Shaun Tan’s new book The Singing Bones.

I have only just bought a copy of Shaun Tan’s new book, The Singing Bones. It is a change in style from the previous publications he has been involved in. The style of the illustrations are very Tan but the medium in which they were created is new. They are quite amazing but I will need to have more time to fully grasp what he has created as he tried to encapsulate the gist of each fairytale. As always the detail and power of his deceptively simple images is amazing. As I looked at them some seem familiar, appearing to be inspired by character drawings in his earlier publications, and others completely new and powerful in their strangeness. I am never disappointed with Shaun Tan’s works, he never ceases to inspire and challenge me as a reader.

The singing bones - Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan was approached to illustrate the German edition of a new Philip Pullman book. On his website Shaun explains how he became involved in the publication. It is interesting to read about how he came to the decision to create the illustrations for the book. It is a collection of many classic fairy tales re-told/envisioned by Philip Pullman with the title Grimms Märchen.

In the end there were more illustrations than were needed and so these were used to illustrate The Singing Bones.  Jack Zipes has written some short but potent interpretations of the fairytales to accompany the images.

There are other versions of this collection of classic fairytales re-told/envisioned by Philip Pullman under the title  Grimm Tales: For Young and Old but these are not illustrated with Shaun Tan’s wonderful figures. 

Review: Ranger’s Apprentice prequel. The Tournament at Gorlan

I have enjoyed John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice books from the start. It is a great series that the boys at my school really enjoy. I was very pleased to see that he has revisited this realm and to read more about the early days of some old friends.

An interview with John Flanagan is below and he talks about more ideas for novels.

Ranger’s Apprentice The Early Years 1: The Tournament at GorlanRanger’s Apprentice The Early Years 1: The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a prequel to Ranger’s Apprentice series. It introduces young Rangers Halt and Crowley as they are wandering through the country after being dismissed from their jobs. They begin to develop a plan to thwart the contrivances of the sinister Baron Morgarath, who is disbanding the Rangers as part of a plan to take the throne. Baron Morgarath is a powerful and popular nobleman in Araluen and a formidable warrior. He is also a treacherous and ambitious tyrant, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The realm is in trouble.
Using subterfuge, Morgarath has King Oswald held as a prisoner in his castle and the rightful heir, Prince Duncan, is becoming more and more discredited as he seems to be engaged in criminal and thuggish behaviour in the North. This is not the Prince that Cowley knows and respects. Halt and Crowley decide seek out other former Rangers and hatch a plan to get to the bottom of the rumours about Prince Duncan, expose the nefarious dealings that Morgarath has been involved in and restore the true Rangers to their rightful places.
This book re-captured the spirit of the original Ranger’s Apprentice series and also filled in a lot of back-story about Halt, Cowley and Duncan as well as a young Baron Arald.
There was humour, especially in the witty banter between Halt and Crowley, and the action at the tournament towards the end of book was exciting enough for any adventure lover.
Another great addition to our library and it has already been borrowed and read by quite a few students, both younger and older ones.
View all my reviews

Ranger’s Apprentice The Early Years. Book 1 The Tournament at Gorlan

The Ranger’s Apprentce series has been a big hit at our school. many boys can’t wait to get their hands on the latest edition so I am looking forwarc to going home and reading my new title on my kindle.

The book trailer link was sent to me today that serves to pique my interest.

We have heard about how popular John Flanagan’s series is oerseas so I found this video interesting as well. This was published on YouTube on 13 Sep 2015. John Flanagan’s editor and publisher, Zoe, kept a video diary of her trip to the Netherlands with John to be guests of honour at Ranger’s Apprentice Day. WARNING: video contains juicy information that fans will love.

YA book review. Head of the River by Pip Harry

Head of the River

Head of the River by Pip Harry

Head of the River is not simply a novel about sport. It is about so much more. It is ultimately about friendship, growing up, relationships, identity, insecurities and anxieties when you are becoming an adult and family bonds. Sport is the mechanism but it is not an “issues” book.

It is an interesting read, looking at the pressures placed on young people the world of elite school sport. Money and prestige play a big part in this rather insular world where winning seems all-consuming.

This novel tells the story of Cristian and Leni Posescu who are twins on rowing scholarships. There are high expectations that they will perform well, partly because their parents are both medal winning Olympians and partly because they must maintain high performances to stay at the school. The pressure to do well and win the Head of the River eights, in both boys and girls sections, place almost unbearable pressures on both them and others in their circle.

