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10 ways to foster a love of reading for your child

Learning to read, or rather teaching someone else to learn to read can be a daunting task – do you start with phonetics, rhyming, sounds or learn the name of letters? Whatever way you choose, sharing the love of reading needs to be fun, relaxed and exciting. Our favourite book on the topic is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, it’s been a wonderful resource for several of the Booko children. Here are our top 10 tips from the book:

  1. Begin reading to your children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier, and better it is.
  2. Set aside at least one specific time each day for a story and make it part of your daily routine.
  3. Start with picture books that have only a few sentences on the page, then gradually move to books with more text and fewer pictures before building to chapter books.
  4. As you read, keep listeners involved by occasionally asking ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’
  5. If the chapters are long, or you don’t have enough time to finish one each day, find a suspenseful spot at which to stop. Leave your little audience hanging and they will be counting the minutes until the next reading.
  6. Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. Mood is an important factor in listening, make sure you foster a receptive one.
  7. Use expression when reading. Change your tone, adjusting pace and lowering your voice in suspenseful parts makes it all very exciting.
  8. Slow down. The most common mistake is reading too fast. Reading quickly allows no time for mental pictures to be made and more expression to be used.
  9. Bring the author to life. Google the author to find out more about them. This lets them know that books are written by people and not machines.
  10. When children wish to read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard, just as a beginner’s bicycle is better to be too small than too big.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning). The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.

 

Here’s a few of our favourites to help you share the joy of reading aloud:

 

Creature abc by Andrew Zuckerman.

Alphabet books can be valuable for teaching kids the sounds that letters make — but only if they are fun to read! Creature abc is fun; it features amazing animal photographs and an entertaining format. On one page is a letter (e.g. “Aa”) and a photograph of an animal’s body part (e.g. an alligator’s hand). When I read this book, I make the letter’s sound, and my kids guess what animal they will see on the following page.

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox

There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? The search is on in this cozy, sheep-filled story from beloved author Mem Fox and popular Australian cartoonist Judy Horacek. Complete with sleepy rhymes and bright illustrations, this book is sure to delight children of all ages, from the very young to those just beginning to read. Mem has never owned a sheep, let alone a green one, but she does admit to having woolly thoughts from time to time. Judy loves drawing things, especially sheep. This is her first flock.

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This gentle bedtime story, which has lulled generations of children to sleep, is the perfect first book to share at bedtime. In a great green room a little bunny is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things in his room, one by one. Margaret Wise Brown’s comforting, rhythmical text accompanied by the warmth of Clement Hurd’s classic mid-century illustrations make Goodnight Moon a timeless picture book, which is known and loved around the world.

 

I Am So Strong by Mario Ramos

This is a terrific read aloud – it’s a book with some yelling in it, with a handful of  familiar characters like a wolf and Red Riding Hood and three pigs, joined by a couple of dwarfs, and a baby dinosaur and his HUGE mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of all, have fun together!

Books to help you win the Board Games This Christmas

Okay, we all know that the festive season is looming and with that comes the inevitable obligatory “Family Board Game Fun Time”…except this year we have a doozie for you*… a list of books that will help you beat Great Aunty Myrtle.

*actually these make great gifts for any board game fanatic but in the spirit of competition, don’t gift the books of the games you are likely to play…or at least read them first!

Monopoly

The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World’s Most Popular Game by Maxine Brady

Let’s get something straight, Monopoly is not a game of chance. There are ways to actually get Mayfair and Parklane first rather than end up with Stand and Whitehall…every single time!

One of the principal functions of this book is to explain and clarify the rules of Monopoly, and show how to avoid some of the obstacles that get in the way of just playing the game. It also catalogs some of the many strategies that operate during a good game, but which most players seem unconscious of, even when they themselves are using the strategies to excellent advantage. There are definite techniques by which you can improve your chances of winning.

 

Trivial Pursuit

The Ultimate Trivial Pursuit Question & Answer Book by Puzzle Wright Press

We all know a cousin who thinks they know everything and seem to be able to fill that little round disc with every piece of pie before you have even managed to get the pink entertainment one! So this book is definitely for you.
Trivial Pursuit is a game unlike any other because it tests your knowledge of events that have all happened outside the realm of the game so you have to actually study to win this one. Luckily, this book is a collection of over twenty-five years of trivia questions featured providing questions and answers in the fields of geography, entertainment, history, arts & literature, science & nature, and sports & leisure.

