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It’s a Story, Rory!

It's a Story, Rory!

It’s a Story, Rory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Story, Rory!

Frances Watts

David Legge

HarperCollins, 2018 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733335938

 

Hey, Milly, why are we on this blank page?’

‘It won’t be blank for long. We’re going to be in a STORY, Rory!’

Rory the fox is puzzled because he has never been in a story before and he’s not even sure how one works. Luckily his friend Milly the chook knows a  little bit more and with the  helpful voice of the narrator explaining how stories work, they have an adventure that will  entertain as much as it educates.

This is a brilliant companion to the fabulous Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books, the CBCA Eve Pownall Book of the Year in 2008. In that, Parsley Rabbit explained all the parts of a book to young readers, and in this new one, Watts and Legge have teamed up again to talk young readers through the structure of a story.  Explaining the role and purpose of the narrator, the characters, the plot, and the setting; discussing the need for description (which can be achieved with words or pictures or both combined); creating an event which engages the reader and to which the characters should react; building anticipation; introducing the concept of genre to determine how the story will proceed; and drawing the story to a conclusion which satisfies both the characters and the reader are all done as Rory’s and Millie’s adventure unfolds on the pages. 

Illustrator Legge has said, “The line between writer and illustrator was well and truly blurred to the point where I’m not sure where some of the ideas for both words and pictures came from,” and this is very evident as the link between the text and pictures and the narrator’s explanation and the characters’ adventure is seamless. Whereas Parsley Rabbit focused on the child as a consumer of stories making it easier for them to navigate their way around a physical book, this one concentrates on the child as the creator of stories, helping them move from the blank page to something that has all the essential elements that engage a reader. For those who want to read the story behind this story, Frances and David discuss it here

As both a teacher and a teacher librarian, I can envisage having this book as the basis for my entire writing program for a class for a year, satisfying nearly every outcome of the English strand of the Australian Curriculum.  Imagine giving every child a blank page and inviting them to either draw an original character or describe one (depending on their preference for words or pictures) and then passing that page on to either have words or a picture added.  That’s the start of a collaboration that could go on and on as the characters become real as the other elements are explored. Further teaching notes are available

If there is one book that you are going to add to your teaching toolbox this year, this should be it.  Ask for it in your Christmas stocking!

 

 

 

 

Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey

Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey

Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey

Alison Lester

Allen & Unwin, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760293123

Noni the Pony heads out for a wander in the hills behind Waratah Bay with her friends Coco the Cat and Dave the Dog.  They haven’t gone far when they meet a lost wallaby on the trail and so it becomes their mission to help the little joey find his family.  But none of the other creatures can help, mostly because they sleep during the day and haven’t seen anything. Will the joey find his family?

Former Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester first introduced us to Noni the Pony in 2011 and it was shortlisted for the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year.  This was followed by another adventure Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach.in 2014 so she has become a favourite of  many preschoolers over time.  This new adventure, written in rhyme and beautifully illustrated, will become a favourite too, particularly if today’s preschooler has an older sibling who remembers the earlier stories.  Apart from the joy of the rhythm and the rhyme of the language, it’s a chance to introduce our youngest readers to some of the more familiar indigenous creatures of this country and talk about why they would all be asleep during the day when surely, that’s the time to be up and about like Noni. There is also the opportunity to talk about how the joey felt being separated from its parents and what the child should do if it finds itself in a similar situation.

While it is the perfect bedtime story, it might be better shared during the day when everyone can join the cows in the celebratory dance at the end!

 

 

The Tales of Mr Walker

The Tales of Mr Walker

The Tales of Mr Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tales of Mr Walker

Jess Black

Sara Acton

Puffin Books, 2018 

192pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9780143793076

On a beautiful autumn day, Mr Walker sat in the back seat of the car feeling very excited because he was going to be the Guide Dog ambassador of a park.  Even though he didn’t know what “ambassador” meant, he loved parks, especially rolling in the dirt and playing fetch with sticks.  

So he was really confused when the car stopped outside a tall building, and when he got out his paws slipped and slid on tile floors instead of gripping the grass he was expecting.  Turns out Mr Walker was going to be the ambassador for the Park Hyatt hotel in Melbourne. Because of his larger-than-life personality it had been decided that he would be better meeting and greeting the hotel’s guests, including important people and celebrities and raising awareness of Guide Dogs Australia

Written in a chatty narrative that will appeal to all those who love stories about dogs, especially true ones, this book contains four illustrated stories about Mr Walker’s adventures at the hotel -where he still remains lounging on his custom-made Tasmanian oak bed.

