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Can You Find Me?

Can You Find Me?

Can You Find Me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Find Me?

Gordon Winch

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier, 2017

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

9781925059793

Mother Nature has provided many of our commonly seen creatures with the most amazing camouflage so that when they are in their natural habitat they are very hard to see.  In this stunning book by Gordon Winch, author of Samantha Seagull’s Sandals which has delighted so many children in my care over the years, readers are encouraged to spot familiar and not-so-familiar creatures hidden in plain sight in Pat Shirvington’s beautiful lifelike illustrations which really connect to the natural world.  

Apart from little ones loving these sorts of hide and seek books, it also encourages them to look with new eyes at their local landscape and wonder what might be living there.  Perhaps before they go stomping through the bush or the sand dunes they will stop and tread more carefully appreciating it more as a home for creatures, camouflaged though they may be.

Then using the text format as a model, they could investigate a different creature and then create their own page to add to the book – a new way of presenting information for the ubiquitous report about Australian animals that is in every early childhood curriculum.

What George Forgot

What George Forgot

What George Forgot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What George Forgot

Kathy Wolff

Richard Byrne

Bloomsbury, 2017

40pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408884027

George is all ready to go to school but in the back of his mind he has that feeling that he has forgotten something.  Being a boy who never likes to forget anything, it troubles him and so he mentally goes through all his preparations for school.  He’s woken up, made his bed, greeted his patents, got dressed, had breakfast… So what could it be?

Aha! He realises at the very last minute as the school bus turns up that it is his shoes he has forgotten!  Or is it???

Young children will love trying to help George remember and by the end of the book they will be shouting at him just as they do in performances where the villain pops up just behind the hero and quickly disappears.  They will enjoy comparing his routine to theirs as they delight in Richard Byrne’s clever, funny illustrations and the clever use of font and print direction.  And they will probably start to do a mental check before they go out the door in future. They might even add the word ’embarrassing” to their vocabulary!

A good, funny read that will become a favourite.

DK Children’s Encyclopedia

DK Children's Encyclopedia

DK Children’s Encyclopedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK Children’s Encyclopedia

DK, 2017

304pp., hbk., RRP $A49.99

9780241283868

 

Miss 6, a newly independent reader with an insatiable curiosity for the world around her, came to stay for the weekend.  As usual, after dumping her bag where Grandad could trip over it she headed straight for my pile of review books to see what was new and this encyclopedia was on the top of the pile… and that was the last we saw of her till teatime.

Written for her age group with appropriate language, sentence structure, pictures and layout at last she felt she had found something just right for her.  No more having to get Miss 11 or a nearby adult to help her find things and then explain them – she was independent and LOVING it. (And no arbitrary phonics tests to test her skills – she was motivated, she expected to find out what she wanted to know and she had a range of strategies to draw on!)

Each page is devoted to a topic and with its alphabetical arrangement she was able to flip through to what she wanted, although after she learned how to use the Contents page she felt very grown up. Nine different key subject areas are covered – Art, People, History, Earth, Nature, Science, Technology, Space and the Human Body – all those which fascinate this age group and each is colour-coded so classifying is easy and the idea of grouping like with like is reinforced.  Each topic also has a “See Also” box so the reader can read more in related topics, and there is a comprehensive glossary, an index and a Reference section, each of which Miss 6 wanted to learn how to use “so I can use my book properly.” There are also several “Story of…” pages, double-page spreads which bring together information from different perspectives to take the thinking further.

While her bag was somewhat heavier when she left for home, Miss 6 didn’t mind the extra weight because she now had her “very own ‘cyclopedia”, had learned a lot of new skills and was feeling very smug. 

This is the perfect addition to your early childhood collection so little people can feel as empowered as Miss 6 and a perfect suggestion for parents for the Christmas stocking!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Why can’t I be a dinosaur?

Why can't I be a dinosaur?

Why can’t I be a dinosaur?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why can’t I be a dinosaur?

