Tag Archives: Jeannie Baker

Circle and Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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Circle
Jeannie Baker
Walker Books
This moving story begins even before the title page with its narrator lying on his bed wishing, “Ahhhh – I wish I could fly!” When next we meet him he’s on the edge of the beach of a nature reserve watching the ascent of a flock of birds …

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They’re shorebirds – godwits embarking on their long journey north. (In an author’s note at the end of the book we are told this species makes the longest unbroken journey of any animal in the world migrating 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to their southern home in Australia – where Jeannie Baker has lived for many years and where this book begins – and New Zealand.)
It’s a journey that will continue for six days and nights ‘until they know they need to stop,’ with each bird taking a turn as leader of the flock. Increasingly their familiar safe resting places have been replaced with high rise buildings …

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so their search for food has become more and more difficult but eventually they find a place to stop and refuel, eating as much as possible from the rich mud at low tide. The focus is on the godwit with white patches on its wings and finally he flies solo on to the place he remembers. There he makes a nest, attracts a mate and a brood of four chicks duly hatch …

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of which only one survives the ravages of a fox.
After many weeks, the chick is fully grown and again it’s time to move on, feed themselves up in preparation for when an icy wind heralds departure time for the godwit family and a returning flock, that now undertake the awesome nine day flight which takes them full circle back south ‘Following an ancient invisible pathway high above the clouds’ … to the other side of the world where a welcome awaits …

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I learned a great deal from this beautiful book. Its lyrical text and stunning collage illustrations make for a memorable account of godwit migration and thought-provoking glimpses of the child narrator whose personal ‘flight’ is left to readers to interpret: seemingly he too has undergone a transformation.

There’s an altogether different journey in:

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Dr Seuss
Harper Collins Children’s Books
From starting at playgroup or in a nursery class, this book, with its weird and wonderful landscapes

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and some strange and on occasion alarming encounters …

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can accompany you or your child through life’s journey with all its highs and lows, uncertainties and unpredictability. It’ll help you take risks, persevere against the odds, take adversity in your stride – (‘I’m sorry to say so/ but, sadly, it’s true/ that Bang-ups/ and Hang-ups/ can happen to you.’); because as Seuss, the rhymer extraordinaire asserts:
So be sure when you step,/ Step with care and great tact/ and remember that Life’s/ a Great Balancing Act. … And will you succeed?/ Yes! You will, indeed!/ (98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
Empowering? Yes. Thought provoking? Ditto!

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