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The Cow Tripped over the Moon

The Cow Tripped over the Moon

The Cow Tripped over the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cow Tripped over the Moon

Tony Wilson

Laura Wood

Scholastic Press, 2015

32pp., hbk., RRP $24.99

9781743623534

 

Hey diddle diddle

You all know the riddle

A cow jumps over the moon.

It happened, all right,

On a crisp, cloudless night

On the second-last Friday in June.

But it didn’t happen on the first attempt, or the second or even the third.

As the cow, the cat, the fiddle, the dog, the dish and the spoon sit on the barn roof and watch the moan soar gracefully overhead they decide to make the traditional rhyme come true.

But what they don’t say in the songs from that day

Is the cow didn’t jump it first time.

It seems a moon clearance takes great perseverance…

And that is the underlying theme of this superb story from Tony Wilson and perfectly illustrated by Laura Wood.

The cow’s first attempt was at 9.17 pm when with little preparation or assistance, the cow made her first leap and fell flat on her face! “She never did make it to space”.  She’d tripped over the little dog Rover! But she was not to be deterred.  Using all sorts of techniques including pole-vaulting and a trampoline, she tried and tried again with the help of her friends who were as determined as she was that she would succeed.  Even taking a wrong turn and feeling the burn of the sun just made her more determined. Until on her seventh attempt just as day was dawning and the moon was disappearing…

It is no wonder that this was an Honour Book in the Early Childhood category of the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards.  As a standalone story about perseverance, resilience and friendship it is a masterpiece for offering children the hope and encouragement to keep trying and trying until they get all these new things they have to learn and achieve sorted – that growth mindset and determination to succeed that is becoming such a part of the focus on their emotional being these days.  By using a familiar rhyme that the age group will relate to rather than an anonymous character for whom there is no connection and its familiar rhythm Wilson has engaged them straight away and right from the get-go they are willing the cow to succeed.  They will even offer suggestions about how the friends can support the cow or what they would do to help, helping them to put themselves in the shoes of others and build empathy, respect and a feeling of responsibility to help – more of that consideration for others and positivity for their endeavours essential for mental wellbeing.

But the real story behind the story is its dedication to the author’s son Jack who suffers from cerebral palsy, the most common physical disability affecting childhood.

“Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is a permanent life-long condition, but generally does not worsen over time. It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance.”  Steptember, 2016

Every 15 hours an Australian child is born with cerebral palsy – that’s one in every 500 births.  Tony Wilson’s child Jack is one of those ones and on his blog he talks about Jack’s daily struggle to do something as seemingly simple and everyday as putting a piece of pasta in his mouth.  It’s about his goal of being able to walk 100 steps in a day over three sessions while nearly 70 000 people (including me, my son and my granddaughter) are endeavouring to do 10 000 steps a day to raise funds to help with treatment and equipment.

But it’s also about children like Ollie a little boy I met at the school I was teaching at last year; it’s about Jayden whom I taught years ago and who is now representing Australia at the Paralympics in Rio; and it’s about all the other 34 000 Australians living with the condition and the 17 000 000 worldwide. And with no known cure that’s a lot of people for whom living the normal life we take for granted is about as possible as the cow jumping over the moon.

There are many teaching resources to support The Cow Jumped Over the Moon available via an Internet search but if you want to learn more go to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and if you want to help, donate to Steptember.  Our team is called The Waddlers but any donation to the cause is welcome.

Tony Wilson and Laura Wood – it’s an honour to review this book.  I hope it spreads the message about all the Jacks there are and builds awareness and raises funds.

