This has been on my reading book pile for such a long time I'm ashamed to say. Bought it at the wonderful Forum Books Kids Bookshop in Corbridge with the lovely reading Hinchcliffe family in the Easter holidays. As I was choosing it the author came into the bookshop at the same time-a lovely bit of serendipity. Then travelled home, other books took over but sub consciously think I was saving it for a holiday read and I was right to do so as it's started the holidays with that reading joy you get from a jolly good read.
The language, the characters, the context is all so cannily written it feels 'just right' throughout. It's very touching and human. A great book for 9+ it's really worth a read for anybody at all. If you were using it as a class reader there's a mighty lot of issues you could discuss from the book none of which are forced. This is about a family, friends and coping-life really and the way we get through it together if we're lucky.
Billy sees his life through his hero David Attenborough so events in his world have an Attenborough commentary alongside. He's a real water baby-the sea is where he feels at home. This is where the sprinkle of magic comes in...he is swimming one day when a little fish swims up to him and calls him 'FISH BOY'. From then on he is drawn in to an underwater world of family too.
It's such a thoughtful book, the words on the page are there to be enjoyed and really felt-it is a touching read. I read it over two days and couldn't put it down - felt drawn in to Billy's surface world and underwater family world.
The illustrations by Richard Jones really add to the feel of the book and there is a very handy 'fish speak' page at the end too if you were worried you don't know fish so can't read this book....
YOU REALLY MUST - you will know fish by the end of it, I can guarantee it and you will get that heart warming glow you get when you've read something special and spot on.
' Mr. Cram's Magic Bubbles' by Michael Bond but I would like to give it a space as Michael Bond has passed away. Obviously Paddington is the great star of his writing family but this book has always tickled me. It's a beautiful book with these very interesting illustrations and it always makes me smile. I'm not sure we would be allowed to use the original teaching techniques today-Mr. Cram makes his pupils wear dunces hats as he despairs of their mathematical skills. However he comes up with a magical way of teaching them about number by making a special bubble mixture. Every time I read this book (and I do, in every different school I've been in, it sits in my office right now!) I think about how I could do this.....it's so charming and delightful you feel like you could go and do it too. There's a beautiful surprise at the end too so if you need uplifting of course pick up a Paddington book but don't forget this one either-it's a charmer.
Here are some rather marvellous reads for the coming week and weekend if you haven't already discovered these. They are an eclectic mix of funny, mystery and charming and a little bit silly.
'Little Lemur Laughing' By Joshua Seigal is a riotous romp of different poetry forms which are bound to make children laugh. Poetry is also a great way in for reluctant readers AND it is really made to share and say out loud so there's lots of opportunities from just a little Lemur laughing book here.
'The Song of Seven' by Tonke Dragt who is a Dutch writer. She interestingly became a writer when she had been imprisoned in a Japanese camp and begged some paper so she could start to write.
'The Song of Seven' is a tale about a teacher who discovers that others around him are not what he seems and embarks on an adventure which he then starts to share with his class. He becomes a tutor for a young boy who lives in the 'house of stairs' in the care of his uncle who is otherwise known as the 'fiendish foe'. It's a gentle read just like her other books-I've enjoyed all that I've read so far. The story is an adventure story peppered with humour and a depth to it which you have to think about-which is real and which is fantasy? There's lots of tradition in the story too and it's rather good 8+.
Lastly is this little beauty 'The Cherry Pie Princess' by Vivian French. This is so funny and will raise a smile -it's a read that has many layers. It's helpful to know the basics of fairytales as you'll get more out of it if you do but it's a funny story with well written characters in it but also has elements that really make you think and lots of very dry humour so it's a great read for EVERYBODY. Princess Peony loves reading, is good, kind but sassy and curious and sticks up for people. Her family are pretty much the opposite-her Dad puts everybody in prison if he doesn't like them, her mum is a little bit fey and her sisters are interested in themselves and clothes... a bit modern celebrity really! So it's up to Princess Peony to save the day when her little brother is about to be christened and the wicked old with is NOT invited to the christening-ring any bells? Lovely bit with the good fairies who haven't done magic for a while and are a bit rusty. It's not just a girly book-it has some good messages in so don't be put off by the princess title, there's more to it than princess and girly.
It's about just that-royal rabbits who exist underneath the palace and protect the palace from PAPA RATZ I. One little rabbit is a bit of a fiddler and is always left out by his brothers and sisters. He makes his way to London with a special code for the Royal Rabbits and uses all his own skills to save the day. Rather lovely pictures and as you can see from the front cover it's a right royal read I think for about 8+.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk READ all about Storyshack's reviews in the wonderful BOOKS FOR KEEPS. Link below for those and MANY MORE.....
Take a peek at STORYSHACK'S PRIMARY ED article......books below are all those mentioned but Book Recommendations has an even longer book list too :-)
"Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret" by Lyn Gardner is the first of a series about a 'mighty girl' called Rose Campion and her music hall friends. Rose is being raised by Thomas-the owner of Campion's Music Hall. She doesn't know who her father or mother were but she has a big family of Victorian music hall entertainers. In this first excellent, fast paced tale she makes life long friends and solves a mystery. There are some very nasty characters, some real challenges to overcome not least making a living in Victorian times. It's a fantastic read. I read the second one first last Friday and then had to dash out to get a copy of the first one as it was so good. Think due to some of its darker elements 9+ but a gripping yarn-go and get a copy IMMEDIATELY!
Reception and Year 1 book making all day at Horsford C of E VA Primary in Norwich and it was a real pleasure. We imagined being Wizards and then drew our magic objects in our own books. At one point there were quite a few cries for help when it came to folding the book at the end but all's well that ends well as far as Storyshack is concerned in that everybody drew and wrote in their books spontaneously after that.
Then the teachers caught the book making bug....have a look at their lovely creations at the top. They're beautiful and I'm always impressed with the folk who use all their energy enthralling children in the day and then still have energy left for book making later. However, as we all now if you craft or play music or paint, draw, do something creative you do gain much therapy from being in the flow. So try it...and then importably allow your children to feel the flow too.
"The best predictor of reading achievement in study after study, is the amount of recreational reading children have done…."
So even if our lovely Year 6s complete their equally lovely SATS reading test this year at greater depth but they are reading books few and far between we're not doing our job. If they haven't experienced the wealth of amazing children's literature that is available FREE to them all we are not doing our job. If we don't read I hate to say it to add more pressure but we're really not doing our job. If teachers can only name Michael Morpurgo, Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson as key authors we're not doing our job. You can't really have a pretend SATS orientated reading culture in schools....it's got nothing to do with SATS and testing, it's to do with giving our young people access to books, imagining and a life long love of reading.
Don't forgo your libraries for SATS text books....build them up, make them into treasure chests, let your children know they can go to those treasure chests FOR FREE for the rest of their lives. What better gift can we give?
READING FOR PLEASURE IS READING FOR LIFE
Avid reader, sometimes a headteacher AND founder of Story shack. A place where you can release your imagination and see where it takes you....
Release your imagination......
Explore new worlds.
Make your own stories.
Explore a map-real or fantasy....where do you want to go? Make your own and see where your imagination takes you.