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Time for Term 1

Last month’s blog started a new calendar year, and this blog sees most of Australia starting their first full school week of the year. I always find this time of year full of hope and excitement; hope for what a new year can bring, and excitement about all the possibilities. Despite the events of the past 12 months, I’m really pleased to say that this feeling has returned, and my greatest wish for all of you is that you too feel that pleasurable frisson of anticipation that the start of a new school year can bring.

For many of us, children and adults, 2020 was the year of the couch potato, and now some of us may be trying to wean ourselves off some bad habits that developed during lockdown and stay-at-home periods. If the children in your life belong in this camp, then The Couch Potato may be of assistance. This delightful picture book is by the duo behind The Good Egg and The Bad Seed, and features Couch Potato, a young potato who spends a lot of time on his couch and engages with the world entirely through screen. When the power goes out, Couch Potato decides to head outside and is amazed at what he finds. This is a whimsical, humorous look at a subject that can be challenging for many.

Sophie Cleverly, the author of the incredibly popular Scarlet and Ivy books, is back with a new series, The Violet Veil Mysteries. The first in the series, A Case of Grave Danger, introduces us to the wonderful Violet, the daughter of an undertaker in Victorian England. However, Violet is no meek and mild young woman; she is inquisitive and adventurous, and longs to become apprenticed to her father. One night, in the graveyard (her habitual playground), Violet and her dog, Bones, meet a young man — a young man that was most decidedly DEAD the last time she saw him. Finally, Violet has an outlet for her intelligence and curiosity; there’s a mystery to solve!

So much of how we know ourselves has to do with what we say and how we express ourselves. This is particularly the case for Ana, a 16-year-old from Argentina and the narrator of Love in English, because she is a poet; a master of her language. She’s sick of being told how lucky she is that her family has had the chance to move to the USA, because it doesn’t feel so lucky; she doesn’t have any friends, she doesn’t understand the unwritten rules of her high school and, most of all, she doesn’t speak the language. She doesn’t understand what people ask of her, and neither do we. As readers, we are only given as much information as Ana, and thus for those of us who have never had to live in a language not their own, we are given some insight into just how confusing, frustrating and shameful it can be. Luckily for Ana, as she becomes more confident in English, she also comes to realise that some things are universal, things like love …

Read of the Month – Book Lover

Every now and then I want to read a book that is pure escapism; a book that is entertaining and well written, but not hugely challenging. Given how busy and challenged we are in other parts of our lives at this time of year, I imagine that many of you are looking for an escapist book as well. If so, Book Lover may be just what you’re after.

Dora lives a deeply literary life — she was even named after a writer (Eudora Welty) — so when life gets too overwhelming, too crazy, too sad, too, too … anything, what better to do than to retreat into books? Fill up the bath, add some bubble bath, turn on some jazz and grab a hefty tome — the answer to all your problems! Dora even finds that books help her understand people, that they offer insight into the thoughts and feelings of people and how they tick. Yes, even she admits she’s a snob.

When a painful separation, a dwindling trust fund and a total lack of purpose mean that even Dora realises it’s time to face reality (as long as it’s tempered with bouts of book bingeing!), she thinks she can get a handle on life pretty quickly. Only, of course, real life isn’t just like books, and people aren’t characters, so sometimes they behave in out-of-character illogical ways. Eventually, Dora comes to realise that it’s time to write her own story (sorry, not sorry!).

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