Archives

Something for Fleur

Something for Fleur

Something for Fleur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something for Fleur

Catherine Pelosi

Caitlin Murray

Lothian Children’s, 2018

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

9780734418098

Fleur the Flamingo has a birthday coming up and her friend Bo is teasing her with the clues about her present by sending her letters.  The first clue is that it is very big – could that mean there will be ice-cream mountains or ten-tiered cakes?  The second clue is that it is very strong.  Could that mean superheroes with soaring wings or body builders to carry things? The third clue has Fleur baffled – it is a little bit wobbly! So maybe multi-coloured swimming fishes or belly dancers to polish dishes.

But on her birthday there was nothing in the letterbox and no parcel on her doorstep! So she waited and waited and waited and then…

Storybooks that you can hear yourself reading and imagine the children responding to, are the very best IMO.  And that is the case with this one.  We could have so much fun trying to imagine what Fleur’s present might be and gradually eliminating suggestions as we combine the clues.

Rhyme, rhythm, and a touch of intrigue – wonderful!

The Hole

The Hole

The Hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hole

Kerry Brown

Lucia Masciullo

ABC Books, 2018 

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

9780733335235

Squirrel is making her way through the woods with a basket of goodies to share with her cousin Vera.  But when she stops to have a rest, she spies a hole in the ground and being inquisitive she peers down it. Wondering who lives there she climbs into it, only to find she can’t touch the bottom and she is stuck because she can’t get a purchase on the sheer walls to hoist herself up.  Her shouts for help are heard by an ostrich passing by, also with a basket of goodies to share with his cousin but when he sticks his long neck down the hole to investigate, it is longer than squirrel’s legs and he declares he can’t see anything,  Trouble strikes when his head his wedged in the hole, both Squirrel and Ostrich convinced that there is a monster at the bottom of the hole who will have them both for his lunch. Three monkeys also find themselves trapped and when a tiny mouse appears to waken the monster by yelling at it, everyone seems doomed…

This is a charming  adventure that engages from the get-go with its 3D cover featuring a hole filled with black and two bright eyes!  Young readers will suggest that it’s about a monster at the bottom of a hole but the monster shape revealed on the front page could be anything so there are no clues there,  The story begins with Squirrel’s curiosity, moves through the willingness of others to help those in distress or need and ends with a friendship amongst some unlikely characters. Young readers might like to speculate on what might be at the bottom of the hole, although they are unlikely to guess because it’s not a creature young Australians would be familiar with.  Nevertheless, the scope for describing the monster that might be there is endless. They could also put themselves in the position of the squirrel, the ostrich and the monkeys to consider how they would respond – would they be curious, would they help or would they continue of their journey because someone is expecting them?

Its rhyming format and the cumulative text make it perfect for reading aloud and Masciullo’s illustrations capture the emotions and the drama of the moment perfectly.

Teachers’ notes are available.

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408879146

Don’t let an elephant drive a digger . . .
Diggers are big – but elephants bigger.
No, if you want to move earth or dig holes,
best not let an elephant near the controls.

So begins this follow-up to You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus which is just as hilarious as its predecessor.  All the animals want to do is help you through your day but with a crocodile wanting to help you with teeth cleaning, a kangaroo assisting you on the loo and a seal preparing your meal, things could get a little chaotic.  Luckily they come up with their own solution.

Winter has been dragging on – record rains in some parts, drought in others and so many minus-many nights where I live that it really is time for a good laugh, and this book provides it.  Sharing a bunk with a skunk brings its own mental images and little ones could have fun making their own suggestions.  What about a giraffe in your bath or a pheasant who’s unpleasant??

Lots of fun to bring a smile to the gloomiest face as the imagination runs wild. 

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

Craig MacLean

HarperCollins, 2018

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

9781460752272

“When it’s too dark to see, a koala sleeps in a tree.”

Sleeping until tomorrow, a wombat snores in its burrow.”

But where does a giraffe go to bed?

We all need to sleep but not everything curls up in a soft, warm bed like we do, so this story-in-rhyme with its  repetitive question explores the sleeping habits of some of the creatures familiar to its preschool audience,

Set against a night sky palette, the illustrations are as perfect as the text to make a lullaby for bedtime, one that the young child will be able to recite within a couple of reads as they snuggle down and close the curtains on their day.  And for those who are reluctant to settle they will begin to understand that everything needs to sleep, even the giraffe.

Loved it.

 

Look

Look

Look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look

Fiona Woodcock

GreenWillow Books, 2018

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

9780062644558

From the rooster’s first cock-a-doodle-doo to the owl’s hooting at the moon, this clever story takes the young reader on a trip to the zoo with a brother and sister, using only words that contain the diphthong oo.  With just one word on each page, two children have a lovely time visiting the zoo, seeing the animals and having a scoop of icecream (which has an untimely end!).

 While it predominantly uses the long sound as in bamboo, kangaroo and cockatoo,  there are occasional entries for the shorter sound as in look and book. In several cases the artwork forms the diphthong allowing the young reader to read the words so they can create the story for themselves.

