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Why Crocodiles Smile

Why Crocodiles Smile

Why Crocodiles Smile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Crocodiles Smile: Cric Croc discovers nature’s wonders

Anthony W Buirchell

Laila Savolainen

Cric Croc Enterprises, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 

9780995424340

Young children are warned from an early age to “never smile at a crocodile” but what if the crocodile smiles at you?

Cric the Crocodile has spent a week with his family in the Daintree region of Far North Queensland but he is puzzled because all the crocodiles he met smiled all the time. So his dad Crisis explains why.

The bull Crocodile was a sneaky beast

It was looking around for a scrumptious feast

With big yellow eyes it searched around

Looking for food from the watery ground.

And as those big yellow eyes alighted on a possible meal, it smiled with anticipation. But the creatures – cassowaries, brolgas, cormorants, barramundi and a host of other beautiful creatures indigenous to the area- were smarter that Crocodile and took themselves out of harm’s way very quickly.  Until an unwary Pelican came by…

Like its predecessors the story is told in rhyme as young readers are introduced to a range of Australia’s unique but less familiar creatures.  Beautiful drawings by Pickawoowoo illustrator, Laila Savolainen bring the text to life with their accuracy and spectacular colour palettes as well as inspiring interest in the flora and fauna of a part of Australia that would be unfamiliar to many.  It also introduces the concept of the food chain – after all, the crocodile does have to eat – and perhaps an investigation into the mechanisms that Mother Nature provides so that creatures do not become easy prey.

A worthy addition to the library’s collection of books for younger readers that introduce them to the amazing wonders of this country. 

A Bag and a Bird

A Bag and a Bird

A Bag and a Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bag and a Bird

Pamela Allen

Viking, 2017

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

9780143783909

John and his mother decided to have a picnic in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens.  The long walk from Kirribilli across the Harbour Bridge to the Gardens was all part of the adventure and there was something special about seeing everyone else rushing while they were relaxing.  

Nevertheless, when they finally arrived they were hungry and John pulled his sandwiches out of a plastic bag.  Surrounded by curious, hungry ibises John is more interested in the way they snaffle his last sandwich when a teasing wind blows his bag onto the ground not realising that he is setting off a chain of events that is unlikely to end well…

Master storyteller Pamela Allen’s message in this story could not be clearer.  Clean Up Australia   estimate that about 1 trillion bags are used and discarded world-wide every year and in Australia alone over 10 million new bags are being used every day. These either end up in landfill or in the waterways, taking 400-1000 years to break down depending on their exposure to light. The story of the ibis is just one story of hundreds that must happen every day to our fauna, without such a good ending.

With plastic bags banned in some jurisdictions and about to be in others, nevertheless even those which replace them can be just as toxic to our wildlife so this is the perfect book to develop awareness and to begin investigations into their use, their disposal and the litter issues that we seem to be drowning in ourselves.  While many schools have student-led litter patrols which focus on the immediate environment, A Bag and a Bird highlights what can happen further afield, particularly bringing the message home with her choice of setting and illustrations of sights very familiar to even those who don’t live in Sydney.

Not just a cracking story, this book has the potential to change attitudes and actions – can we ask for more from 32 pages? A book for all ages. 

 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Drew Daywalt

Adam Rex

HarperCollins, 2017

48pp., hbk, RRP $A24.99

9780008252397

In the ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of the Backgarden lives the warrior Rock.  He believes he is the greatest because no one can give him a worthy challenge that will prove his superiority.  While his battle with the clothes peg and the apricot entertain the backyard dwellers, he feels unsatisfied so he leaves the garden in search of a worthy foe.

Meanwhile in the Empire of Mum’s Study, Paper is feeling the same way. No one can outwit him and so he, too, leaves to look for a worthy opponent.  At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, Scissors has beaten both Sticky Tape and Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets  so she also goes on a quest to find something better.

And in the great cavern of Two-Car Garage, the three meet for the first time…

Children (and adults) everywhere play the traditional game of Rock Paper Scissors to help them make decisions and reach compromises and now the mastermind behind The Day the Crayons Quit has brought us their true story. Told in narrative and speech bubbles which make the most of bold fonts and imaginative layout, and accompanied by fantastic pictures that bring the most mundane objects to life and emphasise the action, this is a story that will be enjoyed again and again.  Children will love the boldness and loudness that oozes from the pages and you can just see them swaggering around like the characters as they take on their favourite. 

