Tag Archives: Ford St

Frankie Stein – Kylie Covark/Shane McG

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Ford St Publishing

September 2022

ISBN: 9781922696120

RRP: $16.95

It has been fantastic in recent years to see the growth in girls becoming more interested in science disciplines. I know I have loved running my Geek Girls groups and hosting events from Tech Girls and the like. And it is equally pleasing to see more and more schools including state primary schools having dedicated STEM specialist lessons. While we may not (many of us) have a whole heap of time in classroom programs to divert to spontaneous topics of interest, this is a book that will easily springboard into these areas.

I road-tested this one this week with a fairly rambunctious Year 2 class I was with (they were out of sorts after a couple of disruptive days and one not-so-effective relief teacher the day before me) but they were all, even to the ‘liveliest’ really engaged with this and it was a very effective read-aloud to settle them after a break. We didn’t have much time to spare in the program the teacher had provided but I stole some to have them ‘monster-fy’ one of their own toys and draw the result. FrankenToys (example) is a really fun activity I have run in library lunchtimes and both littles and bigs enjoy it and all you need is some old toys and some constructions material like hot glue guns.

Frankie is a truly dedicated young scientist, always researching, hypothesising and testing, with her much-loved partner, Bear, always on watch from the shelf. But Frankie really wishes that she and Bear could really talk to each other and that he could become more than just a silent partner. After much experimentation, she comes up with a formula that she’s sure will work – and it does! – only not quite in the way she anticipated. Suddenly, instead of cute, fuzzy Bear she has a great, green, angry monster Bear, intent on eating everything and wrecking a lot as he goes along. Time to come up with another potion – and fast!! It’s certainly a nice twist on friendship and also, arguably, being satisfied with our friends, just as they are. It is also an apt lesson in perseverance and resilience – two qualities high on every school’s values list.

With its rhythmic rhymes and the vibrant illustrations, this will be a definite hit from Prep upwards to around Year 3.

Why not make a point of sharing it with your STEM teacher/coordinator as well as your kiddos?

Highly recommended for 4 years upwards (and don’t forget to stock up on the glue guns, screwdrivers and pliers!)

Moon Sailors – Naomi Woodward. Illustrated by Rachel Gregg

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Ford St Publishing

October 2022

ISBN: 9781922696182

RRP: $16.95

If you are exploring the depths of the ocean or the limitless skies or if you simply are looking for a beautiful lyrical book to share with our kiddos, this would be a wonderful choice. It offers so much for even very young readers with elegant poetical prose, enchanting descriptive language and a richness of imagination that will provide much scope for exciting conversation.

As well as this gorgeous linguistic aspect there are the creatures to be discovered and researched – many of them not so well-known: chitons, periwinkles, and jelly moons along with such wondrous aquatic marvels as Neptune’s necklace or iridescent algae. I can already picture a beautiful wall of art going up in the classroom or library to reflect this

But the two children on their journey of imagination are not just relishing the ocean, they are sailing across the night sky, past the constellations and heading towards Earthrise. The illustrations are every bit as captivating as the text with the subtle shades of ocean greens and blues and the night skies’ indigos, blues and pinks. Each spread is a feast for the eyes and you and your readers will delight in close examination of them picking out delicate details.

I have yet to share this one with a class, but hoping I get to visit my little school just over my back fence this coming week or so, with its strong focus on the ocean, being right on the waterfront as it is. I know the children there will just love it as much as I do.

There are some activities free to download but you will be able to conjure up so many follow-up activities to this one as it just lends itself to so many learning experiences whether English, science, STEAM or Environmental studies.

Highly recommended for little readers from Prep upwards.

The Rabbit’s Magician: Shae Millward/Andy Fackrell

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Ford St Publishing

August 2022

ISBN: 9781922696083

RRP: $16.99

From firsthand experience, I can assure you that having a sensitively written, beautifully crafted book to help a child deal with loss is a very valuable commodity. I used several when we lost The Kid’s mum but this one is a very welcome addition to that specific genre.

I am not at all scientfically minded so if you are like me and need a reminder of The Law of Conservation of Energy, by which this is inspired, you can check it out here. Accordingly, sharing this book will not only help your young readers come to terms with the concept of grief and loss but will enable some fascinating experiments into this scientific principle.

