Tag Archives: read aloud

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

A boy spends every day looking out his window. He sees the people in his street going about their business; leaving for work, watering their gardens, and chatting over the fence. One day though, the neighbour’s grandson goes missing and this boy is the last person to see him. Soon the police turn up and they need to know anything that would help their investigation. The reason this boy watches everything from his window is that he has crippling OCD. This boy is Matthew in Lisa Thompson’s amazing new book The Goldfish Boy.

9781407170992Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn’t been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac.

When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?

The Goldfish Boy is an absolutely gripping mystery with an incredible young boy at its heart. I knew from reading the blurb that this book was going to be unlike anything I had read before and I wasn’t disappointed. Lisa Thompson grips you from the first page and doesn’t let you go until the last sentence. She keeps you in suspense trying to figure out what has happened. There are so many questions that pop up as you read (What is wrong with Matthew and what is the connection to the death of his brother? What has happened to Teddy?) but Lisa ties up all the loose ends.

I loved this book not just because of the gripping mystery but also because of the intriguing character of Matthew. At the start of the book he hasn’t been out of the house in several weeks, he washes constantly and stares out of his window at the people in his street.  The story is narrated by Matthew and as the story progresses we get to know more about him and his crippling fears.  Lisa Thompson takes you inside the head of a boy suffering from OCD and you really get a sense of how terrifying it must be for him.  There are times that you think Matthew makes some progress and starts to get better, only for him to break down and need to clean himself furiously.  I loved that this story wasn’t just about the mystery of Teddy going missing and who did it, but about how Matthew manages to overcome his condition to find the answers.

The Goldfish Boy is one of my favourite middle grade reads so far this year.  It is a perfect read aloud for Years 6-8, the only problem being that the kids won’t want you to stop reading until you’ve reached the end.  I can’t wait to read whatever Lisa Thompson writes next!

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The Trouble with Mummies by F.R. Hitchcock

Hot Key Books are a UK based publisher who publish ‘stand out, quality fiction’ for 9-19 year olds.  Every time I go and check out their website to see what they’ve got coming up I add most of their books to my TBR pile.  They have introduced me to some wonderful new authors and some really original stories, including the marvelous Fleur Hitchcock.  Last year I loved her debut book, Shrunk, so when I heard she had a new book coming out I had to grab it.   The Trouble with Mummies is her latest book and it’s sure to have kids roaring with laughter.

Sam comes home one day to find his family turning strange – his mum is redecorating using hieroglyphics and his dad is building a pyramid in the back garden. He hopes it’s just a weird new fashion… but then the strangeness starts to spread. With the help of his friends Ursula, Henry and Lucy the Goat, Sam must save his town from rampaging Roman rugby players, hairdressers turned cavewomen, and a teacher who used to be a ‘basket of kittens’ but now wants to sacrifice the Year Ones to the Aztec sun god. As history invades Sam’s world, will he be able to keep the Greeks away from the Egyptians and discover the cause of the Mummy madness?

The Trouble with Mummies is a crazy adventure, where history comes alive and the kids have to solve the mystery before it’s too late.  When Sam’s parents start acting weirdly he gets the feeling something strange is going on.  Then his teacher dresses up in a wetsuit covered in feathers, and his PE teacher lines his class up in ranks and throws a javelin at them, so Sam knows that things aren’t right.  The people in his town get weirder and weirder and it’s up to Sam and his friends to figure out what is causing them to act so strangely.  Is it something they ate or drunk or have they all just lost their minds?

Fleur brings her love of history into the story with the different ancient peoples.  Sam’s parents become Egyptians, painting the house with hieroglyphics and building a pyramid, Miss Primrose becomes an Aztec and plans to sacrifice Sam’s friend Henry, and Ursula’s parents become Trojans.  It’s the perfect book for those kids who are really interested in history and ancient civilizations in particular.  If you know a Horrible Histories fan, you need to get them this book.  If your kids don’t already love history, then this book might just get them hooked.  You’ll certainly never look at your museum the same way again!

The thing I love the most about Fleur’s books is that they are unique stories full of imagination that are aimed at younger readers.  Forget Zac Power and Beast Quest, get your boys reading Shrunk and The Trouble with Mummies and they’ll be hooked on books.  Both of Fleur’s books also make great read alouds and they’re bound to have both you and your children laughing out loud.

What better way to hook readers in than show them the Hot Key Books ‘What’s in it?’ book key – Cavemen, Pyramids, Romans and Beards.  Who wouldn’t want to read a book with all that in it?