 

Go Home, Cheeky Animals

Go Home, Cheeky Animals

  Go Home, Cheeky Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Home, Cheeky Animals

Johanna Bell

Dion Beasley

Allen & Unwin, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
9781760291655

In the Northern Territory is the remote indigenous community of Canteen Creek, a tiny settlement that seems to have more dogs than people.  Grandpa feeds them so they like his house best and even when Mum tries to shoo them away, he tells her to let them stay because they keep the cheeky animals away.  For, as the weather works through its annual cycle of big rains, the sweaty season, the cool winds, the drying grass and the dry soaks a gang of goats, a drove of donkeys, a herd of horses, a bunch of buffaloes, even a caravan of camels invade the little town one after the other making life awkward.  Nothing seems to deter them – not Dad’s flapping arms; not Uncle’s stamping foot; not Aunty’s big stick; not even sister’s thong and certainly not the horde of cheeky dogs – who just lie there despite Grandpa’s beliefs!  Until the big rains come again…

This is an unusual book that has a fascinating back story  The most striking aspect is the illustrations which look like they have been done by someone the age of the intended audience, and that in itself will appeal because young children love that their style is validated in a “real book”.  So often they dismiss their efforts because they don’t look like “book pictures” or the “real thing” so to have illustrations that they themselves could have done will draw them into the story.  A bit of research though indicates that the artist, Dion Beasley, was born with multiple disabilities – profoundly deaf and with muscular dystrophy – and the whole book is testament to celebrating the diversity of abilities that people have, focusing on what they can do, not what they can’t. It would be perfect as the centrepiece for the International Day of People with a Disability on December 3 and Don’t Dis My Ability 

But illustrations do not necessarily a story make, and the text, too, is fascinating as it cycles through the seasons in a land that we all live in but most are so unfamiliar with.  The northern climate is so different from the four distinct seasons that we southerners experience and the changes on the landscape are subtle but profound so as well as being introduced to the feral animals of the north, the reader is also taken on a journey that is in sharp contrast to what most would be familiar with. Right there is the kernel of an investigation that could stretch across year levels and even countries.

In the bio blurb, Johanna Bell says that working with Dion has changed the way she sees the world and tells stories.  In the hands of an informed, imaginative teacher this book could have a similar impact on our students.  Perfect for Australia: Story Country.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

12 Annoying Monsters – self-talk for kids with anxiety

12 Annoying Monsters: Self-talk for kids with anxiety

12 Annoying Monsters: Self-talk for kids with anxiety

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Annoying Monsters: Self-talk for kids with anxiety

Dawn Meredith

Shining Press 2013

pbk., 91pp, RRP $A14.95

9781876870669

As a teacher, Dawn Meredith has encountered and worked with many children suffering from anxiety – anxiety so debilitating that it interferes with their daily lives.  As a sufferer herself she felt she had something to offer them to help them help themselves and so she has written this book in which she talks directly to the child to help them understand their fears and then overcome them.

Using language they can understand but which treats them with dignity and acknowledges their intelligence, she explains what anxiety is and invites them to analyse their feelings, offering lists of words that will help describe them.  She also offers step-by-step suggestions for getting in control such as breathing deeply, letting yourself go floppy and banishing the bad thoughts.  Because she has already taught the child about the physiological effects of feeling anxious, these steps connect directly to this and so make sense.  That in itself is calming and helps the sufferer understand that they can be in control.

She then tackles the twelve annoying monsters that are the most common causes of anxiety in children such as “Bad things always happen to me”; “Everything must be perfect”; “I’m all alone and no one loves me” and “It’s my fault.” For each one there is an explanation of the message the monster is giving showing that the monster is wrong, is a liar, or is pathetic and then offers suggestions for self-talk to drown out its voice and practical steps to banish it.

Apart from all of the great advice in this book, the fact that it’s available shows that no one is alone with their fears, they are not freaks but a member of a larger group all with the same feelings, and offers the sufferers some comfort.  ‘No one would bother to make the time and energy to write such a thing if your fear was unique and isolated – you are not alone in this’ can be the message that starts the road to recovery and control.