Original and fun, but it could pose some confusion if it is introduced as part of a phonics program because it emphasises the diversity of sounds rather than their consistency.  Enjoy it for the story it tells, not the lessons it might offer.

The Dog With Seven Names

The Dog With Seven Names

The Dog With Seven Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog With Seven Names

Dianne Wolfer

Random House Australia, 2018

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143787457

A tiny dog, the runt of the litter, is born on a remote cattle station. She shouldn’t have survived, but when she is given to Elsie, the station-owner’s daughter as a Christmas gift, and is called Princess, she becomes a cherished companion. Life is perfect … until War arrives.

With Japanese air raids moving closer, Elsie’s family leaves the Pilbara for the south and safety. But the small dog has to stay behind. Found by Stan and Dave, two drovers intent on signing up for the Army, but who have a mob of cattle to deliver to Port Hedland, she becomes just plain “Dog”. But tragedy strikes and she is taken under the wing of a flying doctor,who calls her Flynn, and becomes a hospital dog and experiences the impact of war on north-western Australia. She witnesses wonderful and terrible things and gives courage to many different humans… 

But through all her adventures and many names, the little dog remembers Elsie, who girl who loved her best of all. Will she ever find her again?

Told through the voice of Princess, this is a heart-warming story that not only tugs at the heart-strings but also brings to life the events of the early 1940s and their impact on north-western Australia, a region as historically remote to many as it is geographically,  in a way that alerts children but doesn’t scare them. 

Many of Dianne Wolfer’s books have an historical theme which brings the past to life for young readers (Light Horse Boy was a CBCA Honour Book in 2014 and Nanna’s Button Tin is a Notable for this year) and once again, her thorough research is a hallmark of this new release.  There is a timeline of the events of World War II aligned to the events in the story as well as other historical notes, all of which not only add authenticity to the story but also provide new pathways for interested readers to follow.  

Independent readers who like animal stories will adore this. 

Are You My Bottom?

Are You My Bottom?

Are You My Bottom?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You My Bottom?

Kate & Jol Temple

Ronojoy Ghosh

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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

9781760631642

Little Panda wakes up to find his bottom is missing!  Where could it be?  He searches here and there, high and low and even pastes Wanted posters on the wall, but there is no sign of it anywhere.

Oh, wait?  There it is – it’s black and white like his, but no – this one is long and stripy and belongs to Lemur.  Well, perhaps that’s it, up in the tree.  No Panda, you’re being absurd.  That is the bum of a fine feathered bird.

As each bottom turns out to belong to something else, nevertheless each creature joins in the crazy romp to help Panda out.  Will they be successful? Or will Panda be bottomless forever?

With its distinctive illustrations and its rhyming text, this is a funny book that will have young readers laughing and trying to predict whose bottom Panda has spied and just just where his might be.  But it is also a good way to introduce the concept of bottoms and their essential role in the anatomy and health and well-being of every living creature.  Simply asking, “Why does Panda need his bottom?” can start an interesting discussion that can lift the common taboo of this subject among little people. It might even start speculation about why all the creatures in the story (and others) have tails, whereas humans don’t.  Fun, entertaining and offering teachable moments all at the same time. 

A Boy Called BAT

A Boy Called BAT

A Boy Called BAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Boy Called BAT

Elana K. Arnold

Charles Santose

Walden Pond, 2018

208pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780062445834

Bixby Alexander Tam, known to those who know him as BAT because of his initials, his love of animals and the way his arms and hands flap when he gets excited, prefers life to be logical, predictable, routine and without surprises. He’s not good with noise (so wears his sister Janie’s earmuffs often), doesn’t like the mushy texture of some foods, is sensitive to the feel of fabrics on his skin and finds it difficult to make eye contact and hold casual conversations. Clearly, to even a non-teacher who doesn’t know the signs of being on the autism spectrum, this is a little boy with  special needs. But Bat is not unhappy or frustrated – his mum, sister and teacher are sensitive to his needs, his peers seem to accept him for who he is, and although his father, whom he stays with “every-other-Friday” seems to struggle a little with his non-sporty son, generally Bat is content and just gets on with things.

But when his mum, a vet, brings home a newborn skunk that needs special care, Bat comes into his own, devoting his life to caring for the kit and planning how he will be able to keep it and care for it beyond the initial few weeks before the local wildlife refuge can take over. He needs to show his mum that he is responsible and committed enough, even contacting a skunk expert for advice. 

This is an engaging story that shows the reader the world through Bat’s eyes but which is not patronising, sentimental or emotional.  Bat’s autism adds a different and interesting perspective to the relationships between the characters but the concept of an eight-year-old taking care of an orphaned animal and hoping to keep it longer is a story that could be about any young person.  I believe that all children should be able to read about themselves in stories, and those about autistic children are rare, so this one which has such a solid, familiar storyline so every reader can relate to it while learning about the world through unfamiliar eyes, is a must-have.  Its sequel Bat and the Waiting Game is also available in hardcover. 

