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Think: a book review of My Green Day by Melanie Walsh

Posted: March 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: picture books, reading, review | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The theme for March over at Love2Read is reading that makes you think.
A recent purchase for our library has got me thinking.

Melanie Walsh’s My green day : 10 green things I can do today is a picture book with a conscious. Illustrated and written by Walsh, this gorgeous book is made from 100% recycled material and chronicles the day of a lower primary school child. Appropriately basic text – “I help empty the washing machine and peg our clothes on the line” – leads the reader through this normal day, while beautiful, bold illustrations tell the story too. In my opinion, what sets this book apart from many enviro books for kids, is the author’s ability to facilitate discussions of environmental sustainability, without ruining the flow of the story, or preaching “thou shall crush then recycle your soda cans.”

This is largely due to Walsh’s clever inclusion of sentences in smaller font size which complement the plot, and educate the reader. These sentences contain an advanced vocabulary and theme, acting as optional discussion starters. Such passages are linear certainly, but wisely, they are also independent, and therefore could easily be left out for too young or too impatient an audience. For example, pages reading, “At school, I make presents for my grandma,” are illustrated playfully with patterned off-cuts of paper and fabrics from the classroom craft box. The illustrations tell how the child uses scraps of materials to create art. In smaller type the optional discussion starter reads: “Making a toy out of old material is fun and a great way to recycle.” Likewise, a full plate at lunchtime becomes empty as the large type reads, “At lunch… I eat up all my pasta.” The reader sees and hears the message to finish all their food. For further discussion, Walsh includes in smaller type: “We throw away one third of all the food we buy. If we bought only the food we actually needed to eat, we wouldn’t have to grow or transport so much food, which saves lots of energy.” So the book can be read with or without these ‘extra’ passages; especially because the illustrations are so successful in narrating the ‘green’ theme. It is a lovely likelihood that as the reader grows, the book will be revisited and the non-fiction, didactic angle will be made the focus.

Naturally, this clever style of writing leads itself to classroom discussions, and talks at home during story times. Of course, library staff and teachers will also use this book in a unit of study. It is important to note how with so many potential ‘teaching moments,’ this author is careful to not stuff environmentalism down the reader’s throat. Instead, opting to ‘have a green day’ seems like a totally fun option, so why wouldn’t the reader chose to live this way? With Walsh’s help, let’s hope we raise many green beings.

Walsh, M. (2010). My green day: 10 green things I can do today. London: Walker.

Other picture books that make me think


Book review: Gossip girl : a novel

Posted: May 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: project, reading, review | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »



As I’m a Children’s and Youth librarian, I’m also reading Gossip Girl for reader advisory. Seriously, I am!

Book: Gossip girl : a novel by Cecily von Ziegesar
Publication date: 2002
Pages: 201
Publisher: Poppy
ISBN: 9780316910330

Rating: 3/5

Why did you include it in your Book Bucket List?
(Please see this post about the Book Bucket List challenge.)
Essentially because I’m a sucker for pop culture. I love watching America’s/Australia’s/New Zealand’s Next Top Model, Neighbours & similar schlock! I like the escapist, trashy, faux drama of it all. Regarding Gossip Girl, I’m keen to read the books before I watch the tv series. Such is my restraint that linking to the site was the first time I’d visited because I don’t want to spoil anything! There’s also an official book site which I haven’t looked at to avoid spoilers. I totally enjoyed It had to be you : the Gossip Girl prequel, so I’m keen to read the series if the quality keeps up. Which may/will be an issue, especially given the author hands over the glitter pen to a ghost writer for books 9, 10 & 11. As I’m a Children’s and Youth librarian, I’m also reading Gossip Girl for reader advisory. Seriously, I am! Also, my most excellent wife J. gave it to me for our first Wedding Anniversary as the tradition is paper. Everybody: “Ohhhhh!”

Was it worth it? Yes.

Brief Thoughts?