The animals are concerned for Ziggy, who is sadly looking up at the moon. Eventually the rabbit explains that his magician, Alby, The Amazing Albertino, has gone missing after (as Ziggy thought) working long and hard on a new trick. Finally, it is wise Owl who shows Ziggy how Alby has performed his greatest disappearing trick ever and how, despite his disappearance, Ziggy can still keep him close.

It is a beautifully and poignantly written and illustrated story of loss, sorrow and comfort and even your smallest of kiddos will grasp the intent of its magic.

Highly recommended for your little peeps from around Kinder upwards to around Year 3 or 4.

Tarni’s Chance – Paul Collins & Jules Ober

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Ford St

July 2022

ISBN: 9781922696052

RRP: $24.99

This is a stunning collaboration between these two fine creators. Paul’s ease and expertise in handling sensitive issues is well established and coupled with Jules’ fantastic mini-sculptures brings this beautiful and poignant story to life with an elegance that will entrance your readers.

Tarni withdraws from the conflict between her parents into her own ‘bubble’ of art and music and when her mother leaves, this becomes all the more commonplace. Then, one morning, Tarni is alerted to the garbage truck rumbling down the road and sees, just in time, the danger a stray dog has got himself into. She rushes to rescue him – and does but the dog runs off. Her moment of hope and happiness subsides as quickly as it arose. But wonderfully the dog reappears and now finds himself a true saviour in Tarni, and she, in turn, finds herself a faithful friend. The partnership is the path by which Tarni is able to discover self-confidence and relief from her anxiety and sadness.

There is a beautiful use of light and dark in the artwork which underpins Tarni’s journey of self-discovery and even young children will readily pick up on this.

A colleague and I were discussing, just a few days ago, the escalating rise in young children with severe anxiety issues, and while, some of this can be apportioned to Covid, it does not all fall to that reason in our opinion. Social issues such as family breakdowns, domestic violence, grief and loss are all major contributors and the need for counsellors far outstrips the profession’s capacity to provide support.

We know that bibliotherapy is a sound way to approach helping to empathise with, and support such needs, and it is sympathetic titles such as this one which can add so much to a reader’s armour.

Highly recommended for your young readers from around 7 years upwards. It would work so well as a shared reading with ensuing careful discussions.

Two Puggles – Michelle Guzel and Andrew Plant

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Ford St

October 2022

ISBN 9781922696168

RRP $16.95

Over the years there have been numerous books about adoption or foster families which, of course, are terrific for both children to whom that applies as well as those who can gain an understanding of the differences in families.

This is a really adorable ‘switched at birth’ story that will have children both fascinated and giggling as the two puggles make quite a surprising discovery.

When they were first hatched Ducky and Spiky looked incredibly alike, and as they got a little bit older and a little more fuzzy they continued to be very similar. But when Ducky got longer and her bill got flatter, and Spiky’s snout got longer and he got…well, spiky – it becomes quite obvious that they are not very alike at all. Regardless, the family goes about it’s daily activities although Spiky is not very good at all with diving and swimming, but is truly excellent at digging. When Spiky meets a new friend who looks exactly Ducky and comments on the pair of them being echidnas, Spiky is baffled. He is not an echidna, he’s a platypus and his new friend is not an echidna either, she is a platypus too. Except ….her mum really IS an echidna. How can this be?

It’s not until Spiky cleverly and bravely protects his new friends from a dangerous feral cat and the two monotreme families all meet each other, that the surprising facts are revealed. As always Andrew’s illustrations are completely sympatico with the text and just a delight to look at.

This is pure good fun but also has such a lovely message about acceptance and unconditional love, which also sends a strong warning about feral cats and the environment.

Highly recommended for little readers from around Prep upwards. I’m looking forward to sharing this one soon.

James Gong The Big Hit – Paul Collins

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Hybrid Publishers

June 2020

ISBN 9781925736441

RRP: $16.99

Fourteen year old James Gong is pretty much a fairly average teenage boy living in suburbia with a family who are also pretty average – well in most respects. His mother rescues dogs and keeps them out the back of their house, to the frequent annoyance of neighbours, and counsels her pooches with tender dedication. His father does – well, James isn’t exactly sure what it is his father does but he likes to hope that his dad is a spy since his job seems to be so well-hidden (at least it is to James). He has an older sister Caitlin who can be a real pain, like most big sisters, who is always banging on trying to save whales, trees, the environment- really whatever cause is topical.

