A New Year Awaits

As we start Term 1 of what seems destined to be another unusual school year, I hope that you and your students are managing to find a routine and way of working that gives everyone the time and space that they need.

This month we have a range of brand-new titles, as well as books making a delightful reappearance just when we need them.

I am definitely going to be aging myself when I say that I grew up with Jan Ormerod’s beautiful wordless picture books, Sunshine and Moonlight. The fashions of the both the parents and the main character are ones I remember from my own childhood and remain in the photographs of that time. My favourite was always Moonlight, with its portrayal of the soothingly familiar night routine of dinner, bath, story and bed… and then not staying in bed but managing to have more stories! While the fashion portrayed is this book may be very much of its time, the story it tells and the skilful way in which it is told have not suffered from the passage of time. The everyday routines of childhood, of family, food and fun, have not much changed since Ormerod created these wonderful books, and children and adults alike will find much to enjoy in them.

Yo-Yo Ma is famous the world over as a cellist of exceptional talent, even to those of us who don’t interact much with classical music. But did you know he actually wanted to play the double-bass, and that he learned the cello instead because at four years old he was too small to hold the instrument that first intrigued him? Did you know that Ma has dedicated himself to making music an instrument of peace and a way to unite people across the globe? Playing at the Border uses the story of Ma’s concert on the bank of the Rio Grande, of his desire to unite two countries with music, as a way of telling the story of his life, and his deep desire that we all come to see the power of music to cross language and cultural barriers and enable us to believe that there is so much more that unites us than divides us.

Books about books have their special magic about them; for books are gateways to our imagination, both through the stories they tell, and also through the stories they inspire, and The Book of Stolen Dreams has magic in every word. Rachel Klein has only known the land of Krasnia as a soulless place where children have been banished to their schools and homes. Fortunately for her, and her brother Robert, her parents have done everything they could to make life as fascinating as possible. But, they can’t avoid the reality of the outside world forever, and the rule of President Malstain soon overshadows their lives. With their mother dead and their father imprisoned, Rachel and Robert must do everything they can to protect The Book of Stolen Dreams. Thus begins an epic quest, one with books, magic and a brave girl at its centre. This is a tale which you can smell, taste and touch, such is richness of the writing, and I would not be surprised if there were classrooms of children who inhaled it in one sitting!

Book of the Month – The World Between Blinks: Rebellion of the Lost

Regular readers of this blog will know that in this section it is my habit to review an adult book that I have enjoyed reading over the past month. This month I am reviewing Rebellion of the Lost, the sequel to The World Between Blinks because it is by far and away the best book I have read this month, and after loving the first title, I have been waiting for this concluding instalment with bated breath. I see no reason to discriminate on the basis of intended audience, a well-written book is a well-written book, after all!

For those of you who are new to The World Between Blinks duology, it’s based on the premise that there is a world where lost things go; this is the world we briefly glimpse when we blink or when we see something strange out of the corner of our eye. In the first book, cousins Jake and Marisol discover the World Between Blinks by chance and embark on an epic quest – with the aid of Amelia Earhart, Harold Holt and Queen Nefertiti, amongst others – to both make it back to the real world, and reunite a distant relative with his long-lost love.

Rebellion of the Lost begins six months after Jake and Marisol have returned from the World Between Blinks, and as much as they are happy to be reunited with their families, they miss the people they met there and the amazing things they encountered. However, their adventures in that other world altered it in ways that not everyone is happy about, and the Administrator, the man who first brought order to the chaos of the World Between Blinks is determined to set things right. He, with the help of the Curators, start to enforce strict rules and boundaries, and to punish those who helped the cousins on their visit.

Soon, Jake and Marisol find themselves back in the World Between Blinks, where they must help those that once helped them, and try to repair the damage they’ve done.

Filled with adventure, humour, and the most intriguing of historical oddities, Rebellion of the Lost is a worthy follow up to The World Between Blinks. A fast-paced entertaining read for everyone, child and adult alike!

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