Monday, August 24, 2009

Children's Book Week: Day One: Juggling With Mandarins

So this week, as many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are heading back to school, is Australian Children's Book Week. To celebrate this, I'm going to point out some of the books I've read to and shared with my students over the last couple of years.

Today's book, Juggling With Mandarins by V.M. Jones is one I read to my Grade Sevens last year. It is a New Zealand story about Pip, the 14 year old who's good at English and bad at soccer. Sadly, it's soccer his gruff father cares about, and soccer where his older brother Nick excels.

While Pip deals with the expectations and often irrational behaviour of his father, he's also also handling his growing feelings for the girl next door. Then he discovers the new sports centre, the Igloo, and its special climbing gym.

This was a great book to read with 12 and 13 year old students who are dealing with the experiences of finding themselves and defining themselves as separate from their parents. We did some work in class with it - mostly vocabulary and writing - but most of the time we just enjoyed it. If you can get your hands on it, I'd thouroughly recommend it for whole class and small group work.


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