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Tashi Storybook

Tashi Storybook

Tashi Storybook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tashi Storybook

Anna Fienberg

Barbara Fienberg

Kim Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2017

256pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760295684

If I were asked to name one of the most popular series for newly independent readers that has endured over my time as both a teacher and a teacher librarian, I would undoubtedly answer, “Tashi” and now it is time for another wave of emerging, newly-independent readers to get to know this magical little fellow who has such big adventures.

This special selection of stories includes Tashi and the Baba Yaga, Tashi and the Genie, Tashi and the Big Stinker, Tashi and the Haunted House, The Book of Spells, The Three Tasks, Tashi and the Phoenix and a brand new story Kidnapped!   Tashi, the imaginary friend of Jack, is a delightful little character who is so clever, resourceful and brave as he confronts fearsome opponents set on destroying his village and his peace, often having an ethical dilemma to come to grips with as he seeks a solution.

Not only is he a lovable character, the short stories and the amazing monochrome illustrations that break up the text are perfect for starting newly-independent readers off on their journey through novels giving them the confidence and satisfaction of reading a “chapter book” for themselves.  Tashi and his adventures have been the springboard for many a young reader over many years and this new selection will no doubt encourage many more.

Billy and the Minpins

Billy and the Minpins

Billy and the Minpins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billy and the Minpins

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2017

112pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780141377506

Billy’s mum is always telling what to do and what not to do to be good,  But all the things he was allowed to do were boring, and those he was forbidden were exciting.  The one thing he was not allowed to do was to never ever go outside the gate all by himself and certainly to never go into the Forest of Sins  which he could see from the loungeroom window.    His mother painted a fearsome picture of the beasts that lived there – Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers, Snozzwanglers, Vernicious Knids and most terrifying of all, the Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler- and told him that while many went in, none came out.

Billy figured this was just mother-talk to keep him from breaking the rules so when one day The Devil whispered in his ear, he could resist no longer and out the window he climbed, through the gate he went and into the forest he disappeared…

Roald Dahl is  master storyteller and he loved to write stories for children that made them not only the heroes but also in defiance of the adults in their lives, so this is Dahl at his best.  While not as well known as some of his other works, it is nevertheless just as gripping and intriguing and engaging as the others.  This new edition is the first time that Quentin Blake has done the illustrations for it in his iconic style and as usual he has brought Dahl’s imagination and words to life.  They are liberally scattered throughout the text, breaking up both the words and the tension so that this is a perfect version for the newly-independent reader venturing into the world of “chapter books’ while, at the same time, introducing fans to a not-so-familiar story.

To me, the perfect novel is one I can hear and see myself reading to my students and just as The BFG captured me from the get-go so did this.  This needs to be on your read-aloud list for 2018.  

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Matt Sewell

Pavilion, 2017

96pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781843653509

If there is one section of the library that can never have too many items, it is 567.9 – the home of the dinosaurs.  There seems to be an eternal fascination with these long-ago creatures that has been the door into reading for so many children, particularly young boys who like to get the biggest and thickest books and pore over them with their mates.

So this new addition by Matt Sewell that introduces favourites and familiars and also some first-read-abouts will be welcome as it is targeted at those who want to know something but not so much that it is overwhelming. Who knew there were so many – but then they were on the planet for 170 million years! Each creature has a one or two page spread dominated by the illustration, an illustration that is somewhat different from the norm as they have been inspired by new ideas from palaeontologists that the creatures were not only colourful but some may have had feathers rather than the traditional scales and hide.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Each entry includes the length and weight which can always lead to some interesting maths activities and well as the time period (delve into history and create a chart) and their diet with ‘proper’ descriptors like ‘carnivorous’ to extend the vocabulary.  There are other basic facts written in a conversational tone that makes the language accessible to those early readers. Given that not every dinosaur is included, perhaps they could produce an extra page exploring and explaining their favourite dinosaur as an initial information literacy exercise.

Produced in conjunction with the Natural History Museum in the UK. this is a worthwhile addition to that critical section of the collection.

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Bill Condon

Dave Atze

Big Sky Publishing, 2017

130pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781925520590

A worm who wants to be an anaconda, an elephant that won’t do tricks, a gorilla named Harry Hairybutt… these are among the memorable characters that The Simple Things     author Bill Condon has  created in these 14  animal-based short stories that will appeal to the young emerging reader transitioning to novels.  

