Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Visits Santa by Skye Davidson, illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky

NJ1828-ETP-Archibald-Santa-book-cover-300x240.jpgTitle: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Visits Santa

Author: Skye Davidson, illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky

Genre: Picture books, children’s books, Christmas stories

Publisher: Elephant Tree Publishing

Published: December 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 30

Price: $20.00

Synopsis: Archibald is the naughtiest elf in the whole wide world, who loves nothing more than doing extremely mischievous things, all with very good intentions. Let him help you discover new worlds and ideas, as you follow him on one of his many exciting adventures.

~*~

Living in Bland Land is very boring for Archibald, a young elf who always seems to be getting into trouble. even though his cheeky deeds are always done with the best intentions. One day he discovers that a new shop will be opening in town – a very exciting shop for Bland Land – a toy shop, and it’s opening on Christmas Eve. When the zookeeper from the previous book spies Archibald peeking in the windows, he warns him against naughty deeds. But poor Archibald can’t help it – his heart is in the right place, but his execution always lands him in trouble.

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After meeting two homeless girls, Archibald hatches a plan to help them with Santa – a very good deed where he is not as naughty as everyone thinks. But will Archibald’s plan work?

The second in the series, kindly sent to me by Elephant Tree Publishing, is just as charming as the first, and it is quite a timely arrival as I am trying to do some Christmas reading and viewing in the lead up to the big day. Adding this to the series is absolutely lovely and makes for excellent Christmas Eve reading alongside classics such as The Night Before Christmas.

In this story, Archibald isn’t as naughty as he is in the first, though this is referred to, tying the series together neatly and tidily for children, and any readers who have read the first book but who also might be picking up the series for the first time with this book – one image from the previous book appears in this one, which makes those bonds and ties stronger and keeps them relevant for readers.

I am in love with Archibald and his adventures, and his Christmas one is full of heart, and is very touching – he uses his cheekiness for good this time – something very good and through these stories, shows children how they can take care of each other and the world around them in a fun, educational way – with a touch of magic from an elf!

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Clementine Rose and the Bake Off Dilemma (#14) by Jacqueline Harvey

clementine rose 14.jpgTitle: Clementine Rose and the Bake Off Dilemma (#14)

Author: Jacqueline Harvey

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Published: 3rd December 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 145

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Clementine Rose is bursting with plans for the school holidays! But with the announcement that a new cooking show will be filmed in the village, everything changes. While Clementine is disappointed that her activities have been cancelled, she soon has an idea and takes to the kitchen in a baking frenzy. If only her mother wasn’t feeling so sick and could help out when things turn sticky.

Everyone wants to be a part of the show – especially Mrs Bottomley! – and it doesn’t take long before temperatures are running high. With the main event being held at Penberthy House, Clementine has the inside scoop and spies some surprising behaviour from the contestants. Will she uncover a secret? And will the show be a flop, or a scrumptious success?

~*~

Six-year-old Clementine Rose lives with her mother, step-father, step-bother, aunt and grandparents at Penberthy House. It’s school holidays, and Clementine has all kinds of plans to have lots of fun. But her family home, Penberthy Hall, has been chosen to host the Great Village Bake Off – and all Clementine’s activities are put off. That is, until she decides to participate in the bake-off. Disheartened to find out she is too young, Clementine convinces those in charge to run a mini junior bake-off as well, and she sets about finding the perfect cake. If only her mother wasn’t so sick. But then Clementine and her brother stumble across nefarious activities and goings on with at least one bake-off contestant after they notice all the other contestants’ bakes are always going wrong – but who – or what is behind it and why? It is up to Clementine and Will to find out – and to stop cheating in the junior bake-off as well!

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I came to Jacqueline Harvey earlier this year with Kensy and Max – and thoroughly enjoyed the first two in that series and am keen for the next ones when they come out – hopefully soon. But this was my first adventure with Clementine Rose, a series aimed at younger readers who are just starting to read alone, and gain confidence in their reading abilities. This is book fourteen in the series, and I found it utterly charming. Clementine is a delightful little girl, who partakes in activities such as baking and ballet, but shows a determination to do things on her own and with her brother, like investigating the strange goings on at the bake-off, and uncovering the secrets behind the catastrophes. What will they uncover, and how will people react?

