Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent and Anansie The Spider by Gerald McDermott

Just look at these two stories - both traditional - one from China and one from Ghana. There's a reasons these tales are told over and again through generations - they are simply very good stories. And in these packages - beautifully illustrated too. First up -  Tikki Tikki Tembo.
Once there were two brothers - the first one was called Tikki tikki tembo no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo which means "the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world!" and the second was called Chang, which means "little or nothing. If you are'nt smiling yet, this might not be your thing. If you are - I won't ruin it but just say yes, there is danger, yes there are no flotation devices or stairgates involved.
Here are the brothers playing while their mother washes clothes.

And a close-up - aren't they so sweet?

Be careful of the...well!! (Oh don't worry, he survives.)

Its a good story, but the best part is testing yourself on Tikki's name. Can you say it all without looking at the book? I can.

And next - Anansie the Spider. This is a must-buy.
Anansie comes from Ghana. He is part of the folklore of the Ashanti people.

He has six sons. From left to right - See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner (as in animals, not video games), Stone Thrower and Cushion. (this same listing device in used in lots of stories - other favourites of mine are The Five Chinese Brothers and Heckedy Peg.)

Each son has a different pattern on his tummy, its one of those things that you(or in my case, my five year old) spots after a few reads and is just so clever and lovely.

Anyways, the Dad, Anansie goes off on a trip, and gets eaten by a fish. 
Isn't it beautiful? (He is swallowed, not chewed, by the way.)

His sons need to figure out how to rescue him. Its perfect. Both books are good for ages for to six and up. Great, great read-alouds.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

More books for teens and some for tweens

We were on th way to the orthodontist when my fourteen year old told me what happened in When You Reach Me. I had brought it so he would have something to read in the waiting room (and to find out if he had actually read it.)
"I've finished that." He said, and then told me the story. I was oh-my-god!-ing the whole way there. Highly recommended. On the bottom on this pile (only literally) is The Orange Mocha Chip Frappaccino Years, which is as funny as every other book in that series, and in the middle is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which he is reading at the moment.

On the same trip to the library, I got my younger guys From Up On Poppy Hill, a Japanese animated movie which was so, so lovely. And SO different to all the Pixars and Dreamworks we have been absorbing for years. They LOVED it. Because, I think, of the food (there's a lot of cooking in small kitchens with multiple, clever sliding doors), the beautifully drawn city - the characters walk and cycle everywhere, the humour and the wonderful story.
 And underneath, from the same part of the world are my twelve year olds beloved borrowed and re-borrowed Anima series.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Books for Junior Infant parties

My five year old started school a few weeks ago. Day one was fantastic, day two, he loved it! Day three we walked out the school gates with all his new friends and their parents. Well, I thought, we are going to get a LOT of party invitations. And this year I'm going to be prepared. An hour later there were two copies of Fortunately, and one each of Petunia and Katy No Pocket on their way to me. And, the following day I got a few two-for-a-euro birthday cards in Tiger. What a great start to the school year!

Of course, day three was different. "I hate school and I don't like those boys." he said loudly, pointed to the children coming out of the classroom beside him. Their mothers looked away, I pointlessly shushed him and we went home. To the delivery of the books! Kids eh?

So anyway, if you're in the market for presents for four to six year olds, these book come in at around €6 each. So for only €12, you get two really lovely, funny great books. These ones are definitely not girly but not too boyish either. We have all of them and they are in constant rotation. Now all I need are the invitations. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 14 September 2015

My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins and Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is brilliant. Its a picture book, but not your usual kind. It takes a house in a town in Australia, and traces its history. Every decade, for one hundred years, a child living there describes their daily life. Its a great idea and really well done.








I haven't included every year here, but as you can see, there's a LOT of detail. Each child (some related to the previous occupant, some not) describes their surroundings, current affairs, their neighbours (the Mullers change their name to Miller between 1098 and 1918). There is so much information. Its fascinating. Definitely not just for those interested in the history of Australia, but anyone who wants their kids to look around and think, "What was here before me, and before that?" for age six or seven to adult.

(I'm not really doing this book justice in this review but I'm also "supervising" my three younger boys' homework (probably not doing that justice either!) so am a bit distracted.) Anyway its a wonderful book. 

I mentioned a while ago that my copy of Middlemarch was used a doorstop when I was in College. I met my roommate recently and she was telling me how much she had loved the book. What? I thought. You read it? I thought everyone just skimmed and read the notes. So I decided to give it another try. Of course, it's great. What can I say, I was an eejit.
Once the homework is finished I'm going to put the kettle on and settle down with it. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

books for teenage boys that they will LOVE

My fourteen year old is reading again. I mean he's still on the computer far, far too much (other Mums tell me this is "normal") but still, when he isn't, I see him on his bed reading. He is constantly asking me whether I have any books for him. He'll read the John Rebus' I get from the library, so I know he doesn't necessarily need a teenage, male protagonist, but still, its probably a bit soon to be reading about middle-aged, functioning alcoholics. (No offence to Ian Rankin. I LOVE John Rebus.)

So, I am sort of stumped. I just want to find something he will love. And ideally, laugh at. There really does not seem to be many funny books recommended for teens. And there is no shortage of angsty ones. And so many sad ones. Good lord, I want him to read but still. Divorce, death, abuse, its all there. But what about the funny stuff, wheres that?

The lists online all suggest The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Dickens but my memories of the former from my own teenage years were that only annoying boys read it (I know, I should really read it myself and see, but sadly, I am too prejudiced now. Maybe one of those annoying boys said something unflattering about my hair? Either way, for the moment, unless I see it in the library, I'm not buying it.) And Dickens? Well, The Tale of Two Cities is on his bedside table but so far, understandably I think, its a base for glasses of water. (Which never, ever get taken downstairs.)

And then I thought of Starter for Ten - hilarious and wonderful. That's next on our library reserve list. And last weekend this book for ages twelve and up got glowing reviews. Its still only in hardback and is a bit pricey but the previous book by the same author Close to the Wind gets equally great notices, I've ordered it. From what I can see its a well written, rollicking adventure. Then I thought of John Irving? Surely The World According to Garp and Last Night in Twisted River would appeal to him? My husband tells me he read Garp at about nineteen and loved it, so maybe its a bit soon it. I'm not sure. And, while it is sad, theres Peace like a River which I LOVED and I think, he will too. And of course! There's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 and three quarters. That should go down well.