Ten Blue Wrens and what a lot of wattle
Allen & Unwin, 2015
32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
There have been boundless counting books based on Australiana over the years, but Ten Blue Wrens has to be one of my favourites. Full of iconic but different images, it is a celebration of this nation in pictures and rhymes that will capture the imagination of any little person. Who could resist
One little nipper dipping in the pools
Two straight fingers for a goal in Aussie rules
Each page brings something that the reader will relate to and want to talk about as they discover the detail in the enchanting illustrations. “Six fat strawberries on a passionfruit pavlova. There were six lamingtons…none left over.” Unlike most counting books that end at 10 or 12, this one gives opportunities to count up to some of those ginormous numbers that little ones like. The endpapers are gorgeous but my favourite is the final page and the clever use of words that sums up everything.
Shared bedtime stories can be as much about the learning as the bonding and there is research to show that chatting to children about maths concepts as they read can improve their understanding so there are riches and rewards in one that is so full of fun.
Putting on my teacher librarian hat, I love stories like this – not just for the joy and energy they bring to our littlest listeners but also for the model they provide for older students to create their own. What better way to investigate what it is to be Australian than to use this as a kickstart for thinking beyond the obvious and drawing on personal passions to say who you are. Honey created the images using acrylics sponged onto stencils adding another element to explore as students create their own interpretations.
The hardback edition of this book was a CBCA Notable Book for Early Childhood in 2012. Its release in paperback in 2015 means not only has it endured but also a new generation of young readers can enjoy it. A classic in the making.