School's out for the summer and eleven year old Alberta Bracken (or Birdy for short) is looking forward to sun, surf and hanging with her friends at the beach. But something's not right. Her best friend Sylvie is 'ghosting' her and not returning any calls or texts, her mum and dad are acting weird and her little sister, Clementine, is even more annoying than usual. Then she gets pushed off her bike by Seth Cromby and brakes her arm and has to have it in plaster for six weeks! There go her summer holiday plans. Things get even worse when her mum (bestselling author of Tammy Bracken's Guide To Modern Manners) and dad separate because he has been having a 'thing' with someone in town. Now she knows why everyone has been acting strange. How will she get through the holidays with no friends, a broken arm and a family that is falling apart? Enter Mikki Watanabe. He's from Birdy's school but they don't really know each other - yet. Mikki has just returned from Japan and invites Birdy to hang out at his place. He's is a budding film maker and really loves trees. He tells Birdy about 'forest bathing' and how trees communicate with each other, and the more Mikki tells her, the more curious Birdy becomes. They begin making YouTube nature shorts about a pine grove they discover hidden deep in the local forest, only to be shocked to learn it will be cut down soon! They HAVE to save these beautiful, ancient trees, but how?
This new story from Marion Roberts focuses on friendship, forests, and family. Her main characters introduce us to the science science of tree communication and their interconnectedness, and the importance of trees to our planet and our own wellbeing. She tackles the difficult issues of separation and kleptomania in a language that is easily accessible and relatable for tween readers, and at the heart of the story is the underlying theme of forgiveness. For young activists the story also provides concrete ideas on how to become involved in and promote a cause they are passionate about, without being didactic or out of reach for that age group. A quirky, warm hearted novel that will strike the right chord with its readers.
Themes for the classroom include families, friendship, social media, activism, forest bathing, the environment, risk taking, resilience, bullying and forgiveness.
Find out more about Marion Roberts
Link to lesson activities
Published 2022 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760526795 (PB)
Recommended for ages 9 to 13
Award winning Australian author Libby Hathorn is passionate about poetry. So it’s not surprising she’s teamed up with renowned watercolour painter and portraitist Sadami Konchi, to create this beautiful story about Haiku and the 17th Japanese master Matsuo Basho. We Children and The Narrow Road to the Deep North takes us back in time to a small village at the beginning of the Edo era in Japan where three children – Izumi, Ren and little Yoshi - eagerly anticipate a visit by the master poet. Their father has told them Basho is walking a long way to ‘. . . look at things.’ Their mother adds, ‘And then he writes his poems, special poems that will last forever.’ There is great excitement as friends gather that evening in the house of the village poet to listen to Basho’s stories about his journey and hear some of his precious Haiku’s read aloud by the master himself. The next morning before they leave Sora, Basho’s travelling companion, gives each of the children a small drawing as a gift, along with three brushes, to encourage them to capture their own images. Basho’s gift is a special poem for little Yoshi about the small boy’s pet frog, now set free to live in its pond home.
Libby’s gentle and thought-provoking text highlights the emotive nature of words, and how poetry can capture so succinctly the essence of our world. The story is brought to life by Sadami’s gorgeous watercolours that eloquently depict the simplicity of life in 17th century Japan. An important book to have not only as an introduction to Haiku and Matsuo Basho, but also as a reminder that, in our fast paced world words matter, and it’s good to slow down, quietly take note of what’s around us, and enjoy life’s journey.
Find out more about Libby Hathorn
Follow Sadami Konchi on Instagram
Published in 2021 by IPKidz an imprint of IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)
ISBN 9781922332684 (HB); ISBN 9781922332691 (eBook)
Recommended for ages 7 - 10