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Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baz & Benz

Heidi McKinnon

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523688

‘Benz, are we friends?’
‘Yes, Baz, we are best friends’
‘For how long?’
‘For ever and ever.’

Baz and Benz are two little owls, and Baz is trying to discover how far he can push the boundaries of the friendship as he suggests all kinds of things he could do that might fracture the friendship.  But even when Benz gets annoyed, the friendship remains strong because Benz is very wise. 

From the creator of I Just Ate My Friend,  McKinnon once again explores the concept of friendship and what it takes to be a good friend.  As with her previous book, the illustrations are set against a plain night sky background, ensuring the young reader pays attention to the focal point and much of the emotion of both Baz and Benz comes through the facial expressions and body language. The story is carried in dialogue colour-coded to each character enabling very young readers to start developing early concepts about print. 

Perfect for preschoolers just learning about having friends and being one, as they reflect on their behaviour and its impact on those around them, as well as how other’s behaviour impacts on them. 

All Right Already!

All Right Already!

All Right Already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Right Already!

Jory John

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008330033

Bear and Duck are neighbours – but two more different would be hard to find.  Bear is huge, slow and somewhat grouchy; Duck small, energetic and always looking for fun. Told in dialogue with each character having their own font that cleverly echoes their nature, each story focuses on a conflict between the two as Bear wants one thing – usually a quiet life – while Duck wants the opposite. And it is the same in this latest addition to this series for very young readers…

It has snowed overnight and Duck wants to make the most of the fun it offers while Bear wants to stay in his cosy warm house. Even after Duck coaxes him out he is a reluctant participant in the games and when he starts to sneeze, Duck bundles him back inside (where he wanted to be all the time) and assumes the role of nurse.  But Bear is not particularly grateful and when Duck begins to sneeze too and heads for her home, it remains to be seen whether Bear will step up and nurse her.

Apart from being a charming story that young readers will enjoy, there is much it offers for the development of early reading behaviours for them as well.  Firstly, being a series, it is an opportunity for the adult to ask the child what they remember and know about the characters already so their thoughts are already set to the contrasting characteristics of each.  When Duck goes to Bear’s house, full of excitement and anticipation, what sort of reception is she likely to get?  There is also the opportunity to explore the concept of dialogue as the whole story is told in conversation with Duck’s voice in a different, lighter font to that of Bear’s. It offers lots of things to chat about such as why it snows and why most Australian children won’t wake to a snowy morning; how we need to protect ourselves from catching a cold and how we can keep from spreading the one we have, and also the things we can do to make a friendship solid and sustainable.  While bedtime stories should always be about the bond and the connections between reader and listener, there are subtle ways that these concepts about print can be shared so that the young one engages even further with the story and becomes even more determined to become an independent reader.

 

 

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Parade of Elephants

Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow, 2018

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

9780062668271

Here they come ….one, two, three, four, five.  A parade of elephants who like to march and march and march.  Round and round they go, up, down, under, over, in and out – they march all day.  Until bedtime when they lift their trunks and trumpet and scatter stars across the sky.

From the butterflies and sun on the front endpage to the moon and stars on the back, this is a charming story that will help little ones learn to count and understand positional words.  They will enjoy being elephants and finding their own places to march though, up, under, in and out and over. Perfect for our youngest readers who will be able to match the words and pictures learning valuable concepts about how print works, this is a charming bedtime story as well as an early maths book! Promote it to your early childhood teachers and parent body who are looking for something delightful but different.

 

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

Graeme Base

HarperCollins, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460753941

Early one morning Wuffle the puppy, Lou the kitten and Billington the duck are playing with Wuffle’s new ball when they accidentally send it into the pond.  Billington goes after the ball and Wuffle jumps in too, but Wuffle can’t swim.  Is he going to drown? It looks like this will be a story with an unhappy ending when suddenly, out of the blue sky comes an amazing sight…

This is the first in a new series by the amazing Graeme Base, written for our earliest readers.  (The second, The Sock, is due later this month, with two more later in the year.) In it he uses simple text and his exquisite detailed artwork to bring everyday incidents to life in story, with the added twist of three superhero bunnies who use their intelligence and unique skills to get the heroes out of potentially dangerous situations.

Apart from being entertaining stories in themselves, the nature of series means that even little ones can learn about each character and carry what they know of them over to the next book.  They will delight in helping the BumbleBunnies choose what is needed for each situation, giving them a sense of power over the words, that most stories don’t have and suggesting the ways that the BumbleBunnies can each use their skills to rescue the situation.