I loved this book – it was charming, and a quick read for young children, or anyone who wants a quick and fun read at any time of the year. Clementine Rose is the kind of character that shows children of all ages and genders that they can do whatever they want if they put their mind to it – she doesn’t let anything stop her, but she still knows to ask for help when she needs it, but that’s what makes her great – she knows what she can do on her own and knows what her limits are and this shows kids that they can be just like her. I loved Clementine Rose, and I enjoy Jacqueline’s style of writing.

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Book Bingo Twenty-Four – the PENULTIMATE BINGO POST! Featuring A Book with A Number in the Title and A Non-Fiction Book.

Book bingo take 2

That time has come around again, and I am ticking off two in this post, with the final three to come in a fortnight! I again have a few bingos – Row Two Across gains the bingo with the non-fiction square finally being ticked off, as well as row three and row five down. I have one more book to read, and a review to write for the next book bingo, as well as several others so keep an eye out for all that coming out in the coming weeks, and finally, at the end of the year, my wrap up posts for each challenge and my reading for the year overall.

Book bingo take 2

Across

Row #2 – BINGO

 

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A non-fiction book: Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018

 A collection of short stories: Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane – AWW2018

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

Row #4

 

A forgotten classic:

A book with a one-word title: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A funny book: Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky -AWW2018

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018

Down

Row #3: – BINGO

 

A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A non-fiction book:Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – aWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018

Row #5 – BINGO

 

A Foreign Translated Novel: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

A book with a mystery: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #1)

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

3D-WTH

The first book I’ve ticked off for this post is a book with a number in the title – We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni. Part of the Medoran Chronicles series, it is three novellas, told from the perspectives of Alex’s three best friends, Jordan, D.C. and Bear, and is linked to the previous four books – so if you wish to avoid spoilers, make sure you read Akarnae, Raelia, Draekora and Graevale. It is a well-written book, delving into the lives of three heroes who help Alex in her battle against Aven. Seeing what has happened through the eyes of D.C., Bear and Jordan fills in the gaps in the stories we see through the eyes of Alex, and what they mean to her and what she means to them. It gives the series a new insight and delves into the secrets of Alex’s friends that are hinted at in the other books and gives readers a deeper understanding of D.C. and why when we first meet her, she comes across as prickly and off-putting, and what caused this attitude.

A great book for those who love the Medoran Chronicles.

amazing australian women

The second, and final book on this post, is a non-fiction picture book that tells the stories of remarkable women in Australia and what they did to contribute to our history and nation as it stands today. Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer is a non-fiction picture book, women who were involved in arts, politics, activism and resistance, business owners, singers, teachers and politicians, whose achievements and roles in society had a great impact on Australia but are perhaps not as well-known as some. The book does explore a few well-known women, such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, and Edith Cowan, yet the others were ones that I had not previously heard about or come across in my history studies. In bringing them out of the archives, and into the light and to life, for readers young and old. Learning about new historical figures is always interesting and important to reshape our thinking of how we view history and the people who built it – those who were once hidden but are not anymore – and these are figures that I would have enjoyed writing assignments on during my history studies.

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This has been my penultimate post for the book bingo I’ve been participating in with Theresa Smith and Amanda Barrett for the past year, and hope to do so again next year. This is one challenge I have managed to complete, whereas my other one was trickier, as there were some very difficult categories to fill. Until next fortnight!

Booktopia

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

mary poppins.jpgTitle: Mary Poppins
Author: P.L. Travers, illustrated by Lauren Childs
Genre: Classics, Children’s Literature
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 16th November 2018 (originally published 1934)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Price: $39.99
Synopsis: An exquisite flagship gift edition of an iconic classic, illustrated by the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child.
When Mary Poppins arrives at their house on a gust of the East Wind and slides up the bannister, Jane and Michael Banks’s lives are turned magically upside down.

Who better to reimagine this endearing children’s classic than today’s most instantly recognisable and best-loved artist-illustrator? Lauren Child brings the magic of Mary Poppins into the hearts and imagination of readers and fans new and old.

First published in 1964, Mary Poppins has been delighting readers ever since, both in books and on film. This stunning deluxe edition is published ahead of the release of the hotly anticipated Disney film Mary Poppins Returns.

