Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale








Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Robie H. Harris

Chris Chatterton

Walker, 2018

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


Elephant is building a tower with his blocks.  He wants it to be as tall as he is and while he just manages it on his first attempt with four blocks stacked on their edges, it’s very wobbly!  CRASH! BOOM! Down it tumbles.  

After throwing an elephant-sized tanty, using all sorts of maths-related words, he has another look and another try.  This time he tries the same blocks, but flat this time… 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8!  And is stands until he crash booms it himself.  And then he looks at the other blocks in his tub…

Far from being a stand-alone subject in the curriculum that brings out the moans and groans, we are surrounded by maths concepts and even our youngest readers will enjoy this story as the illustrations are so evocative, the text is just a bonus!  Exploring 3D shapes; which stack, which don’t; counting the blocks as they are added and thinking about why one tower took 4 and the other 8; using the language of comparison and building towers that are as tall as, taller  than, shorter than other objects; even the dexterity and eye-hand co-ordination involved in the stacking – there is a wealth of activity in this seemingly simple book.  

Perfect for keeping the preschooler occupied for hours without a screen and learning at the same time!

Little Fish (series)

Little Fish

Little Fish








Where is Little Fish?


Count with Little Fish


Lucy Cousins

Walker Books, 2018

22pp., board book, RRP $A11.99

Little Fish is the new creation from the creator of Maisy and in these two new releases very young readers will love to lift the flaps to discover where he is hiding and then to count to 18 as he introduces all his fishy friends.  

With bright bold pictures full of colour, pattern and detail that encourage exploration, little ones will enjoy following his adventures and practise their early reading behaviour as they will soon be telling themselves the stories independently with these just-right-for-little-hands books, sturdy enough to endure toddler trials. 

Cousins has proven through her many publications for littlies that she knows just what attracts them and this new series is no exception.

Busy Little Creatures

Busy Little Creatures

Busy Little Creatures









Busy Little Creatures

Raising Literacy Australia

Fiona Bowden

Little Book Press, 2017

24pp., hbk., RRP $A14.99


From bees to beetle to butterflies, our world is full of busy little creatures and ten of them are collected here in a book which not only introduces them but also helps the very young reader explore movement, colours, patterns, sizes and numbers. Perhaps they might also become a detective as they create a chart of the creatures so they can tick off each as it is discovered and maybe even add new ones not featured in the book!  There could also be discussions about why people are dependent on these minibeasts and how we need to protect them rather than squash them, squirt them and otherwise kill them, as well as learning which are friendly and which are not-so!

Bush Birthday

Bush Birthday

Bush Birthday








Bush Birthday

Lorette Broekstra

Allen & Unwin, 2018

24pp., hbk.,  RRP $A14.99


One climbs up a tree with an intriguing gift-wrapped package and Two climbs down to receive it.  Then they pass it to Three, and together  they creep through the hollow log to the burrow of Four.  And so it goes on, the group getting larger and larger until they finally reach the home of the recipient.  Whose birthday is it?  And what could be in the package? 

Using iconic but stylised Australian creatures in their natural habitats, this is a delightful story for little ones that uses a minimum of text to tell it, but that text is carefully chosen to explore both numbers and position so that the reader has a better understanding of both.  Little ones will have fun identifying each of the animals as well as working out which one has not yet been featured as  they try to identify whose birthday it is.   And what sort of gift could come in a parcel of that shape and size?

More to this one than it appears at first glance and something new to explore with each reading.  

Bobo & Co

Bobo & Co

Bobo & Co











Nicola Killen

Bloomsbury, 2017

10pp, board book, RRP $A11.99

Meet Bobo the panda and his friends, Snap the crocodile, Riff the giraffe and the rest of the gang, in this enjoyable and engaging new lift-the-flap first concepts series. In Colours Bobo the panda and his friends want to paint a picture for their friend Snap, but oh-oh! Things get a bit messy while Numbers involves a game of hide and seek for his friends.

While most board books focusing on these concepts for the very young usually feature pages that are disconnected, the continuity of a story throughout makes these appealing and helps little ones realise that books are more than just pictures with labels.  The lift-the-flap format makes them interactive as well as encouraging the child to predict what might come next.

Perfect for a gift for a new mum or a daycare centre.

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms

Will Mabbitt

Puffin, 2017

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


 “This book is about worms. (I can only draw worms.) “

And so that’s just what we are presented with.  Bright hot-pink worms (except for one yellow one because he lost his pen) that mix and mingle and get to know each other and have adventures, all of which the reader has to imagine because the author can only draw worms.  Set on white page juxtaposed with some really bright backgrounds the reader is drawn in, but while the blurb suggests that the book is “hilarious” and guaranteed to have children howling with laughter” I think there is a gap between the age of the reader that it visually appeals to and that able to grasp the humour.

It’s different, it’s quirky, it’s definitely bright and young readers will love to join in the counting aspect as Mabbitt brings this most humble creature to life., encouraging them to use their imagination to fill in all the missing illustrations because he can only draw worms.  













