The wonderful people at the Book Trust have just released the Great Book Guide. It's full of amazing, age-appropriate recommendations across a range of genres - an excellent place to look if you're struggling to pick out your next read! Click the image above to view the guide.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Want to know what each class is reading at the moment? Look no further.
Author of the Month
Born and raised in England but now living in Minnesota, bestselling author Neil Gaiman has long been one of the top writers in modern comics, as well as writing books for readers of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.
A self-confessed “feral kid who was raised in libraries”, Author of the Month Neil Gaiman, spent much of his childhood devouring the books of J.R.R. Tolkein, Edgar Allan Poe, C.S. Lewis, Michael Morcock and a host of others. He has achieved cult status in the world of fiction with his award winning, unpatronising writing for young people, including The Graveyard Book, Fortunately the Milk and Odd and the Frost Giants (originally written for World Book Day 2009).
Neil's work has brought his numerous awards including the Newberry Medal (the highest honour in US children's fiction), the Hugo Award (for science fiction and fantasy) and the Eisner Award (the comic equivalent of an Oscar).
Here's our latest book recommendations with the help of those wonderful people at LoveReading4Kids.
3+: A Hat for Mr Mountain by Soojin Kwak
There’s a lovely ‘what if’ challenge in this quirky and inspiring picture book. Little Nara is an expert hat maker, creating beautiful hats for the animals in her forest studio. One day she receives a letter from a new customer – can she make a hat for Mr Mountain no less? She rises to the challenge, trying out various different materials before finding exactly the right way to make a hat for a mountain. The story unfolds beautifully, and it makes a great tale of friendship, creativity and ingenuity. There’s lots to discuss while reading and this could prompt interesting STEM conversations or projects too. This is Soojin Kwak’s debut and she is definitely an illustrator to watch.
ANDREA REECE, LOVEREADING4KIDS
5+: This Book Can Read Your Mind by Susannah Lloyd, illustrated by Jacob Grant
With a concept based entirely upon the universal truth that as soon as somebody tells you not to think of something, you immediately do so and the quite philosophic concept of visualisation of language heard or read, this book will have young( and old) readers in stitches. Stamped with a No Silliness Allowed warning on the front cover, we can anticipate plenty of silliness ahead despite the firm instructions from the very serious scientist introducing the amazing book that has the power to show a picture of the reader’s thoughts. Sadly, it all goes wrong for him as soon as he uses pink elephants as an example of what not to think about and quickly escalates as he thinks of more terrible scenarios involving elephants, mice, panties and their bottoms. The explosive finale causes him to order the reader to put the book down and “Don’t even think about” picking it up again…..This is bound to be instantly disobeyed in every home and classroom! The zany illustrative style is perfectly suited to this story and the clever use of the only white space being within the speech bubbles immediately emphasises the instructional and increasingly shouty nature of the scientist’s words. Both great fun and a creative inspiration, this is a must have purchase!
JOY COURT, CHAIR OF KATE GREENAWAY & CARNEGIE MEDALS
7+: The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad & S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly.
This collaboration, between the first American Olympic medallist to compete wearing a hijab and an award-winning Muslim YA author, is a beautiful story of sisterly love as well as a thoughtful depiction of the significance of wearing the hijab. Expressed in terms of family pride and self-determination rather than in terms of faith, makes the message particularly accessible to all young readers regardless of their background. Faizah is excited for her first day of school, with her light up shoes and new backpack, but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school she admires her sister who looks like ‘a princess’ in her blue head scarf. Their mother has prepared the girls with wise words, which they remember as they encounter different reactions, and these are shown on dreamy spreads of Faiza’s thoughts and their mother’s words. When the kids in the school bully Asiya, she remembers her mother’s advice to not carry hurtful words as “they are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them” The bullies are cleverly depicted as faceless, raceless, anonymous shadows thus avoiding apportioning blame to any one sector. The vivid colour and expressive illustration are just as powerful as words in conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one’s culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong protected by the armour of family love. This is an excellent book about identity and self-confidence for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her and essential for Empathy collections.
JOY COURT, CHAIR OF KATE GREENAWAY & CARNEGIE MEDALS
9+: Asha & the Bird Spirit by Jasbinder Bilan
Rich in drama, and suffused in the spirituality and atmosphere of the author’s native Northern Punjab, Jasbinder Bilan’s debut is a delightful, hope-bathed treat for 9+ year-olds.
With money tight, Asha’s father has gone to the big city to work in a factory, having promised to send money home, and to return to their village in the Himalayan foothills for Diwali. But when the money stops arriving and her mum runs into trouble with a lender, Asha makes a big, brave decision: she will cross the world’s highest mountains to find her father. Accompanied by best friend Jeevan, and with the magical, protective presence of her nanijee – her grandmother’s spirit bird – Asha sets out on a truly transformative journey of a lifetime.
Along the way, the friends encounter dangerous beasts of the animal and human kind, but they never give up hope, with Asha’s infectious sense of justice, self-belief and spirituality keeping them firmly fixed on their goal. This is perfect for fans of the Himalayas-set Running on the Roof of the World and the adventure stories of Eva Ibbotson and Katherine Rundell.
