Bear and Rat

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Reviewed by Geni Kuckhahn

‘Bear,’ said Rat. ‘I’ve been wondering. Will we always hold hands like this, even when we are old and wrinkly…

Bear and Rat are special friends. The best of friends. Forever friends. Soul mates.

As they journey together through the seasons, Rat ponders and asks Bear…

…will they remain together forever? Will they always hold hands, even if Rat is cranky or sick or does something bad?

‘Of course I’ll hold your hand,’ declared Bear. ‘And I’ll even rub your toes until they get better.’

But then Rat asks a different question. Rat asks what will happen if she has to leave and go somewhere Bear can’t go.

What will happen then?

Bear and Rat is a heartfelt masterpiece. It explores the meaning of true friendship and grief in a beautiful, simple way that young readers will comprehend differently at different ages, giving parents a chance to return to this book time and time again, especially in a time of loss. It explores ways to hold onto the memories of those lost, so they are never truly gone.

Author Christopher Cheng wrote Bear and Rat in response to his wife’s cancer diagnosis and cast the main characters as his and his wife’s favourite animals. Knowing that the book was written in real grief bring a whole new layer.

Illustrator Stephen Michael King ties the whole story together with his beautiful, deceptively simple illustrations. Bear and Rat play together as the seasons change to winter, a poignant reflection of the story’s message. 

Bear and Rat is an authentic look at what it means to share love and friendship so powerfully it can never fade.

Night Ride into Danger

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Reviewed by the Geni Kuckhahn

It’s a dark and dangerous journey for the Cobb & Co night mail coach. But, young Jem Donovan isn’t afraid. He’s helped his father deliver the coach and its passengers safely dozens of times before. With six mysterious characters packed into the coach, this is sure to be an exciting ride. 

But an accident causes the carriage to tip, leaving Jem’s father gravely injured. To get help for his Paw and the passengers safely into Goulburn, Jem must take the reins.

Can Jem get everyone to their destination safely? And which passenger will pose the greatest threat?

It isn’t as easy as it might sound. Jem’s not a skilled Whip yet; he’s never had to handle five horses, especially at night. But he must persist. Each of his six passengers has a secret, and if Jem can’t get them all to their destination by morning, the seventh secret could be deadly…

Wow, does this one pack a punch! Night Ride into Danger was written by the illustrious Jackie French, so, naturally, it was going to be brilliant. She dips into Australian history, weaving it into her story so seamlessly that readers are left with a firm insight into class, racism and the immigrant experience of the mid-1800s.

French is a master of catering mature stories to a young audience, touching on essential topics in a way that is relatable to her readers. 

Furthermore, French’s author notes provide deeper insight into the history, the people and the language she uses in the novel. These notes allow readers to contribute to a more extensive discussion, perfect for primary school learning. 

Night Ride into Danger is suspenseful, surprising and hopeful – a must-read for anyone aged 8+.

The True Colour of a Little White Lie

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Nelson is having a tough time at school. The girls don’t like him, not in that way, and the guys think he’s a bit of a loser. But, at least before his best friend moved away and forgot about him, school was bearable. Life, at the moment, sucks.

When Nelson’s parents undertake to run a ski lodge for the season, he spends every weekend up in a small town where no one knows him and discovers, to his relief, that he can reinvent himself. He can be anyone he wants to be. 

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June 2021 Story Contest

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Using the first method of removing the other person/people from the sentence is an easy go-to way of working out whether you say ‘I’ or ‘me’. I use it all the time! But for everyone who made it through the subjectives and objectives with their brains unfrazzled, well done! Grammar is complex – it’s like relearning your own language from an outsider point of view. Though it’s easier to do the first trick, it’s even better for your writing if you can understand how grammar works and why you use one instead of the other.

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When to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘me’

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When do you use ‘I’ and when do you use ‘me’?

It’s a deceptively tricky question, but I’ll bet even you have trouble with it sometimes!

The question is this: when do you use ‘I’ and when do you use ‘me’?

Generally, we don’t tend to have much trouble when the only person in the sentence is just you, like:

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The Cake

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May 2021 story contest winner.

                                                                         By Grace Gabrielle Jasmine, age 5

It was a Tuesday morning and when I woke up it was snowing. I was so excited to go to school because it is my birthday. Today I’m 6.

On my way to school I dug in the snow and found two special treasures; a real heart of Tafiti and a golden purse full of treasures.

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May 2021 Story Contest

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Your best friend is having a very bad day

Did you notice that using an active voice makes your writing easier to understand and more exciting? And even though using the passive voice is not incorrect, changing passive sentences to active sentences will keep your writing clear and exciting to your readers.

In short, if you can get active, get active!

Your challenge

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