While this is quite a departure from his works for older children, nevertheless, Base’s attention to detail in the illustrations makes them so rich that they demand to be read over and over again with something new to discover each time.

 

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

DK, 2019 

128pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143794998

Being the daughter of journalists who were sticklers for correct grammar, the structure of our language was drummed into me from an early age and I have to say that all these years on, I’m still what is commonly called a “grammar Nazi.” In fact, just this morning I corrected this image on a friend’s Facebook feed stating that it should read, “What would you do if you knew you COULD not fail?”

And with the return of the “back to basics” of the English strand of the Australian curriculum where even our youngest students are expected to know what “rime and onset” are, the syntax of our language can be overwhelming.  Thus, having a ready reference text that helps young children understand the common parts of speech like nouns, verbs and adjectives and supports their growing knowledge of more obscure things like prepositional phrases, fronted adverbials and reported speech will be a welcome addition to any young student’s collection, (and perhaps, even their teacher’s.)  

While text speech and spelling seems to have overtaken much of our everyday writing, being able to put words on paper that carry a message over time still remains part of that which makes us human and so grammar and punctuation both have a vital place in our learning if we want to be understood by others. 

But although the more formal aspects of writing might seem daunting to those moving on from writing random thoughts and having an adult interpret and transcribe them for them, students are reassured that they know much of what they are going to learn already because every time they speak they use grammar – the purpose of this book is just to show them the different kinds of words and how they fit together.  There’s a clear explanation of how to use the three parts of the book – parts of speech, sentences and clauses, and punctuation – as well as a demonstration of what grammar and punctuation are and how they are critical to both speech and writing. 

We are all familiar with memes like this…

so teaching young children from the get-go the difference is essential if they are to realise those big dreams.

This book is one of six in the 2019 DK Australia First Reference series, which also includes First Children’s DictionaryFirst Science EncyclopediaFirst Maths GlossaryFirst Encyclopedia and First How Things Works Encyclopedia, and is going to be a valuable addition to Miss 7’s writing toolkit as she enters the new phase of her formal education. 

 

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK First Reference Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143794981

I love this time of the year – the madness that is Christmas is over, the new school year is becoming real and it’s time to reflect on just where Miss 7 and Miss 12 are at with their learning, and how much they have accomplished in the past 12 months.

This year, Miss 12 begins the whole new adventure of high school while Miss 7 moves into Year 3, already an independent reader and wanting to start writing her own stories.  She has a big imagination and big dreams just like May Gibbs so this new Australian dictionary from DK is going to be the perfect addition to her desk.  As part of the generation that believes having a broad vocabulary and using and spelling it correctly is critical for engaging the audience and getting the message across, I believe dictionaries are an essential part of the writer’s toolkit and this one is perfect for the budding storyteller.

With more than 4,000 words and definitions, and featuring a full alphabet on every page to make finding words easy, colourful photographs that bring words to life, and helpful information on word families, spelling and writing, this essential dictionary for Australian children is the perfect reference book, both for home and at school. Each entry provides the part of speech and the word’s plural while the definition is in everyday English so that it is accessible to the user.  It acknowledges that the user has moved on from junior picture dictionaries so there is not a picture for every entry, allowing space for exploring the words that children of this age use. 

This book is one of six in the 2019 DK Australia First Reference series, which also includes Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation, First Maths GlossaryFirst Science Encyclopedia and First How Things Work Encyclopedia., all of which will be important additions to Miss 7’s bookshelf this year as well as being extremely useful in any library collection as they could be the central focus of teaching this age group the value of reference tools and how to identify the cues and clues to use them.   Alphabetical order is an essential skill that reaches well beyond understanding how a dictionary works, but the dictionary is the ideal place to master it. 

Let’s Go Strolling

Let’s Go Strolling

Let’s Go Strolling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go Strolling

Katrina Germein

Danny Snell

Little Book Press, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780648115687

Taking a toddler for a walk in a stroller on a sunny day is one of life’s more pleasant and relaxing experiences, especially if it’s a welcome break in a hectic daily routine.  Enjoying the activity, taking notice of nature and the amazing things that can be seen as you stroll rather than rush, sitting in the park, meeting friends with their toddlers – it all goes to making an enjoyable experience for parent and child. 