 

 

 

 

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: 100th Anniversary Edition

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: 100th Anniversary Edition

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: 100th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: 100th Anniversary Edition

May Gibbs

HarperCollins, 2018

272pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781460756218

A century ago, as the war that had shaken the world and shattered so many families was finally drawing to a close, an Australian artist who specialised in satirical cartoons and social commentary gave the world her now-iconic work about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, the two little gumnut brothers who set off on an adventure to see a human. 

May Gibbs  had completely changed her focus from her earlier work and because of ill-health moved to Sydney where she fell in love with the natural bushland of the Blue Mountains. In 1914 the Gumnut Babies made their first appearance and quickly became popular with Australians at home and in the trenches as her range of works were included in Red Cross parcels, bringing sentimental reminders of home to the troops.

Now a committed conservationist, Gibbs brought the world of the Australian bush alive for those who were far from it as she tells the tale of how Cuddlepie is rescued by Nut from the spiderweb and taken home to meet Snugglepot and they became foster brothers and lived together side by side until they became “strong and fat as you see them in the pictures.” Enthralled by the stories of Mr Kookaburra about humans and their ways, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie determine that these strange creatures are  something they want to see and so one very hot night, “when the Cicadas were singing so loudly that Snugglepot couldn’t hear his father’s snoring, he and Cuddlepie crept out of bed and out of the house.”  Decking themselves in  in feathers from an old nest to look like birds and fly, by sunrise they were far from home. And so the adventures began…

And a century later, little ones are still captivated by the stories and the characters who helped them on their way like Mr Lizard,  Mrs Fantail, Little Ragged blossom, Little Obelia, the evil Mrs Snake and, of course, the big bad Banksia Men. 

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie has never been out of print since it was first published and this new centenary edition is an heirloom to be treasured, and certainly the perfect gift for any baby born this year.  All of her original artwork has been sourced and re-scanned  and it features a fresh new design in full colour that is true to the original editions of these  stories.

Included is a biography of May Gibbs that reveals her remarkable life and talent and how deserving she is to be regarded as one of Australia’s most treasured illustrators, artists and children’s authors.

In her will, May Gibbs left the copyright of her works  jointly to The NSW Society for Crippled Children (now known as Northcott) and the Spastic Centre of NSW (now known as Cerebral Palsy Alliance) with payments for the rights to use her designs going to these charities and so her legacy continues in a practical way.  Nutcote, her harbourside home in Neutral Bay, Sydney is now a house museum that can be visited by the general public.  There is also a travelling exhibition celebrating her life and work with a selection of original and reproduction artwork from her children’s books and other works from the State Library of NSW that is currently on tour.  (These photos are from its stay at the Queanbeyan Library, NSW -apologies for the poor quality.)

As teacher librarians we talk about finding THAT book for each child that will transform them into a lifelong reader – THAT book for me was Snugglepot and Cuddlepie shared with me as a little one recovering from the mumps by a loving grandmother.  Over 60 years on and the magic has not faded! Who would ever have imagined I’d be reviewing the centenary edition!!!   #fanforlife

Where in the Wild

Where in the Wild

Where in the Wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where in the Wild

Poppy Bishop

Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781848699557

Inspired by Theodore Roosevelt saying, “The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will”, this book takes the young reader on a journey through the world’s key habitats and introduces them to some of the creatures that live within them. 

From rivers to jungles, the savannah, the desert, woodlands and the frozen extremes, familiar and not-so creatures make an appearance in colourful artwork and rhyming text. Using a double-page spread for each, the two-verse rhyme begins with an introduction to the habitat and then an inhabitant “speaks” to the reader about itself.  The rest of the pages are filled with a collage of flora and fauna, each with  a clever cutout featuring a creature that  lives in the featured habitat but which can adapt to the succeeding one to entice the reader to keep turning, reading and learning. Some of these cutouts have text which encourages closer observation of the illustrations, making the reader engage more through this interactivity.  The final message about habitat destruction and the need to protect what is left is very clear and ties in well with the initial quote. 

Often, books from the northern hemisphere tend to feature the creatures with which children from that part of the world are familiar but this one spans the globe, although, thankfully, the polar region is confined to the Arctic so there is not the confusion of polar bears and penguins on the same page.  

As well as being a comprehensive introduction to the world’s habitats so young readers can learn that there is more to this planet than their immediate surroundings, its strong conservation message can also lead to inquiries about the inhabitants of their local area and their protection and promotion; the impact of humans through the destruction of habitat, particularly deforestation;  the life cycles, needs and adaptation of creatures as their habitats change (such as described in Moth); and even individual responsibility and actions that could be taken to preserve what we have left. 

With the drought in eastern Australia drawing our attention to the land beyond the city environs, this is a great opportunity to have a look at the broader world and how it copes or doesn’t, and this would be an excellent introductory text.