“Dramatic”, “raucous”, “bombastic”, “energetic”, “outrageous” – all have been used to describe this story. Apart from encapsulating it perfectly, what fun students can have suggesting their own adjectives for it and investigating what those ones mean. Further teachers’ notes are available.

A superhero origin story of a slightly different type! 

The Chocolate Monster

The Chocolate Monster

The Chocolate Monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chocolate Monster

Pip Jones

Laura Hughes

Faber & Faber, 2017

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

9780571327515

 

Oh my goodness!  A mighty tricky, sticky thief has been spotted on the loose.  It’s The Chunk.  He’s silent like a cloud, walks on tippy-toes, has HUGE hands and feet and a bulbous twitching nose.  His purple fur streaked with pink covers his gleaming eyes and even though he is very tall, he’s very good at disguise!  And his passion is chocolate – no matter where it is or how it is, he can find it and steal it.  

This is a lovely romp in rhyme searching out that elusive chocolate monster, that mysterious, invisible creature who manages to discover and devour any chocolate in the house or even the neighbourhood. Everyone is warned to be on their guard because who knows where he will turn up next – and with 100 000 chocolate bars as a reward, who wouldn’t be watching for it.

This is a hilarious standalone story that little ones will love but it also offers some great teaching opportunities, the first being to give the children the description of the monster without showing them Laura Hughes’s interpretation and challenge them to draw what the words suggest.  Even though they are all working with the same words, each picture will be different because of each individual’s previous experience so it is a great introduction to the notion that we all perceive events in a different way depending on what we already know and believe and our role within them.  As a follow-up, share A. A. Milne’s The King’s Breakfast and have the children draw the King!  

Back in the days when we could have fun at school, Year 3 did an investigation into chocolate which transcended curriculum borders and this book would be an ideal starting point for a similar investigation,  Why is chocolate so loved?  Would the book have the same appeal if it were a broccoli monster?  Does a chocolate a day keep the doctor away? Why, if not for a fly no bigger than a pinhead, would there be no chocolate? 

There are riches more yummy than chocolate itself in this book!

The Magic Word

The Magic Word

The Magic Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Word

Mac Barnett

Elise Parsley

Balzier & Bray, 2016

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062354846

Paxton C. Heymeyer seems to have forgotten his manners, so when he asks his babysitter for a cookie she asks him for the magic word.  But instead of saying, “Can I have a cookie, please”, Paxton C. Heymeyer shouts “Can I have a cookie, alakazoomba?”  Suddenly, in a puff of blue smoke he not only discovers a cookie in his hand but the power to summon up anything he wants with that one magic word.  A walrus to chase the babysitter to the North Pole; a waterslide in the living room; a jungle bedroom; anything his imagination lets him dream.  Even an elephant and a robot-servant!

But when Rosie comes to play he finds that things aren’t quite what he wishes for because elephants can’t play cards or any of the other things friends do together…

There would be few of our littlies who have not been asked for “the magic word” so they will relate well to this engaging story of being able to have whatever you want – it brings life to the saying “Be careful what you wish for.”  Asking them what they would wish for or dream of having will elicit a lot of discussion and drawing, but there is also much to think about when Rosie refuses to play and goes home. Friendship and happiness are not all about material things and instant gratification, and this book may provide food for thought for those who want to have the latest thing NOW, and those who wish they could.

 

Fox and the Jumping Contest

Fox and the Jumping Contest

Fox and the Jumping Contest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox and the Jumping Contest

Corey R. Tabor

Balzer & Bray, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062398741

 

The animals are having a jumping contest – Elephant, Bear, Rabbit, Turtle, Frog and Fox have all entered – and Fox is determined he will win.  He even imagines how good the trophy will look perched on his mantlepiece.  

But Fox isn’t particularly good at jumping so he figures if that trophy is going to have pride of place in his loungeroom he will need a bit of assistance.  So while the other animals practise, he schemes and plans and builds.  His solution? A jetpack that he paints to match his fur hoping the other animals won’t notice – so it is clear that he knows he is cheating. 

