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Hooray for Birds

Hooray for Birds

Hooray for Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooray for Birds

Lucy Cousins

Candlewick Press, 2017

40pp., hbk., RRP $a24.99

9780763692650

Can you imagine…just for one day…you’re a busy bird? Yes, a bird! Hooray!

Ask a little child what birds can do and they are bound to tell you that they fly.  But in this exuberant book by Lucy Cousins we learn about all the other things they can do – and that the child can do too.  They can start the day by shouting cock-a-doodle-doo, hop, peck, swim and stretch, stand very tall on just one leg waddle like a penguin and run like an ostrich, puff out their chest and then bid the day farewell with a tuwit tuwoo. 

As well as responding to the vibrant colours and bold illustrations on solid colour backgrounds, young readers will delight in doing the things that birds do, flapping their wings, exercising their lungs and generally just having a lot of fun as they are introduced to a flock of different birds, some familiar, some not-so. It soon becomes clear that birds come in all shapes and sizes and colours and can do all sorts of things and make all sorts of noises. Even though there are not the familiar magpies, kookaburras and emus that might be found in a book of Australian origin, nevertheless roosters, swans, peacocks and flamingos are very recognisable and will help the child learn about the diversity of our feathered friends..    Combined with a simple rhyming pattern the distinctive pictures will help the child become a role-play reader as they engage with the book on their own.  

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Full of fun and energy, this will ensure a menagerie in the house for sure!

Feathers for Phoebe (mini book)

Feathers for Phoebe

Feathers for Phoebe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feathers for Phoebe

Rod Clement

HarperCollins, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9781460753507

Phoebe is a small grey bird and she doesn’t like it one bit.  Surrounded by the most colourful, exotic birds she feels she is inferior and so desperately wants to be more like them. So with the help of Zelda who runs the most popular beauty salon in the forest she begins a transformation.  But no matter what she adds, no one notices her and stops to admire her.  Even when she is totally transformed and unrecognisable from the small grey Phoebe, no one seems to notice. 

Zelda tells her that sometimes “feathers are not enough” and she needs more – a song, a sound and some moves. So Phoebe spends the day practising until she has the perfect moves for the perfect grooves.  The all-new singing, dancing Phoebe is ready to show herself to the world…

When Miss 10 started school this was the National Simultaneous Storytime of the Year pick and she loved it.  It was a family favourite for months and no bedtime session was complete without reading it.  It’s colour, it’s movement, it’s humour and it’s message about being yourself really appealed to her -as it did to thousands of other children – and sparked endless sessions of creating new feathers for headbands and dressing up in the gaudiest of fabrics and having fun being whoever her imagination decided, but each evening off came the regalia and she got into her ordinary pyjamas, happy to be herself and having her favourite story read yet again.

Now Miss 10 is an independent reader and she reads this book to Miss 5 who is not quite there yet.  But how wonderful it is to have this mini-book version that is just the right size to fit Miss 5’s hands so having heard the story so often already will be reading it for herself very soon.  Christmas stocking sorted!!!

Home of the Cuckoo Clock

Home of the Cuckoo Clock

Home of the Cuckoo Clock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home of the Cuckoo Clock

Robert Favretto

David Eustace

Ford Street, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9781925272253 (hbk)

9781925272260 (pbk)

Deep in the Black Forest nestles the village of Schoenwald, frozen in time – but a somewhat chaotic time for there were no clocks and people did things when they felt like it (or remembered) rather than according to hands making a particular pattern on a numbered face.  One day a weary cuckoo lands in a pine tree and is dismayed to see the disorder and disarray in the village and so the next morning, and every morning after that, this natural time-keeper for Nature sang out.  What a difference this regular greeting made.  Until one night a huge storm brought the cuckoo’s pine tree crashing down and the cuckoo was blown off the mountain and way down into the valley…

Superbly illustrated in a calm palette and with intricate detail (including a hidden egg on each page)  that draw the reader into this isolated village in a beautiful part of the world, this is a perfect story for introducing children to the concept of time and the need to have some order and continuity in our lives.  Little ones will have lots of fun imagining what would happen at home or school if everyone could do what they liked when they liked and I can imagine two contrasting murals being created with each child contributing a vignette.  Having explored the world of no-time, they could then be introduced to the vocabulary of time – before, after, during, now, then, soon, morning, afternoon, evening, night, dusk, dawn, first, next, last – and the skills of sequencing.  Those wanting greater challenges could explore how and why the day is divided into the chunks it is; time zones; time pieces;  what they can achieve in a given period of time… Time is the most abstract concept to teach but it is the one that is most prevalent in our lives.  To have such a unique story and such stunning illustrations to kickstart its investigation is such a gift.

