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Little Chicken Chickabee

Little Chicken Chickabee

Little Chicken Chickabee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Chicken Chickabee

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

Raising Literacy Australia, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.90

9780994385338

Crickle, scratch, crackle, hatch – four little chicks pop from their eggs of proud Mother Hen.  Each one cheeps as expected except for Number 4 who says, “Chickabee.”  This startles Mother Hen and the other chicks who insist that “Cheep” is right and “Chickabee” is not.  But Little Chicken is not deterred and goes off to see the world.  However, she finds that even the other farm animals insist that chickens say “Cheep” not “Chickabee” although when Little Chicken challenges them, they have no real reason why not.  

Showing amazing resilience, Little Chicken knows that while “Chickabee” might be different, it is right for her and regardless of the sound she makes, she is still a chicken.  Even when her brothers and sisters reject her again, she has the courage to go back into the world and this time she meets different things that make different sounds which bring her joy,  And then she meets a pig…

This is a charming story about difference, resilience, courage and perseverance and how these can lead to friendships, even unexpected ones. Beautifully illustrated by Danny Snell, this story works on so many levels.  It would be a great read for classes early in this 2017 school year as new groups of children come together and learn about each other while even younger ones will enjoy joining in with the fabulous noises like rankety tankety, sticketty-stackety and flippety-flappity as they learn the sorts of things that are found on a farm.

Given the trend throughout the world towards convention and conservatism and an expectation that everyone will fit the same mould and be legislated or bullied into doing so, Little Chicken could be a role model for little people that it is OK to be different and that no one is alone in their difference.  

 

Mrs Dog

Mrs Dog

Mrs Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Dog

Janeen Brian

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Five Mile Press, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.95

9781760066451

 

Once, not so long ago, Mrs Dog rounded up the Woolly-Heads on the farm, but now, as time has caught up with her as it does with everything, she just follows Tall-One and chases shadows.  But one day she finds a tiny lamb, abandoned by its mother because it is so small and weak, and she carries it home to be its foster mother, caring for it as though it were one of her own puppies from a long-ago litter. Gradually, with milk and a cosy blanket from Tall-Two, Baa-rah grew stronger and it was time to see the big wide world.  But even though Mrs Dog could teach him to beg and belly-crawl and pounce, she could not teach him to bark.  It sounded like he was trying to spit out a fly!

Mrs Dog also taught Bah-raa the dangers of the farm, especially the steep cliff that overhung the river where only Beaky-Wings, the fierce magpies, came back from if you went too close.  And it is one of the Beaky-Wings who swoops Mrs Dog, arrow-sharp beak aiming for her eyes that sends Mrs Dog over the cliff!  Bah-raa searches everywhere for her, eventually gathering her courage to go closer, closer to the edge and peer over…

How will she save the one who saved her?

This is a page-turning, charming story that has more layers than a bed in winter.  It’s about ageing and how there is purpose even though the working life might be over; there is change as roles develop and evolve; there is trust between two not normally friends; there is belief, determination and compassion as older nurtures younger; there is courage as the love is reciprocated and from deep within Bah-raa draws on the most important lesson she learned – how to bark!

While on the surface it is a story about an ageing dog and a young lamb, in many ways it reminded me of the remarkable relationship that developed between Miss Then-8 and Ms 87 as her hospital stays became longer- a relationship that I’ve seen replicated so many times as wrinkles and ageing, aching joints are made invisible, outshone by the love between elder and youngster and the special sparkle that it brings. There wasn’t a dry eye when the young one found the courage to tell the congregation of her love for the older one at the funeral. 

Superbly illustrated in intricate detail and a soft palette that add real life to the story, it is a story of hope and love that will lift any heart. Janeen Brian is a master story-teller and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall is the ideal illustrator for a book that should be on the awards lists in the future.

Teaching notes are available but it just provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to talk about their relationships with the older people in their lives and the special things they do together.

Old MacDonald’s Things That Go

Old MacDonald's Things That Go

Old MacDonald’s Things That Go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old MacDonald’s Things That Go

Jane Clarke

Miggy Blanco

Nosy Crow, 2016

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

9780857634061

 

This is a lively, quirky version of the traditional rhyme Old MacDonald had a Farm, except this time instead of exploring farm animals and the noises they make, it focuses on vehicles.  Cars, tractors, combine harvesters … all feature in this hilarious romp which have the farm animals helping out and having the most extraordinary fun. 

As with the original, it’s the rhyme, rhythm and repetition and the opportunity to join in with the noises that will make this a favourite while the big, bright, bold, hilarious illustrations add to the fun.  They are full of vignettes and detail that there are new things to discover and discuss with each reading.  Everything about this book invites the reader to join in and have fun too, from the first page where he’s armed with his banjo and all the creatures are joining in through to the delightful end!