  

All royalties from the sales of the book are being donated to Guide Dogs Victoria

Meet the Fingerlings

Meet the Fingerlings

Meet the Fingerlings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Fingerlings

Rosie Peet

DK, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A12.99

9780241370803

The Fingerlings are a lively gang of monkey, sloth, and unicorn friends who love to hang out together and this book introduces very young readers to Boris the energetic monkey who loves to play the drums, Marge the brainy sloth and Gigi the bubbly unicorn who is always the life and soul of the party as well as  Bella the monkey who loves to jump and climbs and  Kingsley the sloth whose favourite sport is surfing!

At first glance, this is just another book that is a tie-in to a set of popular commercial characters, and to some extent it is, but with the expected DK twist of educating as well as entertaining, it is more than that.  Each character has their own page with basic information about them in easily accessible language but the book also has a quiz at the end to test the children’s knowledge of what they have read and an index so they can find the answers quickly if they are unsure.  While not a fan of quizzing kids on what they’ve read as though they somehow have to prove they have read and understood things, nevertheless this is a fun format to introduce the concept that books can contain information and that it can be found by using specific cues and clues, thus laying down the foundations of information literacy.  

Even if it is viewed as a clever marketing tool to popularise characters soon to hit Australian preschoolers, books that tie screen to print are always popular as young would-be readers recognise familiar things and with the bonus of some simple guidelines to help them with those first research skills, this deserves a place in the early childhood collection- just as we provide books about Star Wars and superheroes for our older readers. 

Morris the Mole

Morris the Mole

Morris the Mole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morris the Mole

Nicki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2018 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760630829

Up from the darkness, out of his hole…
Comes pioneer…

trailblazer…

MORRIS THE MOLE! 
With a twirl of his spade and a twitch of his nose, 
Morris makes TUNNELS wherever he goes…

Morris loves to dig and explore the great underground, finding treasures and tucker but when he pops out of the earth, he seems to create havoc. Ruining picnics, toppling stalls, disturbing games – it seems that Morris just has an unerring ability to come up in the wrong place! But the day that he hits concrete yet tunnels on undeterred changes his life forever…

Nicki Greenberg, creator of Meerkat Choir and The Naughtiest Reindeer series never fails to delight with her quirky characters and energetic  language that just oozes the rhyme and rhythm that young listeners adore.

Thwarted…
Obstructed…
Scuttled and stuck…
Is Morris defeated?
Is Mole out of luck? 

It doesn’t matter that most of the audience will be unfamiliar with moles- finding out about them is part of the experience – they will just revel in his energy and enthusiasm for his passion, as well as his determination to pursue it even though it lands him in trouble.  The surprise ending really sets up the scenario for a sequel – here’s hoping Ms Greenberg has one in the pipeline. 

What Should a Horse Say?

What Should a Horse Say?

What Should a Horse Say?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Should a Horse Say?

Fleur McDonald

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925594201

On her farm, Farmer Rochelle has all the animals you would expect find there.

She has a cow who says “moo moo”, a sheep who says “baa baa” and a horse who says “chick chick”.

“Chick chick?”

She really doesn’t think much about it until neighbouring Farmer Hayden brings her a box of chickens that also say “chick chick”. That leaves her confused so she starts asking all her friends, “What should a horse say?” While they can help her with dogs who say “woof woof”, cats who say “meow meow” and even a cockatoo who says, “Can I have another piece of chocolate? Squark”, none of them can tell her what a horse says.  And so Farmer Rochelle calls Dr Swan the vet. Can he work out this mystery?

Little ones will not only love joining in with all the animal noises that are repeated several times in the story, but they will also love knowing that they know more than Farmer Rochelle and all her friends.  They would be able to tell her what a horse says, if she had asked them! Perfect for helping them feel they can be in charge and this reading thing is something they can do!

 

 

Billie

Billie

Billie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billie

Nicole Godwin

Demelsa Haughton

Tusk Books, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780994531414

Billie the dolphin loves the wildness of surfing the ocean’s waves -for her there is no greater thrill.  And so she sets off to find the most enormous wave that she can, one that will make her happy, safe and free.  But in her search for that one wonderful wave, she encounters more than she expected as she finds fellow marine creatures entangled in the human detritus and pollution of the ocean.  Fishing lines, plastic bags, nets, noise… all are modern-day hazards that have to be navigated as the ocean’s creatures go about their daily lives.  Billie helps to free as many as she can, but when she herself is caught in a net and her new friends come to rescue her, she finds something that is even better than surfing the enormous waves.

