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Home in the Rain

Home in the Rain

Home in the Rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home in the Rain

Bob Graham

Walker Books, 2016

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

9781406368239

It is time for Mum and Francie to head home from Grandma’s. Despite the fact that it is bucketing down rain and the highway is crowded with buses, oil tankers, trucks and other cars they feel safe and secure in their little red car – as safe and secure as the baby tucked away in mum’s womb.

As the rain continues to tumble soaking everything in its path – good for the mouse obscured from the kestrel’s view but not so good for Marcus out fishing with his dad with the water dribbling down his neck- Mum pulls into the picnic spot to have the lunch Grandma has prepared. As they sit their breaths fog up the window, and, cloistered in this intimate environment, like all children, Francie cannot resist writing her name on the window.  After she writes her own, she writes Mum and Daddy but there is a window left, waiting for the name of the new sister due soon.  But what will it be?

With his gentle, detailed, watercolour-wash illustrations and carefully chosen text, once again Bob Graham has taken the most ordinary of situations and crafted a touching, memorable story that brings beauty to the mundane, something from very little. The climax of the story where Mum chooses the baby’s name comes in a dirty, busy petrol station – the antithesis of where such a memorable moment is likely to occur, although Graham finds the beauty as Francie splashes in the rainbows of the oil-water puddles.

Our names are our most personal possession and children are always curious to find out why their parents chose the names they did so this is the perfect opportunity for them to investigate how they came to be called what they are.  It is also an opportunity to compare the various reasons as well as investigate popular names, collect data and share what they learn.

At the same time there is much to talk about being caught in the rain. where the rain comes from, how it makes you feel and why windows clog up. Further afield, they can look to the impact of the rain on the landscape – why has Graham introduced the rabbit, the mouse, the kestrel, the ducks, the fishermen, Marcus, even the two men who have had a bingle in the car?  

As is typical in his books, Graham has included so much with more to be discovered and considered each time it is shared.  Shortlisted for the 2017 CBCA Picture Book of the Year award, this is one that will be hard to beat.

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

christmas_countdown_2016

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

Kim Michelle Toft

Silkim Books, 2007

hbk 9780975839041

pbk 9780975839034

 

Take the traditional Christmas song, add the most magnificent creatures of the world’s oceans, include important information about those creatures and immerse the whole in the beautiful painted silk artworks of Kim Michelle Toft and you have, quite simply, my most favourite Christmas book ever!

Toft has used the words of The Twelve Days of Christmas not only to introduce readers to the dwellers of the deep, but has also built on the tradtional concept of gift-giving at this time to emphasise what a precious present these creatures  are – one that we may not enjoy for much longer if we don’t start to value it now.

“All of the magnificent creatures in this book rely on the ocean for their survival and many were once found in abundance.  This is no longer true.  Modern technology, huge increases in the world’s population and lack of management have resulted in some serious problems.  These problems include over fishing, pollution from poorly treated sewage, effluents from oil spoils, litter and global warmingwhich is contributing to the destruction of coral reefs all around the world.  It is up to nations,  governments and the will of the people to work together to help conserve these incredible gifts from nature.”

Thus, as well as being a stunning visual feast, there is a serious message that can be emphasised, enabling this book to sit well within any sustainability curriculum.  Even though students might not be able to replicate the artworks which are handdrawn with gold gutta on white silk then painted with brushes using silk dyes, the concept itself might inspire a class project of those things in the local region that might disappear if no action to preserve them is taken.

At the end of the book is an amazing poster containing all the creatures mentioned, and some versions have a CD of Toft’s lyrics sung by Lisa Hunt.  What a wonderful song to add to the Christmas repetoire.

Toft always writes and illustrates about her passion – the preservation of ocean life – and you can see all her publications here and as a bonus, here’s a full unit of work for The World that We Want.

She is one who must have a place on your library’s shelves – school or home.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Don't miss the poster!

Don’t miss the poster!

 

Clark the Shark Loves Christmas

christmas_countdown_2016

 

 

 

 

Clark the Shark Loves Christmas

Clark the Shark Loves Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clark the Shark Loves Christmas

Bruce Hale

Guy Francis

Harper, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9780062374523

At Theodore Roosterfish Elementary School,  Clark the Shark loves everything about Christmas – the decorations, the cookies and the carols.  But when Miss Inkydink announces that this year there will be a Secret Santa and he gets to pick a name from the hat so everyone eventually gets a present he is even more excited.  Clark thinks the best thing about Christmas is getting presents.  

But Clark doesn’t like secrets and so he spends his time trying to discover who has picked his name, totally forgetting that he is supposed to buy a present for his friend.  So when there is just one day left and he has spent all his money, he has to part with his favourite comic book even though he doesn’t even know if Benny likes comics.  Everyone else seems to have put a lot of thought into what they have given…

This is an exuberant tale that will resonate with those who have been around littlies who are so excited about the getting and still have to learn about the giving.  The illustrations with their colour, movement and detail help build the feeling of excitement and because it has a happy ending there’s room for a chat about what Christmas should really be about.  