So this lovely book for preschoolers that focuses on this simple activity and brings it to life is a delight to share, as our soon-to-be readers not only relate to the events but are also encouraged to think more about what they see on their daily walk.  Perhaps it is an opportunity for parent and child to take a lead from Germein’s text and Snell’s illustrations and create their own book about their daily walk.  A few pages that have the repetitive text of “On our walk we saw…” and a photo or drawing will not only become a family favourite but also help the child understand the power they have over words – saying them, writing them and reading them.

This book has been produced under the umbrella of Raising Literacy Australia, and with such experienced authors and illustrators on board, it certainly helps meet the mission and aims of that charity. It’s familiar setting and activity, its simple rhythmic language accompanied by illustrations that enable the young reader to predict the text, and the potential for follow-up are all part of those essential elements that lay the foundations for mastery of print. 

 

Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight at the Library

Ursula Dubosarsky

Ron Brooks

NLA Publishing, 2018

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279316

A long time ago a boy looked out of a window and wondered about the world. And as he thought and wondered, his head filled with words and they came out of his head, down his arm, into his hand and into his fingers and onto the page… Over time and place that little book was opened and loved, given and taken, closed and lost, found and forgotten as it journeyed until it is now waiting to be discovered in a library.

In this beautifully written and stunningly illustrated story by the familiar team of Dubosarsky and Brooks, young readers are introduced to the concept of a book and its critical place in society as the purveyor of stories that tell us about who and what has gone before, the roots of who we are as a nation and indeed, as people.  And just as this little book lives on in the library to tell its seekers its stories, young readers can imagine what story they could write today to be discovered and revered years and generations hence. 

As well as telling the story of the book, Dubosarsky and Brooks also celebrate the importance of libraries as the safe havens of the written word, a concept also explored on the final pages as some of the books, as magical as that in the story,  that are available to be explored at the National Library of Australia are highlighted.

Apart from just being a wonderful read, the potential to use this book across the curriculum is almost endless as students consider the role of the written word, the history of its communication, the changes in format, the types of books and stories on offer and the need for a common set of symbols, syntax and semantics to make our message understood regardless of the language we speak.

Formal teachers’ notes are available but for me, this has so much more potential than just satisfying some AC outcomes. It’s all wrapped up in the universal wonder of story.

 

 

 

 

Meet the Fingerlings

Meet the Fingerlings

Meet the Fingerlings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Fingerlings

Rosie Peet

DK, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A12.99

9780241370803

The Fingerlings are a lively gang of monkey, sloth, and unicorn friends who love to hang out together and this book introduces very young readers to Boris the energetic monkey who loves to play the drums, Marge the brainy sloth and Gigi the bubbly unicorn who is always the life and soul of the party as well as  Bella the monkey who loves to jump and climbs and  Kingsley the sloth whose favourite sport is surfing!

At first glance, this is just another book that is a tie-in to a set of popular commercial characters, and to some extent it is, but with the expected DK twist of educating as well as entertaining, it is more than that.  Each character has their own page with basic information about them in easily accessible language but the book also has a quiz at the end to test the children’s knowledge of what they have read and an index so they can find the answers quickly if they are unsure.  While not a fan of quizzing kids on what they’ve read as though they somehow have to prove they have read and understood things, nevertheless this is a fun format to introduce the concept that books can contain information and that it can be found by using specific cues and clues, thus laying down the foundations of information literacy.  

Even if it is viewed as a clever marketing tool to popularise characters soon to hit Australian preschoolers, books that tie screen to print are always popular as young would-be readers recognise familiar things and with the bonus of some simple guidelines to help them with those first research skills, this deserves a place in the early childhood collection- just as we provide books about Star Wars and superheroes for our older readers. 

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Spot at the Zoo

Eric Hill

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9780141373850

Spot and his family enjoy exploring  the wildlife park and meeting lots of new animals along the way but when he disappears, his parents have to search for him, looking behind the flaps to see if he is hiding.  Where can he be?

In 1980, a generation of children fell in love with Spot and his adventures in the iconic series with its humour, bold, bright pictures, minimal but bold text and the lift-the-flap features that invited exploration and engagement.  So this new series with its familiar format and humour will appeal to a new generation, likely the children of the original. It is perfect for starting their initial concepts about books and print and its interactivity will encourage not only a lot of re-reads but also sitting down and telling themselves the story.  #unabashedspotfan

It’s also an opportunity to talk about how Spot’s parents feel when they can’t find him and the importance of sticking together in unfamiliar places.