 

Risk

Total Diplomacy: The Art of Winning RISK by Ehsan Honary

Risk is a complex board game involving both luck and skill. The goal is simple: take over the world. Despite this simple goal, the game is very complicated and dynamic. Players attempt to take over the world by eliminating all other players who are eliminated when they lose all of their troops on the game board. Players must be skilled in troop deployment and must be aware of the underlying probabilities present in the game.

This book aims to teach you how to beat all relatives this Christmas in your own way. But the book’s lessons evolve outside of the game, learn how to use diplomacy effectively to get what you want in life and apply this knowledge to negotiate more successfully and be in control.

 

Scrabble 

Collins Little Book of Scrabble Secrets by Collins Dictionaries

Inside the covers of this little book lie the secrets of Britain’s only ever Scrabble World Champion. Scrabble is played by millions but mastered by very few and unless you’re a Scrabble player who likes to lose, this book is a must. In it Mark Nyman spells out the most useful two letter words, what to do when you have a case of irritable vowel syndrome, strategies for how to get off to a flying start and lists our language’s strangest and most unbelievably useful words. Between these golden tips come anecdotes and words of wisdom from a lifetime at the top. Be careful who you give it to though.

 

 

 

Twister

Element: Yoga for Beginners DVD

Okay so this isn’t technically about Twister…nor is it a book… but it will certainly help you put left foot blue and right hand yellow without spilling any of your Christmas Mince pie or falling over Uncle Jo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring on Family Board Game Fun Time!

Great Books of 2016 to Gift This Christmas

The season of gifts, tinsel and joy is looming. Every year people promise themselves not to leave it all to the last minute, so with that in mind we have come up with a list of the best books to give as gifts to all the different people in your life.

Make sure you follow us on Facebook where we will be revealing more top picks of great books, board games and DVDs each day in December leading up till Christmas.

For the Postman…

Every Song Ever by Ben Ratliff

What does it mean to listen in the digital era? Today, new technologies make it possible to roam instantly and experimentally across musical languages and generations, from Detroit techno to jam bands to baroque opera—or to dive deeper into the set of tastes that we already have. Either way, we can listen to nearly anything, at any time. The possibilities in this new age of listening overturn old assumptions about what it means to properly appreciate music—to be an “educated” listener. In Every Song Ever, the veteran New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff reimagines the very idea of music appreciation for our times.

 

 

Party of One by Dave Holmes

Dave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, nose pressed hopefully against the glass, wanting just one thing: to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy kid in the sporty family. And in his twenties, in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second, naturally, in the Wanna Be a VJ contest, opening the door to fame, fortune, and celebrity — well almost. But despite all the close calls, or possibly because of them, he just kept trying, and if (spoiler alert) he never quite succeeded, at least he got some good stories out of it. In Party of One, Dave tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a guy who finally learns to accept himself.

 

 

For the Teacher…

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighbourhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality–and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

 

 

 

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marcal

Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, believed that our actions stem from self-interest and the world turns because of financial gain. But every night Adam Smith’s mother served him his dinner, not out of self-interest but out of love. Today, economics focuses on self-interest and excludes our other motivations. It disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking and its influence has spread from the market to how we shop, think and date. In this engaging takedown of the economics that has failed us, Katrine Marcal journeys from Adam Smith’s dinner table to the recent financial crisis and shows us how different, how much better, things could be.

 

For the Hairdresser…

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I know we wrote about this one last week…but it is sooo good!  When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity, the brain, and finally into a patient and a new father. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

 

Try Hard: Tales from the Life of a Needy Overachiever by Em Rusciano

A hilarious, heartfelt memoir from one of Australia’s most adored performers. Funny, feisty and fabulous, Em Rusciano’s insights into her world of mayhem, stardom and motherhood is a laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud balm for the soul. From her exploits at Miss Sheila’s Fancy-pants School of Dance and her efforts to secure a solo at the end-of-year performance, to embracing the spotlight as an Australian Idol contestant and her deep and abiding love for John Farnham, Em Rusciano is a self-confessed hobbit with a taste for glitter. And behind the stage makeup Em is an overachiever of epic proportions – an elite athlete, the hardest working mum you’ll ever meet, and the best friend The Gays could ever have. She also has a heart bigger than Phar Lap’s, tells the best dirty jokes, and loves those closest to her ferociously. When the chips are down, you definitely want her on your side.