Perfect for pre-schoolers as well as children who are learning English as their second language.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt

We're Going on an Egg Hunt

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2016

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

9781408870112

 

Just in time for Easter comes this charming lift-the-flap story of the Easter Bunnies as they set off on an egg hunt to the familiar rhythm and pattern of similar stories.  They have 10 eggs to find but have to get through the farm and the lambs, the chicks, the bees and the ducks safely to gather them.  Then just as they find the largest one of all, there is a nasty surprise waiting for them…

Miss 4½ did enjoy this story.  She loved that she knew the pattern and could join in as we read it and the interactivity of lifting the flaps to discover things apart from eggs added to the intrigue.  The climax brought just the right amount of suspense and she loved the ending, although she wondered if there would be eggs for children this year because the bunnies ate them all.

She is very much in that ‘reading-like behaviour’ stage of her progress in being a reader – started Kindergarten this year well-prepared and full of expectations – and I wasn’t surprised to peek in and see her successfully retelling the story to herself several times, and even though she knew what was coming she delighted in it each time.  That has to be a thumbs-up!

Annabel’s Dance

Annabel's Dance

Annabel’s Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annabel’s Dance

Diane Jackson Hill

Lois Bury

Wombat Books, 2016

32pp. hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925139358

 

High in the mountains lived a mob of sheep – ordinary sheep with wool the colour of whipped cream growing in neat tight crinkles.  With them lived Annabel who was the colour of a mud puddle and whose wool was straight and spiky.  She couldn’t just stand and nibble grass all day – her legs went every which way, she flipped head over heels, she was always wriggling and jiggling.  She was picky with her food because the grass prickled her tongue , she hid at shearing time and loud noises hurt her ears. No matter how hard she tried, Annabel just didn’t fit into the mob and they shuffled her to the outside. 

“Hazy mazy, oops a daisy, wriggle your ears but don’t go crazy,” she’d tell herself whenever she felt alone or was trying to be brave.

Because she hid every time it was shearing time, for six years her wool grew and grew and grew. But even though it kept her warm and protected her from bumps, she couldn’t see or hear very well and one day…

Annabel is super-sensitive to the world around her and even when Farmer Shanks tries to help her, she can’t cope and makes a dash for the mountainside.  But he is determined  and calls in extra help, gives her headphones to block out the sound of the shearing machine and even puts a bucket of strawberry clover nearby so she can imagine herself still out on the mountainside. 

Annabel is like those students we have who are somewhere on the autism spectrum, whose sensitivities are so heightened they can’t cope with being touched or hearing loud noises, yet all they would like to do is be part of the mob. To belong. But instead of their differences being accepted and their needs catered for, they are shunned and left to themselves until eventually there is a catastrophe. 

This is a humourous but poignant story that can be read on its surface level as being about an eccentric sheep or it can be explored more deeply to talk about how we, as people, are all unique each with our special needs and preferences.  But some differences are not through choice and we need to be more tolerant and more inclusive, make allowances and reach out to help those who are struggling or marginalised through no fault of their own – just as Farmer Shanks did.  There are many Annabels in our classrooms as there are many more children on the spectrum than those who qualify for special assistance so, as teachers, we need to vary our practices, help the child develop physical or mental strategies to cope, and inform the other students so they understand what is happening.  Indeed, under federal legislation, we are obligated to do so but the crux of this book is that it puts us in Annabel’s world in a way few others stories do and gives some insight into a world that is too noisy and smelly and busy for some.  

King Pig

King Pig

King Pig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Pig

Nick Bland

Scholastic Press, 2013

hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742834955

King Pig thinks he is just that – an autocratic leader who can get his minions, the sheep, to do anything they want.  But while he could make them do such things as strap boards on their backs so he has a ramp into his sheep-free palace or pull down the branch of the apple tree so he could pick the fruit, and scrub his castle he just couldn’t make them like him.  No matter how loudly he shouted, they didn’t listen properly; no matter how hard he tried to get their attention, the more they ignored him. Viewing himself in the mirror one day, he decided that a fancier set of clothes might be the answer. So he invited them into his castle and there they set to work.

To discover whether this works and if there is any way this arrogant pig can make friends, you need to read this brilliant book by one of Australia’s most popular authors.  And you need to read the pictures as well as the words because the two not only work perfectly in harmony to tell the surface story, but they also tell a story of their own about power and bullying, making friends, arrogance and humility, do clothes maketh the man? – all great discussion starters that will help children reflect on the sorts of qualities that are shared and valued by friends.

Nick Bland has that unique gift of being able to tell a tale within a tale without being overtly didactic.  The story can stand alone as entertainment without delving deeper and his appealing illustrations inject humour that tickle the fancy of even the youngest audience. When I recently reviewed The Runaway Hug  I suggested that Nick Bland be the focus of an author/illustrator study (including links to some useful resources) and King Pig reinforces this belief.  With a growing body of work to his name, Nick is becoming  a well-known name amongst our younger readers and new stories are greeted with delight and appeal across the board because of the levels at which each can be read.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…