Books we are loving – March 2020

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The Girl Who Stole an Elephant – Nizrana Farook

Chaya is a thief. She stole the Queen’s jewels. She stole a puzzle box from a wealthy merchant. She stole a prisoner from the jail and then she stole the King’s elephant. And she’s only a school girl!

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant is set in Sri Lanka and the beautiful setting descriptions really took us away. With short. pacey chapters that frequently finish with cliff hangers, we always came back quickly for more. This is a middle-grade adventure story that will appeal to both boys and girls.

We loved this book, but I have read criticisms of some of the plot points. Chaya steals, but with good intentions, so in the end her misdeeds are overlooked. Chaya is a child and the author couldn’t leave her in the life of an outlaw like Robin Hood. If Robin Hood is not a hero in your house, Chaya’s antics may not go down well either. Also, Chaya’s intolerance has been criticised and some have said she is an unlikable character. Chaya is particularly scornful of a foreign character’s ignorance which leads to some stereotypical female sniping. Personally, I found Chaya refreshingly realistic, but I suppose it comes down to whether you prefer to read the world as it is or the world as you would like it to be.

We found this a fun read and as a read aloud we could discuss more deeply the issues mentioned above. Children as young as seven could follow along and enjoy this story.

Look Up! – Nathan Bryon

Rocket is eager to share her love of all things space with everyone she meets – encouraging them to gather in the park and watch the meteor shower together. Rocket’s teen brother Jamal doesn’t seem to notice anything other than his smart phone, though. Will he look up in time to share the show with Rocket?

If you have a little space-traveller, star-catcher, astronaut in your home then we recommend this picture book for them! Rocket shares fun space facts throughout the pages and every spread is a true work of art – especially the end.

We followed up Look Up! with Helaine Becker’s Counting on Katherine, a picture book biography of Katherine Johnson who was responsible for getting Apollo 13 home safely. These two picture books made for our favourite pairing before bedtime.

First Rule of Punk – Celia C. Pérez

Malu moves with her mom to a new town for two years, away from her friends and her dad and his record shop, and everything sucks. But even before she can make any new friends, Malu has zines, to help her express her experiences and how she’s feeling.

A book about being yourself, and learning about what that even means, this was also a great introduction to ‘zine culture, and how to make ‘zines of your own, which made this former indie kid turned mama very happy!

Scissors, glue and photocopiers forever!

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