activities and interactive things you can do with your book club. These ideas range from the simple and quick to the more complicated. Some you can do for free or with the resources you have, others will need planning and budgeting.
A Vow So Bold and Deadly – Brigid Kemmerer – A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Bloomsbury YA – Published 26 January 2020
Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.
Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.
As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.
I hate reviewing excerpts. I only downloaded this review copy thinking it was a full copy and not just an excerpt. This is a Brigid Kemmerer book, so of course I loved it and of course it only made me want to read the whole book now and OF COURSE it ended on a tantalising bit that was so AGONISING. So, you see why I don’t like reading excerpts?!?
The Crayons’ Christmas – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (illustrator) – Penguin Workshop – Published 15 October 2019
‘Tis the season for all of us to write our holiday wishlists. But everyone–even the crayons–know the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers get to see how Duncan, the crayons, and their families celebrate the holidays.
If you have read The Day The Crayons Quit and The Return of the Crayons you will know how utterly delightful these books are. The colours are bright, the illustrations fun and the stories lots of fun. There is now a whole collection of Crayon books, including a Valentines Day special, a book of colours and a book of numbers.
This book is perfect as a gift, but it also works as a library book – you’ll just have to keep an eye on the special things in the book pockets. If you or your little readers enjoy the Jolly Postman books, you’ll love this book. Each page has a pocket with something special inside. The pockets are very clever – some made to look like letters or parcels that have arrived and others with a very realistic photo of a box that some clever page design seems to pop from the page.
The format of letters to and from the crayons continues, with a few extra special surprises. There are old character who return, familiar reader favourites and some new characters to meet.
Two Quick Christmas Book-related Activities
Do you know the Crayons series by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers? What about the Macca books by Matt Stanton? Both these picture book collections have a Christmas titles that are so much fun. This year, for our final few library lessons, I put together a few very quick and easy Christmas activities that tie in with the books.
Book Clubs #2 – Promoting and Recruiting
If you haven’t already checked it out, start by reading part 1 in this 3 part series about creating and running book clubs. In this second part, I am talking about promoting your book club and recruiting members.
Spread the Word
So, you’ve decided to start a book club. Maybe you already have a few students on board. You have talked to possible recruits and decided your who, what, when, where, and how. If you have done this in consultation with your possible members you should already have some people ready to join. But, whether you are starting from scratch or just want to swell your numbers, you will want to let people know you have a book club and how they can join.
The Sowing Season – Katie Powner – Bethany House Publishers – Published 6 October 2020
After he’s forced to sell the family farm he’s labored on his whole life, 63-year-old Gerrit Laninga doesn’t know what to do with himself. He sacrificed everything for the land–his time, his health, his family–with nothing to show for it but bitterness, regret, and two grown children who want nothing to do with him.
Fifteen-year-old Rae Walters has growing doubts and fears about The Plan–the detailed blueprint for high school that will help her follow in her lawyer father’s footsteps. She’s always been committed to The Plan, but now that the pressure to succeed is building, what was supposed to unite her family in purpose, may end up tearing it apart.
When their paths cross just as they each need a friend the most, Gerrit’s and Rae’s lives begin to change in unexpected ways. Can they discover together what really matters in life and learn it’s never too late for a second chance?
This is such a charming, inter-generational story about healing wounds and finding your purpose in life.
Rae Walters is a teenager with a plan. Or at least, her parents have a plan for her life. As Rae fits in as much study, volunteer time and gets everything perfect for the plan to become a lawyer, she struggles to put her heart in it, especially when she gets behind the wheel of a car. It might be the first time she has failed something, and it is set to derail her plan and her relationship with her parents. Gerrit has just sold his family farm. Generations in his family has ended and all his sacrifices – time with his wife and children – gone. Now, with little to do, Gerrit finds himself assessing his relationships, or lack of them, with his wife and grown children. He wants to do better, but isn’t sure where to start.
I loved so much about this book. Mainly, I loved how relaxing it was to pick this book up and sink between the pages. Gerrit is hilarious (and he doesn’t mean to be and he would absolutely hate me for finding him funny). His character is so clear and so strong. Katie Powner does a fantastic job of painting him as the grump, out-of-sorts, awkward farmer. He doesn’t know how to talk to his children, wife, or neighbours. He continually denies any softness, especially about his wife’s dog, Daisy. But despite his gruff exterior, he really does want to change. Being inside Gerrit’s head, gives the reader an insight into his thoughts, crazy ideas and inner softy.
The Worrying Worries – Rachel Rooney and Zehra Hicks (illustrator) – Affirm Press – Published September 2020
Do you ever worry about your Worries?
They can be awful pests, and they hate to see you happy.
But if you follow some simple steps you can banish those worries for good!
The Worrying Worries is a wonderful story about what to do about those worries that seem to follow you around, the ones you just can’t shake.
The Worrying Worries is Rachel Rooney’s second similar picture book, following The Problem with Problems. Both are brightly illustrated by Zehra Hicks. I love how the illustrations resemble a child’s colourful drawings, especially the crayon circle worry creatures. This would be a great book to follow up with a craft and drawing activity, where students try to create their own similar illustrations.
Book Clubs #1 – Getting Started
I love, love my school library book clubs. So much love. I love having the opportunity to chat with our readers, to compare ideas, argue about what makes a good book, laugh, have fun, celebrate reading and just chill out. When you think about all the extra curricular activities that happen in a school, so many of them are focused around sport, music or art. Reading is so important and yet there are only a few extra-curricular activities that give readers a chance to connect. Reading can also be a very solitary hobby, so it is important to give our young readers a chance to get together in a safe space. Book clubs are the perfect solution.
When I think about what I love most about the school library I work in, my answer is without a doubt the students and especially the members in my book club. I use them as a place to connect with the students, as a chance to bounce ideas off my keen readers, get their insight into new books and the best books in the collection.
So, you want to start a book club. You’re convinced, you think it’s a great idea. But maybe you’ve tried to start a book club before and it didn’t work out. Or maybe you are just not sure where to start. In this 3 part series, I will share all my book clubing experience, the ideas that worked for me, and those that didn’t. I encourage you to give school library book clubs a go (or maybe another try).
Book Week 2021
Ready or not, here it comes. Are you ready for Book Week 2021? No one could have predicted everything that 2020 threw at us. Let’s hope 2021 is a little more predictable – in a good way. And there is nothing better than locking in Book Week and marking it in big, bright letters on your calendar. Book Week 2021 has returned to it’s usual late August date. And the theme for Book Week 2021 has already been announced –
Book Week 2021 will run from the 21st to the 27th of August 2021. See the official theme announcement here.