Wednesday, 24 July 2013

One for the grown ups

It's not often that I get to read grown up people's books...but this story intrigued me after seeing the author recently on Australian Story. 

'They said I must die. They said that I stole the breath from men,
and now they must steal mine.'

Hannah Kent’s debut novel delves into the story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland. The year was 1829. Two men had been murdered in their sleep and the farmhouse, in which they lay, set alight.

Three farm workers were arrested for the crime and later sentenced to death.

This is the story of one of them.

Hannah Kent’s interest was first piqued in this story during a gap year in the northern climes ten years ago. Travelling with her host family, Kent was shown the historical site of the execution, now punctuated by three small hills.

While Burial Rites is largely a work of fiction, it is based on Kent’s extensive research over a decade into the story of Agnes Magnusdottir’s condemnation.

The story itself is as chilling as its setting. Kent writes with an incredible raw edge, enticing the reader to turn each page. You are instantly drawn into Iceland’s darkest winters, during an inhospitable time. A real sense of empathy is generated throughout the book, as the reader struggles with the sense of hopelessness, against a formidable landscape.

A brilliant debut, a young Australian author worth watching.

This haunting story will remain with you long after you have finished the last page. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Hitting the funny bone

The development of humour in early childhood progresses from an early age. Most babies learn how to smile at the tender age of six weeks. Infants will enjoy silly faces and peek-a-boo games, while toddlers will enjoy a sense of nonsense or the re-purposing of objects. Children around the age of three will begin to enjoy playing with words and rhymes, while around the age of four, children may start to tell simple knock, knock jokes. It isn't usually until the age of six or seven and beyond, however, that children start to understand puns, implied meaning and irony. It is around this age that children begin to understand those knock, knock jokes and are able to tell them with a little more conviction.

Which all leads to my purpose here...

Scholastic's latest anthology of jokes, while recommended for children four years and older, may in deed miss the boat! Younger children may enjoy the book, but have little understanding of the humour underlying each page. Mark Guthrie has produced a beautiful collection of Australian flavoured illustrations, which no doubt will engage younger children.

While it's touted as a first book of jokes - just keep in mind, younger children may not 'get it'!

Illustrated by Mark Guthrie
Scholastic, paperback $6.99
Recommended for 6+

10 Silly Wombats

Another playful innovation on an old favourite!

This time 10 Silly Wombats are taking on the rhyme 'Ten Green Bottles'. A great story to reinforce counting backwards from ten. Each page has a hidden number, enticing younger children to go looking for the numeral to match the number name. Follow the ten wombats throughout their day, as they diminish in numbers, one by one...

Lots of fun with engaging, colourful illustrations by first time book illustrator, Andrea Edmonds.

Written by Ed Allen
Illustrated by Andrea Edmonds
Scholastic paperback $13.99 RRP

Recommended for ages 3+

If you're cheeky and you know it!

If you're a hippo and you know it, wriggle your rump. 
If you're a hippo and you know it, wriggle your rump.
If you're a hippo and you know it, then you really should just show it... 

This fun innovation on the age old favourite, 'If you're happy and you know it' will get the kids up and moving around.

Start waddling around with lots of silly animals, from all over the world, as they let loose.

Bright, bold illustrations will appeal to younger children, as will the simple, repetitive text.

Written by - P.Crumble
Illustrated by - Chris Kennett
Scholastic Australia, 2013
Paperback $13.99 RRP

Recommended for ages 3+

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Each stitch tells a story

The Queensland Art Gallery is currently curating an exhibition of quilts dating between 1700 and 1945. Visiting this exhibition is bound to leave you with lasting memories. Each quilt brings with it a story, each stitch lovingly crafted, each memory woven within. 

The quilt that spoke to me long after leaving the gallery's halls was the Changi Quilt. Hand crafted by 20 young Girl Guides, between the ages of eight and 16 years, it was secretly assembled with courage and determination as a birthday gift for their leader, Elizabeth Ennis. Huddled away in a corner of the prison's exercise yard, with another girl on watch, the girls brought together any scraps of precious fabric and thread that they could find, often recycling the very clothes they stood in.

Stitching their names into the quilt brings with it a real sense of story. A story that will remain with you long after these precious quilts return to the V&A Museum in London.

Evelyn Harris, Changi Quilt, 1943