Students could also have lots of fun enacting a storm (complete with sound effects) so fierce that the cuckoo was blown away as well as predicting what will happen to the village.  How could the problem be solved? what role might Franz, the village craftsmen have in that?

The sound of the cuckoo might be unfamiliar to some so they could listen to it and discuss why it might be preferable to that of a rooster as a wake-up sound.  This could lead into an investigation of familiar bird calls or the reasons behind the ‘dawn chorus’.  This could lead into an investigation of familiar bird calls or the reasons behind the ‘dawn chorus’ as well as setting up a bird-watching station and identifying the common and seasonal birds which visit the school playground.  And of course, there is always the old favourite round, Within the Shady Thicket

Maths, science, history, music and English outcomes could all be explored in this one title.

Further teaching notes are available.

 

The Birds of Bethlehem

The Birds of Bethlehem

The Birds of Bethlehem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birds of Bethlehem

Tomie de Paola

Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012

40pp., hbk

9780399257803

It is the morning of the first Christmas and the birds of Bethlehem have gathered in the field to search for stray pieces of corn that might have dropped from the harvest.  But this morning they are more interested in gossiping than eating as they talked about the events of the previous day.  According to the green birds many people had been seen coming over the hills, while the yellow birds added the inn in the town was full, and the blue birds told of a man and his wife being led to a stable.  Even the red birds had a tale to tell – of an angel appearing and talking to the shepherds who were tending their sheep in the fields.  The brown birds saw the sky filled with heavenly hosts singing but the white birds tale was the most interesting of all because they followed the shepherds.  And so all the birds decided they needed to see for themselves.

Using his signature illustrative style and folkloric telling of stories, Tomie de Paola creates a new version of the Christmas story using the birds of Bethlehem to explain what happened on that day all those years ago.  Using a warm palette, soft lines and a simple background, the birds in their colours predominate just as they do in the text.  There is a sense of awe and anticipation as each couple shares their observations leading up to all of them flying to see what had taken place that had evoked such amazing sights.  It’s a new look at an old story that will appeal to those for whom the story is new as well as those who have heard it before – from a different perspective.

When I asked my US colleagues for their essential stories to read at this time, The Birds of Bethlehem was recommended by many.  It is easy to see why.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Seagull

Seagull

Seagull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seagull

Danny Snell

Working Title Press, 2015

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

9781921504815

Flying makes Seagull’s heart sing.  Using wind and wings, she would hover and glide, swoop and soar over the sea, the beach and the dunes.  But one day as she lands on what looks like clean white sand, her foot gets caught in some tangled fishing line thoughtlessly discarded  as it so often is.  She can no longer fly and she cannot free herself.  The more she tries, the more difficult it becomes, and her friends are unable to help. Each can only loosen it a little. Exhausted, hungry and unable to find food, she nestles into the grass in the dunes.  Just as she is going to sleep, she hears footsteps and a little boy comes along…

Apart from a personal love of seagulls and the freedom they represent, this is a touching and timely tale of how a thoughtless act such as discarding unwanted fishing line can have disastrous and unforeseen effects.  While Danny Snell doesn’t take the story to what could have been its conclusion, nevertheless his words and pictures carry a very strong message that should reach every reader’s heart.  Based on a true event, he has taken an everyday situation and used his skill with words and pictures to create a memorable story that has a profound message. For while Seagull flies through clean, fresh, invigorating air, she flies over sand dunes that look pristine from on high but which, in reality, are littered with rubbish left by lazy humans.  The simple, sparse expanses of nature’s landscape make the unnatural elements come into sharper focus. 

With summer coming on and beach holidays looming,  this is the perfect story to share, to discuss and to create awareness that just because a piece of rubbish is out of our hands, it is not gone for ever and that our carelessness can have dire consequences for the creatures that give this planet the beauty it has. A plastic bag can be fatal for so many. There is also a parallel message about the cumulative effect of everyone just doing a little and that what may be overwhelming for one, can be overcome by many. Together, we can make a difference.

Even though it may look like it is intended for our youngest readers, it has something to offer a broad age group and hopefully the message of “take only photographs, leave only footprints” will become the mantra and model of all our students.