On the day of the contest with the bird judges all ready and perched high in the branches the animals show their talents.  Frog does well and gets extra points for style; Turtle doesn’t do as well and Elephant less so.  Bear was loud and Rabbit was spectacular.  And then it was Fox’s turn…

This is a story with a twist, and it’s a twist that can spark some great discussion points which are perfect for getting young children to start to think critically, to philosophise and to empathise. Fox with his jetpack strapped to his back disappears so high in the sky that the judges can’t wait for him to return so they begin the awards ceremony. But just as Rabbit is about to receive the trophy, Fox falls back to Earth and plops into it and takes first place. The final scene shows Fox standing back admiring the cup on his mantlepiece, right where he had envisioned it would be.

But does Fox deserve it?  Has he cheated? Were there written rules about external assistance or were they just assumed? Why do we have rules? How do the other animals feel about the win? What about rabbit? Has there been fair play and sportsmanship? What is the twist in that final scene and was it a reasonable way to solve the problem? What does ‘compromise’ mean? 

Careful exploration of the text, verbal and visual, offers a lot of depth to this story and it deserves re-reading to get the most from it.  For example, Elephant doesn’t mind that she cannot jump well because she is “good at other things” and that in itself could provoke another discussion about how we all have our strengths so comparisons are not always fair.  Even very young children have a strong sense of justice and with the pictures enriching the words so well with their extra detail and action there is much to examine and ponder.

Life and literature are full of characters who are determined to win regardless and this is a surprisingly good story that can introduce even very young children to contemplate, at their own level, the philosophical question of does the end justify the means and giving them an opportunity to start thinking on a more abstract level, from different perspectives and consider what is not being said.    

One to get brains moving…

 

 

Three Little Monkeys

Three Little Monkeys

Three Little Monkeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Little Monkeys

Quentin Blake

Emma Chichester Clark

HarperCollins, 2016

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

9780008164478

Hilda Snibbs is not like other people.  She doesn’t have a dog or a cat or even a goldfish – she has three little monkeys.  Their names are Tim and Sam and Lulu and they are very lively.  Every time she leaves the house and leaves them on their own, they trash it.  Nothing is safe – not her hat, her knitting, her favourite shampoo, the toilet paper…

She tells them she is disappointed in them, she asks what she has done to deserve such wretched little monkeys; she wonders how long she can put up with them – and each time Tim and Sam and Lulu look at her with their big round eye and say nothing.  One day after they had been into everything in her bathroom, she cries, “Oh, for a peaceful life without these wicked little monkeys!”  But when she comes home the next day and they are gone, she realises how much she misses them until…

This is a funny, lovable story that will become a favourite of little ones as they recognise some of the mischief they themselves might have created over time. Quentin Blake’s words marry so well with Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations – little vignettes that are full of action and fun as they show the monkeys at work – that this is a masterful collaboration.  Even though the monkeys are so naughty they remain lovable and it’s Hilda Snibbs who becomes the “villain”.  As Miss 5 said, “Why did she keep leaving them on their own?  She’s stupid!”

Three Little Monkeys is the perfect bedtime read-aloud as the children delight in the antics and naughtiness of the monkeys and see that they are loved regardless of what they do, while Hilda Snibbs will resonate with exasperated parents who sometimes long for the quiet life they had before their own little monkeys were born., even though they know they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joyful. 

 

Watch Out for Muddy Puddles

Watch Out for Muddy Puddles

Watch Out for Muddy Puddles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Out for Muddy Puddles

Ben Faulks

Ben Cort

Bloomsbury, 2016

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

9781408867204

 

Watch out for muddy puddles!

Because you never really know…

What there might be lurking

down in the depths below.

As south-eastern Australia picks itself up from another weather event and hopefully heeds the message about the dangers of floodwaters, do we ever stop to warn our children about what might lie in the depths of muddy puddles? Because underneath that calm surface that just asks to be splashed all over from a massive jump in your best boots there could be all sorts of strange things – long-lost footballs, lonely socks and underwater kings or maybe hungry crocodiles, angry pirates or kissing frogs!  Frozen ones can be treacherous too and there are some that will spin you round and round like a washing machine or plunge you deep down through the planet, tumbling past the sandstone, the fossils and the granite. But the worst one of all is the one that is home to the BIG BAD rubber ducky.