Lisa Stickley

Pavilion, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99


Little girls love to do handstands and Edith is no exception.  She is teaching herself and each day she gets a little better increasing her upside-downness by a second each day.  But each day something interrupts her concentration like the worm who popped up by her hand, the bird who used her hand for target practice and the spider that crawled down her shorts when she rested her legs against a tree.  But nevertheless she keeps on practising…

This is an interesting book – it’s tagline is “a kind of counting book” which it is as Edith manages an extra handstand and an extra second each day and the words and numbers are included in the illustrations.  But it is also intriguing because as she encounters each little creature the creature gives its perspective on how Edith has interrupted it, offering an introduction to getting young readers to see things from another point of view.  The worm pops his head above ground and sees “a giant hand next to my preferred popping up place”.  It could spark some discussion and drawing about how little girls and little boys appear to the creatures in their environment. Resilience is also a theme – how we must practise and practise to get better and not be deterred by trivial things like a spider in your knickers.

The appearance of the book is also interesting – harking back to a time when handstand competitions were features of recess and lunch break entertainment for girls of my era, the colours and style give it a definite retro feel.  Even the name ‘Edith’ suggests a bygone time. The illustrations are also what a child the age of the narrator might draw adding to the impression that this is, indeed a young girl telling her story, but the font, presented in the style of a young child might prove tricky for young readers  to start with. 

Even though this appears to be a counting book at first flick-through, there is much more in it that can provide lots of chat between child and adult and even tempt them to try a new skill.  I’m sure Miss 10 and Miss Nearly-6 eyes will boggle at the thought of Grandma being the school handstand champion a lifetime ago!!!

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas






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!


Five Little Elves






Five Little Elves

Five Little Elves









Five Little Elves

Dan Yaccarino

HarperFestival, 2016

16pp., board book, RRP $A12.99



Five little elves sitting on a sled,

The first one said, “Where’s the man in red?”

With the concept of Elf on a Shelf gaining such ground in the homes of those with little people – the perfect spy for Santa – this timely release of this traditional rhyme in board book format is a perfect addition to the Christmas stocking of the very young.  With its rhyme and rhythm and bold, bright illustrations it is definitely one for sharing over and over, helping even the tiniest ones start to learn the nuances of our language and the joy of story. At the same time, being a board book, it is sturdy enough to be placed in those tiny hands and survive the explorations that they and teeth will make.

Board books are an ideal way to introduce children to the love of reading as having heard the story in a safe, loving relationship, their format allows them to be handled and sucked and chewed as the little one begins to exercise their own power over the story. Even though they might not yet be able to read the words for themselves, may even be too young to join familiar rhymes and stories, being able to handle and manipulate the book itself is a huge step in that early reading journey.

Many publishers have  produced board books for Christmas – some are familiar stories reproduced such as the charming Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell; some feature characters like Elmer, Clifford and Maisy with whom the children are already familiar; others like That’s Not My Elf offer a textural element while others like Dear Santa are just new stories published in a format that will appeal. Whatever their foundation, each serves the very real purpose of enchanting very young children with the pleasure that comes from sharing a story, one that speaks to them of the best time of the year and offers delight and satisfaction.

A friend (an expert in children’s reading and literature) Kerry Neary, who has been known to wander shopping centres at Christmas time to give board books to the young children he sees in an endeavour to start their love of reading as early as he can, has compiled a collection of well-loved stories in board book form. At least one of them should find their way into the stocking of a toddler you know this Christmas. These are all available from Book Depository as well as bookstores but he emphasises it is only a selection, rather than a definitive collection.  To Kerry, to me and to all  those with a passion for having children love reading from the get-go, any book popped into the stocking and shared is a bonus.

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bb13 bb12 bb11 bb10
bb9 bb8 bb7 bb6
bb5 bb4 bb3 bb2
bb1 bb18 bb19 bb20







Push! Dig! Scoop!

Push! Dig! Scoop!

Push! Dig! Scoop!








Push! Dig! Scoop!

Rhonda Gowler Greene

Daniel Kirk

Bloomsbury, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99


Over by the dirt pile all the heavy machinery is lined up ready for another hard days’ work on the construction site.   Bulldozers, diggers, loaders, graders – they are all there in this charming counting rhyme that will hold appeal for preschoolers.  Using onomatopoeia and lots of movement, little ones will be encouraged to join in as the machines work and don’t stop till night falls and it is time to rest.  They will love counting each of the baby machines and anticipating how many there will be next.

Each machine has a mama or papa surrounded by all the little ones learning what to do, a pictorial metaphor for our own little ones as they, too, are dependent on their parents as role models.  “Children learn what they live” is so well demonstrated! Readers will enjoy thinking about the job each machine does and how they all have a special task to do while they work together to get the job done. They can examine the specialist role of each machine and how it is specially designed for its role and perhaps start laying the foundations of an engineering interest.

Bright, colourful and charming, this will fit very well in the Santa sack!