Leon and the Place Between – Angela McAllister and Grahame Baker-Smith
By the author of ‘FArTHER’, one of the year 5 texts, this book is just beautiful to look at.
It is about a boy named Leon and his family who go to the circus where magician Abdul Kazam is performing. Leon desperately wants to prove to his family that magic exists so volunteers to be part of a magic trick. Leon then gets transported to another world called the place between which consists of doves, magic card tricks and magic carpets.
When asked if anyone can visit the place between, Leon says that indeed anyone can – anyone who believes. For anyone who wants children to be children and to hold on to magic for as long as they can, this book is worth sharing.The plot is pretty basic – Leon believes in magic where his brothers do not. While they visit the circus, the brothers just watch the magic unfold while Leon gets involved. There’s plenty in this book to encourage discussion, perhaps around what happens to Leon while he is in the place between – there’s very little description of what happens there, so why not encourage children to describe what a world full of magic is like?
Red Eyes at Night by Michael Morpurgo
Mrs Cartlidge says:
I went into the library looking for a Goosebumps Book following a recommendation from Craig in Y1, he described how he liked films and books that are scary enough to be ‘good scary’. Whilst browsing the shelves I came across this book and was tempted by the expressions on the faces of the characters on the front cover.
Millie is fed up with having to entertain her ‘perfect’ younger cousin Geraldine when she comes to stay. When her jealousy becomes too much, Millie comes up with an idea to get her revenge but things don’t go completely her way.
This book is exactly what you expect from Michael Morpurgo, it draws you in to a character’s life and builds in lots of emotions as the story unfolds. There is just enough spooky detail to keep you reading chapter after chapter. Tony Ross’ illustrations and some black pages really add to the atmosphere. A book that is ‘good scary’.
The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
Dennis lives in a boring house in a boring street in a boring town. But e’s about to find out that when you open your mind, life becomes anything but boring! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and once you meet Dennis, he’ll live with you forever…
Miss Knights says…
In Flanders Fields – Norman Jorgensen & Brian Harrison-Lever - Upper KS2
Mrs Cartlidge says:
In Flanders Fields is a picture book. I was drawn to it displayed on the Library shelf by the illustration on the front cover.
Having been on the Y6 residential trips to Normandy and the experience of remembering the events of WWII it is on my bucket list to visit the locations of events in WWI. I guess that is why I was intrigued by this book.
The illustrations are powerful and the limited pallet of colours really sets the mood for this time in history. The pen & ink style allows details to reveal the closer you look (just what you want from a good picture book). The text describes life in the tranches and is a version of the Christmas Truce from 1914. It covers ‘daily life’ in the trenches, detailing the expectations of soldiers on the front whilst weaving in the horror and emotions experienced by a young man torn from his family. The magnitude of the loss of life on both sides is alluded to without overwhelming a young audience.
This book tells of the cost to humanity of war in a way that is accessible to children without losing the ability to make a connection with an adult audience. I read it more than once, gaining something from the book each time. I would recommend it to anyone from Y5 upwards.
The Lost Words – Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
In 2007 the decision was made to cut 50 or so words connected with nature and the countryside, out of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, mostly in favour of words connected with modern technologies. A group of 28 authors (including Margaret Atwood, Andrew Motion, Michael Morpurgo and Robert Macfarlane) wrote to the Oxford University Press to express their concerns about these changes, saying that their concern was “…not just a romantic desire to reflect the rosy memories of our own childhoods onto today’s youngsters. There is a shocking, proven connection between the decline in natural play and the decline in children’s wellbeing,” they wrote, pointing to research which found that a generation ago, 40% of children regularly played in natural areas, compared to 10% today, with a further 40% never playing outdoors.
This book is a beautiful response to this move, offering ‘spells’ (rather than poems) about the lost words, with stunning illustrations to inspire the imagination. Each is an acrostic, containing rich, often challenging vocabulary. Realistically, this a book for adults and children, for adults to read with children. The idea is that the spells carry the spirit of their subject in the way they are structured...
Take for example, the “Magpie Manifesto: / Argue Every Toss! / Gossip, Bicker, Yak and Snicker All Day Long!” Not only are the lost word and the bird returned and celebrated, but the spirit, nature and the clatter of the magpie are captured in its lines.
I think that The Lost Words is a beautiful book and, because of the idea behind it, an important one. Finding enchantment and looking after the natural world is made much easier if we keep hold of the language that describes it. It’s a treat. Please read it!