This is the fifth in the series about Clark and will appeal to young children who enjoy something a little different from the usual Christmas story.

Worm Loves Worm

Worm Loves Worm

Worm Loves Worm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worm Loves Worm

J.J.  Austrian

Mike Curato

Balzer & Bray, 2016

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

9780062386335

Worm loves Worm.  So they decide to get married.  It shouldn’t be a problem but suddenly all their minibeast friends chip in. “You’ll need someone to marry you. That’s how it’s always been done.”  You’ll need a best man, bridesmaids, rings, a band… and so on and so on, because “that’s how it’s always been done.”  Worm and Worm agree to each suggestion hoping that after they acquiesce they can get married but no… there is always something else.

So when they are told that they need to have a bride and groom, worms being hermaphrodites, they have no trouble with being either or both – but that isn’t how it’s always been done.  Will they ever just celebrate their love by getting married???

This is a charming book that, on the surface, is just a story about two worms wanting to get married because they love each other, and that, to a four-year-old is a natural thing to do.  It is just a celebration of love.  For those in different circumstances or a little bit older there is a sub-text of marriage equality and things can change – they don’t always have to be because they have always been.  It’s enough to love each other without all the other trappings; it’s about inclusion and equality and showing affection regardless of any traditional views and values that have been imposed on a natural state of mind. That’s what little ones understand and accept – intolerance is something they learn.

Choosing worms as the main characters is a masterstroke because there are no physical differences between worms – there is nothing to say which is female and therefore the bride or male and therefore the groom. So the central message of love being the key ingredient and the rest of the elements of a wedding just being seasoning remains the central theme.  

Perhaps some of our politicians  and those who influence them should read this and get to the core of what really matters.

A great addition to a school library collection that allows children to see their own family structure in a story, to show others that there are all sorts of family structures,  and to explain marriage equality to those unfamiliar with the concept.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

 

Fright Club

Fright Club

Fright Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fright Club

Ethan Long

Bloomsbury, 2015

30pp., board book, RRP $A9.99

9781681190433

It is the night before Hallowe’en and time for one final meeting of the Fright Club to make sure that all is in readiness for Operation Kiddie Scare.  Vladimir is determined that his monsters will be perfect with their ghoulish faces, scary moves and chilling sounds.  But he only allows the scariest monsters to join – Only the scariest of monsters can join Fright Club-Vladimir the Vampire, Fran K. Stein, Sandy Witch, and Virginia Wolf have all made the cut – so when an ‘adorable bunny’ knocks and requests membership, it is turned away.    The same things happens when the bunny returns with Frances Foxx, Public Attorney, claiming discrimination.     But Bunny and Foxx have a plan…

Don’t be put off by the format of this book – board books are usually associated with simple stories for the very young – because it is an engaging story that will not only send shivers up the spine but have the audience practising their own ghoulish faces, scary moves and chilling sounds so they, too, can become members of the Fright Club.  Frances Foxx’s  question about whether  only monsters can be frightening can open up discussion about what they might be frightened of as well as opening the door for an investigation about why people dress up to scare at this time of the year.  Even though Hallowe’en is widely dismissed as “an American thing that should have stayed there”, its origins go back long before America was even discovered and provide for a fascinating insight into the beliefs and thoughts of our ancestors – something that is crucial to understanding the works of those like Shakespeare!

Ethan Long is an award-winning author and it’s easy to see why with his ability to pack so much into what is seemingly a simple story for littlies.  They will enjoy it.

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book

Barbara Beery

Brooke Jorden

Michele Robbins

David Miles

Rebecca Sorge

Bloomsbury, 2016

160pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781942934653

This book is exactly what the title says – it is all to do with princesses and royalty from stories to recipes, games and activities, things to make and how to be a princess. Richly illustrated,  it begins with half a dozen traditional stories of princesses from around the world and then moves on to a section bursting with all sorts of recipes fir for a secret garden tea party, a cottage picnic and a pink princess party .  There are tips for serving the food, correct table manners and etiquette including how to wave and curtsey and even a guide to the members of the Royal household.  In fact there is little about being a princess that is not covered.

Going through a ‘princess stage’ is almost a rite of passage for little girls, enhanced by Disney’s adaptations of many of the traditional fairy tales, and there was always a big demand for anything of this nature in the school I was in last year, particularly with those girls who were learning English as another language and who saw this as a way into the language of the playground.  This would be like a bible for them as the stories and concepts are already familiar so as well as speaking the ‘same language’ they can now read it too.

With is lavish hardcover protecting its spiral bound contents, it is attractive and would be one to recommend to grandparents looking for something special for the Christmas stocking.

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

Benji Davies

Nosy Crow, 2016

10pp., board book., RRP $A9.99

9780857636904

“The ever-intrepid Bizzy Bear has come for a visit to a super-spooky Halloween house. As he climbs the rickety stairs and walks the cobwebby corridors, all sorts of creepy characters appear from doors and hidey holes. Bizzy, naturally, remains undaunted – but where could he be going and what will he find there?”