The narrative unfolds with the voices of Cristian and Leni in alternating chapters as they explain their struggles. Each is trying create a balance in their lives whilst finding a place for study, working out their relationships as well as keeping up with the rigorous training regime in preparation for the final race.  Each finds out that not everything can be achieved the way they want it to.

At the end of the novel, the love they have within their family, and the support they give to each other, leaves the reader with a positive impression of life beyond school.

An interview with the author about this books can be found at…

There is a review here and here.

Teachers notes can be found here for encouraging further discussion.

This book raises some real-world issues that younger athletes may experience when they seek to excel in a sport. The boys are exposed to the use of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs. The consequences of this use comes to light in a way that introduces some topical questions about sporting culture and the detection of drug cheats as well as the pressure placed on young athletes to perform at elite levels

Book trailer for the novel below.

My Gallipoli: Ruth Starke adds another great book to the ANZAC stories

My Gallipoli

My Gallipoli by Ruth Starke, illustrator Robert Hannaford
This very poignant picture book is the second picture book centered around the Gallipoli story that Ruth Starke has  written. The first being An ANZAC Tale (2013) with Greg Holfeld as the illustrator. This book was a CBCA notable book for that year.

This book looks at the history of Gallipoli, from the months immediately before the landing at Anzac Cove in April 1915, through to the Allied retreat and the aftermath of the First World War, and beyond to the present day, where people make pilgrimages to this historic campaign site and take part in increasingly large commemoration ceremonies.

These are rich stories, of courage, valour, bravery, fatalism, despair and loss, told from many different perspectives. There are direct accounts from real participants such as the Australian war correspondent C.E.W. Bean, Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), the weary Chaplain Bill McKenzie who is trying to give the dead a decent burial, Anzac war scout Harry Freame, sniper Billy Sing and Lieutenant Cyril Hughes, a Gallipoli veteran who was with the Graves Registration Unit, part of the Imperial War Graves Commission.
These stories are intermingled with factually based descriptions from other characters including the exhausted nurse treating wounded soldiers aboard HMS Gascon on the night of 25 April, a young indigenous soldier who was more equal in Gallipoli than at home, a mother seeing her wounded son disembark and realising the extent of his injuries for the first time, and an old Turkish man visiting his brother’s grave at Gallipoli 70 years after his death.
Alongside the Australian stories are stories from participants from the different nationalities who were also part of this campaign. There is the story from a young Turkish shepherd recruited to fight for his country, one from a British seaman who towed the first boats carrying soldiers onto the shores of Anzac Cove in the dawn of 25 April, and stories of the Ghurkas, Afghans and Sikhs who fought in the British Indian Army as well as stories from the New Zealand contingent, soldiers from the Auckland and the Wellington Battalions who took part in the battle of Chunuk Bair.
The final story is that of a young woman visiting the Lone Pine Cemetery, quietly contemplating the Gallipoli campaign and the loss of young lives. It is part of a war, now 100 years ago, that changed how our nation saw itself.
The illustrator, Robert Hannaford, captures the characters and the mood of each story as well as the surrounding landscape.
There is also short commentary about each of the stories in the notes section at the back of the book.

View all my reviews

The beach they called Gallipoli by Jackie French

How can we ever imagine or begin to understand what it was like at Gallipoli in 1915? The beach they called GallipoliThe beach they called Gallipoli by Jackie French  Another beautiful and poignant story about Gallipoli. Many books have been written and lately there have been some exceptional picture books that try to help us understand. One that I reviewed last year was One minutes silence by David Metzenthen and Michael Camilleri The latest book that I have read is The Beach They Called Gallipoli. This is a book about Gallipoli, the place, and what happened on the Gallipoli Beach from April to December 1915. In this powerful book and by using place as a focus the author, Jackie French, can encompass a range of perspectives about different peoples, those who fought and those who defended. Jackie French and Bruce Whatley bring the Gallipoli campaign to life with pages of sparse, but rhythmic, text and collages of real life imagery, created from old photographs, sketches, diagrams, maps, letters, postcards, symbols and more. The colours are muted and the collages create hauntingly sad images, which are not overly graphic, but do feature many fallen soldiers. It is a picture book for older readers and not designed for young children. The focus reiterates the futility of war. The blood that was shed at Gallipoli merges into other stories of battles where there are no winners or losers just people caught up in events of the times.

  • The Beach They Called Gallipoli: Jackie French and Bruce Whatley in conversation here
  • Jackie French and Bruce Whatley talk about their research for Inside History here
  • Harper Collins Teacher Notes here 

View all my reviews

Useful links

Feedback by ransomtech, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  ransomtech 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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