~*~

In 1934, Australian author, P.L. Travers, a pen name for Helen Goff, wrote and published Mary Poppins, the first in a series of books about a magical nanny who looked after the Banks children, Jane, Michael, and their twin brother and sister, Barbara and John (Barbara and John do not appear in the 1964 Disney movie). In this edition, Lauren Childs has illustrated the stories told by P.L. Travers, and the world she created in London, and Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, which is an address that is familiar to many through the books, and the movie, and that has captured the imaginations of children and adults for generations.

When Katie Nanna up and leaves the Banks family at the beginning of the book, Mary Poppins appears out of nowhere to take charge, flying in on the East Wind on her parrot-handled umbrella and with her magical carpet bag. Throughout, she goes on adventures with Bert, the Match Man, and takes her charges, Jane and Michael on outings, and shares the secrets of talking to animals with the twins. She has promised to stay until the wind changes to the west – at which point, her work will be done and she will have to depart the Banks family.

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe latest edition has come out in anticipation of the upcoming movie, Mary Poppins Returns, which sees Mary Poppins, this time played by Emily Blunt, return to Cherry Tree Lane, to a new generation of Banks children. The story is simple, but at the same time, filled with a sense of reality, where a family must learn to be a family again, and this is done through the magic of Mary Poppins – though in the book, she is much less saccharine than in the Disney version. Here, we have a Mary Poppins who does not shy away from the realities that the Banks children do and must face in the world that is about to become quite dangerous.

The world that P.L. Travers creates is set in London, referred to as the City, and landmarked by St Paul’s Cathedral, where we meet The Bird Lady – who has a bigger role in the novel than the film, and even though this is an abridged version, it still gets the main ideas and story across, and people can enjoy this and the original together now, as each publication, both movies and the stage show bring a new level and new layers of story to Mary Poppins and what she does for the family.

The story is set in the early twentieth century, though Lauren imagined it in the 1930s – perhaps it could be either, and at the start, it reads like it could possibly be set in early twentieth century Australia until those classic London landmarks are mentioned to cement the setting. It is a delightful edition, and the illustrations are whimsical and fun, but still capturing the essence of the original story that P.L. Travers intended for her characters. It is an Australian classic that has endured for over eighty years, and will hopefully, continue to charm readers for years to come, both child and adult.

I enjoyed reading this book, and hope that others enjoy it too.

Booktopia

Book Bingo Twenty-Three: A Book Everyone is Talking About, and A Book with a One Word Title, and a Book That Became a Movie

Book bingo take 2

Wow, another fortnight, and another book bingo – my 23rd of the year. As this is my second round, Theresa, and Amanda and I have allowed some flexibility and I have used previously read books to fit into categories I may not make by the end of the year but making sure they did not double up with my previous bingo card. Of the remaining categories, I am yet to read a book that fits in with a forgotten classic, and that will, together with a book written more than ten years ago, make up my final book bingo post that will appear just before Christmas – it’s a busy time of year – the asterix next to We Three Heroes in this post indicates I have not marked that square off yet, and it will appear in my next book bingo in early December.

Book bingo take 2 .jpg

This time around, I have scored three bingo rows – row two across, and rows two and three down – with some books not having appeared in my bingo previously but read this year, they fitted in perfectly to the categories, and some will as I previously said, be discussed in later posts.

Wundersmith

The first book off the shelf is the one that we have all spent a year waiting for. Ever since Nevermoor was released in 2017, the anticipation for Wundersmith, my book with a one-word title (I’m not counting its subtitle for the sake of this category), has been bubbling over in the book blogging world, the publishing world and the bookseller and reader worlds. Wundersmith continues the adventures of Morrigan Crow, rescued from Jackalfax on her birthday by the enigmatic and utterly delightful Jupiter North, whose air of mystery and magic show Morrigan a world beyond what she has known for her entire life. She is taken to Nevermoor, and after her successes in her trials, she is accepted into the Wunder Society, or WunSoc, to study and cultivate her talents and knack. She meets her friends, Hawthorne, the Wundercat, Fenestra, and Jupiter’s nephew, Jack, and lives at the Hotel Deucalion – where the rooms change depending on what you need, where vampires throw parties and where doors that lead to secret places appear. Who wouldn’t want to live here? In Wundersmith, Morrigan is due to start her lessons at the academy, with her classmates, including Hawthorne, but when her knack is revealed, she finds that there are many who will want to work against her, and those, such as Ezra Squall, who wants to use her to get back into Nevermoor. What follows is Morrigan’s fight to stay in classes and resist Squall – and it is through these trials that she finds out who she can really trust, and who is just in it to help Squall, by using her. A great series and I am eager for the third one, to see where Jessica and Morrigan take us, and would love to find out where I can get a cat like Fen.

