Childrens’ books

WHEN I was Joe by Karen David (Frances Lincoln; €8.80) features 15-year-old Ty and his mother who are part of a witness protection scheme.

He had seen a fatal stabbing and now the perpetrators will stop at nothing to track him down before he can testify against them. This stirring novel lifts the lid on a world which, by its nature, is hidden from us. The challenge for Ty is to close the door on his past and surround himself with a veil of secrecy — he has literally to grow into a new life. This is complicated by the fact that, as a normal teenager, he has to deal with the trials and tribulations of a 15-year-old boy in his relationships with girls. This is a tense and sometimes frightening story. It deals head-on with the knife culture that is now endemic in so many places. The teen world is never glamorised, but is shown for what it is — a potentially dangerous place, and nearer to home than we might like.

Using and Applying Mathematics, Ages 4–5 (Hilary Koll and Steve Mills (A&C Black; €22) is the first book in a series which continues up to the 10–11 age group. Each book comes with a CD-ROM and permission to photocopy. The target readership is teachers, but home educators would also benefit enormously. This first book is very child-friendly. For example — initially inviting youngsters to plan a menu for the Three Bears picnic, offering creative choices of food — as long as three of each item is packed. Fishy Friends shows three fish tanks with one, three and two fish in each. The task is to add more so that each tank has five. Tasks become more challenging and fun, but again putting the onus on the child to make choices. Also in the same A&C Black series, same price, photocopiable and with CD-ROM, More Mental Maths — Tests for Ages 8–9, by Andrew Brodie, provides good practice for aural tests, with each answer allocated a time limit. What a pity some of our bankers, economists and politicians didn’t begin their education with inspiring books like these.

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