Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Andersen’

Elmer

David McKee
elmerElmer the elephant is bright-colored patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him! If he were ordinary elephant color, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn’t it? The surprising conclusion of David McKee’s comical fable is a celebration of individuality and the power of laughter.
Elmer the elephant, a colorful character because of his patchwork hide and sense of humor, tries to blend in with the herd, but soon realizes that he’s happiest just being himself.

I love Elmer, it is such a fun story and a real classic. My youngest daughter, nearly 3 years old, has just discovered it and it’s her current favourite bedtime read. To begin with I don’t think she really got the story but she did love the pictures of the elephants. She liked finding the big ones, small ones, ones with different ears and so on. She loves looking at all the colours on Elmer and pointing out which ones she knows and finding the animals Elmer walks past on his journey and naming them too. Her favourite page is when all the elephants dress up in different patterns at the end and choosing her ‘best one’. The pictures are great, lots of colour, lots of elephants and in this case a real aid to helping understand the story.

After a few readings we began to talk more about the story. Elmer is a patchwork elephant, so different to all his friends. He is also the life and soul of the party but one day he tires of being different and disguises himself as an ordinary elephant. When he comes back is friends don’t recognise him and Elmer finds things a little dull. He makes all the other elephants jump and surprises them, then they realise he is actually Elmer. This is a lot of fun and it was great to see Sienna on the day she realised that the grey elephant was Elmer dressed up. As I said the pictures really helped with this. As Elmer stood in the rain and you can see half of him patchwork and half grey the penny finally dropped. “that’s Elmer”!

With a slightly older child there is so much to get out of this too, about being yourself, being different and it’s not what you look like but what you are like that counts. But this isn’t told in any kind of moralistic way.

Verdict: It is a lively funny story that you can read over and over and get loads out of. Brilliant!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Andersen
Publication Date: September 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book, Preschool
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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Grave Mercy

Robin LaFevers

Young, beautiful and deadly.
Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself underprepared – not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
A dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and ultimately finding one’s way.

Ismae is a handmaiden of death. Saved from being sold into marriage to a brutal man, she enters the convent of Saint Mortain, one of the old gods of death, and is trained to become an assassin. She is then sent to court in Brittany and finds herself embroiled in a web of political intrigue and violence. Along the way she discovers much about herself , her God and the convent who trained her.

I think I might be getting a bit of a thing for books about female assassins. The only other book that I have enjoyed this much this year is ‘Throne of Glass’. ‘Grave Mercy’ is incredibly gripping, keeping you hooked to the end. But at the same time it is also a slow grower. When I finished I knew that I had loved the book but it wasn’t until I thought about it that I realized just how good it is. I finished this book halfway through a train journey, normally I would have gone straight to the next book and started that but in this case I couldn’t. I found that I needed time to process the story, not so much for emotional reasons but so I could think about the finer points of the plot.

As someone with an interest in history I normally approach historical fiction with some caution, especially those about this time period as I specialized in this at university. In the case of ‘Grave Mercy’ I didn’t find that I was trying to pick holes. This could be because although I know the basics of what happened in Brittany in this time period I don’t know the details, but I suspect it was probably because of the fantasy element. The book reads like a historical novel, but does at times venture into the realm of the supernatural. This isn’t sensationalized to any extent though and is just treated as though it is a normal part of life.

Ismae really come into her own as character throughout the book. When she leaves the convent she appears quite brainwashed and unable to think for herself, but as time goes on you get a real sense of how she grows as a person and by the end she becomes a strong character, with a real sense of self and her god. Whilst at first she seems quite uncaring, though her relationships with minor characters you see just how big a heart she has as she discovers that the ability to bring death carries with it a responsibility of mercy as well as vengeance.

Like most books in YA there is also a strong romantic side to the story. I loved the relationship between Ismae and Duval. I find ‘instant’ love in stories quite unbelievable, but this is a relationship that builds. Yes, in some ways it is quite clichéd as they start out disliking each other, but I liked that what brought them together was a shared sense of purpose and what attracts them to each other are shared values. One character comments that they seem very well suited and as a reader you can see that they really are.

I became so invested in these characters that I was disappointed to find out that the next book in the trilogy will be from the point of view of another character. Whilst I have no doubt that I will grow to love Sybilla as much as I do Ismae, I know that I will miss her internal dialogue and the relationship that she has with Duval. At the same time I am very much looking forward to reading ‘Dark Triumph’.

Verdict: Well written historical fantasy, with characters that become very real to the reader. Can’t wait for the next one.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Andersen
Publication Date: June 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Genre: Historical, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: Debut Author
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Everybody Jam

Ali Lewis

Danny Dawson lives in the middle of the Australian outback. His older brother Jonny was killed in an accident last year but no-one ever talks about it.
And now it’s time for the annual muster. The biggest event of the year on the cattle station, and a time to sort the men from the boys. But this year things will be different: because Jonny’s gone and Danny’s determined to prove he can fill his brother’s shoes; because their fourteen-year-old sister is pregnant; because it’s getting hotter and hotter and the rains won’t come; because cracks are beginning to show . . .

When Danny’s mum admits she can’t cope, the family hires a housegirl to help out – a wide-eyed English backpacker. She doesn’t have a clue what she’s let herself in for. And neither do they.

Danny is thirteen and still trying to cope after the death of his older brother last year. He has an older sister Sissy who is pregnant at fourteen. Its summer in Australia and the rains aren’t coming. The annual muster at the cattle station at which Danny lives is about to happen and Danny is determined to show his Dad that he is growing up and that he can live up to the shadow of Jonny, his older brother. Amongst all of this enters an English housegirl, she hasn’t got a clue how an Australian cattle ranch his run. But maybe she is what Danny needs to help both him and his family heal.

I really struggled to get into this book. It took me over a week to get to page 50 which is most unlike me. In fact had it not been on the Carnegie shortlist I probably would have given up. I am however glad I didn’t, although slow to start Everybody Jam turned into a poignant coming of age tale that grew and grew on me. I found the language hard to start with, Ali Lewis seems determined to get as much Australian slang in there as possible, you won’t forget where the book is set, but after a while this ceased to matter.

Danny is a very strong protagonist and a typical young boy. Lewis has captured the confused nature of his emotions incredibly well and whilst he isn’t always likeable, he is an incredibly real character. Everything is told from his point of view, so the story comes out in stages, I think this did contribute to the slow start but was effective by the end. In spite of this supporting characters are also drawn very well. Lewis uses the drought at the ranch to show the state of Danny’s family. As the cracks show in the earth, so they do in the household. It is only when the family starts to heal that the rain comes too.

It won’t be my favourite off the list, I’ve already read better. But Everybody Jam is worth getting through a slow start.

Verdict: Slow to start but the effort is worth it. A moving, poignant tale of a boy coming of age and family relationships.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Andersen
Publication Date: March 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Coming of age
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: Debut Author
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