Thursday, 20 March 2014

LEGO® Man in Space - How cool is this?!!!

When my son was little, he couldn't get enough of LEGO®.  I still love it!  Even though my son is 18 now, I just can't part with the LEGO® and I just adore the little LEGO® men.  

I was so excited to learn that one of my friends (an Aussie expat), Mara Shaughnessy, an accomplished and talented children's author and illustrator (see my previous post about "Downpour" here), has published a true story - LEGO® Man in Space - about how two teenagers, Mat and Asad, built a spaceship, sent it into near space (80 000 feet into space using a weather balloon, a homemade parachute, and a video camera ) and brought it back to earth safely.

So far, more than 3 million people around the world have tuned into YouTube to watch the real-life voyage of LEGO® Man in space:

But you can also read about this incredible feat by asking your librarian for a copy of LEGO® Man in Space: A True Story, or you can find it here:  

The book is packed with facts and information and you’ll also find cool ideas for your own science and engineering projects, as well as LEGO®-themed games and crafts.

If you STILL can’t get enough LEGO® Man in Space, you can check out the colouring sheets, worksheets and activities at

Ever wondered how to draw a LEGO® Man or Woman? Here is a fun activity to get you started!

You can find out more about Mara's work here.  I absolutely adore her illustrations in "Downpour".

Happy inventing, drawing, writing, building, creating and dreaming!
Remember that little kids + big ideas = big things!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Picture books inspiring children to love reading...and a bit of a controversy!

I read a delightful post on the Sprout's Bookshelf blog about "Amadi's Snowman".  You can read that post by clicking on the image below.

When I was reading that post, I made a connection to a newly published Australian picture book which arrived today, "The Bush Book Club" by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ben Wood (published March 2014, so hot off the press!!!)  You can read more about the book here.  This is a delightful story about a reluctant reader, Bilby. Everyone is in The Bush Book Club except Bilby as he cannot see the purpose of reading.  He finds that books can be useful for building towers and mazes, but eventually discovers that books are also full of adventures.  This is a wonderful title for exploring Australian animals and environments, inspiring children to read and for studying rhyming words and is such a delightful read!!!  Check out Ben Wood's blog as he shares how he went about illustrating the book here.

This also reminds me of another book for students who aren't avid readers of printed text, "It's a Book" by Lane Smith.  You can view the book trailer here.  It wasn't until I was drafting this blog post that I realised there had been controversy about this book using the technical term for a male donkey - jackass.  You can read some positive reviews here and posts about the "controversy" here and here.  You'll find a balanced review here. If you scroll down at this link, you can listen to a podcast by the author, Lane Smith. What I love about this podcast is that Lane mentions that he has "never had a kid take offence at anything", maybe it's the adults who read more into it? 

Personally, I find the fact there has been a "controversy" a bit ironic as I don't understand why people would be upset about the technical term for a male donkey being used in a book and seriously folks, I think there are far worse words that children hear on a daily basis nowadays in real life and through the media.  I have found students I have shared this book with haven't even noticed yet alone reacted to the word "jackass" as anything offensive at all.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment as I am open to other points of view...Also, do you know of any other titles that encourage children to read?

Have a terrific week :)