We have cooler weather this weekend and we are pretty much lazing around, walking down to the beach with friends and reading through piles of books… I thought I would bring you a weekend of reading. So here are se7en of the latest and greatest reads for children from Pan Macmillan South Africa.
Almost Wordless Book
100 Hugs by Chris Riddell, the Children’s Laureate: When Chris Riddell decides to draw 100 hugs and pop them into a beautifully hardbound book then you know you are going to be browsing through a work of art. We are huge fans of Chris Riddell, his work is superb, clever and just delightful in every way!!! The book includes pages and pages of delightful hugs… moms and their kids, dragons and their princesses, all sorts of adorable animals. the illustrations are interspersed with beautiful quotations like, “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.” Alfred Lord Tennyson. This book is the perfect book for a best friend, a child to treasure, a momento. Just the perfect gift. The kind of gift that will make you feel better, whatever mood you are in… pure delight. You can find Chris Riddell on his website here.
Queen Munch and Queen Nibble by Carol Ann Duffy and illustrated by Lydia Monks: I just love Lydia Monks bright and colourful illustrations, and honestly the writing creates wonderful word pictures the whole way through it. Very descriptive and rhythmic writing, this book is lovely read for a beginner reader to take turns with a more experienced reader. The two queens are complete opposites, Queen Munch is bouncy and loud and lives in a palace that looks like a wedding cake. Queen Nibble is quiet, and pale and likes to make necklaces out of raindrops. Queen Munch invites Queen Nibble over for tea, and Queen Nibble really doesn’t want to go… but she can’t refuse an invitation from a Queen and has to go. After an awkward beginning they become brilliant friends. The story is sweet and lovely and is a great read. This book is just beautiful and would make a fantastic gift.
First Chapter Book
Mango and BangBang Book2: Tapir All at Sea, by Polly Faber and illustrated by Clara Vulliamy: If you haven’t met the sweet friends, a little girl called Mango and a Tapir called Bambang… then it time you got to know them. A collection of perfect stories for the beginner chapter book reader, who needs a little practice and confidence. This is the kind of book my beginner readers like to keep a book mark in and carry around – proud readers, everything to love it!!! The stories are sweet and interesting, nothing ordinary is going to happen when Bambang is around. The heroine and the sweetness of the stories reminded me a little bit of Milly Molly Mandy. Milly Molly Mandy, in a slightly easier format and packed with lovely illustrations.
In the first story Mango and Bambang are looking for an appropriate hobby for the tapir, not as easy as you might think; In the second story, poor Bambang ends up disrupting an engagement in a most ungraceful way (!!!); Another escapade and Bambang ends up as an exhibit in an unusual museum; and so on… sweet and interesting stories to read to little people or have little people read to you. You can meet Polly Faber on her website here… and of course we love the illustrator, Clara Vulliamy.
The Tale of Rescue by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Stan Fellows: This book is one of the most beautifully illustrated books ever, a chapter book that we read as a family. The book is about a hard working cattle dog on a ranch in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains… and a family on vacation nearby. The family are unexpectedly trapped in a blizzard, and in their panic and fatigue they completely lose track of direction. They are totally lost and create a small shelter in the ground for themselves. The tenacious dog senses their desperate need, but cannot get to them… until the farmer releases the dog to head out into the stormy weather. The story is full of suspense and reads like a true story. And of course would could be better than a heroic dog, coming to the rescue.