I liked it, although not as much as the prequel. (FYI – you don’t need to read the prequel to follow this book, especially as the prequel was written after this!) For the uninitiated, Gossip Girl novels are set amongst the super-mega-wealthy Manhattan elite. Gossip Girl (AKA GG) is an anonymous and definitely stylish blogger who chronicles the social lives of the most popular and therefore perfect private school students – with an emphasis on the stud. As GG says “The fabulous are fabulous for a reason, people” (p. 116). In Gossip girl : a novel, Serena the siren is back from boarding school & her ex-BFF Blair is keen to keep her away from her man Nate. As with all great gossip there’s a juicy love triangle and this scandal develops well; I was kinda hanging out to hear what was going to happen. Everybody wants to be with – or to be – Nate, Blair or Serena, and the main plot revolves around their social lives.  We follow this trio around glamorous bars, clothing boutiques, through Central Park and school, even to grungy Brooklyn, and are witness to “normal” events in privileged teenagers’ lives made super juicy by clever, biting fly-on-the-wall narration. The writing is often funny, always snappy, and designer-label bitchy. I completely want to know who Gossip Girl is, so the plot device is working wonders. It’s fun to read something so light which is a genuine page-turner.

Would you recommend it? Yes. Or as GG would say: “You know you want to”.

Notable quotable: “Only two nights ago, Nate had come over after a party with a half-drunk flask of brandy… and had murmered, “I want you, Blair.” Once again, Blair had wanted to scream and jump on top of him, but she resisted. Nate fell asleep, snoring softly, and Blair lay down next to him and imagined that she and Nate were starring in a movie in which they were married and he had a drinking problem, but she would stand by him always and love him forever, even if he occasionally wet the bed.” (p. 9)

Photo for #dailyimage2011 on flickr

An observation
It’s strange, in writing this I notice I almost feel the need to excuse reading this type of book. I joke about it’s lowbrow-ness. But really, who cares?! Or perhaps more importantly, why do I care? In defence of graphic novels, comics or magazines, or anything at work, I always say “any reading is good reading”. So why not believe it when thinking about my own reading?

Dear Reader:

  • Do you like the GG books? Perhaps the tv series?
  • Do you also have books you’re shy to talk about? What’s up with that?!

Book bucket list challenge

Posted: January 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: reading, review | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

I’ve been contemplating learning to write book reviews. I read so many for work & for personal interest, but I’m still daunted by writing them. I would like to write reviews for our (future) teen’s & children’s blogs at MPOW. I also want to publish reader-submitted written or video reviews (of books, games, movies, cds) as a way to engage young people. The idea of tweet reviews – where readers review in 140 characters or less – is a winner too.
Plus, I have an ever-expanding “must read” list going.
As luck would have it, my dear other spouse twitter flicked me over to this blog post by Christina via @yaReads.

The idea is to read through your book bucket list over the year and write reviews as you go. So given my mantra for the year is “Just start,” I’ve decided to challenge myself. I’ve signed up for 8 titles and reviews for the year! My list will only contain YA titles because I am using the exercise to also develop my reader advisory skills (and because YA books rock!). I’m really excited for the challenge and for the skills I will (hopefully) develop.

Here is my current YA book bucket list (in no particular order):
1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.
2. Batman : the dark knight returns by Frank Miller.
3. Catching fire by Suzanne Collins.
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
5. Gossip girl : a novel by Cecily Von Ziegesar.
6. Darkness be my friend by John Marsden.
7. How I made it to eighteen : a mostly true story by Tracy White.
8. The book thief by Markus Zusak.

I’ve just started reading Gossip girl : a novel having read the prequel It had to be you : the Gossip Girl prequel last year.

The challenge is open to anyone and you can enter anytime – and win cool prizes! – so why not join me?
Big thx to the good people at yaReads :)

p.s. Do you write reviews? Any pointers?
p.p.s. Do you have a book bucket list? Care to share?