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Take a Break

This post should find most of you on holidays – hopefully ones where you actually get to have a break from work, and can find the time and space to recharge yourself.

Below you’ll find a range of different books to cover most of the ages and interests in your school, classroom or library.

Pink loves being pink. She loves standing out amongst her  friends, but when she plays hide and seek with them, she starts to see the downside of being different. Then, one afternoon the little dinosaurs get lost, and Pink proves that standing out has its benefits too! So, when her new siblings are born, she’s thrilled to discover that they too … are pink! Pink! is a wonderful picture book from children’s literature-legends Margaret Wild and Judith Rossell is so much fun that children will delight in the tale itself without realising that they are learning some important lessons about being proud of, and celebrating, your differences. Teachers’ notes available.

Elodee’s family is in need of a ‘fresh start’. Why they need that fresh start, no one in her family can quite bring themselves to talk about anymore. So, they’re moving to Eventown, where the neighbours are welcoming, the kids at school don’t tease you, and even the stars seem to shine brighter. But Elodee is struggling: with fitting in, with her deteriorating relationship with her twin sister, and with the niggling feeling that something is very very wrong in Eventown. Eventown tackles some huge issues: mental health, grief, and the importance of questioning the world around you – particularly the things that others tell you are ‘for your own good’. At the book’s heart is Elodee, who cooks to express her emotions, and who knows she can seem a bit weird, but is (or at least was) pretty happy with herself. This is an amazing middle-grade novel, which would make a wonderful core text for a class that enjoys exploring big issues.

Before we had a plague, we had fire and flood. We had begun to realise that the earth only has a limited amount of time before climate change becomes irreversible. However, while we understand the need for change, a whole other set of problems is what to change and how to do it. This is where books like Helping Our Planet become invaluable. By giving children ideas about how they can actively help – for example, through growing food, reducing waste, or buying locally made products – fear and anxiety about climate change can be managed, and they can feel a sense of ownership and pride in being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Read of the MonthFamily Trust

Some of you may remember my review of Pachinko (absolutely wonderful – heartbreaking and captivating) from a few months ago. Family Trust is not that book. There are several generations in this story, and problems created by one generation must be dealt with by others, but this is a little more biting satire than family epic.

The Huangs could best be described as mildly dysfunctional, in the way that many families are when parents get older, and children grow up and establish lives and homes of their own. The catalyst for this story is father Stanley’s cancer diagnosis, which forces his wife, ex-wife and children to confront just what it is to be part of a family, and the expectations they have of each other.

Current wife Mary is widely assumed to be a gold-digger, although just how much gold there is for the taking remains in question. Ex-wife Linda is both a product of her time and upbringing, as well as a fiercely independent woman. Son Fred is a banker who is rapidly finding himself out of his depth, both at work and in his personal life. And daughter Kate is attempting to have it all – husband, children, beautiful home and a high-flying tech career – and rapidly realising that not everyone in her life is holding up their side of the bargain.

This is not a story about hard won moral lessons on an individual level, but it is a penetrating look at wealth, its accumulation and the sometimes very unpleasant effects it can have on people and communities. Highly entertaining and sharply observed, this novel makes for great escapist reading.

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