Archive for the ‘Reading the World Challenge 2009’ Category

Reading the World Challenge 2009 – The End!

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

I realise that the last update I gave of our progress in the PaperTigers Reading the World Challenge 2009 was just beyond the half-way point – however, the deadline was over a month ago now, at the end of July, so I thought I’d better round it off!

For our last three books we read together:

Toad Away by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin, 2004). All about a brave cane toad wanting to make friends with the human race and traveling with two cousins to the Amazon to find out the secret of their ancestors as to how to achieve this… My two loved this and laughed uproariously at the rather revolting antics that cane toads are wont to get up to. I have to admit that I would probably have encouraged them to read this one on their own if I’d realised at the outset what it was going to be like – but actually, it was good to be a part of something that so appealed to their typical-boy sense of humor…

Super Jack by Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Cathy Wilcox (Angus & Robertson, 2003). The sequel to I Am Jack, this story focuses on Jack’s relationship with his family, especially the newly-introduced son of Rob, his Mum’s boy-friend. A family holiday intended to help everyone get to know each other is certainly eventful before the desired outcome is achieved… This is to be recommended to older children who may be trying to make sense of complex family relationships in their own lives.

Tom Crean’s Rabbit: A True Story from Scott’s Last Voyage by Meredith Hooper, illustrated by Bert Kitchen (Frances Lincoln, 2005). A very special, true story which is a great way to introduce early Antarctic exploration to young children – you can read a review from Create Readers here. This had the added kudos for my children of being a story which their grandad, who spent a year in the Antarctic quite a long time ago now, did not know…

Older Brother rounded off his Book Challenge with (more…)

August Reading Challenge

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Last week Black-Eyed Susan had a bit of a rant and threw down the gauntlet to “teen bloggers and those who blog for teens”. Read her post and you’ll understand why. And then consider taking up the challenge:

I’m making a 30-day challenge here. From now until August 30th, how many multicultural books will you read and review on your blog? Don’t know what to read or how to make this a success? Join us for CORA Diversity Roll Call and check out books reviewed for the Diversity Rocks! Challenge.

We’ve been incorporating the Diversity Rocks! Challenge into our reading for the PaperTigers Reading the World Challenge, and will be continuing with it until the end of the year… we’ll see how we do in August too.

If you’re stuck for ideas, look no further than Susan’s fantastic Unofficial List of Great YA Books by or About Women of Color.

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Reading the World Challenge 2009 – Book Number Four (x3!)

Monday, July 6th, 2009

We are cracking on and are on target to have completed our PaperTigers Reading Challenge 2009 by the end of July, though it will be tight!

For our European readaloud, we have just finished the Swiss classic Heidi by Joanna Spyri. It has lost none of its charm over the years and we delighted in the well-rounded characters – the non-saccharine goodness of Heidi herself, Peter’s spikiness and jealousy, Grandfather’s transformation from a surly recluse, even the goats! This is not a book that either of the boys would have picked up on their own to read and is just another example of the breadth of literature that children are happy to absorb when it is read aloud to them. For an interesting take on Heidi, see this post from Hungry For (mostly Japanese) Words.

Little Brother (8) has also journeyed into Europe but a little further East, with Sheep Don’t Go to School, a collection of children’s poetry from Eastern Europe, edited by Andrew Fusek Peters and illustrated by Markéta Prachatická (Bloodaxe Books, 1999). He spent a month dipping in and out of this book – and one rather gruesome poem we read aloud together with great relish! Here’s what he has to say:

Some of the poems are funny, some are plain weird, and some are to carry on and on until you’re bored, like:

A doggy stole a sausage from the big bad butcher [...]
And on the doggy’s gravestone they wrote this little tale:
A doggy stole a sausage…etc etc! ad infinitum!

I’ve recited that one over and over and now my family is begging me to stop!

Too right!!! Yes, he’s definitely got a lot of enjoyment and glee out of that book!