victoria and abdul

The second book on this list and post is a book that became a movie. For this, I chose Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi. I saw the movie first, and then found the book, which was originally published in 2010, seven years before the movie came out. True to the core elements of the story, including the racism and discrimination Abdul faced by the Queen’s family and staff, the movie covers only the year of the Diamond Jubilee, whereas the book covers the preceding ten years and the Golden Jubilee, and also tells us of Abdul’s fate after Queen Victoria’s death in January, 1901. The story was discovered years after, through diaries that had remained secret after the death of Victoria and Abdul – it was these diaries that Shrabani used to piece the story together, as Bertie, who became Edward the VII, had all personal correspondence between the two destroyed after he sacked Abdul and sent him home. What their story highlights is that prejudice is deeply entrenched in society – whether it is class, gender, age, or in this case, race and religion, and whilst Queen Victoria saw beyond these and respected Abdul as her friend and munshi, those around her did not like it. The diaries had been Karim’s – kept secret by his family after he died in 1909 – and without them and their dedication to keeping the diaries safe, and Shrabani’s fabulous detective work, we might not know the depths of this relationship, and the Queen’s family and her advisors would have succeeded in scrubbing a remarkable, and intriguing tale from the annals of our history.

Lennys book of everything

Finally, a book that everyone is talking about – Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee. This is one that has generated a lot of press from the publisher, Allen and Unwin, who won a seven-way bidding war for the right to publish this book. It tells the story of Lenny, whose brother, Davey, is sick and has a condition that makes him keep growing. Lenny dreams that her father will return one day, and as she and her brother collect a build it yourself encyclopaedia, Lenny begins to search for her father’s family, determined to find him. Yet as her brother gets sicker and has to go to hospital for tests, Lenny finds herself caught between a reality she has to deal with and the fantasy she is looking for. This book is special because it shows the strength of a community and family when things get bad, and a child narrator whose voice grows with her, and who has strong beliefs. Lenny and Davey dream of a life of freedom and adventure, heading up to Canada to find their father with Davey’s invisible Golden Eagle, Timothy, and away from the confines of their life with their mother. It is a love story, but not the kind of love story that everyone associates with those words. Instead of romantic love, it is familial love – mother and children, mother and son, mother and daughter, brother and sister – relationships that are perhaps more powerful than a romantic love because they are forever, and do not flit in and out of life in the same way romance does. There is a fragility about this book, but also a strength, and Lenny’s story is driven by her love for her family and insatiable thirst for knowledge. Lenny’s Book of Everything is one of those books that stays with you, and that haunts you. It gave me a book hangover that I’m clawing my way out of and trying to get on top of all my other reading. It is so powerful that my mind keeps circling back to it and I may need to read it again at some stage.

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Row #4

 

A forgotten classic:

A book with a one-word title: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A funny book: Archibald, the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo by Skye Davidson, Illustrated by Ágnes Rokiczky -AWW2018

A book with a number in the title: We Three Heroes by Lynette Noni – AWW2018*

Row #5 -BINGO

 

A book that became a movie: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi

A book based on a true story: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – AWW2018*

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018*

A book written by someone under thirty: The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

Down

Row #1 – –

A book set more than 100 years ago: The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1) – AWW2018

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian woman: Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2) – AWW2018

A forgotten classic:

A book that became a movie: Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Busi

Row #2  – BINGO

 

A book written more than ten years ago: The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas*

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A book written by an Australian man: Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill

A book with a one-word title:Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend – AWW2018

A book based on a true story: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – AWW2018*

 

Row #3: – BINGO

 

A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A non-fiction book:Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer – AWW2018*

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – aWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book everyone is talking about: Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee – AWW2018

This is my third last book bingo of 2018!! The next one shall be my penultimate post, on the 1st of December, and the entire challenge will wrap up ten days before Christmas on the 15th, so look out for my final posts and I hope, a book bingo wrap up post.