Each is based on a familiar proverb but that proverb is twisted to suit the story, and, depending on your opinion of puns, they are clever or dreadful. But each story is very funny and just the right length in a well-spaced font with plenty of illustrations.

At the end there is a glossary of the original proverbs with their actual meaning that introduces them to the reader, enriching their experience with the stories themselves. 

Fun and entertaining.

Icky-foodia: The Ultimate Guide to Disgusting Food

Icky-foodia

Icky-foodia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icky-foodia: The Ultimate Guide to Disgusting Food

The Listies

Puffin, 2017

210pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143784388

When the blurb of the book begins, “It’s a CROOKBOOK full of INGROSSIENTS to make every kid into a DISASTERCHEF. It contains smelly and just plain horrible words, scribbles, COOKING DESTRUCTIONS and a guide to the world’s worst RESTAURWRONGS. Full of made-up history, bonkers definitions, food unfacts and packed with illustrations …” then you have an idea of what this book is like and who its target audience is. If the blurb doesn’t warn you then the realistic cockroach on the front cover should.

This is an “alphabetical guide to disgusting foods, horrible recipes and weird meals”  that will appeal to those who like the weird and wacky and almost-naughty and who don’t particularly like reading but cope with tiny bits of information and lots of visual features. 

The follow-up to Ickypedia which became a stage showThe Listies are comedy duo Matthew Kelly and Richard Higgins whose aim is to make kids laugh using the sort of humour that boys of a certain age relate to.

While not necessarily having a lot of literary merit, if you want to entice reluctant readers into the world of books this may be the bait you need.

 

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha Building?

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

ABC Books, 2017

32pp, hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733334153

Every day on his way home from school Little Davey Durak watches the old milk bar on the corner being demolished, another victim of the ever-encroaching city inexorably guzzling all in its path. And every day Bruce the Builder would say hello to Davey as he carefully pulled the building apart and put the pieces in the skip, their final resting place.  

One afternoon, Davey asks Bruce for some wood -something he begins to do each day.  Sometimes it is a long piece and sometimes, short or chunky or thin.  But no matter how often Bruce asks what Davey is building, Davey doesn’t tell.  Bruce has heaps of ideas about what it could be but Davey keeps his secret.  Until the day Bruce helps him heave the old milkbar sign home…

Set against a backdrop of a city built like no other, one that could only be constructed in the mind of Stephen Michael King, Daddo has created a story that has many layers to it.  Young readers will have fun trying to predict what it is that Davey is building while others will relate to their neighbourhood slowly but surely changing as “progress” comes to town.  Others might like to investigate how the collage effect of the main characters superimposed on the landscape adds to the image of the layering of the landscape and how, in reality, everything is an imposition on the original.  And there might also be discussions about why King has chosen to depict the modern city using everyday objects in new ways while thinking about how they themselves might recycle or upcycle instead of throwing out. 

So many conversation starters – Is progress always good?  How do Bruce and Davey represent the past and the present? How has the children’s community changed over time? Has this been for the best?  Perhaps that could even inspire a local history project with interviews with long-term residents and a photographic journey or perhaps the children could create a record of their community as it is now so that future generations can do a compare and contrast. 

Teachers’ notes are available but all of that is wasted if it is not built on a solid, engaging, entertaining story – and this is certainly that.

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy and the Spy

Felice Arena

Puffin, 2017

176pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143309284

Little did Antonio know that when he stuck an irreverent sketch of Hitler and Mussolini on the windscreen of a German jeep that that his life would change forever. Chased by a German soldier, leaping from the treacherous il Diavolo, and rescuing a wounded American spy is not in the script of life for a rota, an abandoned child who is despised and ridiculed by his Sicilian village even though he has been adopted and taken in by and cares for Mamma Nina. 

