Thursday 28 April 2016

50 Books Every Kid Should Read Before They're 12

Hot off the press at Common Sense Media is this list of 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12. It's an interesting list. Essentially compiled by senior editor Regan McMahon. She has specifically tried to be more inclusive of content and genre, it's still primarily American in focus. Not an Aussie title to be seen sadly.

1. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus - Mo Willems 

2. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site - Sherry Duskey Rinker

3. Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle

5. Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak 1963

6. Harold and the Purple Crayon - Crockett Johnson

7. The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter

8. The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss

9. Frog and Toad are Friends - Arnold Lobel

10. Madeline - Ludwig Bemelmans

11. The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne

12. Mercy Watson to the Rescue - Kate DiCamillo

13. Ramona the Pest - Beverly Cleary

14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

15. Ivy + Bean: Book 1 - Annie Barrows

16. Stuart Little - E.B. White

17. Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein

18. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

19. Coraline - Neil Gaiman

20. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling

21. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 - C.S. Lewis

22. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread - Kate DiCamillo (see my review)

23. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

24. Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

25. The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1 - Lemony Snicket

26. Big Nate: In a Class by Himself: Big Nate, Book 1 - Lincoln Peirce

27. Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

28. Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

29. Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney

30. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (see my review)

31. The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1 - Rick Riordan

32. Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

33. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Judy Blume

34. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle (see my review)

35. Esperanza Rising - Pam Munoz Ryan

36. Hold Fast - Blue Balliett

37. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World - Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

38. Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhha Lai (see my review)

39. My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George (see my review)

40. Revolution is Not a Dinner Party - Ying Chang Compestine

41. Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech

42. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank (see my review)

43. Wonder - R.J. Palacio (see my review)

44. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

45. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien

46. The Hunger Games, Book 1 - Suzanne Collins (see my review)

47. Legend, Book 1 - Marie Lu

48. March: Book One - John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

49. The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton (see my review)

50. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee


As always some titles I've never heard of before- I've included the covers of those books. 10% are new to me!

July 2017 27/50

Friday 22 April 2016

Joan of Arc. The Story of Jehanne Darc

I'm really quite obsessed with Joan. It's an impossible story. Fantastic. Extraordinary. Almost surreal. But it seems to be real. So I was keen to read this book when I found out about it. Joan of Arc was Lili Wilkinson's first book. It was commissioned, and so far remains the only non-fiction book that she has written. I was very pleased to find that my library had a pack with the book and an audio version. I made the most of my recent trip to Newcastle and listened to the audiobook three times!

Fifteenth century France was quite a different one to the France of today. Much of Northern France was under English control. The Hundred Year war between England and France was three quarters of the way through when Jehanne Darc was born in 1412.

Legend says that when Jehanne Darc- Joan of Arc- was born at midnight on 6 January 1412, all the roosters in the village crowed, as if they were heralding a new sort of dawn. 
The story starts and ends at a rather obvious place, Joan's very public death in the Old Market at Rouen.

People who watched Joan die claimed that they saw angels around her head; that a dove flew from the heart of the fire; that the words Jhesus-Maria were written in the flames; that a halo appeared above her head; that her heart remained full of blood, even when the rest of her was reduced to ashes.

Joan's" trial" was pure farce, as I suspect many medieval trials were.

The man chosen to break Joan was the Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon. Cauchon was 60 years old, a Burgundian, and a very intelligent, cunning and cruel man. Cauchon had been promised by the English that if he could find Joan guilty, he would be made archbishop of Rouen. 

Any wonder that Joan was found guilty then? She did make him work for it even though the odds were seriously stacked against her.

On the prosecution side, there sat a cardinal, six bishops, 32 doctors theology, 16 bachelors of theology, seven doctors of medicine, and 100 other clerics. On Joan's side, there was just Joan. 

Once again Charles, the king that Joan put on the throne, comes under heavy criticism.

From the day Joan was captured, till the day she died Charles made no attempt to help her. The laws of chivalry stated that any noble or captain could be ransomed, but Charles never offered to ransom Joan. 
Charles waited 21 years to save Joan. He then wrote a letter to the pope seeking to have an official trial of rehabilitation, which could officially annul the Trial of Condemnation where Joan was declared a heretic.

I've seen many images of Joan before,
but not this one I think

The structure of the audiobook was a bit confusing at times, as there are historical notes and asides liberally peppered throughout the narrative- which is of course obvious in the book format but not so much in the audio. Covering interesting topics such as Women in Medieval France, Saints especially Saint Michael, Catherine and Margaret who spoke to Joan, these notes give an invaluable historical background to Joan's story. Lili Wilkinson also uses many primary first hand accounts of Joan's life, actions and her trial which while fascinating, did not always slip easily into the audio either. This book is the second I've read about Joan that strongly recommends Regine Pernoud's Joan of Arc by Herself and her Witnesses. I must have it. Lili Wilkinson did a great job of telling Joan's story, I look forward to reading some of her fiction too.

French Bingo 2016

Saturday 16 April 2016

Forage 2016

It seems rather incredible that another Forage has come and gone. I've had a happy association with this amazing event for 6 years now. Forage grows from strength to strength every year, it is one of the major events of Orange Food Week each April. It's always a sell out.

From humble beginnings in 2011, Forage has grown year by year. Today there were 1,500 enthusiastic Foragers making the most of lovely autumnal weather and the incredible food and wine on offer.

Loaded up with food and wine tickets
Canapé 1. A lovely fresh start. 

Char Sui Canowindra Pork on Crispy Wonton Salad with
Five Spice Dressing
Highland Heritage Estate
 We Forage through the lovely Central Tablelands.

Canapé 2. Big on taste.

Country Terrine and Toasts with
Pureed Pickled Pears
Michael Manners
Three kangaroos entertained us early on. It's really quite dry and dusty this year. 

 But there are splashes of perfect autumn colour.

The soup station is the first big station where people start to linger. I can never photograph soup in a cup all that well, but the Chinese Carbeen Chicken and Apple Soup was fab. Union Bank Wine Bar.

Intrepid Foragers heading for station 4 and the pies.

Pie- the pie was especially fabulous today. Perfectly flaky pastry and particularly delicious filling.

Wild Mushroom Pie with
Roasted Leeks and Dutch Cream Potatoes
The Agrestic Grocer

Bucolic beauty abounds.

I do love a new variety of fruit. Kanzi apples are delicious! A lovely Gala Braeburn hybrid. 

Main Course- amazing falling apart lamb. 

Slow Cooked Lamb Neck with
Smokey Parmesan Polenta and
Slaw and Maple, Rosemary and Mustard Mop Sauce
Smoking Brothers Catering

I wasn't drinking (although everyone else does...)

There's two or three fabulous local wines
at every station.
Brangayne's Tristan a very popular
accompaniment to lunch. 

Sorbet- this was outstanding.

Hand Pressed Shiraz Sorbet
Vindevie Vineyard

Sadly it was too dark for me to take a decent picture of the fabulous dessert from Edwena Michell Catering- Hazelnut and Brown Sugar Financier with Roasted Figs, Borenore Strawberries and White Chocolate Cream. That cream was amazing. I didn't get to the cheese station this year, but it was another sensational day, with bus loads of merry Foragers heading back into town with memories of another fabulous Forage.

Looking back at previous Forage experiences... it's really fascinating to see both the different foods and wines, and also the fluctuations in the landscape, green and lush some years, browned and dusty other times. 

I can't wait for next year already.

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme
 now hosted by 
This post is linked to Weekend Cooking
a fabulous weekly meme at BethFishReads