 

For the work Kris Kringle…

Seinfeldia by Jennifer Kieshin Armstrong

The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly. In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant.

 

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook by Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook will be packed with all the classics you need for the big day and beyond, as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food and new ways to love those leftovers. It’s everything you need for the best Christmas ever. Chapters: Introduction, Smart Starters, The Main Event, Veggie and Vegan Plates, The Wonderful World of Potatoes, Scrumptious Vegetables, Gravy, Sauces and all the Trimmings, Incredible Leftovers, Spectacular Festive Puddings, Afternoon Tea and Sweet Treats, Cute Edible Gifts, Super-Fantastic Salads, Dips, Bites and Handheld Nibbles, Perfect Christmas Drinks, Guide To Roasting Meat.

 

For the local donation…

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Red Shoes Goes To London by Kate Knapp

The third book in the best-selling Ruby Red Shoes series. Ruby and her grandmother love to travel and now they are in London, the home of red buses, red telephone boxes and red letter boxes. No wonder Ruby’s red shoes feel especially at home in this wonderful city!

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and a little something for you

 

The Art of Dinosaur Designs by Louise Olsen

As young art students Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy began selling resin jewellery with a stall at Sydney’s Paddington markets. Today they have a business that employs 85 people and nine stores around the world including New York and London. Dinosaur Designs is the name of their jewellery and homewares company, admired around the world for its bold, colourful designs and unique fusion of art and design. Almost every Dinosaur Designs piece is still handmade by artisans in its Sydney studio, because creativity remains at the core of what they do.  With this book Olsen and Ormandy open their hearts, minds and studio doors, to share their inspirations, ideas and process.

Enjoy!

Great books that help you to reflect on life

Connecting with a book is up there with some of the greatest feelings you can have. When it happens it’s hard not to want to recommend it to everyone you see. It’s my goal to have at least a handful of books that I can pop in my ‘toolbelt’ to help me navigate through life. So far I have three (follow us on Facebook to find out what they are). I love a book that stops me in my tracks and forces me to assess my life. Finding a book that helps to shape you, helps to cement your values and offer a little perspective when you need it most is a bit of a gem and needs to be held onto.

Here are a few of our team’s favourites that may just become a gem to you.

The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason

Hailed as the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift and financial planning Clason delivers classic insights into wealth accumulation through a series of parables set in ancient Babylon. The Richest Man in Babylon is a book you will want to read yourself, recommend to friends, and give to young people just starting out in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes by Stephen Hawking

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and strong theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.

 

 

 

A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, A Long Walk To Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, it is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity, the brain, and finally into a patient and a new father. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

 

…and because it’s nearly Christmas…

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A cruel and bitter old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has no time for festivities or goodwill toward his fellow men and is only interested in money. Then, on the night of Christmas Eve, his life is changed by a series of ghostly visitations that show him some bitter truths about his choices and help him reflect on his past, present, and future in one of the most widely read and frequently adapted holiday classics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Reading.

Books that guide us through young adulthood

It’s no secret that the books we read can help to shape our lives. As we move through different stages there are often a handful of key books and characters that we relate to and help us make sense of the people and world around us.

One particularly ‘testing’ time is between the ages of 8 and 12. These young adults face a variety of hurdles and curveballs as they grow up and learn to find their place in the world. Sometimes listening to yet another tale from mum and dad is just too much to handle and so they turn (hopefully) to books.

Filled with characters working through life defining experiences such as gaining independence, forming friendship, going on adventures and growing curiosity the genre of Young Adult is fast becoming literature which is adored by readers of every generation.

The Chronicles of Narnia, the 13th Story Treehouse series, the Harry Potter books, and just about anything by Roald Dahl are just a few examples of titles that aid a 8 -12 year old through this exciting period of their life.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Journeying into magical realms, battles between good and evil and talking creatures await and delight every reader who settles in to enjoy these books.

The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular children’s books ever published. The best known, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages and hit the big screen in a film edition.

 

 

 

The 13 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Andy and Terry live in a treehouse. But it’s not just any old treehouse, it’s the most amazing treehouse in the world! This treehouse has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.

This is the start of a series of treehouse stories with Terry and Andy who enjoy completely nutty adventures because ANYTHING can happen in a 13-storey treehouse.

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling

We very much doubt any of these series need an introduction, especially Harry Potter…but here goes.

