There goes the first half of the year!

And, before you know it, it’s Term 3! Having been a secondary teacher in NSW, just the thought of Term 3 makes me feel tense. Hopefully you’re feeling on top of things and all set for a great term.

This month I wanted to highlight a few books that may have slipped under your radar.

The first book is My Name is Not Peaseblossom – how amazing is that cover?! As you will have picked up on, this is a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Pete, previously known as Peaseblossom, is fed up with the shenanigans of Titania and Oberon, and their insistence on meddling in the love affairs of humans. He’s got his own problems on the romance front, and then there’s the fact he dares to dream of a life of his own choosing, rather than always doing what he’s told. Filled with teenage angst and fantastic creatures, this book would be a brilliant introduction or extension to Shakespeare. Teacher’s notes are available.

Depending on the age of the children you teach, Goodnight Little Tough Guy could be a brilliant introduction to poetic techniques, a lovely way to settle them down for quiet time, or a beautiful way to look at the multi-modality of picture books. The lovely use of techniques such as imagery, alliteration and rhetorical questions gives the text of this book a great rhythm, which makes it wonderful to read aloud, as well as giving students plenty to study. The illustrations portray super tough guys – a gender neutral term as far as this book is concerned – falling asleep in the middle of super tough pursuits like building (Lego), driving (toy) trucks and (play) wrestling. A fantastic book for all the tough boys and girls!

The one topic I have consistently been asked about at conferences are books on mental health for children. Sarah Edelman is a highly regarded psychologist and author. She is one of the authors of Good Thinking: A Teenagers’ Guide to Managing Stress and Emotions Using CBT. While this book was first released a couple of years ago, you may find it a valuable resource for yourself, or a good inclusion for your school library. Edelman has a new book out this month, No Worries: A Guide to Managing Anxiety and Worry Using CBT. This book offers practical advice and exercises on managing and overcoming anxiety and worry. For those of you dealing with older children – either at school, in the library, or at home – this book may be another useful resource. It may even be a helpful book to have in the staff room.

Hopefully one or other of these books can plug a hole for you or your classes.

Given that so many of you love to read for your own enjoyment, I thought I’d start passing on recommendations for something I’ve read every month. Below you’ll find my first ‘Read of the Month’.

Read of the Month – Some of my favourite memories from childhood are spending entire winter weekends wrapped in a sleeping bag munching apples, while devouring my mother’s collection of Agatha Christie novels. This was the start of my life-long love affair with crime fiction – to this day Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favourite books.

So, it’s surprising that I’d never come across Karin Slaughter until I was given a copy of her latest book, The Last Widow, a couple of weeks ago. This was a total rip-roarer of a book: a spirited heroine; dedicated but flawed crime-fighters; a devastating plot to bring down the government; a bit of romance; and some cute dogs! All this with some insightful social and political commentary. What can I say? I loved it so much I immediately got hold of Slaughter’s first novel so I could read them all!

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