Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It is not a Boring Book!

The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka (Penguin), 2013

Once there was a book
that no one ever read.

People who tried
to read the book
fell asleep.

The narrator tells us the book was too unexciting, dreary, dull, and boring - in very interesting type-face and clever lift the flap inserts, I might add. Then one day the words decided to escape and leap onto road signs, decorate pathways and roadways and even jump into ponds. The games they play are reflected in the word-play on the page (or little book). The type-face pictures are stunning. Find out what mischief the words get into, what the people do about it, and just how important words play in our world.

Teachers and parents could use this book in a multitude of ways. An English teacher (Primary and Intermediate) could use it for a starting point on the visual impact words make. Children could brainstorm noise words, silly words, brainy words (just like the characters do in the story). They could use words and type-face as a way to illustrate a page or poster. Kids could also make their own book - just like the one in the back of the book and write their own interesting story. In Social Studies a teacher could look at the impact that words and printing have played over the centuries.  In art students could make their own type-face word pictures. The book will generate much discussion.

Who should get this book? Kids - 4-12 years, parents, teachers and librarians. It is a book to treasure!

I was very excited by this book when I received it to review. I emailed author/illustrator Vasanti Unka straight away to invite her to exhibit in the What Lies Beneath Exhibition on at the moment at the National Library, 8 Stanley Street, Parnell. Vasanti Unka's exhibit begins tomorrow - 20th February - at the National Library. Pop in to see it and the four other exhibits on display. For more information about the What Lies Beneath Exhibition go to the What Lies Beneath blog. Teachers can download a teaching resource to go with 'The Boring Book' on the above blog.

Vasanti Unka designed books for publishing houses before illustrating children and adult books: Sari, Longing & Belonging, Frontiers & Dreams (won best Education Design at NZ Book Awards 2007), What is an Amphibian, What is a Bird, The family friendly gluten-free cookbook. She illustrated Kyle Mewburn's book 'Hill & Hole' which won the 2011 BPANZ design award (first children's book to do so). She has also illustrated and designed many front covers for books and magazines. This is the third book she has written and illustrated herself; the first two were two little craft books for children: Star Boy & Friends: How to make cool stuff from socks and gloves; and Weird Rabbit & Friends: How to make cool stuff from felt.

Reviewed by Maria Gill

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Children's Activity Non-fiction books for school and at home

Art Smart: 48 creative projects to draw, paint, print and make!

Artists Traci Bunkers, Melanie Grimshaw, Wendy Walker, and Kath Durkin created this 120 page book for children (6 -12 years) to encourage young artists to develop four main artistic skills: painting, drawing, printing and textiles. From frottage butterflies to cool cats, leopard-spot photo frames to Easter chick gift-cards, printed pet t-shirts to veggie-print bags, love-heart gift boxes to dino doorsteps – there’s something that boys and girls will love to create. Each activity is shown in five steps with examples and extra tips. Children are given a list of what they will need for each activity – all they need to do is to follow the text and pictorial instructions. Lots of fun for bored children; it would make a great present for the school holidays. 

ISBN: 978-1-178171-089-0  RRP $24.99

Kids’ Garden Adventure by Don Burke

Well known TV gardening show host Don Burke presents a handy gardening book with lots of creative garden activities for kids including how to  grow a free vegetable garden, discovering nature’s hidden colours, how to make a strawberry tower, and grow a hairy caterpillar or snake. To complement the comprehensive gardening book with full-page photographs is a child-size gardening trowel for digging and planting, a compass to find where the sunny areas are in your garden and a special night-time UV torch to discover hidden secrets; activities that use these tools are in the gardening book.

ISBN: 978-1-921517204  RRP $29.99
Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston (Scholastic)
This wonderful book will show you how to make a Wow outfit from choosing the materials, to making the bling to go on it (or to complement it), to learning techniques to age or dazzle the costume/shoes/head gear.  For kids and grown-ups who love to make stuff and want to learn tips from a Wearable Art expert.
FYI - Fifi is hard at work making artefacts/costumes for the sequel to this book! Due out later this year. 
ISBN 978-1-77543-158-9 RRP $21  88 pages