Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday 23 August 2014

Shopping – is it still a childhood experience?

It has been sitting in the bargains basket for months – perfect in every way except for the markdown sticker. In John Burningham’s Shopping Basket (Red Fox), Stephen’s trip to the grocer becomes an encounter with marauding animals. Using his wits, he manages to outsmart them all and arrives home in time for tea.  Why doesn’t someone buy it?  Is shopping no longer an adventure?  Doesn’t anyone go shopping in person anymore?

Stories about shopping were a very important part of my children’s lives but I’ve struggled to find newer titles for our grandson. I can find:

Eric Hill’s Spot goes shopping (Warne) where Spot helps his mother at the supermarket.

Tracey Corderoy & Joe Berger Spells-A-Popping Granny’s Shopping (Nosy Crow).  Pandora likes life to be normal but Granny likes to magic things along, so their trip to the supermarket is anything but ordinary.

Anna Dewdney Llama Llama Shopping Drama (Hachette).  Llama Llama isn’t happy that Mama wants to do a little shopping so soon everything is flying out of the shopping cart.

If you know of other shopping titles suitable for a book loving two year old, please let me know.

Amazon.com (my comments – not endorsed by CBCA)
Often over the last four and a half years, I’ve had to defend myself against complaints of “exploitation of book buyers” and I’ve also learned that some people do not know the vastness of Amazon’s reach.  Recently, I’ve been bombarded by news articles featuring Amazon. This is an attempt to list some dot points in answer to those complaints   

Some will know that the company owns ABE Books www.abebooks.com  but did you know that Book Depository www.bookdepository.com  and Good Reads www.goodreads.com  are also owned by them?  www.salon.com/2013/10/23/how_amazon_and_goodreads_could_lose_their_best_readers/

Book Depository (and other online) purchases exploit Australia’s lack of First Class mail; under international postal union obligations Australia Post is forced to deliver overseas parcels less than 400gm at their own cost.

Recent issues of Publishers’ Weekly have been full of the as yet unresolved dispute between Amazon and Hachette.  The story appears to be that in an attempt to negotiate a bigger share of e-book royalties, Amazon instituted shipping delays of three to five weeks for the books of many Hachette authors, including J. K. Rowling, James Patterson and Douglas Preston.  There have been suggestions that if a publisher did not give Amazon what it wanted, some of its books might disappear from the site.  ”It was the equivalent of a physical store putting you back by the discounted gardening equipment, where no one will ever find you.”

The German Publishers’ Association filed a complaint with German Federal Antitrust Authority because it believes Amazon’s dominance in the market detracts from consumer choice as it eventually leads to fewer outlets selling books.

French lawmakers adopted a bill aimed at preventing Amazon and other online giants from offering free deliveries of discounted books, in a bid to support the country's small bookshops. nytimes.com/2014/07/10/opinion/pamela-druckerman-the-french-do-buy-books-real-books.html

Amazon hit back by charging customers just one centime (1.4 cents) for books dispatched to their homeswww.thelocal.fr/page/view/tag/Amazon 

And finally, distinguished children’s author Allan Ahlberg declined the inaugural Booktrust Best Book Awards‘ Lifetime Achievement Award, because it is sponsored by Amazon.


Monday 11 August 2014

Connections through reading

Well, here we are in the run up to Children's Book Week 2014, CBCA's premier celebration of the newest and best children's literature by Australian children's book creators.  'Connect to Reading' is a superb theme and led me to muse on how much my life has been enhanced by the fact that all my life I have been connected to reading and therefore connected to other readers.  Book discussion groups have been a part of my life since the early 1980s, when I joined a group of young Launceston mothers who, like me, felt a desperate need to reconnect with the world of big ideas, far beyond the nursery and the classroom.  I was a part of that group for twenty-five years and the basis of many of my enduring friendships are the shared memories of special books we read and discussed together.  Moving to the far north to Darwin, then Alice Springs, and then nine years later back to Tasmania and on to Bruny Island, the first thing I did after each move was to find a new book discussion group, to connect myself to my new community and environment.