The Eagle Inside

The Eagle Inside

The Eagle Inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Inside

Jack Manning Bancroft

Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare 2015

Hbk., 32pp., RRP $A24.95

9781742974699

It is Jimmy the honeyeater’s first day at flying school and just like all new students he is somewhat anxious.  Would there be other small birds?  Would they sip nectar like him or would they be worm eaters? As he approaches the school he is surrounded by birds of all sorts and sizes- all much bigger than he is.  Full of fear and doubt already, his anxiety is increased when Cockatoo almost crashes into him and immediately blames Jimmy. “No one bumps into me and gets away with it” screeches Cockatoo who demands Jimmy’s lunch. The other birds laugh at him and Jimmy feels so humiliated he huddles at the bottom of the tree and cries.  School is not a place for him.

But then Eagle takes him under his wing and Jimmy (and the other birds) learn a lot of lessons about self-belief, individuality and the eagle inside. 

In his dedication to this book, the author writes. “If you have ever felt alone, undervalued or doubted yourself, this book is for you.  No matter what people say, you can be what you want if you are willing to believe in yourself and back it up with hard work, hard work and more hard work.”  This is a story for everyone who has ever felt intimidated by situation or circumstance, showing that we all have our strengths and an eagle inside.  It’s perfect for the preschooler about to journey on to “big school” but also a reaffirmation for those about to start any new journey into an unknown word.

Renowned artist Bronwyn Bancroft has interpreted her son’s words in her distinctive style full of colour, pattern and movement which put Jimmy’s tiny size perfectly in perspective, not only emphasising the reasons for his concerns but how we all feel when we are intimidated if not humiliated. The natural symbiosis between mother and son is evident in the relationship between the text and illustrations and it is no wonder that Ms Bancroft has been nominated for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Awards for 2016!

An early contender for the next CBCA Picture Book of the Year nomination, in my opinion!

13 Words

13 Words

13 Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Words

Lemony Snicket

Maira Kalman

HarperCollins, 2014

pbk., 40pp., RRP $A14.99

 9780061664670

 

 

Word Number 1: bird                    The bird sits on the table

Word Number 2: despondent         The bird is despondent.  In fact, she is so sad that she hops off the table to look for something to cheer her up.

And so begins this new story from Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) that continues his penchant for quirky but thoroughly engaging stories.  Bird hops off the table to explore the cake (Word Number 3) that is in the box under it and is joined by dog (word Number 4).  Together they eat the cake and then while Bird gets busy (Word Number 5) Dog goes off in his convertible (#6) and meet Goat (#7) and together they look for things that might cheer Bird up.  They decide on a hat (#8) and so continues a wonderful tale that compels the reader to make connections between words like “haberdashery”, ‘panache’ and ‘mezzo-soprano’.

Giving life to the words are the amazing illustrations of Maira Kalman which have been described in the Kirkus review as “gorgeous, Matisse-like, gelato-colored”.  They force the reader to engage with them drawing you in to discover a range of unexpected delights that are just as original as Snicket’s storyline.  It’s as though SNicket and Kalman have decided to take the iconic format of a children’s basic word book and turn it upside-down.  Not only have they used words that kids know but they’ve also chosen some of those that they love to learn.  What kindergarten word list contains “panache” and “despondent”?  Add to that, instead of the words being isolated and disconnected, they’ve turned them into a story that puts them in a context that demonstrates their meaning and makes a most appealing story. 

This book works on so many levels apart from just being plain fun.  Students could make a list of the most delicious words that roll of their tongues; they could make their own list of thirteen words and try to weave them into a story; they could make a chart of all the different types of hats and classify them as sunsmart or not; and given that Bird is still despondent at the end of the story they could speculate on what might make her happier.  It’s a book that keeps on giving and has something for each age group you share it with.

Check out this book trailer for a sneak peek!

The Dawn Chorus

The Dawn Chorus

The Dawn Chorus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dawn Chorus

Suzanne Barton

Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014

hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780140839218

Deep in the forest, just as the sun begins to rise, little Peep is woken from his slumbers by the most beautiful song. Stretching his wings and fluffing his feathers he sets out to find out where it is coming from.  But if it’s not Owl or Mouse or Frog, who could it be?  AHA!  There on an enormous tree on the top of a hill are lots and lots of birds, all singing their hearts out.  It is the Dawn Chorus and their job is to sing lustily each morning to let the world know a new day has begun.  Because Peep loves to sing, he wants to join and the conductor invites him for an audition the next morning.  But Peep doesn’t make it in time the next day, and the day after he was so tired all he could do was yawn!