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels chronicling the life of a young wizard, and his friends, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrowing the Ministry of Magic, and gain control of all wizards and Muggles (non wizards). There are many themes within this series including fantasy, drama, prejudice, madness, coming of age and elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, horror and romance. According to Rowling,however, the main theme is death.

 

Come and join us on Facebook to share what your favourite books were for getting through this phase of your life.

Top books released this month: June 2016

We’ve hunted high and low to find you a collection of the coolest, most ‘anticipated’ and highly regarded new releases for June.  This month our collection features vastly different tales but all of the stories are intricately set and beautifully told.  Here are our recommendations for new releases for June 2016:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:girlsThe Girls by Emma Cline

Cline’s novel is set in California and is loosely based on the Manson “family” and their crimes.  The protagonist in ‘The Girls’, Evie, just wants to be noticed: by her family, her friends.  anybody.  Then along comes Suzanne who is older and welcomes Evie into the fold.  The reviews of this book have been overwhelmingly positive.  Despite the topic being a challenging one to read, it’s beautifully written.  The overarching themes of wanting to belong to a group are universal.  The film rights were snapped up before ‘The Girls’ was released.  A hit.

 


Barkskins
 by Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx is universally acknowledged as ‘One of the greatest American writers’.  The 80 year old Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, spent ten years writing ‘Barkskins’, an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness and destroying the forest, set over three centuries and covering 700 pages. Barkskins is a masterpiece of intricately cut characters and dazzling settings.  We are with these characters over their life’s journey.  An amazing read.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:homegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s debut novel traces the journeys of two branches of the same family tree. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort from the proceeds of slavery.  Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned in the Castle’s women’s dungeon, herself a slave.  Touted as one of the most highly anticipated debuts this year, Homegoing has been garnering rave reviews due to Gyasi’s ability to weave two very different stories together.  Sentimental as it is intellectual, this is another novel not to be missed.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:vinegarVinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl is a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew.‘  In what appears to be a current trend to re-tell Shakespeare’s works by acclaimed modern authors, this book has been released to mixed reviews.  

While it is easy reading, funny, quirky and well told, it lacks the depth of Tyler’s prior works.  The question could also be asked: why modernise a classic?


https-::covers.booko.info:300:meanThey May Not Mean to But They Do by Cathleen Schine

Joy Bergman is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would prefer. She won’t take their advice, and she won’t take an antidepressant. Schine’s latest novel combines dark humour with incredibly insightful observations about life, love, death and relationships.  Clever, witty with deeply moving undertones, this is an easy read on the complexities of inter-generational relationships.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:vagabondEach Vagabond by Name by Margo Orlando Little

“It was an ordinary Fall until the gypsies came.”

Fast-paced, mysterious and heartfelt, Each Vagabond by Name takes place in a small, South-Western Pennsylvanian town.   Zachariah Ramsay, owner of the local bar finds himself drawn into the world of a group of travelling people after a hungry man turns up one day at his door.  When the group begin to rob townspeople’s homes, Ramsay is drawn into their world.

Another debut novel, Each Vagabond by Name features beautifully developed characters and a compelling plot.  Hard to put down!

 

For more 2016 releases, check out our Pinterest board 2016 New Releases.

 

 

Celebrating the world of coffee table books

There’s something about having book candy sitting on your coffee table…or lining up in a stylish manner on a bookshelf.  I must admit, I am a bit of an interiors addict, and nothing pleases me more than merging my love of books and love of interiors. The children’s rooms have front facing shelves so we can enjoy the delightful (and have you noticed increasingly stylish?) book covers. Our lounge room is also home to books that are often rotated between the bookshelf and then curated subtly on the coffee table.

Real Living Magazine has recently been adding a selection of coffee table books to the pages of their magazine, and boy this month they are beautiful. So I thought as we are celebrating readers of all genres this month, I’d share their beautiful coffee table candy.

 

Book Cases: From Salvage to Storage by Aurelie Drouet

Bookshelves showcase our favourite books and most treasured objects. They are useful and practical but, far from reducing them to their simplest function, we love that they reflect our style and individuality, becoming design features in their own right and harmoniously fitting into our living spaces. They are also relatively easy to make and accessible to everyone. No need to be an experienced handyman to realise these original designs. This book presents 14 creations with step-by-step photos, plans, and technical tips. There’s also an injection of inspiration with the more ambitious bookcase projects by leading designers and architects.