Booktopia

Gendered Reading: Why Do We Still Insist on Gendering Books?

Over the past few months and years, I have been following online discussions about the way people gender reading – not only the act of reading, as a pursuit that girls are said to prefer, but the books we give younger children and what we expect of them as they grow and how they develop their reading tastes. Trends in publishing for children and young adults, but especially children, at that age of discovering independent reading and what they enjoy for themselves, can be gendered – targeted stories about princesses being saved for girls, and boys playing sports for boys, for example, are the two extremes. Girls are frilly and passive, boys are dirty and active. It sometimes seems that there is no in between, and children are often presented with books chosen by adults, the ones who buy the books – which, when you only know a few brief facts about a child, can be hard, because what if you buy the wrong book? Understandably, people like to play it safe, and that is where gendered reading can come in.

 

AWW-2018-badge-roseYesterday, I followed Word of Mouth TV and Jacqueline Harvey on Twitter as they tweeted and chatted about and at the Colin Simpson Memorial Lecture, with the Australian Society of Authors and the Children’s Book Council of Australia, on the issue of gendered books and reading, and how adults in the lives of children – whether implicitly or explicitly, in schools and libraries, guide children towards books “for girls” or “for boys”. Which brings me to the question – just what are boy books versus girl books? Well, apparently, if you’ve been following the discussions, a few things boys won’t read, or are said to be discouraged from reading:

 

– a book with love in the title

– a book with a girl on the cover

– a novel (boys apparently prefer comic books)

– a girl in the title

– a female author.

 

However, as adults, parents, teachers, booksellers and librarians, we encourage girls to read widely, but still within what is seen as “acceptable” for girls: no crime, no violence, passive princesses! LOVE! As a girl reader who has read widely since the age of six, war and crime have never been a deterrent. Spies? GREAT, I love Kensy and Max, and so do many other boys and girls when I read the reviews – and adults. Yet, Jacqueline Harvey has only had the chance to present to one or two groups of just boys – rather than mixed groups or just girls, and George Ivanoff pointed out that he saw that the boys in the mixed group were just as enthralled as the girls – excellent news for Kensy and Max, Alice- Miranda and Clementine-Rose. In my view, anyone can read anything they desire, and that they feel ready for – readers should be free to explore the world around them, so whenever I see people asking for “boy books” or “girl books”, I often feel the desire to point out that books do not have a gender, they are just books. Kensy is exactly the kind of girl character I would have enjoyed as a kid – because she was so different and refused to be overly girly.

 

So why do we encourage these reading habits? Is it because we associate reading with characters in popular culture like Hermione Granger and Rory Gilmore (By the way, two of my favourite characters), or even Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds? The lack of male characters who enjoy reading, and who aren’t broody and sullen like Jess Mariano, also of Gilmore Girls? Girls as readers seem to have a few role models to look up to when it comes to reading and seeing themselves as readers but also as people who have interests beyond reading. Boys, it seems, are always shown as the hero, or the nerd (Spencer, but he’s an adorable nerd, and a positive reading role model), or Jess, who often faced unfair comparisons with certain literary men, like Holden Caulfield, whilst Rory, and indeed girls, have many to be compared to. Supporting characters can be readers if they are boys – Percy Weasley, but often, they fade into the background, and so, it feels, does reading as a pleasurable activity for our boys.

 

Of these characters I know of, Spencer, Rory and Hermione are the three whose reading is prominently and positively portrayed – to the point where other characters don’t blink. And when the other male characters in these books and shows – Derek Morgan, Harry and Ron, Dean or Logan – are shown as sporty and brave, or disinterested in reading (Ron), or a someone who would rather disrupt learning than learn (Logan), we don’t blink either. My point is these, whilst exceptionally well written characters, and ones I can either love or hate in varying degrees, are characteristic of how we portray what it means to be a boy or a girl, and therefore, what activities and indeed, books we desire them to read. And perhaps this is why we are seeing a trend in books aimed at both boys and girls by authors like Kate Forsyth and Jacqueline Harvey, and George Ivanoff, and a trend in reimagined fairy tales for girls who dare to not be a passive princess – gone are the days of the prince saving the day, Rapunzel can save herself now!