“Perhaps you’re not meant to sing”, sighed the conductor.

Peep is so disappointed.  “Why can I sing in the evening but not in the morning?” he asks.  And suddenly, he has the answer – one that lifts his spirits and his voice and brings joy to all!

This is a beautifully illustrated book by new author and illustrator, Suzanne Barton. A combination of collage, drawing and painting, the gentle colours and delicate patterns are enchanting and very appealing.

Anyone who has heard a real dawn chorus wonders at the diversity of sounds as each bird adds its greeting, and this concept is enhanced by each bird in the tree being different.  However, even though as individuals each has a song to sing, it is when all are singing together that the true magic happens. But as well as celebrating unity, there is also the ability and need to celebrate difference, as Peep discovers.   What a wonderful way to introduce those concepts to young learners. I’ve put this one aside for when I work with a Year 1 class next week – I can see myself working with it, and that’s the greatest compliment of all from a teacher librarian.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Max

Max

Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max

Marc Martin

Penguin, 2014

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

9780670077434

Max and Bob are great mates.  They live by the sea and during the day, Max keeps Bob company in his fish and chip shop (Max loves both fish and chips so it’s a perfect partnership) and in the evening they go fishing together.

How can that scenario make for a most enchanting story that kept 9 and 10 year-olds engaged for over an hour and wanting more?

Well, Max is a seagull, who’s a little bit cheeky and a little bit mischievous, and this is the story of a friendship that endures even after Bob has to close his shop because of a lack of business.  When Max comes to the shop one morning, Bob has gone, and even though he waits and waits and waits, his friend does not return.  Without Bob there is no attraction for Max and so he decides to leave – but as he flies high over the city looking for another home he smells a familiar smell…

Marc Martin won the 2013 Crichton Award for Australia’s best new illustrator and the illustrations for ‘Max’ add so much to its message and its charm.  Using a variety of techniques, vignettes and full-page spreads, (the class laughed out loud at Max sitting on top of the No Seagulls sign) they are rich and exquisite, providing so many more layers to the story than just the text alone.  For example, while there is no written explanation for the downturn in business, the picture of cranes soaring high above the funfair, the main drawcard of the area, tells its own story and opened up a discussion about the impact of tourism on local economies (particularly pertinent where I live).  Later, the reason for the dismantling for the funfair is also evident and sparked a debate about “you can’t stop progress”. What seems like a simple tale for a preschooler to enjoy is so much more.

As well as an enthusiastic discussion that ranged from personal stories of feeding seagulls hot chips, recalling other seagull stories we’ve read such as ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch” and “Samantha Seagull’s Sandals” to the importance of the snow-oriented industry on our region, to country versus city living, the students also embraced the task of imagining what Max would have seen as he flew over our town and then drawing a birds-eye view map of it.  Suddenly that concept made sense to them! What started as a story to share because I loved it became a rich and rewarding experience for all of us that went far beyond the focus and timeframe I’d allocated.  But when you’re on a good thing…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Another look...

Another look…

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo

Yvonne Morrison

Heath McKenzie

Little  Hare

hbk; RRP $24.95

9781921541421

 

“In the back of beyond, underneath the hot sun,

lived a huge flock of parrots, who loved to have fun.

They would scratch in the dirt, and splash in the creek,

Sing raucous songs and then dance beak-to-beak.”

 

And among them was a handsome and arrogant young cockatoo who was not yet ready to go to sleep.  He liked to play tricks, and if you are familiar with the traditional tale of The Boy who cried Wolf, you can predict the storyline of this Australian version.  But what happens when the real dingo comes?  Are the other parrots sick of his tricks and do they ignore him?  Does Cocky escape with a valuable lesson learned?

The rhyme and rhythm of this story have it bouncing along and young listeners and readers will join in with the chorus in delight, shouting out for help.  They will be on edge as it reaches its climax and shiver when they see those fierce dingo teeth.  It can spark discussion about telling the truth and be the perfect forerunner to Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? a free unit of work based on the original tale available from the National Digital Learning Resources Network (ID# R11580).

The pairing of Morrison and McKenzie is perfect – the colourful, whimsical illustrations are just right to build the tension but not overwhelm with fear.  A must for any school library collection which supports a values curriculum.

Others in the series are

The Emu that laid the Golden Egg

The Emu that laid the Golden Egg

The Three Wallabies Gruff

The Three Wallabies Gruff

Town Possum, Outback Possum

Town Possum, Outback Possum