What We Are Reading Right Now… #35

We thought we would bring you some fantastic weekend reading… Our weather is cold one day and warm the next, raining one day and sunny the next. Luckily, whatever the weather it is always a good time for reading. Here are the latest and greatest family friendly reads from PanMacmillan South Africa.


The Galactic List of Latest and Greatest Reads

A Family Read

The Works 3 A Poet for Every Week of the Year, Chosen by Paul Cookson: I can honestly saying that we are absolutely loving this book… we have gone from poetry on Thursday lunchtimes to poetry anytime. The book is divided into 52 poets, one for each week of the year and se7en poems per poet. Basically a poem a day – though we can’t help ourselves we read it in chunks, by the poet. Funny poems, poignant poems, short poems and epic poems, with poets ranging from Edward Lear to Christina Rossetti; Robert Burns to William Shakespeare; Robert Louis Stevenson to Ogden Nash. Each poet is introduced with a paragraph packed with interesting facts… just enough to remember an interesting factoid or two and not enough to seem terminal. These poems have been carefully and wonderfully selected, poems to love and treasure and many of my own childhood memories that I can pass on to my own kids. This book is sitting next to our dining room table and it is going to be there for quite a while yet.

For the Mother Person

Colour Yourself Calm, Mandalas by Paul Heussenstamm: I know colouring for grown ups is all the rage, but I have to confess I have been colouring for years and have piles of my fave markers and pencils beside my desk, for when I just can’t think to blog but I feel like doing something. This book is great, crisp strong paper to withstand almost any type of colouring material and a inspiring quote on each page. Each spread has a beautiful and detailed mandala to colour and suggested colours on the mirror page. Right now I have been using this book to spend a little one on one time with my girls and we colour a page together and talk about the meaning life, hairstyles and nail colours. Important stuff that we don’t always have time for in day to day life, but if you slow down enough to colour in together then you will find the space to chat… and I am all for that.

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #1:

Half a Man by Michael Murpurgo and illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan. This is Michael Morpurgo at his best, short, sweet and aimed straight at the heart. Poignant describes it, but it is more than that. This is the sort of book that a middle school reader will read and perhaps bounce off, but it is the kind of book you will want to read as an adult too… because it goes so much deeper. It is the story of a young lad, Michael, who is told not to look at his grandpa’s face. His grandpa was badly burnt when his ship was torpedoed during World War II and his life was changed forever. His grandpa never smiles but it was years before he realized that it was the result of the burn, rather than his personality. Michael lived almost his entire life before hearing the true story from his grandpa… How he survived and after weeks and months inhospitable he was able to return home severely disfigured, hence the title: “Half a Man.” His grandpa’s life was a shattered, and he never felt like his full self again… In true Michael Morpurgo style there is a true story behind the story and you can read more about the surgeon Archibald McIndoe at this site.


Hood #2:

Alex Rider… the Series, by Anthony Horowitz: These are revamped and recovered and out again as fresh reads… and of course our avid Alex Rider fans leapt in and read them all over, again. These books were read in our house as they were published and have been read again and again and again. Alex Rider is a fourteen year old spy, with all the best possible training in the world and of course all the best possible gadgets as well… these books are fantastic reads and with a series this long as soon as you finish one there is another one waiting to be read. You can meet the author behind the books, we interviewed Anthony Horowitz a while back, and you can see exactly the sort of clever and suspense loving mind that created these books. Everyone age ten and up in our house has read them… and if you haven’t discovered these yet then read them.


Hood #3:

On Orchard Road by Elsbeth Edgar: This is one of the best books I have ever read… It is about Jane and her family, who are are moving from big city life in Melbourne to a house in the country. In the midst of moving house a younger sibling arrives, prematurely and unexpectedly. Jane feels left out and alone as she and her Dad move to the small town, where she knows nobody, while her mum and the new baby remain in hospital. Her parents buy her a bike so that she can get around more independently and she falls and sprains her ankle. She is rescued by a class mate and … he goes to everyone for help except the old lady, Miss Harrison, who everyone in town is afraid of. Turns out creative Miss Harrison and her beautiful garden are the perfect medicine for all that is wrong in Jane’s life, not just a bump from a bicycle injury. Miss Harrison is arty and full of imagination, she spurs Jane’s writing passion to new heights. Their friendship blossoms and grows… and through a series of twists and turns they end up working on project together that neither of them expected.

The Water Horse by Holly Webb: This is historical fiction interwoven with just the right amount of magic to create an exciting read. Princess Olivia lives in olden time Venice with her father, the King. Her father alone is trying to save the city from the ever impending and threatening water. Unfortunately his health is failing and her wicked aunt and cousin have plans for overturning the ruling family. The tension of the rising water, that runs through the book is one thing… the aunt is quite another. Olivia realises that she must do something to save the city but she isn’t sure what. In the middle of the night she sets out on her mission and falls into the canal, she is rescued by a Water Horse. Princess Olivia realises that she has unique and magical powers that could well save the city.


Hood #4:

Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy: For the child that loves reading fact books then these books are a dream come true. They are literally packed with intriguing facts… page after page of fascinating questions, asked and answered. Just because these books were written with the Science Museum, don’t for a moment think dull and wordy. No these are quick and fun snippets, written in a conversational tone easy for anyone to understand. Why is Snot Green? is split into five sections: Lost in Space; the Angry Planet; Animal Answers; Being Human and Fantastic Futures. It is well illustrated, plenty of funniness and of course tables and figures to explain extra bits and pieces. I confess that each time I dipped into to it, to see what was so intriguing I was distracted for ages. I found myself wandering down a long rabbit hole on alien life, not to mention robotic body parts.

