Title: The Night We Made the Flag: A Eureka Story
Author: Carole Wilkinson
ISBN: 9781922179159 Language: English
Classification: Fiction based loosely on historical events
Themes: Australian history, craft
What’s it about?
Told from Mary’s perspective, this story focuses on the Eureka flag and how it may have been made. It tells a tale about the nights leading up to what became known as the Eureka Stockade. About how a group of women get together to sew a flag that would unite the diggers under a banner.
I like that this revolves around a flag that actually exists. It is a simple story that doesn’t pretend that it is a history but does provide opportunity for discussion around how accurate the tale may, or may not, be.
There is a definite need to reinforce with students that this is only based on historical events and that the story itself is fiction.
As much as I like the story my recommendation to other teachers/home-schoolers is to borrow it from the local library. My decision for this is based on the fact that while this books introduces a part of Australian history in regards to the Eureka Stockade, the focus of the story about the flag means it is just fiction.
The illustrations though are lovely and do support the story. If viewed simply as fiction it does spin a good yarn and you could use the book to kick start your students into researching about the Eureka Stockade. It could also be used to look at fact vs fiction.
Title: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Author: William Kamkwamba and Brian Melser
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
ISBN: 9780803735118 Language: English
Classification: Fiction based on actual events
Themes: problem solving, recycling, science, needs, persistence
What’s it about?
This is a story about a boy who wants to bring power to his village. He sees a picture of a windmill on the cover of a text book (as he can’t read much English), designs and eventually builds (with the help of a cousin) a windmill from materials he finds along the way that have been discarded.
This is a moving story about a boy who sees a way of solving a problem and perseveres against the odds to build his dream. It demonstrates the power of persistence and that just because many people don’t support or believe you doesn’t mean you are wrong.
Added to this powerful story are Elizabeth Zunon’s fantastic illustrations which really do bring the story to life.
I can’t think of anything to be cautious about with this book.
This is a fantastic book which I purchased and used extensively in science lessons with my grade 2 classes. The vocabulary is easy to understand and well supported by the illustrations.
Title: The Publishing and Display Handbook
Author: Sheena Cameron
ISBN: 9781442528512 Language: English
Classification: Non-fiction – resource
Themes: templates, display
What’s it about?
This is a well organised book (which comes with a CD). It has been organised into different literacy sections with lesson outline, template and completed example that can be used by teachers, or homeschoolers, to enhance learning.
The simplicity of the book withe engaging ideas and ways to make learning literacy concepts fun is great. I also appreciate that the templates come on CD as well making printing much easier.
There are lots of ideas in it…but in the years I have owned it I have only used about five activities. I am not sure if this is because they don’t appeal or wouldn’t work with junior primary ages.
This resource book can be quite expensive. I would suggest if a friend, or the school, has it really have an in-depth look through it before deciding to spend the money. It has lots of great ideas….but implementing them to be relevant and to be completed in a reasonable time-frame may see issues arise.
Title: The Spider and the Fly
Author: Mary Howitt
ISBN: 9781442454545 Language: English
Classification: ballad with a moral
Themes: trust, stranger danger, social awareness
What’s it about?
This is a ballad was written in 1829 about Fly. She is a pretty and naïve creature who at first stays well away from Spider as she has heard all the terrible stories about him. Spider however is clever and begins to flatter her – complimenting her pretty wings and so forth – until the Fly dines with the Spider. The ending…it is up to you to read to find out.
The ballad is very well written and is easily read in rhythm. I like the use of personification to tell the story about what can be a tricky topic as it is less confronting with a spider and fly than if it was about people. I love the simply of the illustrations and the use of black and white. It is overall very effective and adds a hint of deception and danger to the words. What else is good is that there are some activities based on the illustrations available on Tony DiTerlizzi’s website.
While most students I have read this to have enjoyed it, I have had the odd one who became teary and didn’t want to hear the rest of the story.
There are not many stories that could still be relevant nearly 200 years after they were written. This is a book that can be integrated into any stranger danger (Child Protection Unit / CPC) due to the focus on not trusting strangers – especially when they don’t know you and give you lots of compliments.