FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE – “MATES” GREAT AUSTRALIAN YARNS FOR KIDS

Every book I have read in the The Mates series (published by Omnibus) has been full of great characters and humour and the two books I’m talking about today are no exception.

These uniquely Australian stories celebrate what it is to be Australian – our history, our inventiveness and unique perspectives on life. And these books are humorously illustrated in full colour.

YOU TURKEYS

Written by Michael Gerard Bauer

Illustrated by Nahum Ziersch

You Turkeys was always going to be a favourite with me. Not only is it written by Michael Gerard Bauer whose writing I greatly admire, but I am probably the only person in Australia who has a fascination for Scrub Turkeys.

Jake’s Dad’s garden is his pride and joy so when the scrub turkeys move in and turn it into a mess, pecking at the tulips and spreading the chip bark with their sharp claws.

Dad has a five point plan to get rid of them and Jake is his enthusiastic assistant. But when scarecrows, pepper and chicken wire fail to work, he has to rethink the whole situation.

Apart from the great characters and humour in You Turkeys, I loved the resolution to this story and I’m sure that young readers will too.

BARNESY

Written by Allayne Webster

Illustrated by Tom Jellett

Hannaford’s family loves naming things, even the lawnmower! The new baby lamb needs a name, and it’s Hannaford’s turn to choose…

There’s something appealing about a book that starts by introducing Victor the Evil lawnmower. And growing up in a household with cars called Snortsy and Soames, I could really relate to a family that names everything.

But so far, Hannaford (named after Alfred Hannaford) hasn’t had a chance to name anything. So when a new baby lamb arrives at the farm, this could be his chance. But first he must find a way to help the lamb’s injured mother to walk again.

Barnesy is full of great characters like Sir Robert Helpmann the thieving wombat who danced out of the way of an oncoming car and Stumpy, the cockatoo.

It’s another hilarious read in the Omnibus “Mates” series.

The “Mates” books are for newly independent readers making the transition from picture books to novels, but the humour and colour of will be enjoyed by kids of all ages and reading levels.

Dinosaur Week at Kids’ Book Capers – DINOSAUR IN THE DARK AGES with Michael Bauer

Hope you enjoy our Dinosaur Week this week at Kids’ Book Capers. We’ll be talking with authors Michael Bauer and Sheryl Gwyther about their action packed adventure dinosaur books for kids.

TODAY – DINOSAUR IN THE DARK AGES

In Michael Bauer’s 2010 CBCA Notable book, Dinosaur Knights, a dinosaur ends up in the Dark Ages when a science experiment goes badly wrong.

Scientists in the future have developed technology  to reach back into the past and draw living things forward in time. They do this by locking onto ‘time fossils’ or ‘time prints’, impressions left by all living things on the fabric of time.

The scientists attempt to pull a dinosaur, Baryonyx Walkeri into their future for scientific research. When the dinosaur is lost during transportation, it turns up in Medieval England where two young brothers Roland and Oswald, and a girl Cristiana have their lives turned upside down.

Today, Michael Bauer is here  to talk about his book and how he wrote it.

Can you tell us about the characters in your story?

Twins Roland and Oswald, and a girl Cristiana are around 13.  Roland, a boy of action and adventure, but few words, longs to be a Knight. His brother Oswald wants to follow in their father’s footsteps and becoming a physician. He doesn’t take life quite as seriously as his brother. Cristiana is the feisty daughter of a local Lord. Against her will she is being made to marry a wealthy landowner almost her father’s age. The dinosaur’s arrival changes everything, particularly for the boys. The local Sheriff is found dead in the nearby forest and the boys’ father is convicted of his murder by corrupt officials. Oswald and Roland along with Cristiana set out to confront the monstrous ‘dragon’ and somehow prove that it is the real culprit.

What do you like about these characters?

They are all different, and even though they have their flaws and weaknesses they show great spirit and courage in tackling the challenges and dangers they must face.

Michael, is it true that you ‘borrowed’ your son’s old Jurassic park T-Rex figurine and his Action Men figures to help you write this book?

Yes it helped me to visualise some of the scenes where Oswald, Roland and Cristiana do battle with the dinosaur. That was fun!

Michael has published five books including Dinosaur Knights (Michael’s other books include The Running Man, Don’t Call Me Ishmael, Ishmael and the Return of the Dugong and You Turkeys). Your books are all quite different from each other. Do they have any common themes?

I think one theme shared by my books is the idea that everyone is different and unique, and that this is a good thing and should be celebrated.

Another one is how we think we know other people but we often judge them mainly on appearance or make assumptions about them with very little evidence or real understanding of them.

I love it when my characters show a side of their character or reveal something about themselves that takes the readers or other characters by surprise and makes them reassess their judgments.

Teacher’s notes for Dinosaur Knights are available at  http://www.scholastic.com.au/schools/curriculum/

pdf/Dinosaur_Knights.pdf

Teacher’s notes for all Michael’s books can be found at http://www.scholastic.com.au/schools/curriculum/

Thanks for dropping in, Michael. I can’t wait to read the new Ishmael Book you’re working on, and your next book, Just a Dog (due out September 2010).

Dee

On Wednesday, author Sheryl Gwyther will tell us how she went on a dinosaur dig to research her book, Secrets of Eromanga.