How Loud Can You Burp? by Glenn Murphy: This book is also divide into five sections: The science of Me; Climate Chaos; On the Move; Brain Teasers; The BIuestions… heaps of facts about the brain and the climate. You can happily leave these books lying around on the coffee table and anyone who picks them up will find something interesting to read in them and will be saying, “Did you know…?” in a very short space of time.


Hood #5:

The 39-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton: This is the third in the series of an ever expanding series, a treehouse that began as thirteen stories high and expanded to twenty-six… and now thirty-nine. These books are so brilliant and so fantastic and so filled with the unimaginable. The detailed and descriptive illustrations are packed throughout and form an integral part of the story. If you ever, ever wanted to live in a treehouse as a child, or as a grown-up for that matter, then you will love these books. We have reviewed the first two before but just for you a recap:

I just have one word of warning… these books are fat and look like they will take ages to read… they won’t. they are so good that they are literally inhaled. If you are looking for books for a child that is somewhat reluctant to dive into chapter books, or if you feel your kids are ready to listen to chapter books then this series is a fabulous series to begin with…

The 13-Story Treehouse: You are introduced to the home of Andy and Terry, the author and illustrator,who live in this incredible treehouse that has a Lemonade Fountain, a bowling alley, a man-eating shark tank; not to mention a giant catapault. The book begins with Terry painting a cat and Andy having a heart failure as Terry tossed the cat out of the treehouse, because he wanted the cat to turn into a canary. This is a cartoon and of course as it launches out of the tree, so the cat grows wings… meanwhile the neighbour Jill is downstairs asking if she can pin a missing cat poster onto their tree… her beloved cat has gone missing…

The 26-Story Treehouse: And the treehouse has grown thirteen more bizarre stories… an ice-skating rink, a recording studio, a very complicated maze of doom. The adventure begins with the sharks being dreadfully ill. Apparently Terry tried to clean his underpants in the shark tank and the sharks ate them. The animal loving neighbour, Jill, is called in to do emergency surgery… as you can see there is a lot of silliness. It is all in good fun and of course everything turns out fine in the end…

The 39-Story Treehouse: And the treehouse has grown thirteen more stories… including a volcano for toasting marshmallows and the world’s scariest rollercoaster; there is also a chocolate waterfall because every treehouse needs one. Terry has invented a very elaborate “Once-upon-a-time-machine”… Obviously these books are for the easily amused and galactically silly and awe inspired by incredible inventiveness age of the middle schooler and I know of atleast one fan that can’t wait for the next thirteen stories to go up!!!


Hood #6:

The Complete Alice by Lewis Carroll and forward by Philip Pullman: This is the book of all things Alice, literally packed with everything you know about her and a whole lot more. This is the kind of coffee table book that everyone will want to page through. Beautiful big format, soft fabric coated cover and each page has red gilded edges. The writing is large font throughout and the illustrations are the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. This is the ultimate “gift edition” collection for all lovers of Alice, across all ages and stages. This book could just as easily be a baby gift, for safe keeping, or a twenty first present. It is one of those books that you really don’t want to let go of… it includes: Alice in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass and What Alice found There, as well as The Story of Alice, and other add ins and add ons… I must be honest I was never a lover of Alice in Wonderland as a child, I found it so confusing… but all my girls have loved it from the start and I have learnt to love it by reading it over and over again… not to mention how wonderfully clever you feel when you can recite streams of quirky poetry from the depths of Alice in Wonderland… we have absolutely loved this book. It is really a beautiful treasure… but instead of being a glossy book that is unreachable by children, the large font and the pages and pages of illustrations make it wonderfully accessible to a young child and even to a fairly beginner reader like our Hood #6.


Hood #7:

A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino: If you haven’t met Salvatore Rubbino’s Series of “A Walk in A Famous City” books, then get yourself to your nearest book store. Well France and of course, Paris is a destination on our list of destinations… all our high schoolers learn French for school and we feel somewhat committed to taking a trip one day. This book is the story of a little girl and her grandad who are on a walking tour of Paris. This is the ideal book to take on a real wander through Paris, but if like us you are virtually traveling – this book will leaving you dreaming. The pages are packed with information and snippets, the main story runs throughout the book as the happy couple wander from markets to landmarks… but more than that there are heaps of little word bubbles filled with fascinating snippets and easy French phrases. We couldn’t get enough of the little facts that are scattered throughout the book… by the end of the story you feel as though you have literally had a day out on the streets of Paris. We loved this book, it is somewhat magical and we wouldn’t visit Paris without it.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8:

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Illustrated by Christopher Weyant: This is the story of two little beasts… one big and one small… and a gentle squabble of the kind all mothers of more than one child are quite used to. The squabble is resolved and you turn the last page and there is a little twist in the tale and there is bait for next squabble… I literally laughed out-loud when I read the last page. This is a very sweet and delightful story and a little picture is painted for young children to gently demonstrate the silliness of endless squabbles. It is too sweet… and we have read this short and sweet book countless times!!!

We would really like to thank PanMacMillan Books South Africa for providing us with the books to review for this post. We would like to declare that this is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

4 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now… #35”

  1. Oh Marcia, you have met me… who would have thought “trend setting” … but yeah, coloring is a great way to let your mind wander and find inspiration. Lots of love and hope you have a wonderfully restful weekend!!!

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