Check out this video of Fleur Hitchcock reading the first chapter of The Trouble with Mummies:

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Picture Book Nook: That’s Mine! by Michel Van Zeveren

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the little frog finds an egg.

“That’s mine!” he says.

But the snake wants his egg, and so does the eagle, and so does the lizard…But what does the angry elephant want?

 

 

 

That’s Mine! by Michel Van Zeveren is a gem of a picture book that’s simple, yet surprising.  You start off thinking you know where the story is going, but it veers off in a completely different direction (these are the best sorts of stories).  The illustrations are bold and I love the expressions on the animals faces, especially right at the end.

 

The thing I like most about this book though is the text and the design.  As each of the animals appears the sound they make turns into a word, like the eagle who flies in saying “Ack…ack…ack..actually it’s mine.”  Children can follow the direction that each animal appears from by following the direction of the words (the hsss of the snake drops down from the top to the bottom of the page).  I love the way that the text changes size depending on how loud the animal is talking and in relation to their size.  On a page featuring all the animals, the text is largest for the elephant and smallest for the frog, so it’s clear that each of the animals has a different voice.

That’s Mine! is the perfect picture book for reading aloud.  You can do different voices for all the animals and make it really silly.  It could even be acted out in the classroom, with each child being a different animal.

4 out of 5 stars

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My Top 5 Read Alouds for 5-8 Years

Last week I posted my Top 5 Read Alouds for 2-5 Years.  This week I’ve posted my Top 5 Read Alouds for 5-8 Years.  I’ve also included some of my other favourite read-aloud picture books (that I couldn’t fit into my top 5) that deserve honourable mentions.

1. Morris the Mankiest Monster by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

This is my absolute favourite picture book!  I always use it to hook kids – a monster who stinks and does disgusting things, what more could you ask for.  It’s gross, funny, and the language is great!  It’s one of those picture books where the text and illustrations match perfectly and I couldn’t imagine one without the other.  Every time I read it there are refrains of ‘Ooooo!’ and ‘Gross!’ but kids absolutely love it, especially the very last page.  I’d love to see Giles and Sarah create more picture books together.

2. What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen, written and illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Kids love this book because they think it’s magic (and it’s slightly disgusting).  There are lots of things to find in the witch’s kitchen, some of them nice and some of them revolting.  Depending on which way you open each flap you could find Strawberry Tea or Goblin’s Wee, some crunch hot toast or a grumpy burnt ghost.  I read this book almost every week for a whole school year to different groups of children and I never got tired of it.  You can really build the sense of anticipation with each turn of the flap and kids can end up rolling around on the floor laughing.

3. Wild Boars Cook by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Meg Rosoff’s story about four wild boars (Horris, Morris, Borris and Doris) who decide to cook a Massive Pudding, is absolutely hilarious.  They’re bossy, selfish, stinky and hungry, so when you put them all together to make a pudding you know it’s not going to end well.  They put all sorts of stuff into their pudding, including broccoli and a squid, and I love seeing the kids’ faces when you show them the finished product.  Their hunger is never satisfied and they get very whiny, so it’s a great book for doing different voices.   Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are great and add to the hilarity of the story.

4. Poo Bum! written and illustrated by Stephanie Blake

I can’t go past a picture book with some good toilet humour.  Boys especially love books like this.  You can’t read this book without children joining in saying ‘Poo bum!’  It’s about a little rabbit who only says one thing – Poo bum.  However, one day he’s eaten by a wolf and then rescued by his father.  You start to think that maybe he has changed and learnt some manners, only to be sadly mistaken.  I love reading this book aloud to groups of school children, and most of the teachers and parents who have heard me read it loved it as well.  Be prepared – children will walk around saying ‘poo bum’ for hours afterwards.  This is one of my favourite picture books from New Zealand publishers/translators, Gecko Press.  If you haven’t heard of them, check them out.

5. Oh No, George! written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

This book is great for sharing because the illustrations are bright and bold and the kids help you tell the story.  They can anticipate what George is going to do and will join in the refrain of ‘Oh No, George!’  It’s a great book for the adults to enjoy too because they’ll get the subtle humour in the story and notice George’s guilty expressions.  Some kids that I’ve read this to don’t quite get the ending, especially younger children.  They want the story to have an end and don’t want to have to make their own mind up about the story.  I think it’s extremely clever and a great way to get readers to use their imagination.

 

Honourable Mentions

 

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