As this blog post comes to you the Tuesday after Easter, I hope that you’re all feeling relaxed and are suitably full of chocolate and good food. Hopefully Term 1 ended well for you and your students and you feel proud of what everyone, including you, has achieved over the past 10 weeks.
This month is the first of several where there are just so many amazing books, I’m going to have trouble covering them all in suitable depth! If you don’t already subscribe to our newsletters (we currently send 2 a month) please make sure you sign up now — there’s a form at the bottom of the page, so make sure you don’t miss out!
Having taught in high schools for 12 years, for nearly eight of those in all boys’ schools, I am very aware of just what kind of conundrums teenage boys can find themselves in, more due to carelessness than malice. In The True Colour of a Little White Lie, Gabriel Bergmoser introduces us to Nelson, a 14-year-old who has the opportunity to reinvent himself as cool, sophisticated and sporty when his parents take over the running of the restaurant at one the ski lodges near where they live. Left to his own devices, Nelson manages to learn new skills, make new friends, and find himself in a love triangle everyone but him can see coming. While genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (and hide-behind-your-hands cringeworthy), this novel also tackles topics like honesty, integrity and consideration. A great tool to get some important conversations started.
This month we’re releasing so many amazing graphic novels that there is no way can I share all of them with you, but one I did want to bring to your attention is Jo: An Adaptation of Little Women (Sort Of). The loose premise of this story is Little Women, but set today. Jo’s father is in the military, serving overseas, and her mother is a nurse, working long hours. Like the original, Jo’s sisters, and her own attempts to find a place for herself in the world, are important parts of the story. Jo has joined the school newspaper in an attempt to get serious about her writing. She’s made a great friend in the boy next door, Laurie. However, when he expresses feelings for her, Jo realises that not only does she not return those feelings, she might not like boys at all.
Another graphic novel I’d love to highlight is the first in a new series called Arlo and Pips. King of the Birds introduces us to Arlo, a crow with a very big brain and an over-inflated sense of his own importance, and Pips, his best friend who excels at bringing Arlo back to earth. The bold colours, easy-to-read illustration style and the very believable (and incredibly funny) interactions between the two friends will engage children as they embark on their reading journey. There are also fascinating bird facts thrown in for good measure. Classroom resources are available.
Read of the Month – This Has Been Absolutely Lovely
After her father’s funeral, Annie finds herself sinking into a chair and smiling with relief. She loved her father, but he had been very ill, and after 35 years of worrying about everyone else, she delights in the prospect of pleasing herself and pursuing her own dreams. Molly, Annie’s youngest daughter, is very pregnant and not at all sure she’s ready to be a mother. One thing she knows is that her mother will be around to help her as she embarks on motherhood – she hasn’t spoken to her mother about it, but that’s what mothers are for, aren’t they?
On the one hand, This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a humorous and clear-eyed look at the shifting roles and expectations of baby boomers and millennials, particularly in the way that so much expectation goes unspoken and causes a lot of confusion and resentment. On the other hand, this story is about the universal experiences of children and parents coming to understand and know each other as real people — people who are not always very nice – and the sometimes uncomfortable shifts in relationships this brings.
Across the course of the novel secrets are revealed, plans unravel and dreams alter course. Not everyone gets what they want, but that’s life! A wonderful, entertaining read that explores some big topics with wit and humour.