 

Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence by Emiko Davies

Florentine is a collection of delicious recipes and stunning photographs from Tuscany’s capital. Emiko Davies draws on her personal experience of traditional Florentine cuisine to share recipes that transport readers to the piazzas of Florence. From the morning ritual of la pasticceria (the pastry shop) and il forno (the bakery), the tantalizing fresh produce of il mercato (the market) and il macellaio (the butcher) through to the evening romance of la trattoria, it will take you on a unique stroll through the city’s streets to the heart of its culture.

 

Best Kitchen Basics by Mark Best

Best Kitchen Basics beats the revolutionary drum in the domestic kitchen – no longer are high-end techniques or recipes the sole domain of multi-award-winning restaurants like Best’s Sydney fine diner Marque and his bistros Pei Modern in Melbourne and Sydney. Here, Mark Best breaks it down, putting the individual elements of each recipe into the home cook’s hands and empowering them to think differently. It includes 100 original recipes built around 30 accessible ingredients – from eggplant to pumpkin to chocolate and eggs. Best Kitchen Basics ups the ante on the familiar. Best insists that it is not a question of luxurious ingredients, simply the knowledge and wherewithal to unlock the beauty of some of the most basic elements of cooking.

 

Supernormal by Andrew McConnell

This cookbook is based on the restaurant of the same name where Andrew, owner and head chef, takes home cooks into the kitchen of his hugely popular pan-Asian eatery. Across eight chapters, he shares something of the McConnell magic, as well as menus for fans who aspire to a Supernormal-worthy spread at home. The book is filled with photographs from Earl Carter, who offers a behind-the-scenes take on the restaurant and its characters, as well as scenes from Tokyo, a long-time source of inspiration for McConnell, and his Flinders Lane eating house.

 

Life Hacks by Annabel Staff

Have you ever burnt your fingers trying to light a hard to reach candle wick? Try lighting it with spaghetti. Just how do you separate the yolk from the white of an egg? You use a plastic bottle, of course. When your ice-lolly starts melting, how do you stop your hands getting sticky? By using a cupcake wrapper, naturally…This book contains over thirty solutions to everyday problems encountered in the home or out and about, with each life hack demonstrated in a full colour photograph for easy reference.

 

 

Hello Tokyo by Ebony Bizys

This book by Japanese-based Australian blogger/crafter/designer/zine publisher Ebony Bizys is a cute and quirky guide to living a handmade lifestyle, filled with projects and ideas inspired by Ebony’s life in Tokyo. Capturing the charm, humour and originality of her eclectic and highly successful blog, Hello Sandwich, this book features craft projects and inspirational styling ideas, and gives the reader a glimpse of Japanese culture. Hello Tokyo is the quintessential Hello Sandwich publication. It captures Ebony’s fascination with the myriad treasures of everyday existence, ranging from personalised crafts such as handmade stationery and clothing accessories, as well as decorative items and storage solutions for the home; to recording your daily life and travels with a camera, journal or even a blog; to hosting, theming and styling a fun party or picnic.

 

A huge thanks to Real Living Magazine for inspiring us with such a terrific selection of titles.

If you are looking for more brilliant coffee table books, we have a Pinterest board full of them too. Hop on over and follow us.

Inside Out

Inside Out is Disney / Pixar’s big mid-year movie release.  This engaging story about a young girl and her five emotions (Joy, Disgust, Fear, Anger and Sadness) has been praised for its accurate portrayal of psychology, and its positive messages about the value of different emotions.

If the children in your life are interested in, or have enjoyed Inside Out, this can be an opportunity to discuss how to recognise and manage emotions.  Here are some additional resources, suitable for different ages, to help you further that conversation.

For the youngest children: 

When I’m Feeling Lonely by Trace Moroney (and other titles)
Trace Moroney has written a series of picture books, each focussing on a single emotion (such as anger, jealousy, kindness, love).  She uses a bunny character and lots of descriptive language to help children understand what each emotion means, and how to deal with it.    Each book also contains teaching notes written by child psychologists for carers / teachers.

My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson

My Big Shouting Day won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and it is easy to see why.  Bella is having a Big Shouting Day because nothing seems right – it’s either too hot, too cold, too wet and even too minty!  Luckily, her very patient mum reminds Bella that everyone has those days sometimes, and that things may be better tomorrow.  Parents and children alike may giggle at the all-too-familiar situations and the increasingly frazzled expression on Mum’s face (After reading this book, my friend laughed, then ruefully said “this is not comedy, it’s documentary”).  The ending, with a cuddle and a shy apology, is upbeat and reassuring.