Older Brother (10), in the meantime, headed to the other side of the world and plunged into the Amazonian rainforest with (more…)

Reading the World Challenge 2009 – Book Number Three (x3!)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Here we are with Book Number 3 in our PaperTigers Reading the World Challenge 2009 – and there are still a few weeks to go for you to join in, if you haven’t got going yet…

Together we read Scott O’ Dell‘s Island of the Blue Dolphins (first published in 1960 and a Newbery Medal winner). It was my well-thumbed copy from when I was a child and I was perhaps being a bit self-indulgent in sticking it under the boys’ noses – but my concerns that the protagonist is a girl were unfounded. They loved it. It is, after all, an incredible story of survival, steeped in tragedy, love and hope – and mind-boggling for them (and indeed, everyone) to take on board that the essentials of the story are true. It’s also beautifully written and is a joy to read aloud.

Older Brother (10 1/2) enjoyed Harry the Hairy-Nosed Wombat & Other Australian Animal Tales, by Jill Morris, illustrated by Tina Wilson (Greater Glider, 2003): you can read an on-line review here and here’s what Older Brother had to say:

The stories were very active and full of adventure. It was fun reading about Australian animals because they live in very different habitats from us and I like them. The story about Harry was my favourite and I really liked “Bobuck the Mountain Possum”. I thought it was really interesting that koalas are sometimes called kolas by Australian Aborigines, which means “no drink”.

Little Brother (8) revelled in Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey (Voyager Books, Harcourt, 2008) – I should perhaps say that for someone who loves both Natural History and playing with words, this was a wonderful book – here are his own words:

The poems are about a penguin family – and about the fun and the predators and what a penguin’s great thrill would be – two months at sea because the fish swim straight into their mouths:

“Several shrimp swimming south
Are approaching my mouth -
So I’ll just open wide
And invite them inside.
Yes, two months’ vacation
Is a penguinish wish.
I’ve got nothing to do
But slurp squadrons of fish.”

I liked the words in the poems and Mummy liked the Antarctic Anthem poem – me too but “Belly Sliding” is my favourite.

Reading the World Challenge 2009 – Book Number Two (x3!)

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Yikes, I’m falling a bit behind on reporting back on this year’s PaperTigers’ Reading the World Book Challenge – but we have been cracking on so I hope I’ll be back in a week or so with Book #3. How are you all doing out there? For those of you who haven’t picked up on it, or need reminding, check out my initial post here - there’s still plenty of time to join in…

In the meantime, here’s what we’ve read for our books #2:

Together we read Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia by Sally Pomme Clayton and illustrated by Sophie Herxheimer (Frances Lincoln, 2006). We loved it! Sally Pomme Clayton is a performance storyteller as well as a writer. Her storyteller voice makes these tales a joy to read aloud and she unobtrusively inserts cultural details, which deepen understanding, as well as some of her own experiences while gathering the stories on her travels through Central Asia, most notably in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. We learned the legend of how felt was invented; added to our growing collection of beautiful creation stories; marvelled at magic; revelled in riddles; and sought out the mythical storyteller whose presence wove itself through the different stories. Herxheimer’s beautiful illustrations help to convey the magic and even after we had listened to the story we had to go over each one again with attention fixed on the pictures.

Older Brother, 10 1/2, read Ice Trap! Shackleton’s Incredible Expedition by Meredith Hooper, illustrated by M. P. Robertson (Frances Lincoln, 2000) (and I think it’s published in the US as The Endurance: Shackleton’s Perilous Expedition in Antartica by Abbeville Kids, 2001). Here’s what he says about it:

I enjoyed this book a lot because of the excitement. In 1914 Shackleton set sail to Antarctica as he wanted to be the first person to walk all the way across the Antarctic Peninsula but his ship was caught in pack ice. Then their ship was crushed by the ice. They sailed in lifeboats to Elephant Island, which was uninhabited, then Shackleton took five men in a lifeboat. They wanted to sail to South Georgia but in sight of the cliffs they got caught in a hurricane, which blew them to the wrong side of the island, so they had to climb over mountains to reach the town. Then eventually everyone was rescued by a steam boat.