 

And books aimed at both boys and girls that tell stories of men and women, across a diverse group of people, who have dared to be different to what their respective societies, cultures, nations and times in history expected of them, and why Disney movies are starting to pull back on ending it with the marriage of the main male and female characters. There are quite a few to name that have done this over the years, but the three recent ones that stand out to me are Frozen, Brave and Moana, where it was love of family that saved the day. Sure, Anna might have ended up with Kristoff (I had Hans picked as the villain from the start – if they look too good to be true, they probably are), but it was the love she had for Elsa, and Elsa’s love for her – their acts of true love, that drove the movie and the idea that love does not have to be romantic to be powerful. It is the same love we see in Kensy and Max, and in the Other Worlds series, especially in book two, Beast World, narrated by a girl, Xandra, who is also disabled. George Ivanoff wrote her really well and made sure she was represented as a disabled girl in a way that wasn’t demeaning. In our Twitter conversation, he said he had written books one and three with a male protagonist, and two and four with a female protagonist, and hoped boys reading them would continue with the female characters.

 

Unpacking gendered reading and representation of this in film and other media is not going to be resolved in this one post. It requires self-reflection, and asking ourselves why do we hope boys will begin a series with a boy and continue reading the books narrated by a girl? Why do we assume boys are naturally more interested in comics, sports and certain male-coded things rather than fairy tales or girl spies, or anything that girls are supposed to inherently be drawn to? We assume, we don’t ask, unless we think the child is old enough to decide for themselves – and at what age do we start this? Before they start school? When they’re learning to read? Somewhere in between, or only once they hit age ten? My own reading experiences are varied. I read Narnia at age nine, and books like The Wind in the Willows, The Neverending Story and a few others that might have been deemed “boy books”. I also read what are likely deemed “girl books”: The Babysitters Club, Seven Little Australians, Little Women (many, many times), and The Secret Garden, amongst many others. These days, I read whatever I can, and whenever I can. I read books by women, by men, by both, by people with various identities, and books aimed at boy, girls and everyone in between. I laugh with Bridget, I spy with Kensy and Max, I paint with Rowly, and explore all avenues of history with Kate Forsyth. I traverse London with Charles Dickens, and solve crimes with Phryne, and so many others that I cannot list, otherwise this will become an exegesis rather than a blog post.

 

 

During this blog post, I have worked in the binary because many discussions I read do. This is a whole other level that needs unpacking, the inclusion of all genders, and perhaps a really good reason why we should refrain from using the terms “boy books” and “girl books” – and just go with books so we can all feel included, and all find our way to characters we identify with. This layer is something I do not have enough of an understanding about yet, and will leave to those who do to comment on and write about – and leave it at we need to stop gendering our books and reading habits. Just Read.

 

A list of books that we can all enjoy, whatever our gender:

Kate Forsyth

Chain of Charms series

The Gypsy Crown

The Silver Horse

The Herb of Grace

The Cat’s Eye Shell

The Lightning Bolt

The Butterfly in Amber

Jacqueline Harvey:

Kensy and Max series

Kensy and Max: Breaking News

Kensy and Max: Disappearing Act

George Ivanoff

Other Worlds series

Other Worlds: Perfect World

Other Worlds: Beast World

Other Worlds: Game World

Other Worlds: Dark World

frogkisser

 

Garth Nix

Frogkisser!

Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Have Sword, Will Travel series

Have Sword, Will Travel

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie

Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow

Comment with your books that you’d recommend to anyone regardless of gender – I have based this on what I have read!

 

Book Bingo Twenty-two – a prize winning book, a book by someone over sixty, and a book with a yellow cover.

Book bingo take 2

With 2018 rushing towards its busy, and warm conclusion, and in consultation with my fellow book bingo players, I have assigned some previously read books to the following categories, and have assigned my prize-winning category is taken up this time by 2007 Aurealis Best Children’s Book winning series, The Chain of Charms by Kate Forsyth, and have utilised other books in different squares from last time for others this time.