For the most part James’ life is pretty cool. He has his besties Jay and Ethan, school is tolerable and he is just about to qualify for his black belt in taekwondo under the instruction of the exacting and ferocious Mr Choi.  When a crew from TV show My Life arrive at the hall to film a segment for the program they are mightily impressed with James’ jumping spinning side kick, so much so that they want him to star in their upcoming blockbuster movie. Wow! Hollywood fame and fortune awaits for young James – or does it?

While James is super-excited about the movie role, except for the scene that involves a KISS with a lovely young girl, there are aspects about the whole filming process that baffle him – like the lack of sophisticated equipment, or sets or indeed costumes. Little does he know that Marcie and Win the film-makers are actually pulling a tax-dodge swifty.  Added to the confusion around the movie, James is still at loggerheads with his sister, fighting his weird attraction for Caitlin’s best friend Amber who scorns him with vigour and seriously neglects his taekwondo practice resulting in a  fail in his black belt grading.

To make matters worse when the movie premieres it’s so ludicrously hilarious instead of the big action film James was expecting so that now, instead of being a Hollywood superstar,  he feels like he’s losing out big time and that he’s the biggest fool alive.

But perhaps, just perhaps there are positives in the offing. I really don’t want to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that there are a few very tricky twists in James’ story that Paul Collins has managed without the slightest hint of contrivance.

I feel there will be many readers both boys and girls who will really get into this book. They will love the action, relate to the well-developed characters, chuckle at the humour, wince at James’ ineptitude and – okay, at times ‘denseness’ – but ultimately will rejoice with him and certainly  express their emotions at the biggest ‘ah ha’ moments.

I recommend this highly for readers from around 12 years upwards who I can guarantee will thoroughly enjoy it.  If you’re looking for a great read-aloud or shared novel this will make a fabulous addition with many levels and themes to explore throughout.

Check out some teaching notes here and given the disruptions to normal services you can order your copy here right now!

Rich & Rare – edited by Paul Collins

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rich&rare

ISBN: 978-1-925272-11-6
Publication date: October 2015
Extent: 512 pages
Format: B Format paperback
Price: AUD$24.95
Category: Genre fiction and poetry
Age guide: 11+

 

This is a sumptuous and luscious smorgasbord feast for any reader, gathering delicacies supplied from Australia’s best storytellers. Our ‘young and free’ creators include: Michael Gerard Bauer, Gary Crew, Justin D’Ath, Scot Gardner, Kerry Greenwood, Libby Hathorn, Leigh Hobbs, Sofie Laguna, Kirsty Murray, James Roy, Shaun Tan and Gabrielle Wang.

Ford St seems to have a monopoly on providing us with wonderful anthologies that are both fresh and contemporary. This is another that will provide fabulous reading for individuals and also for reading aloud. I have been advocating and supporting reading aloud to older students and this is a perfect volume for such a purpose. The diversity of the collection allows for students to be introduced to this impressive cast of writers, to sample a wide-ranging variety of genres and to explore the structure of successful short story writing and poetry.  Here they will find humour, horror, reality, fantasy and much more. There is something for everyone on this menu!

This was one of my outstanding ‘holiday’ reads as I spent time in the beautiful Blue Mountains with family as I could easily pick it up at any time and read one or two stories in moments of complete laziness. Perhaps my only ‘complaint’ is that some of the stories are so engaging that I was almost disappointed to reach the end so quickly. I think my favourite was the marvellous violin which springs to life after long disuse – you will see what I mean when you read it!

This collection sits easily on shelves for your upper primary to secondary students – only one story had a few ‘iffy’ moments but nothing graphic or disturbing.  Illustrated throughout the text is even more accessible for those reluctant readers.

Certainly if your English program includes exploring the short story genre this would be ideal for demonstrating to students how this can be achieved.

Oh and that cover is JUST divine!! 🙂

Highly recommended for both personal and classroom/library reading.

Teaching notes are available at the Ford St website – so you can easily plan to incorporate the book in your planning.