For early- to middle-primary:

Inside Out Driven by Emotions by Elise Allen and the Disney Book Group
This is a novelisation of the movie, aimed at junior readers.  Each of its five chapters is a retelling of the Inside Out story from the perspective of a different emotion – Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness.  A creative way to illustrate how different emotions can change our perception of events.

The Emotions’ Survival Guide
This non-fiction accompaniment to the Inside Out movie aims to be a survival guide for  school-aged children, with expert advice on how to recognise and deal with feelings.  Available for pre-order (to be published September 2015)

For pre-teens and teens:

Understanding Myself: a Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings by Mary C. Lamia

Understanding Myself is written by a clinical psychologist with over 30 years’ experience.  It defines and explores 18 feelings, including love, envy, shame, loneliness and anxiety, in a supportive and non-judgmental way. Not only can this book be used by young people to understand and manage their emotions, its vocabulary offers a framework to help them articulate and discuss their concerns with peers and adults.

 

Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens by Sheri Van Dijk

Teenagers often have to deal with new experiences and emotions that leave them feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. This is a workbook that uses a structured approach to guide teens on how to stay calm in difficult situations, reduce the pain of intense emotions, and manage overwhelming feelings.   The techniques are based on dialectical behaviour therapy, a clinical tool designed to help change unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

Book Week Picks for primary-aged readers

Children’s Book Week is an annual celebration of Australian children’s publishing, and the authors and illustrators who contribute to this vibrant industry.  Look out for activities, such as special story time sessions, offered by your local schools and public libraries as part of the celebrations.

Book Week also means the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year awards, whose winners were announced last Friday (August 21).  Last week we looked at shortlisted titles in the Early Childhood category.  This week, we spotlight the winning titles in two categories particularly suited to primary-aged children – the Younger Readers award and the Picture Book of the Year award.

Book of the Year (Younger Readers)

This year’s winners are diverse in both style and target ages.

Winner: The Cleo Stories by Libby Gleeson (illustrated by Freya Blackwood)

Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood have achieved outstanding results at this year’s awards, with two of their co-creations taking out top honours (the other title, Go to Sleep, Jessie! has won the Early Childhood Book of the Year). Once again, they demonstrate their skill at observing the minutiae of daily life, and at detailing the dramas of childhood with understanding and affection.

The Cleo Stories contain two short stories about Cleo, an imaginative six-year-old. The first thing you notice about this book is its beautiful design – thick silky pages packed with full-colour illustrations.  It is halfway between picture book and chapter book, and is perfect for early-to-middle-primary readers.

In the first story,’The Necklace’, Cleo desperately wants a necklace of her own, but she will only be given one on her birthday – which is so far away that Cleo decides to come up with a better solution.  Then in ‘The Present’, Cleo is trying to find the perfect present for her mum’s birthday – something that is just from her.  These stories show the enterprising Cleo solving her dilemmas with enthusiasm, creativity and humour.  A sequel is already in progress and will be available later this year.

 

Honour Book: Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks
This dark mystery-thriller is a departure for Tristan Bancks, previously known for sassy school stories for pre-teens and teens. Ben is a slightly-chubby, slightly-gawky boy who just loves the comfort and security of his bedroom.  Then the Police arrive at Ben’s house looking for his parents. Minutes after they leave, his parents arrive and bundle Ben and his little sister Olive into their car to go on a “holiday”.  But Ben’s parents behave strangely – they are not using their credit-cards or mobile phones, they cut their hair and they lie to the police – what’s going on?  As Ben uses his amateur detective skills to gather evidence and understand the events, he realises that his parents are in serious trouble, and that he has some tough decisions to make.

First and foremost, Two Wolves is a tense, action-packed story.  Tristan Bancks’ background in acting and filmmaking is evident in his vivid descriptions, and dramatic opening – readers are thrown straight into the action, creating many questions that are slowly resolved as the story progresses.  The language has a terse rhythm that builds a sense of urgency and threat.

What lifts it out of the ordinary is the convincing portrayal of flawed characters, and of Ben’s personal growth – his developing resourcefulness, self-belief and ability to make difficult decisions.  Those moral and ethical dilemmas – about right and wrong, honesty and loyalty, also test us readers and hold our interest right to the last page.