Middle School Read
Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird: Renowned children’s author Elizabeth Laird has brought us a book that confronts the refugee situation head on and is a great read for middle schoolers and anyone who would like to understand more about the life of refugee families. This is the story of twelve year old Omar, who lives on the town of Bosra and would like to grow up to be a business man one day. He is your typical twelve year old, trying to earn extra pocket money and all the while filled with hopes and dreams for his future. Amongst his siblings is his very clever older brother, Muss, who has cerebral palsy and uses his disability to hide his involvement as an activist against the Syrian government. Laird is very good at using words to describe their reality and how they don’t notice the slow insipid decay going on in their neighbourhood, because they are so a part of it… until they are forced to evacuate and head for the hills to stay with their cousins… after a time they are forced to flee again and eventually find themselves with nothing, in a refugee camp in a foreign country in the middle of winter. The family has to use all their resourcefulness to survive and only their tenacity keeps them strong in the face of so much adversity. When his little sister becomes desperately ill you can only imagine that this family cannot endure more. But her life threatening heart condition turns out to be the one thing that can help their family to survive. This book is great book for middle schoolers to read to learn more about the life of refugees and the appalling difficulties they have to face minute by minute. I really enjoyed this book, it provides a gateway to a difficult topic, and opens up the channels to talk about the refugee crisis with children who are of an age to ask questions but sometimes the answers are really hard to explain. You can meet Elizabeth Laird on her website here.
The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham: I really enjoyed this teen/tween read, loved it in fact. This book is mug of hot chocolate on a cold day… comfort reading at its best, all about the best kind of friendship. Four girls Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose, all from different backgrounds. Four girls with completely different difficulties and troubles. Four girls that don’t quite fit in, and four girls that find each other and become the Moonlight Dreamers, a friendship club. Amber has a passion for Oscar Wilde and two dads, and she is brutally bullied at school. Maali’s family run an Indian confectionary store and she would love to be able to talk to boys, but she is desperately shy. Sky is a poet and wants to perform at a poetry cafe, her mom died five years previously and her dad and her are a united team against the world, until he falls for someone else and insists that they are moving in with her. And last but by no means least… is Rose, whose mom was a super model and expects her daughter to follow in her apparently perfect footsteps. There lives are inter woven, and they have to take risks to bring about their friendships… this a positive and uplifting book. Somehow almost every kind of cultural diversity can be found within the pages and yet these four girls manage to overcome all of those differences and create the Moonlight Dreamer’s Club and a lasting and enduring friendship. The Moonlight Dreamer’s have a website, you can take a peak here.
Child Soldier by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys and illustrated by Claudia Dávila: Never underestimate the power of a biography, presented as a graphic novel. This book is a serious book about a serious topic, and because of its presentation it can brings the topic of child soldiers to the level of children that want to know more about it. In war torn places around the world children are taken as child soldiers, this is the true story of Michel Chikwanine, and so many other children just like him. The book begins with an introduction to his life and his family, in their village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When he was five he left for school with his best friend, Kevin, and while his dad told him to be home by six o’clock, he had already decided to stay later for a game of soccer. While they were playing, he was kidnapped by armed men… and initiated into the rebel army. His initiation meant that drugs were forced into his system and he was blindfolded and made to commit a terrible crime, and because of this crime was told that the people that loved him dearly would never want him back. A wicked manipulation of a small child. Weeks of training, which included violent attacks, forced drugs and brutal conditions, and he was worried that his dad would be angry that he was home late from his football game. One day when they were sent out on an attack he was able to escape… and after days of travelling returns to the loving arms of his father. Things were not the same, a five year old who could no longer want to play. The story goes on an Michel and part of his family find their way to a refugee camp, and eventually to Canada. He grew into a troubled young man, where the first world problems of his contemporaries, were a painful reminder of all that he had been through. Michel managed to rise above the label of Child Soldier, and today is an activist, telling young people his story and of the plight of child soldiers. At the end of the book there is a section of questions asked and answered, and facts to talk about with your children. This book is sad, and relevant and a good discussion opener… sometimes we have to talk about difficult things with our children and this book is a good way to talk about the harsh reality of children forced to fight in rebel wars. It is not a happy book, it is about a small boy whose childhood was violently stolen from him. And yet, the love and truth that he learnt from his father, carry him through. The book reveals a harsh reality, in a gentle manner… the enduring love of a father, and the spirit of a young man who was able to rise above the hand that he was dealt is inspiring. I would choose no other book to delve into this harsh topic with my kids.
Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.