The Canberra author of Ella has made it her mission to be a voice for those creatures of the wild who don’t have their own voice to bring attention to the destruction of their habitat.  Many young  readers will be familiar with the sight of dolphins surfing the waves and develop a fascination for these beautiful, intelligent creatures from a young age.  But they are unaware of the issues that dolphins face as the human world encroaches more and more on their environment and so it is books like this that carry a critical message of conservation as well as a charming story that inspire them to action.  Rather like the little wave that forms and is then apparently lost in the vast ocean, but in fact becomes part of a larger wave, so the voices of authors like Godwin and illustrators like Haughton who has created such vivid images become bigger and bigger and louder and louder as both Ella and Billie are shared with our young students as part of the sustainability perspective of the Australian Curriculum.

The final double spread explains more about the issues that Billie encountered on her journey, and part of this includes this statemet, “One of the saddest parts of my journey was not being able to help my friends in the dolphin park. They belong in the wild, not in tanks.” This has the potential to become a formal debate on the role of places like SeaWorld and other venues where dolphins are held in captivity, perhaps even extending to the roles of zoos, in the understanding and conservation of the planet’s fauna.  So while this appears to be a picture book for the very young, it has scope to be used with a much wider, older audience.

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bee Book

Charlotte Milner

DK, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241305188

As Spring finally reaches even the coldest parts of Australia and the blossoms, wattles and daffodils finally emerge from their winter slumber, so too comes the sound of the bees – as welcome as the warbling of nesting magpies and the laughing of the returning kookaburras. 

Bees have been an essential and integral part of life on the planet for over 100 million years – even pre-dating the dinosaurs – and about 20 000 different species can be found all around the world. While some bees are large, others small., some can cook and the original name of the much-loved bumblebee was “dumbledore”, the most famous is the honey bee and this amazing new book focuses on this species as it explores all aspects of its life and why it is so important to the survival of humans. 

Packed with easily accessible information  and eye-catching illustrations, this is the ideal book to show young children how critical bees are within the environment as they, along with other insects, are responsible for about a third of everything we eat! As well as emphasising their importance, there is also a warning about their decline in numbers and the potential for catastrophe if that happens. There are suggestions for how we can assist their longevity, including building a simple bee motel (although I cheated and bought one) with more detailed instructions available here.

With Christmas approaching, and Miss 12 and Miss 7 growing beyond toys and stuff, this book and a copy of this year’s winner of the CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, How to Bee  because they seem like natural companions, as well as the bee motel will make a somewhat different gift, but one which will inspire them!

A must for school libraries and fascinating and informative for those with an interest in the environment.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Dinosaur Day Out

Dinosaur Day Out

Dinosaur Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Day Out

Sara Acton

Walker Books, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760650049

When Sally and Max go to the museum with their dad and discover their favourite dinosaur exhibition is closed for the day, they head into the city for a day out instead.  There are lots of things to see and do, but it’s amazing what a little knowledge and a lot of imagination can conjure up and their day is filled with dinosaurs.  

This is a charming story to share with young readers and even those not-so-young who are dinosaur fans.  As each dinosaur is encountered they will be able to add to the information that Dad  shares from the new book about dinosaurs he bought at the museum, and those who live in Sydney may well recognise some of the more familiar landmarks. 

Dinosaur books are always popular so to have one that entertains as well as educates and which is aimed at our youngest readers is a gift. 

Ideas for extending the story are available.

Little Owl’s First Day

Little Owl’s First Day

Little Owl’s First Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Owl’s First Day

Debi Gliori

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408892213

It’s Little Owl’s first day at preschool and he really doesn’t want to go.  He is not excited and really dawdles through his morning routine, but with some bribery and persuasion he eventually goes.  But he makes it very plain that he would rather stay home with Mummy and Little Owl.  No matter what Miss Oopik offers him, he is not enthusiastic.  While he participates his mind wanders so as he builds a rocket from scraps he imagines Mummy and Little Owl are going to the moon in their rocket while he is left behind; when she suggests playing with the musical instrument he imagines them spending their time playing in a rock band; and the water play suggests they are off on a pirate ship!

Will Little Owl actually settle into preschool, make friends and begin to enjoy himself?

As our youngest children start their transition days to preschool, many will be like Little Owl and be worried about leaving their mums and siblings.  So this is the ideal time to share this story to acknowledge their concerns and reassure them that most little ones are afraid of the things they don’t know – they are not alone in their concerns. Meeting other children as well as book characters who feel as they do can offer support and give that boost of courage that is needed.

Debi Gliori always hits the right notes with her stories for little ones and Alison Brown’s soft, gentle illustrations are the perfect accompaniment.