Honour Book: Withering-by-Sea: a Stella Montgomery Intrigue by Judith Rossell
This Honour Book commendation caps off a successful year for Withering-by-Sea, which has already won two awards – the Indie Book Awards (Children’s and YA Book of the Year), and the Australian Book Industry Awards (Book of the Year for Older Children).

High on a cliff in the town of Withering-by-Sea stands the faded glory of the Hotel Majestic.  Here, Stella feels stifled by the strict and dull upbringing given her by three dreaded Aunts.  She is constantly getting in trouble for unladylike behaviour, because she prefers adventure to deportment and needlework.  One day, while hiding in the hotel’s Conservatory with her Atlas, she sees a man hiding a package in a potted fern.  Thereafter she is swept along in a mystery that is full of danger, black magic and even singing cats!

Judith Rossell has used period language and the conventions of the Victorian Gothic genre to great effect, resulting in a moody, spooky mystery.  The cold mist-wreathed setting seems quintessentially English and echoes the misery of Stella’s predicament.  The illustrations, similar in style to Edward Gorey, add great visual impact.  A subplot relating to Stella’s mysterious background and parentage is intriguing and paves the way for future instalments.

Picture Book of the Year

Books considered for the Picture Book of the Year award are typically aimed at older children but can be enjoyed by all ages (including adults!).  Compared to the Early Childhood category, these stories tend to be more complex, and may also include mature or challenging themes such as death or trauma.

Winner: My Two Blankets by Freya Blackwood and Irena Kobald

2015 is a great year for Freya Blackwood.  She has just won a hat-trick at the CBCA awards – each of her three shortlisted titles (Go to Sleep, Jessie!, The Cleo Stories and My Two Blankets) has won in its category.  In fact, she is the first creator in the awards’ 70-year history to have been honoured three times in the same year.  These wins add to her already impressive tally of past honours, including three previous CBCA wins, and the Kate Greenaway Medal, a prestigious international prize for illustrators.

My Two Blankets offers a child’s perspective on life as a refugee.  Cartwheel left her home to escape the war, and has sought safety in a new country.  Everything is strange in her new home, making Cartwheel feel isolated and lonely.  She seeks comfort in her own language – her “old blanket” of familiar words and sounds.  Then Cartwheel meets a friendly girl at the park. As their friendship grows, Cartwheel gains new words – words that she uses to weave a new blanket that is just as comfortable as her old one.

Irena Kobald’s heartwarming story of friendship and acceptance marries beautifully with Freya Blackwood’s gentle, dreamy illustrations. The use of colour and the creative depiction of the abstract concept of ”language” are particularly noteworthy.

Honour Book: One Minute’s Silence by Michael Camilleri and David Metzenthen

A roomful of bored modern-day students are led to imagine themselves in the midst of the Gallipoli campaign as they observe one minute’s silence.  One minute’s silence is enough to imagine the thousands of wild colonial boys  charging into relentless gunfire; it is also enough to imagine how the Turks felt, trying to defend their homes and their lives, as they watch slouch-hatted strangers run uphill towards them.

One Minute’s Silence is a heartbreaking story conveyed by considered, evocative language and intricate illustrations packed with meaning.  By showing the Battle of Gallipoli from both sides, the story extends beyond the history of a single battle, but instead reflects upon the senselessness and horror of all wars. It is a visually stunning, affecting addition to the range of books created to commemorate the centenary of World War One.  One Minute’s Silence deserves every one of the three honours it gained in this year’s CBCA Awards – winner of the Crichton Award for New Illustrators, Honour Book in the Picture Book category, as well as Notable Book in the Information Book category.

Honour Book: The Stone Lion by Ritva Voutila and Margaret Wild

Sometimes, stone animals get a chance to become warm, breathing creatures for a short time – if they desire it greatly with a generous heart.  The stone lion outside the library longs to become alive, to run free.  He is finally granted his wish one snowy day, but two young children desperately need his help – will he sacrifice his own desires for their sake?

The Stone Lion is a poignant story about compassion and selflessness, and also a celebration of libraries.
We see and rejoice in the lion’s transformation from heartless and indifferent – unable to comprehend human emotions – to humanity, with the ability to sympathise and the desire to help.

