HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Blog Swap: The Book Chook visits The Children’s Book Review

Blog Swap: The Book Chook visits The Children’s Book Review

By Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook
Published: June 15, 2009

Two Bloggers travel across the world (via e-mail) to share some of their favourite children’s books, and encourage children’s literacy. The Book Chook (Australia) visits The Children’s Book Review (USA).

Q. What’s a chook?

A. Here in Australia, it’s what lots of us call a hen. It rhymes with book. As a Kindergarten teacher, I was a real mother hen, who loved reading aloud to my chicks. My Book Chook blog shares snippets from the wonderful world and words of kids’ literacy and literature. I’m passionate about helping kids read, write and create, and like to think my web space is where literacy and literature collide.

One of my many fascinations is 21st century literacies. I investigate web sites, books and software so that I can bring them to the notice of busy parents, and describe how to get the most out of them. Most kids are motivated by being able to use digital tools to express themselves, so I capitalise on that by encouraging parents to share new technologies with their kids.

We are so lucky to be alive in an age which has an explosion of information technology! Mostly though, I think parents just want their kids to be happy and successful at school. I firmly believe kids will be happier and more successful at school if their parents share a love of reading with them. Reading aloud from when they are babies, showing your children that reading is an essential and enjoyable part of your life, surrounding your kids in print – all these contribute to developing the skills kids need to be happy and successful.

The Book Chook loves to celebrate those successes with you!

I believe Australian authors are among the best in the world, and luckily, technology makes it easy for parents anywhere to purchase books online. Here are some books I’ve read recently that you and your child may like.

The first is a picture book. I love any books that tickle my funny bone, and Columbia Sneezes certainly did that. Written by Janeen Brian and illustrated by Gabe Cunnett, it’s the story of a boy camel called Columbia.

“I like all the palms and the watery wells.
I like all the moonlight and fresh nightly smells.
I like all the dunes that rise up and then fall
But I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like at all
All the sand that is carried by each desert breeze-
It tickles my nostrils and fills me with SNEEZE
Atishoo, atishoo, atishoo! And then
Atishoo, I sneeze and atishoo again.”

You can read more at my review.

Next, I want to share my review of a junior novel, Audrey of the Outback.

Librarians are my heroes. Most librarians I know are passionate about literature and literacy, and generous with their time and expertise. I have to thank Librarian Julie, of Tyalla Primary School, for recommending Audrey of the Outback to me. Written by Christine Harris and illustrated by Ann James, this chapter book was published by Little Hare Books, Australia, 2008.

The story is so evocative of a bygone era. Jellies are set in the well, perhaps forever suspending an inquisitive frog, and long-drop dunnies are accidentally blown up with kerosene and matches. Audrey’s family lives in outback Australia, and her world is a fascinating mix of invisible camels and tooth-pulling swaggies. Each character’s voice is individual, from little Dougie to Mr Akbar, the camel-driving postman. There’s a glossary at the back, to help kids understand some of the special vocabulary, and Ann James’ gorgeous line drawings support the text.

In all her adventures, Audrey shows herself to be a delightful girl with an independent spirit and an enquiring nature. After an abortive attempt to be a swagman, she decides to be a man instead, lowering her voice and checking for nose hairs. You can’t suppress a ripple of laughter as you flip the page, eager to find out what Audrey does next.

It’s obvious that meticulous research supports Audrey of the Outback. It would make a great fiction resource for a teaching unit on Australia. I think it would appeal to 8 to 12-year-old children who are independent readers, but like short, fast chapters. I could also see kids from other countries enjoying this way of finding out about Australia’s past.

Sometimes, what children want in a book can be diametrically opposed to what their parents want. Kids want active, exciting stories, written in a kid’s voice. Parents would prefer a children’s story with something worthwhile to say, and without swearing or gratuitous violence. Finding a book that gets the balance right in appealing to both kids and their parents is no easy task. Samurai Kids is a series I recommend to parents of kids who like action, humour, and heroes who overcome obstacles in a believable way. Here is my review of the first book in the series, Samurai Kids, Book 1: White Crane.

My last review is of a Young Adult book, Don’t Call Me Ishmael, by Michael Gerard Bauer. There aren’t many Young Adult books I want to read more than once. Don’t Call Me Ishmael is one I’ve read three times. I’m in awe of Michael Gerard Bauer’s writing skill. The book dealt with a topic I feel passionately about: bullying. Bauer had me in a constant ripple of laughter, without detracting at all from the serious theme.

Special thanks to the Book Chook for visiting with us. Read The Children’s Book Review guest post at The Book Chook’s site, and see who some of our favorite American authors are.

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The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by one of TCBR's regular contributors.


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