How about considering organising a parent/child book discussion group for your school or local library?  This group would provide a time when parents and children could come together to share their thoughts about a book without the fear of being put down or the worry of their ideas being judged right or wrong. In a book discussion group children (and parents) learn to listen and are, in turn, listened to. Some of the best book discussion groups I have been involved with have had a wide age range across the group.  Parents and children might welcome the opportunity to discuss issues and controversial topics that emerge from their reading and are otherwise hard to talk about. Under the guise of discussing characters in a book, parents and children might be able to express their true feelings about issues that are concerning them, too. What better way is there to connect a parent and child than by a shared love of reading?

Jessie Mahjouri 

Monday 4 August 2014

Dinosaurs anyone?

Do you have a young person in your life who can never get enough information about dinosaurs? I certainly do.

Having spent a great deal of this year with Gabriel, I have developed a much more extensive knowledge of dinosaurs themselves and of the books available.  I know which ones I enjoy sharing and which ones make me inwardly groan when I realise that’s the one he wants to share this time.

So what do I like? And which ones does my 6 year old really like?
Let’s start with my choices.

The Big Book of Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon. (TickTock, 2013)
This includes questions and answers using language accessible for primary aged students. There’s information on discoveries, dinosaurs in movies, prehistoric periods and lots of fascinating snippets. It’s got a great layout, and lots of ‘white space’. It looks different with each turn of the page which encourages the young reader to return again and again. It includes glossary and index.

Everything You Need to Know about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures (Dorling Kindersley and the Smithsonian Institute, 2014)
The layout is similar to the book above, with a wide variety of text boxes and clear and interesting illustrations. The chapters look at themes rather than individual dinosaurs and meet the interest needs of the slightly older reader which is supported by a slightly smaller font.  It includes glossary and index.

Pawpawsaurus and Other Armored Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon (Dinosaur Find series published by Picture Window Books, 2008)
This is one of a great series of books about dinosaurs written for the slightly younger reader.  This one is about armoured dinosaurs. One of the features I like is the size comparison with a person but also animals today which have similar defences. The font is clear and large but though the language and sentence structure is simple it is not simplistic. There is a glossary, where to find more information in books and one web address (which is still active) and an index.

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland (Blue Apple, 2011)
I have mentioned this one before and it has maintained my interest over a long period. It’s the story of how the bones of a diplodocus got to the Smithsonian Museum, told in a “House that Jack Built” style which allows the young reader to interact.  It introduces palaeontology-type jobs as well as describing the journey of this giant fossil .

How do Dinosaurs …? By Jane Yolen (Scholastic, various years)
This is a great series of stories for younger readers. Each book introduces a few dinosaurs (well-known as well as lesser known) and their actions in answer to the question of the title. I really enjoy How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? But there are others I could happily write about too.

And my grandson’s recommendations?
The ones above are current favourites but also:

Dinosaurs on My Street by David West (Firefly, 2013)
Imagine dinosaurs wandering through city streets at the same as modern man and his machinery. Gabriel enjoys the juxtaposition of time, the occasional puns and the brief facts included. At the back of the book is a list of all 30 dinosaurs included and details about them.
Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff (I Can Read series. First published 1958 and in print ever since)
This is a great beginning reader, full of humour and quirky explanations of modern life. When Danny visits the museum and says “Wouldn’t it be nice to play with a dinosaur” he doesn’t expect the answer he got from the dinosaur who wants to play together. Also check out the other books in the series.

There’s a Diplodocus at the Door by Aleksei Bitskoff & Ruth Symons (QED Publishing, 2013) and other books in the same series.
This series aimed at pre-schoolers imagines 4 dinosaurs in modern settings and how they would cope with life. Through this imaginative journey facts about the dinosaur are given and what the impact would be on our current environment. The other books are about a tyrannosaurus rex, stegosaurus and triceratops.

Of course, the list could be considerably longer than this. I have restrained myself so that I don’t wear out my welcome. What are your young person’s favourites? Please let us know.

Maureen Mann