big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka by Lincoln Peirce

By Ben, 24 March 2019

IMG_2999“Oh, yeah! I was shocked! Stunned! Flabbergasted! Hornwoggled! Gobsmacked!” – Nate Wright.

Sunday afternoons are for loafing around and reading comics.  At least that’s my idea of the perfect Sunday.

Ben’s recommendation for the lazy weekend is a volume from the extensive Big Nate series of comic strip compilations. Ben and I discuss why Big Nate is such a hit with him, as well as with boys and girls in Grades 3 and 4. Continue reading

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

By Ben, 20 January 2019

“Only once a year, on his birthday, did Charlie Bucket ever get to taste a bit of chocolate.”

img_0269M: Do you like chocolate?
B: Yes, I love chocolate. Why do you ask?
M: Because I think it’s important to like the main food in a book if you’re reading about it.
B: But you’re not a big fan of chocolate?
M: That’s true. But I think I’d like to visit Mr Wonka’s chocolate factory even though I’m not a big chocolate fan. Wouldn’t you?
B: Yeah, I would love to.

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They didn’t teach THIS in worm school! by Simone Lia

By Ben, 14 December 2018

IMG_0757It’s about a worm called Marcus who meets a bird called Laurence, and Laurence wants to go to Kenya because he thinks he is a flamingo.  Laurence doesn’t know how to read a map but because Marcus wants to avoid getting eaten by Laurence, he lies and says he can read maps. If the worm didn’t say that, Laurence would think he was useless and might eat Marcus.   Continue reading

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

By Ben, 8 October 2018

IMG_8491“Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home?” – Narrator.

When I was a child back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I always wondered about the lunch uncles and aunties at my school. And about the janitor, and the gardener, and of course, those mysterious and terrifying figures of wisdom and authority – the Teachers. So I simply had to read Lunch Lady, a comic book series that is bright sunshine in colour and, despite the cafeteria uniform- wearing, kitchen utensil-wielding, older-lady main character, equally appealing to little girls and little boys.

Don’t just take my word for it. See what 8 year old Ben thinks.

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Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell

By Maureen Tai, 4 June 2018

IMG_3875“Ottoline had two collections that were all her own. One was her Odd Shoe collection, of which she was very proud.  Whenever Ottoline bought a pair of shoes, she would wear one and put the other in her collection.”

Ottoline is too young to accompany her remarkably prescient absentee parents on their world wanderings.  But she is not too young to spend her days by herself in an artifact-filled apartment in the company of a hairy Norwegian bog person called Mr. Munroe.  As outlandish as it sounds, Ottoline is an extremely relatable character.  Continue reading

Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space by Anna Branford and illustrated by Sarah Davis

By Maureen Tai, 2 May 2018

“On the last morning of the holiday, everyone puts all their things back in their suitcases.  Violet takes the sheet down from the bunk bed and folds it up. One minute it looks as if her family actually lives in the beach house, and the next minute it looks as if they have never stayed there at all.”

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I had the pleasure of meeting and supping with the delightfully scintillating self-taught illustrator, Sarah Davis over a year ago when she was in Hong Kong. Sarah also ran an illustration workshop that my daughter Anna attended and loved, and that’s when I too, fell in love with her work.  Sarah’s beautiful drawings subsequently led me to Violet Mackerel, a charming early reader series that has similarly stolen my heart.

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