A funny and fantastic romp in rhyme through puddles and the imagination from Mr Bloom from CBeebies that will charm the boots of our youngest readers who will be itching to tell you what they think might be at the bottom of a muddy puddle!  Great inspiration for a class mural!!

Watch the trailer, have fun with the activities and investigate where the puddles go when the sun shines.  A perfect introduction to some basic science.

 

Oh, Albert

Oh, Albert

Oh, Albert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, Albert

Davina Bell

Sara Acton

Penguin Viking 2016

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

9780670078608

Albert is one of those dogs – a lovable golden labrador puppy with a voracious appetite for everything, regardless of whether it is ‘official’ dog food or not.  Each day, when no one is around he finds something that grabs his attention and as is the manner of dogs, explores it by eating it.  Taste is not an issue – pink ribbons, red flags, white cords, green swim goggles, a black bike helmet – they are all part of Albert’s diet, much to the family’s frustration and threats.  Until on Saturday he eats something dogs should NEVER  eat – chocolate!

As they sit at the vet hoping he will pull through, the family begin to realise what Albert means to them and regret their hasty comments.  But whether Albert pulls through and whether he learns his lesson is an ending for the reader to discover…

This is a captivating story that is so full of riches, not the least of which is how Albert would feel if he were human and all he heard were negative remarks.  Because each double spread only shows the times when Albert’s appetite has got him into trouble you wonder if that is the only time this busy family with their pilates, ballet, swimming, school, bike-riding and so on notice him.  Is he doing this stuff for the attention he craves? Do we only notice and attend to the things our children,our students or our pets do wrong, rather than acknowledging the 99% of the time they bring us love and joy? are we so busy being busy that we forget why we had the children or got the pet in the first place? Do we only stop to reflect when there is a crisis? Hmmm…

Davina Bell’s text is perfect for engaging the young reader in early-reading behaviours.  It has a repetitive refrain that encourages the child to join in (and consolidate their knowledge of the days of the week) and Sara Acton’s pictures invite prediction of not only what Albert will eat but how that will impact on the ‘victim’.  Focusing on the essential storyline with white space instead of extraneous detail, little people will be able to read this to themselves easily, able to work out what happens as they turn each page – but hearing the words will add so much more to the experience that they will want it over and over.  It will move from first-read to familiar to favourite very quickly. It is a cumulative story so each episode leads into the next in a way that is really cohesive so there is also the opportunity to talk about cause and effect.  If you leave your swimming goggles where Albert can eat them, how will you cope at swimming the next day?

But mostly this is a story of the unconditional love we have for our pets and readers, adult and child, will be able to put themselves into the story sparking memories that can be shared and drawn. . Maybe everyone and everything will get an extra hug today.

Miss 5 is going through a ‘dog phase’ and this is one she is going to adore.

 

Little Mouse’s Big Breakfast

Little Mouse's Big Breakfast

Little Mouse’s Big Breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Mouse’s Big Breakfast

Christine Pym

Nosy Crow, 2016

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

9780857636737

Dusk on a cold winter’s day and Little Mouse realises he has nothing for his breakfast the next morning.  There is nothing nearby for him – no seeds or berries as winter has taken its toll on the landscape. But he knows just where to go.  Even though it involves an arduous journey along the path, up the drainpipe and through the window to the house’s kitchen, he knows there will be delicious things there.  And so there are – a bright blueberry, a rosy red apple, big brown biscuits and a whole lot more.  Our eyes are always bigger than our tummies when we are hungry and so are Little Mouse’s so he balances everything precariously so he can have it all. Just as he is leaving he spots his favourite treat – a stripy sunflower seed so he just has to have that too!

But he forgets that Cat is also looking for breakfast and Cat’s favourite is Mouse!

This is a charming story that explores the notion of being satisfied with what we have and not being greedy which has one of those uh-oh endings that little people love.  They will have fun predicting what might happen next!  With its muted palette, it has a retro feel about it both in appearance and storyline.  It is fresh and funny and I can hear the children’s reactions as Little Mouse’s pile grows higher and the shadow of Cat looms – s sure sign of a winner.

Perfect for sharing with little ones and recommending to their parents.  Check out the preview .