It’s very exciting that this blog finds most of us in the lead-up to both the Easter long-weekend and the school holidays, while others are already on a break. I hope that you’ve managed to weather the storm of Term 1, and have something relaxing planned for at least some of the holidays. If you’re in need of inspiration for books to keep your students busy for those final few days of term, look no further!
Many of you will be familiar with Joanna Ho’s work from her stunning picture books, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Eyes That Speak to the Stars. While the illustration style of One Day is quite different to Ho’s previous books, it’s no less stunning or vibrant. This beautiful book has a mother talking to her small son about all the amazing things, both good and bad, he will encounter “one day”. She hopes these challenges will help him become a kind and empathetic person with his own dreams. As well as making for a wonderful read-aloud story, there is also much to discuss here in both literary and visual techniques.
Mulga Bill’s Bicycle is a classic in many ways; the poem by Banjo Paterson has been an Australian favourite for more than 100 years, but this illustrated edition of the poem will be familiar to many of us from our childhoods and celebrates 50 years this year. Indeed, reading it today brought back very fond memories of my class reading the book together in primary school. The wonderful rhythm, rhyme and humour typical of Paterson is amply evident in this tale of Mulga Bill, who is very happy to sing his own praises, humbled by an out-of-control bicycle. Deborah and Kilmeny Niland’s illustrations help emphasise the humour of Mulga Bill and his death-defying ride down the hill to Dead Man’s Creek. A lot of fun for a new generation to discover.
New Zealand-based graphic novelist, Chelsey Furedi, poses some timely moral dilemmas in Project Nought. One afternoon in New Zealand, 1996, teenager Ren Mittal hops on a bus to visit a friend. When the bus stops suddenly, Ren hits his head and wakes up… in 2122. He has become a “subject” brought from an earlier time so that students can learn about the past from people who’ve lived it. But no one has asked Ren, or the other 49 New Zealanders brought from 1996, if this is what they want. It quickly becomes apparent that the subjects don’t have the same freedom as their student guides, and Ren is not reassured when he’s told that after five months his memory will be wiped and he’ll be returned to his own time. Can you really trust a company that wields such enormous power? And what if Ren doesn’t want to forget the five months he’s spent in 2122, or what he’s come to understand about himself? This brilliantly constructed graphic novel will keep teenagers on the edge of their seats as twist after twist is revealed. Furedi’s skilful use of visual techniques helps establish different time periods as well as aiding in the tension and intrigue as the book goes on.