JOANNE OWEN, NOSY CROW PUBLISHING
11+: Shadowsea by Peter Bunzl
This is the fourth and indeed final book in Peter Bunzl’s hugely enjoyable Cogheart adventure series. Lily, the girl with the clockwork heart, and her friends Robert and Malkin the ‘mechanimal’ fox, are off to New York with her father to meet up with Robert’s mother and sister. The adventures start the minute they step off their ocean liner (the series is set in a steampunky late 19th century) and involve kidnap, stolen jewels and a heartbroken boy willing to do anything to put his family back together. There are wonderful scenes of adventure with escapades taking place on trains, hotel balconies and most thrillingly in an underwater diving vessel. Non-stop as the action is, there’s always time for Lily to realise what really matters and that love and friendship keep the world’s heart ticking. An excellent series and while each book stands alone, I’d recommend treating young readers to the set.
ANDREA REECE, LOVEREADING4KIDS
Non-fiction: Respect! By Rachel Brian
“Your body belongs to you, and you get to set your own rules.” At once inspiring, informative and entertaining, this perfectly-pitched consent primer covers the concept of consent, setting boundaries, having control over your personal space and body, and being self-aware.
Ideal for use in the classroom as a fun and enlightening teaching aid, the appealingly bold cartoons present big issues in an admirably relatable manner. Alongside the clear explanation of what consent is and how to set boundaries, this empathy-nurturing book also shares valuable insights into how to be a supportive friend, making it a uniquely useful navigational tool.
JOANNE OWEN, NOSY CROW PUBLISHING
Graphic Novel: Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson
Hilda can never sit still for long without setting off on another adventure. She can't resist exploring her enchanting world--a place where trolls walk, crows speak, and mountains move. The magic and folklore of the wild, windswept North come alive in this book about an adventurous little girl and her habit of befriending anything, no matter how curious it might seem. While on an expedition to illustrate the magical creatures of the mountains around her home, Hilda spots a mountain troll. As the blue-haired explorer sits and sketches, she slowly starts to nod off. By the time she wakes up, the troll has totally disappeared and, even worse, Hilda is lost in a snowstorm. On her way home, Hilda befriends a lonely wooden man, and narrowly avoids getting squashed by a lost giant.
Rocky of the Rovers - France 2019 World Cup Story
Once again, Tom Palmer, author of the Foul Play series and the re-booted Roy of the Rovers series, is writing a live story which unfolds alongside the events of this year's Women's World Cup in France. Featuring three popular characters from the Roy of the Rovers series (Rocky Race, her brother Roy and her coach Ffion), readers will be able to follow their adventures as the follow the Lionesses around France on their quest to become world champions.
Each chapter will be published before 8:00am each Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and shall be posted below for you to follow either in school or at home. The first chapter is already available below and each new chapter will be added every day. Last year's Defenders live story was fantastic and we can't wait to see what happens to Rocky and her friends in this year's edition!
We love to celebrate those children who have been going the extra mile in learning their spellings on Spelling Shed. We do this by looking at the children’s ‘shed score’. This is calculated as their total score for the previous seven days and so enables us to promote and celebrate consistent use over time. We’ll share the individual winners and the class of the week below along with their scores.
HINTS, TIPS & IDEAS FOR HOME
Here, we’ll share some ideas that you could use at home to help your children learn their spellings. Many of these will be activities we use in class and should therefore be familiar.
Use newspaper and magazine headline cuttings to spell the words in your spelling list. This should help you focus on the letters needed to create each word and their position within each one.
We have included an image of a headline cuttings alphabet that you could save and use at home.
Each month, we celebrate an amazing piece of writing in each class and display it on our display in the corridor. Children can become a Writer of the Month for a range of reasons, including wonderful use of description, excellent progress, fabulous vocabulary use and fitting the purpose of a piece perfectly.
Class 1 - Harry
What a fantastic newspaper article! Harry included all the features we talked about in class, including quotes and embedded clauses. I am particularly impressed with his ambitious vocabulary choices. Well done Harry - your best piece of writing this year.
Class 2 - Ethan
Excellent progress in your handwriting, especially in the Varjak newspaper report.
Class 3 - Henry
A wonderful Varjak Paw newspaper.
Class 4 - Eva
What a creative Cat! Super Egyptian artwork and descriptive writing.
Class 5 - Katie
A very thrilling, tense and exciting adventure story.
Class 6 - Ari
The language in this paragraph is fantastic. He's used a range of strategies to build tension.
Class 7 - Lottie
She tries so hard to produce such fantastic writing. I love this atmosphere setting with all the ingredients we practised.
Class 8 - Finn
Victorian Setting: such fabulous vocabulary and phrases. He even used spellings from our weekly set.
Class 9 - Elodie
Great sentence constructions and amazing choice of vocabulary.
Class 10 - GiGi
Becoming so much more confident with extended writing.
Class 11 - Isobel
A wonderfully detailed piece of creative and colourful writing
Class 12 - Ji-Ji
Lots of excellent, factual detail coupled with some creative flair to hook the reader.
This year, some classes have been participating in #FreeWritingFriday; a campaign launched by The Literacy Trust and author Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon, Emily Brown & The Wizards of Once) to give children the opportunity to write for their own pleasure and have complete ownership of their writing. Each child has their own writing book which is not monitored by their teacher and use them during a half hour slot on a Friday to write in any way they wish. For more information on the campaign, visit www.freewritingfriday.com.
Got a little time on your hands? Why not do a spot of writing? If you’re looking for some writing inspiration for home, look no further. Each week, you’ll find a different inspiration for writing – a photo, a drawing, a video or some text – that you could use to create your own masterpieces.
This week’s inspiration:
- Tell the story from each Chimp's point of view.
- Add in dialogue as it is missing in the film.
- Write predictions - what happens next? Create a newspaper story detailing the events.
- Write from the point of view of the big gorilla, perhaps he is recounting the day he first heard the chimp play the piano.