advent calendar

Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 7 – The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day Seven – The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

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Genre – Picture Book

There was, apparently, a whole range of Sesame Street books written – but while I remember this one from my childhood, I don’t remember any others. This is the one which managed to break beyond the fact it ‘belonged’ to a television show, and reached out to children (including my sister and myself) in a very real way.

I think the secret lies with two things – there’s the breaking of the fourth wall (much like ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon‘) which lets Grover talk directly to us – to tell us that there’s a monster at the end of the book and that he’s scared of that. Then there’s the ‘interactive’ aspect (like Tap the Magic Tree), where turning the page ‘destroys’ walls and other means to try and stop the reader from turning the page. Plus there’s a really jovial feeling with this book, although Grover is scared, the reader knows that everything will probably be ok at the end.

We actually have this one as a board book, and Squirm loves looking through it – it’s exactly the right size for his little hands and it’s quite a sturdy book.

Highly recommended for toddlers and preschoolers – it’s also brilliant for parents to read aloud and children to turn the pages!

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Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 6 – The Pigeon books by Mo Willems

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day Six: The Pigeon books by Mo Willems

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Genre – Picture Book

It all started with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. This mischievous pigeon, who would do almost anything in his quest to convince you to let him drive the bus, worked his way into my heart. I felt for him, wanted to make him happy, even while I denied his bus driver dreams. Then I refused to let him stay up late, and um-ed and ah-ed about letting him have a puppy, and -sadly- laughed at his pain when he came across a duckling even more persuasive than he was.

Mo Willem’s Pigeon is a child favourite for a reason. He breaks the fourth wall and pleads directly with the reader. The illustrations are so basic (try drawing the pigeon – it’s quite easy) but so emotive – you know exactly what the Pigeon is thinking all the time. My toddler loves him, Grade 3 students who looked at it in detail loved him, my Grade 5,6 and 7 students loved him, all the adults I know love him.

If you know a child who hasn’t met the Pigeon yet, you really, really need to buy a copy of one of the books for them. Go on, you know you want to. Your mother would do it. Please!

Highly recommended for absolutely everyone

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Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 5 – CHERUB by Robert Muchamore

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day Five: CHERUB by Robert Muchamore

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Genre – Young Adult Fiction Novels

I can’t believe I’m still recommending these – but there’s a very good reason for that! The books, which now make a lengthy series (plus a follow on, prequel type series)  follow James – an impulsive, somewhat troubled 11 year old who gets into a tonne of trouble after the death of his mother. James is headed for a worrying future, when he wakes up and finds himself in a strange environment, surrounded by kids who can’t talk to him.

Turns out that CHERUB wants him. And what’s CHERUB? Well it’s a spy agency where the spies are all children and teenagers.  And the series follows them through their adventures, their ups and downs and just what teenaged spies do in their rest time.

These books were always huge successes with Year 7s in my classroom. There’s some more adult stuff in the later books, so parents might want to read them before passing them onto their kids.

Highly recommended for teenagers and nearly teenagers. Plus anyone who likes spy books.

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Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 4 – Cathy Cassidy Books

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day Four: Books by Cathy Cassidy

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Genre – Middle School Fiction Novels

One of my wonderful students introduced me to the author Cathy Cassidy. She was adamant that I would enjoy her books – and she was absolutely right.  Cathy Cassidy writes about interesting kids, from diverse and different backgrounds. They have challenges thrown at them and usually there’s a romance involved in some way or another, and things end up mostly ok by the end. They’re great escaping books – not too heavy, but not too light, and a great insight into the lives of other kids.

These books would be brilliant for children aged from around 9 or 10 (she has written a series for younger kids too). They would probably mostly appeal to girls, although the stories are quite universal for all kids. They aren’t terribly well known in Australian, although they were readily available in some bookshops a few years ago

Highly recommended for girls aged 9 – 15

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Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 3 – That’s Not My . . . Series

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day Three: That’s Not My . . . Series

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Genre – Baby/Toddler/Preschooler Board Book

These wonderful books (and there’s a lot of them) have a familiar refrain. From the front cover we are introduced to the premise – That’s not my . . . because it’s coat is too furry or feet are too scratchy or it’s wheels are too bumpy. Accompanying the words is a lovely textured section which just invites the reader to reach out and touch. This is repeated page after page until the last page when we meet ‘my’ robot or frog or puppy or penguin.

Squirm absolutely adores these books – he was gifted his first ones and then we managed to add to our collection thanks to the 5 for $20 deal at Big W. They’re wonderful to read together, but Squirm has also really enjoyed reading them on his own – they’re just the right size for him to handle and turn the pages, and because the pages are thick, he hasn’t been able to damage them by chewing them!

If you can get your hands on some of these, I can’t recommend them enough. They also make wonderful presents if you know any babies or toddlers who love sensory experiences!

Highly recommended for babies and toddlers. And people who like sensory experiences!

Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 2 – Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day Two: Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Caps for Sale

Genre – Junior Picture Book

There once was a peddler who sold caps of different colours. However, he was different from other peddlers because he wore them on his head. One day, when sales were bad, he sat down to rest under a tree. Only that tree contained some very mischievous monkeys who had a fondness for caps.

This classic picture book is a big favourite in our house. The illustrations are relatively simple, with a muted colour palette. Squirm loves reading the part with the monkeys and the way they interact with the hapless peddler. I’d imagine as children got older they would be happy to join in with telling the story and supplying the actions – especially if they’d heard it a few times.

Highly recommended for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and early primary – they can all get something out of this lovely book.

Advent Calendar Book Reviews: Day 1 – Smile by Raina Telgemeier

In the lead up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing short reviews of great books and who they’d be perfect for. Find the master list here

Day One: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Advent Calender Book Reviews - Smile -Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Genre – Middle School Graphic Novel

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But after a nasty fall, she injures her two front teeth, beginning a long journey with specialists, braces and other dental paraphernalia. Plus there’s friends who might not be friends, boys who might be friends or might be more and a major earthquake to deal with.

This is an incredibly sweet story which is told incredibly well with simple but beautifully drawn panels. This was an amazingly popular book in my classroom, with students finding something to connect with in it, even if they hadn’t had their own dental dramas. It was also a great book for those who were less enthusiastic about reading.

Highly recommended for upper primary and lower secondary students. Also for anyone who went through dental dramas as a kid. Or anyone who has ever been a kid 🙂