I think I may have mentioned before that I’m writing up some poetry units for the Australian Curriculum? I am beginning to doubt that they will ever be finished, because as fast as I finalise a lesson on the units I’ve done, somebody produces another gorgeous book and of course I have to use it, and so my unit is out of date five minutes after I’ve planned it.
So it is with this fabulous book from Damon Young: My Nanna is a Ninja is hilarious – I can’t wait to use it with my Year 4 poetry class.
Some nannas dress in blue while they bake sweet apple pies.
Some nannas dress in red as they fly about the skies.
Some nannas dress in pink while they jog around the track.
But my nanna is a ninja so she dresses up in black.
(You can download the sample pages that these couplets come from on the UQP site so that you can see the wonderful illustrations by Peter Carnavas. There are teachers’ notes there too. )
These four nannas defy stereotypes: they are young, or young-at-heart, they are all active and they all express their love for their grandchildren in different ways. The illustrations work with the text to show us a grandma ballooning, riding on wild horses, and otherwise living life to the full. The ninja grandma sneaks out for midnight feasts, and uses a ninja sword as a satay stick for eating watermelon.
I’m going to use this book to explore rhythm and rhyme, but I don’t think we’ll try to emulate it in our own poems. Too hard! We’ll talk about other forms of poetry that we could use to write about grandmothers so that we focus on meaning. We could try acrostics, maybe haiku, or free verse: the important thing will be to capture the mood of individuality that modern grandmas have, and the special relationship that they have with their grandchildren.
Sometimes, the creativity of Australian picture book authors and illustrators makes a teacher-librarian’s job a real delight …
Author: Damon Young
Title: My Nanna is a Ninja
Illustrated by Peter Carnavas
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2014
Source: Review copy courtesy of UQP.