But that one act by an innocent 12-year-old sets off a chain of events that keeps the reader enthralled as Antonio lurches from one situation to another seeing the reality of war and understanding the true meaning of family. Set in his homeland, Felice Arena has always wanted to create a story there but it took a long time for Antonio’s voice to echo in his head and demand that his story be told. It is a story worth the wait,

Any story that encourages boys, particularly, to read is to be commended but it is wonderful to see what could be termed a true, rollicking, boy’s own adventure being published. Moving apace with credible characters, both good and evil, Antonio gets into such situations that you wonder how he will get out of them but are willing him onward to success even though he is technically helping the enemy.  That said, it will also appeal to girls because without Simonetta’s help Antonio would have stumbled at the first hurdle and Arena himself says that there could be another story in the escape of Simonetta and her mother.  That’s one I will be looking out for!

This one is for the slightly older independent readers who are looking for a bit of meat and tension in their stories, who like something that compels them to keep reading and appreciate story-crafting at a high level. 

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

James Maclaine

Annie Carbo

Usborne, 2017

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

9781474917889

Miss 6 is at that stage where she wants to know “stuff”.  Inspired by a teacher who not only encourages her endless curiosity but also being independent in her quest for answers, she is always looking through her growing collection of “fact books”.  And now she is all but an independent reader, the thrill and affirmation she gets when she can find the answers for herself delights her and inspires her even further.

So this latest offering from Usborne will be a welcome addition to her collection.  With its double-page spreads of the sorts of topics its intended audience is interested in – animals, the body, food and drink, music, space, sports and many more – each double page spread is packed with a plethora of short facts accompanied by lots of hand-drawn illustrations.  Rather than being an in-depth encyclopedia, it is designed for those who love to dip and delve into non fiction to see where what they discover will take them.  And for those whose interest is ignited Usborne have a page of quick links for them to investigate further.

Perfect for Miss 6 and that group of boys that we all know who like to gather around a table in the library with this sort of book to share and explore and discuss what they discover. 

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

Dorling Kindersley, 2017

224pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241276358

 

Anyone who has spent time with little people, particularly boys, will know that they often gravitate to the non fiction collections of the school library where they can get a THICK book (very important) and then pore over the pictures for hours at a time.  If the pictures and diagrams are of high quality then they can absorb a lot of information from them even if they can’t manage the text yet.  

In this new publication from non fiction experts DK the editors have mastered combining stunning illustrations with just the right amount of text to support the beginning reader, often only one sentence and using vocabulary that is appropriate to the age group whilst not “talking down.” Divided into four sections – All About Animals;  Amazing Animals; Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals – it begins with a clear explanation of what animals are, differentiating them from plants, and then moves on to those of land, sea and air. 

Using lots of colour, a clear, clean font of a good size, labels, speech bubbles and other literary devices, the young reader is taken on a journey through the animal kingdom that they will return to again and again, all the while honing their reading skills as they want to know more than just the pictures can tell them.  At the back they are introduced to the concept of a glossary which explains the meaning of some of the more unusual words they might encounter like amphibian and exoskeleton, as well as an index that will help them find just what they are looking for. 

With more and more research emerging about the need for children to develop basic literacy skills using print if they are to use and interpret online information efficiently and effectively,this is a must-have addition in both the school and home libraries.  

 

Rockabye Pirate

Rockabye Pirate

Rockabye Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockabye Pirate

Timothy Knapman

Ada Grey

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408849392

Rock-a-bye pirate, in the crow’s nest
Mummy says bedtime, and Mummy knows best.
You’ve had your adventures, you’ve sailed the high seas,
So under the covers and go to sleep, please.

During the day, this little pirate has all sorts of pirate adventures doing all the things pirates do.  But the life of a pirate isn’t all swashbuckling, treasure-seeking and making enemies walk the plank – come nighttime they have to have their dinner, have a bath, wash their hair, get in the PJs and snuggle into bed to listen to a bedtime story.  And this smart mummy knows this, turning her boy’s bedtime routine into a pirate-centred lullaby to settle him down and lull him to sleep.

Author of other preschool-friendly stories such as All Aboard the Dinosaur Express, Knapman describes himself as a children’s writer, lyricist and playwright and his way with words, their rhyme and rhythm certainly shines through in this latest offering. Sublimely illustrated so that even the wickedest pirates who ever set sail – Black-Bearded Brewster, Sea Dog McPhail, Cross-Eyed Delaney and Freddy the Fright – become just regular people who go home to their magnificent purpled-hair mum, there is everything that is familiar about pirates in this book as well as things that are not so it is scaled back to become a gentle bedtime story for even the toughest, most adventurous daytime seafarer.