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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

New books from Ford St Publishing

Posted by Lisa Hill on February 11, 2013

There was a really nice parcel of books waiting for me when I got home from work tonight …

Last week I mistakenly entered a ‘New Zealand only’ give-away to win a book for my school’s library but was delighted to receive a friendly email back from Ford Street Books – who today sent me three lovely new titles destined to make my students very happy indeed.

Round 'em UpFirst up is a new title in the ever popular TooCool series written by Phil Kettle.  These books walk off the shelves at school because they’re funny (though some teachers reading aloud may wish to skip the baked beans humour).  They appeal to boys because they’re about action not emotion, and also because boys identify with TooCool’s  adventurous spirit and the outdoor activities he gets involved in, from surfing to cricket to BMX bikes.  The books have easy-to-read text and the distinctive B&W illustrations by Tom Jellett enhance the humour while also providing some reading support for readers in the 8-9 year old age range. The topics are distinctively Australian, which I think is really important: they reflect our multicultural society and our culture, and the laconic Aussie humour really appeals.

This new title (Book 35, Series 5) is called Round ‘Em Up, and it begins like this:

When I told Mum that I was going to spend the entire summer holidays practising my drum playing, she smiled.
It was the same smile she had smiled when my next-door neighbour Wong gave me the drum kit.
Wong had explained to Mum that anyone with a son like me deserved to have a drum kit in their house.  Mum had smiled and told Wong that she would never forget what he had done. (p. 5)

TooCool and his mate Spike head off to Uncle Buck’s farm where they learn the rudiments of jackarooing, and there’s some handy tips at the back of the book for kids who want to look the part themselves.  There’s a glossary and some kid-pleasing jokes too.

Award WinnersMarcy, Award Winners is Book 15 of Series 2, due to be released in early March.  The narrative voice is not quite as successful as the authentic-sounding TooCool.  The plot revolves around a newspaper reporter interviewing Marcy and her friend Bella about winning the Animal Carer of the Year Award, and it’s a little bit long-winded and there is less action.  But the jokes are good, and once again it’s easy-reading for 8-9 year olds.

The Lost TailThe book that really enchanted me was The Lost Tail by Patricia Bernard and Tricia Oktober. It’s the first picture book I’ve ever come across that is set in New Guinea, and it’s a beautiful introduction to the rich and complex culture that’s on our geographical doorstep.  The story features little Nura, who lives in a traditional society where the Bundi Boys dance group are all set to perform their snake dance at the Goroka Show.  It’s his job to carry the snake’s tail, but he has a long and sometimes scary journey to get there first, and it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd when he gets there.  When he sleeps in on the big day, he finds himself alone for the first time in his life, and he mustn’t let his group down….

The pictures by Tricia Oktober are gorgeous, depicting the stunning facial and body decorations of the different tribes that attend the Goroka Show and bringing alive little Nura’s emotional journey.  This is a must-have for any primary school library.



Round ’em Up (TooCool, Series 2 Book 15) 55 pages
Award Winners (Marcy, Series 2 Book 15) 55 pages
The Lost Tail
Or direct from Ford St Publishing, see also their Upcoming Titles page, and the Teachers’ Notes.

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