Margaret Wild is a well-loved author who has won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year award three times in a career of over thirty years.  The period setting used in Ritva Voutila’s drawings makes this story dreamy and timeless – a bittersweet fable reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince.

Book Week Picks – Early Childhood Book of the Year

Book Week is fast approaching – as advertisements spruiking dress-ups remind us. Book Week also means the CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Book of the Year Awards, the most prestigious awards in Australian children’s publishing. This year’s winners will be announced on Friday 21st August, the day before Book Week, a week long celebration of children’s books, literacy and publishing, from August 22-28.

This year, CBCA celebrates its 70th anniversary with the theme “Books light up our World”. Here’s a run down of the different award categories and some titles to watch out for.

Book of the Year (Early Childhood)

The Early Childhood category was first awarded in 2001, to differentiate these works from ones judged under the general Picture Book of the Year category, that may contain more mature, challenging subject matter. The need for two separate awards in picture storybooks reflect a growth and diversification of this format away from the idea that “picture books are only for young children”. In fact, a picture is still worth a thousand words, and the combination of text and graphics offers a multi-layered, powerful approach to storytelling.

This year’s shortlist is dominated by established authors and illustrators, many of whom are past winners.

To further your reading experience, many of these titles come with teaching notes available from the publisher’s websites.

A House of her Own by Jenny Hughes and Jonathan Bentley
Audrey is bigger than she was yesterday, so now she needs a bigger house – a house of her own. Luckily, Dad is there to help her build a wonderful house at the top of a tree, with a bathtub for snorkelling, a blue bed for hiding secrets under – everything that a girl could want. However, when it’s time to turn in, Audrey is not so sure that being big is such a good idea afterall…

Jenny Hughes and Jonathan Bentley have created a delightful heroine and an endearing story. The story, told almost entirely through dialogue, builds a vivid picture of a loving father-daughter relationship (with a single-parent subtext), and captures the essence of an almost-big girl who wants independence but who also longs for security.

 

Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King

Stephen Michael King is a prolific and versatile author/illustrator who has three works shortlisted for this year’s CBCA awards – two in the Early Childhood category, and The Duck and the Darklings competing for the Picture Book of the Year. In Scary Night, he illustrates the story of first-time author Lesley Gibbes.

Once upon a scary night, a hare, a cat and a pig set out on a journey. They must keep going, even though there are lots of dangers lurking! The story unfolds into a happy surprise as the friends finally reach their destination. The use of repetition and sound effects in the text ramps up the pace and fills it with tension; it is perfect for a dramatic read-aloud. The cute-but-spooky illustrations – I especially love the wide-eyed apprehension in the friends’ faces – will bring delicious shivers to the audience.

Go to Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood

Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood are both multiple award-winners with formidable track-records at the CBCA awards. This year, two of their collaborations – Go to Sleep, Jessie! and The Cleo Stories – are shortlisted for the Early Childhood and the Younger Readers awards, respectively. Moreover, Freya Blackwood has also been shortlisted for the Picture Book of the Year Award, as illustrator for My Two Blankets.

Baby Jessie screams every night at bedtime. Mum, Dad and Jessie’s big sister try all sorts of tricks to help Jessie sleep but the peace and quiet never lasts. The big sister (narrator) grows increasingly frustrated and looks set to snap… fortunately an endearing twist gives the story a gentle, happy ending.

Go to Sleep, Jessie! is a charming, tender story reminiscent of the award-winning The Runaway Hug, that will resonate with many parents (and older siblings!). Once again Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood show their great skill in illuminating the drama of everyday life. The use of some comic strip-style layouts add visual flow to the illustrations that help to propel the action.

Other shortlisted titles are:

Snail and Turtle are Friends by Stephen Michael King

A very simple, gentle and cute story about Snail and Turtle, friends who love to spend time together even though they are different. The humour and cheerfulness is guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face. This is the second of three works by Stephen Michael King in this year’s awards.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug is greedy and selfish in every way. When Pig refuses to share his toys, it starts a chain of events that leads to a nasty end for Pig! The rollicking rhymes and Aaron Blabey’s distinctive drawings will have children following the story with gleeful giggles. A sequel, Pig the Fibber, is just released and already a bestseller.

Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach by Alison Lester

Noni the Pony is friendly and funny. In this new adventure, Noni and her farmyard friends have lots of adventures on a fun day at the beach. It has the same musical rhymes and adorable illustrations of its predecessor and is a joyful story for even the youngest children.