Given that as teacher librarians we are often the first port of call when someone wants a title that will help a child in a specific situation, this is a must-have on the shelves and worth a whisper in the ear of any students you know that need it.  More information is at the author’s website

 

 

That’s what wings are for

That's what wings are for

That’s what wings are for

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s what wings are for

Patrick Guest

Daniella Germain

Little Hare, 2015

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

9781742978291

“There are three things that a respectable dragon needs …strong wings for flying, strong lungs for breathing fire and strong shiny scales.”  So what happens if you are a dragon with none of those things?  Instead you have wings that are weak and floppy, breath that is faint and wheezy and your skin is soft and furry and blue.  And you are the only one of you in your school, laughed at and left alone?  For that was Bluey’s story.  He would climb trees and dream of flying even though he could only use his wings to hug.  He was laughed at, scorned and shunned, and when he made the dreadful error of hugging another dragon, his wings were tied up until he could “behave like a proper dragon.”

However no matter what he did, Bluey couldn’t be a “proper dragon”.  But one day his teacher gives him hope.  She tells the class about a dragon who lived beyond the sea, who couldn’t fly and who couldn’t breathe fire but was so wise that others dragons flew to hear his wisdom.  And so Bluey begins a journey that gives him hope and helps him find his place in the world and what his wings are really for.

While this is a charming story in itself illustrated with beautiful pictures in a soft palette that emphasise the gentle nature of Bluey, it is the back story that gives it its punch.  Bluey started life as a soft toy given to the author’s son Noah who had just been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder which affects boys and results in their muscles collapsing with most dying before they are 25. When he was approached by the Duchenne Foundation to write a story about Bluey, Patrick Guest said the words just came to him… the book is dedicated to all with DMD and part of the proceeds will go to the foundation.  View this interview with the author.

But this is a story about more than just DMD – it’s a story about any child who is different and struggles with that difference within the school setting.  While it is hoped that our students would not be as cruel as Bluey’s dragon friends and teachers much more compassionate than Mr Snakeskin, the truth is that a life of being different, especially physically different where the difference is constantly on show is a tough one.  Even though there was a huge impetus in the provisions for those with a physical disability in 1981 with the International Year of Disabled Persons, discrimination still exists so much so that in 2005 the federal government introduced the Disability Standards for Education  Currently under review, it is surprising how many in schools are unaware of their obligations under this Act and so stories like Bluey’s not only continue to inform us but are needed to give us the heads-up.  It is so much more than providing ramps, wide aisles and doorways.

This is not just a book for schools where there are children on crutches and in wheelchairs – it’s a book for all school libraries so our children learn one of the most valuable lessons of life, that of everyone wanting to be accepted for who they are not what they can (or can’t) do. It’s a book to inspire children that there is hope and they will find their place in the world and make a difference.

The Tree House

The Tree House

The Tree House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree House

Toni Brisland

Michele Gaudion

Little Steps 2014

hbk., RRP $A19.95

9781925117011

Teresa and Emma are sisters and best friends and Emma’s greatest wish is that her profoundly disabled sister could run on rainbows and do the things that she can, like climbing trees.  So she asks Daddy and Grandpa to build a treehouse instead.  But while they do that there is an accident which puts Teresa in hospital and changes the plans dramatically. 

This is a sensitive family story that gives children with disabilities like Teresa’s, or their sisters, an opportunity to see themselves as characters in a story.  While Teresa’s disability plays a significant role in the events, it is about family love first and disability second.  Accompanied by gentle artwork, it is a feel-good story that might help others think about the things they do and take for granted. Imagine even eating strawberries becoming a challenge or being unable to speak, let alone unable to do either.  Yet this is the life of many young children and we need to acknowledge it.

This book was written after the author had a conversation with a social worker who told her that there were very few books available to start discussions with the siblings of disabled children who are finding it hard to cope with the situation. It is based on Toni’s sister, Teresa, who had cerebral palsy, and the influence Teresa had on her. While I’ve read other books in which the main character has a disability, this is the first one I recall written from the perspective of a sibling.

Worth having in your collection.