It was very exciting because a lot of unexpected things happened and also it’s true, which makes it even more exciting because it’s about Man against Earth and people belong to Earth. And Earth/Nature is stronger than Man and actually, they couldn’t control the ice.

I think they were brave. It was nearly the first time anyone had tried to get there. And there was a stowaway on board, which made it harder for them to survive because there wasn’t enough food. Not a single person died in two years. I’ve read this book three times – once my Grandad read it to us. That was special because he spent a year in Antarctica a long time ago.

Little Brother, 8, read Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter (new edition, Knopf Books, 2008):

Peg Leg Joe is a sailor with a missing leg and he sings a song which will help lead slaves to freedom. It’s called “Follow the Drinking Gourd” – the Drinking Gourd is a constellation which we call the Plough and in America it’s called the Big Dipper and it’s part of the Great Bear. It points to the Pole Star so it always points North. There’s a slave who is about to be sold the next day away from his wife and children who are in slavery as well. That night they all follow the Drinking Gourd. It’s not an easy journey and in the pictures there are some Wanted! posters of them. Then they meet Peg Leg Joe at a river in a boat. He rows them across the river in his boat and then he goes back to collect some more slaves who have also followed the Drinking Gourd, leaving the family at a trail he calls the Underground Railway. It’s a trail of houses with safe places to hide. They hide and rest in the day and move at night so they can follow the constellation and also so they can’t be found so easily. They make it to safety and freedom.

This really happened. I knew that there were people who used to be slaves but I never knew they tore families apart. I’m glad that some people escaped to freedom but slavery is wrong and everyone should have the right to be free.

Reading the World Challenge 2009 – Book Number One (x3!)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

It seems to have taken a while to get this year’s PaperTigers Round the World Reading Challenge off the ground in our house – but we’re flying now! We’re following a similar pattern to last year: a readaloud and the boys each reading their own choices…

The book we all read together was Planting the Trees of Kenya, which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago…

Older Brother, 10½, has read The Cat who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth and illustrated by Raoul Vitale (Aladdin Paperbacks, 2008). First published in 1930, this is a short, beautifully written fable which centres around the Buddhist legend that the Buddha blessed all animals except the cat because a certain cat “was not overcome with awe”. It was a Newberry winner and was discussed recently, as it happens, in a fascinating post on The Newberry Project blog, which is where my quotation above comes from. The story certainly worked its charm on Older Brother:

It’s about an artist in Japan and his housekeeper bought a cat instead of their food with their money. They were very poor so the artist was not happy with her at first but then after a while he was able to start selling paintings. Then a priest came to his house and ordered a picture of the Buddha’s tomb and all the animals he blessed. He blessed every animal except the cat so the artist did not draw the cat at first – but his cat always looked upset that there wasn’t a cat in the painting so the last thing he did was paint a cat in it… and I’m not going to tell you what happened but there was a miracle.

It is actually a beautiful story. You know, there was a shelf in the artist’s room and the cat sat and looked at a special statue of the Buddha belonging to the artist and they both prayed in front of it. I like art and I thought that I was actually standing there watching it happening (that happens to me quite a lot in books, by the way – sometimes I think I’m the main character, sometimes I’m up in a tree watching).

And Little Brother, just turned 8, read Grandpa’s Indian Summer, the second of Jamila Gavin’s three Grandpa Chatterji books (Egmont, 2006 – and you can read PaperTigers’ full review here):

I loved this book. Especially the bit where Sanjay eats all the cakes and then he gets scared because all the ants come and he jumps onto the metal chest with all the cakes in. Everyone’s looking for him. And he’s got two cakes in his hands and he eventually gets found. Then Grandpa Chatterji gets into trouble because he’d been eating cakes and Sanjay found him and wanted to have some too, so it’s all Grandpa Chatterji’s fault!

I really liked the last page. The last sentence was the best!

It made me want to go to India because it’s a wonderful, colourful place. And I also like peacocks, although there aren’t any in the book. I also want to play cricket – and that is in the book!

Do let us know how you are getting on with our Reading the World Challenge – or if you haven’t started yet, here’s what it’s all about – there’s still plenty of time…