This is a delightful board book perfect for the very young who will enjoy the rhyming text and the interactivity of the things to discover on the pages.  Discovering what’s hiding behind the chair, who’s behind the door and predicting why they are all getting together will delight them for ages.  Although there is little text, there is great detail in the colourful illustrations which will enrich and enhance the child’s vocabulary as they make their collection of spooky things.

I predict it will become a favourite as they will be able to tell themselves the story very easily. 

There’s a Moose on the Loose

There's a Moose on the Loose

There’s a Moose on the Loose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a Moose on the Loose

Lucy Feather

Stephan Lomp

Nosy Crow, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780857635853

Out of the forest and into the city rushes moose.  Clearly in a very big hurry, he races through the fire station, around the department store, into the library, in and out of the museum, around the supermarket and even through the hospital! Even a castle, a swimming pool and a school don’t deter him – he must get where he’s going NOW!  Up the stairs into the City View Apartments – up, up, up to the roof terrace where there is a – big birthday party.  And just as he gets there it’s present-opening time.  But wait!  Why is Moose so unhappy?  Oh no! he forgot to bring a present… and off he goes again.

This is a fun picture book written by the editorial staff of Nosy Crow under the pen-name of Lucy Feather. The text is directed at the reader encouraging them to join in by following the arrows and looking for the objects that collect on Moose’s antlers and those who join in the chase wanting to reclaim their things.  The big bold double-page spreads are full of colour, movement and detail that encourage closer examination once we’ve learned just why Moose is in such a hurry.  Pre-schoolers will delight in being able to re-read this book all by themselves because after that first read, the text is not really necessary.   Putting on my teaching hat, I love that Moose’s journey and the arrows for the children to follow reinforce that left-to-right progression of reading helping the eyes make that sort of track a muscle memory while also encouraging visual acuity with so much to see and find within the illustrations.  Stephan Lomp has created a wonderful world of interactivity with his energetic style, crazy animal antics, and bright, lively colours.

This book definitely has a place in your preschool collection and the shelves of those just learning to read.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Hattie Helps Out

Hattie Helps Out

Hattie Helps Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattie Helps Out

Jane Godwin & Davina Bell

Freya Blackwood

Allen & Unwin, 2016

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

9781743435434

 

Every mother has been there.  A toddler, a baby and it’s Dad’s birthday – there’s a party to be prepared, guests coming and the house looks like a toddler and a baby live there.

“You need to help out,” Mama told Hattie.

Firstly, it’s Hattie job to make the place cards for Granny Annie, Uncle Robbie, Great Aunt Susan and Big Cousin Sam.  And Baby Lottie (who sleeps a lot.)  Mama suggests that Hattie have a sleep too but she says she’s too old for an afternoon nap so together they make the birthday cake.  She agrees to a ‘rest’ while it cools down after it comes out of the oven but only if Mama lies down with her.  You can guess the rest.

This is a charming gentle story about how Hattie helps her sleeping mama by sticking the biscuits together, putting the berries on the cake and arranging the flowers around the house.  Her efforts might not be quite as Mama envisaged because she takes her mother’s words literally but… 

Freya Blackwood’s familiar illustrations in their calm and light palette bring the words alive and together this is a story that will delight over and over again. The love just shines off the page  as childhood is celebrated in such a joyous way.

Apart from being just a great story to share, it’s also a great starter for lots of talk about family celebrations, how they are celebrated and the things that need to be done.  There are personal recounts to make, lists to make and order to be discussed, relationships to be explored (particularly between Hattie and Great Aunt Susan), recipes to write and make, history to be recalled, practical things like setting the table to be practised – the list goes on.  You could even start the children’s skills for developing an argument (if they need them) by debating whether Hattie was helpful and having them justify their position with evidence from the story.

Hattie Helps Out is funny, familiar and it will certainly be a favourite.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You

I Just Couldn't Wait to Meet You

I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You

Kate Ritchie

Hannah Somerville

Penguin Random House, 2016

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

9780857989703

When the author discovered she was pregnant, typically she was very excited and so she began to write about her feelings as she waited for the time to pass.  The result is this gentle story-in-rhyme that mirrors the thoughts and feelings of most expectant parents and their families.  Who will this new little life be?  And what will their life be like?  It traces the things that are done during that nine months from ultrasounds to decorating the nursery, tracking a common journey that very young readers first asking about where they came from will love to know about. It might even reassure parents-in-waiting that anxiety is as normal as anticipation.

Even though this is Ms Ritchie’s story, it is a universal one and Hannah Somerville’s illustrations using such a soft palette take it beyond the personal so it becomes almost a lullaby of love that would serve very well as Baby’s first favourite shared each night.  There is so much evidence that even our very youngest children are aware of the harsh realities of life, the differences between their lives and that of their peers, so to have such an affirmation of being loved and wanted and cherished should bring enormous comfort and reassurance.

There is a place and a need for this sort of book and Ms Ritchie has fulfilled it well.