Book bingo take 2 .jpg

Rows Across – update:

Row #2 –

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book by an author you’ve never read before: If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

A non-fiction book:

 A collection of short stories: Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane – AWW2018

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

 

Row #3:  – BINGO

A book written by an Australian woman:Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2) – AWW2018, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian man: Captain Cook’s Apprentice by Anthony Hill

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – AWW2018

A book that scares you: What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – AWW2018

A book with a mystery: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #1)

 

Row #5

A book that became a movie:

A book based on a true story:

A book everyone is talking about:

A book written by someone under thirty: The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady – AWW2018

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

 Rows Down update:

Row #1 –

A book set more than 100 years ago: The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1) – AWW2018

A book with a yellow cover: Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian woman: Disappearing Act by Jacqueline Harvey (Kensy and Max #2) – AWW2018

A forgotten classic:

A book that became a movie:

Row #3: –

 A memoir: No Country Woman by Zoya Patel – AWW2018

A non-fiction book:

A prize-winning book: Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth – 2007 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction – AWW2018

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

A book everyone is talking about:

Row #5 – BINGO

 A Foreign Translated Novel: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

A book with themes of culture: Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) by Rebecca Lim – AWW2018

A book with a mystery: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (Mitford Murders #1)

A book with a number in the title:

A book written by someone over sixty: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

AWW-2018-badge-rose

Row three across and row five down are my bingo rows this time around!

Australia DayLast time, Australia Day by Melanie Cheng slotted into the short story square, and yet this time, it fits into the yellow cover category this time. A series of short stories about life in Australia, and the varying experiences within society, aiming to capture the breadth of society and the different ways people react to, and deal with how they are perceived, and what is expected from the Australian experience, or perhaps in some cases, Melanie plays on the conflict between what is expected and who her characters are – varying between race, gender, class and sexuality to try and give a well-thought look at how Australia and Australia Day, isn’t the same for everyone, whatever their identity, and that it never will be. By revealing uncomfortable truths about Australian society in a way many people can relate to and understand.

Miss Lily 1Another book I recycled this time was Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – which fitted into the over 500-page square last time. This time, it fits into a book by someone over sixty – I did this again to make it easier filling the remaining categories with books I am in the middle of, and some I am yet to find. A historical fiction novel set during World War One, Sophie is sent to London to a school to learn how to be a lady – yet it is much more than that – she learns the ways of spying and using her feminine ways to find out about the war, and eventually, play a part in the war on the front line, in a time when the world is in tatters, and where men and women are dying everyday as battles rage across Europe, leaving Sophie’s home relatively untouched by the guns of war. Jackie French has been writing for all age groups for many years, and has been a favourite of mine since I was thirteen, and read Somewhere Around the Corner, which I still have my shelf. Another good book that fit more than one square.

My final square is the prize-winning book square. Ordinarily, this would go to a single book, however, with the flexibility we have given ourselves in this challenge, I have assigned it to a series I read this year within two weeks (had I not been so sick, it would have been a week). The Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth won the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction in 2007, for the whole series, comprised of six books, and won for books 2-6, i the long fiction category:

Kate Forsyth, The Silver Horse, The Chain of Charms 2, Pan Macmillan
Kate Forsyth, The Herb of Grace, The Chain of Charms 3, Pan Macmillan
Kate Forsyth, The Cat’s Eye Shell, The Chain of Charms 4, Pan Macmillan
Kate Forsyth, The Lightning Bolt, The Chain of Charms 5, Pan Macmillan
Kate Forsyth, The Butterfly in Amber, The Chain of Charms 6, Pan Macmillan

The series follows Luka and Emilia during the final days of a tyrannical reign during the time of Oliver Cromwell, trying to track down charms from each Roma family in the south regions of England, to reunite them and their families to bring back their good luck and fortune, and also, help stop the violence growing around them, and release their families from prison. It is a charming tail about friendship, and family, tying in historical fact and belief to create a world that children and any other readers can escape to.

Again, all my books are by Australian Women Writers. My aim was for each to be a unique book, but as I am cutting it fine, I’m not sure that will happen, so recycling will happen at times. Onto my next Book Bingo in two weeks time!

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