Kylie Westaway

Tom Jellett

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781760294724

Nellie is all dressed up in her dinosaur costume because today is a Dinosaur Day.  But it is also her Aunt Daisy’s wedding and she is supposed to be the flower girl and wearing her special purple dress. While some parents might exert their parental power, Nellie’s try a more negotiated approach,  as stubborn as any preschooler, Nellie refuses to change and despite her parents’ pleading she stands her ground.  Can a compromise be reached with Aunt Daisy having the pretty flower girl at the wedding of her dreams?

This is a funny yet familiar story that will resonate with both parent and child – parents because we can all remember some of the monumental battles we have had with stubborn, determined little people, the child because the adult world does seem to have some weird rules and expectations and having to wear a purple dress to a wedding is just one of them.

It’s refreshing to see a girl in the lead role in a book about dinosaurs and Tom Jellett has captured Nellie’s obsession with them and her feelings at being told no perfectly.  You can feel the tension in the air as powerful wills meet even though voices are not raised (except as a dinosaur roar) and the parents remain calm.  Lots of discussion points about feelings, doing what others expect, negotiating and compromising and whether clothes really do “maketh the man”. 

 

 

There Is NO Dragon In This Story

There Is No Dragon In This Story

There Is No Dragon In This Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There Is NO Dragon In This Story

Lou Carter

Deborah Allwright

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408864906

Most stories about dragons have the dragon capturing a princess and fighting the brave knight who comes to save her.  But that’s not what this story is about because the dragon has gone off in a huff in search of a story where he is the hero not the villain.

But each time he enters a story – The Gingerbread Man, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red riding Hood – he is told the same thing. “No! There are no dragons in this story!”

And then he spies a boy climbing a beanstalk. But just as Jack tells him the same thing, the giant captures the dragon and suddenly the dragon doesn’t want to be in the story!  But just as he seems doomed, the giant sneezes and blows out the sun…  Can the dragon be a hero at last?

This is a charming, colorful romp through a lot of childhood favourites that young children will delight in recalling and discussing the various forms the villain takes if it is not a dragon.  They will connect with characters and settings they know while the left-to-right direction of print is emphasised with the vivid and clever illustrations.  Older children can venture down the path of learning about stereotypes and how preconceived notions can lead to unfounded expectations, perhaps even starting to gather a collection of stories where the stereotype is challenged and then starting to examine their own prejudices.  

Quality stories always have lots of layers to suit lots of readers – this is one of those.

Stitches and Stuffing

Stitches and Stuffing

Stitches and Stuffing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stitches and Stuffing

Carrie Gallasch

Sara Acton

Little Hare, 2017

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

9781760127787

Wherever Adeline went, so did Bunnybear. They had been together since forever, never apart. He was soft and cuddly, his ears and legs wibbling and wobbling and he flipped and flopped along.  He even had his own seat at the table for morning milk and biscuits with Nanna.  Bunnybears was her best friend and she didn’t feel right without him.  Until one day, Bunnybear accidentally got left at the beach… Caught in a tug-of-war between a curious seagull and Adeline’s puppy, poor Bunnybear was destroyed and Adeline was distraught.  That night there was a Bunnybear-shaped empty space in her bed and she felt very alone.

Next day Nanna sat in her knitting chair and made a new Bunnybear for Adeline.  But this one wasn’t the same. It was too stiff and straight and no matter how Adeline squished and squashed him, he felt like a stranger.  And so he sat on the shelf, hard and still like a statue. But then, one day Nanna had to go away for a while and with no milk and biscuits for morning tea, and no sitting in the knitting chair with her, the days became long and quiet. And then Adeline remembered…

This is a soft and gentle story, illustrated with the soft and gentle palette and the soft and gentle lines of watercolours, that will remind all readers, young and not-so of their favourite take-along-everywhere toy of their childhood.  Everyone has a Bunnybear in their story, that one toy that we felt lost without regardless of whether it was shabby or pristine. In fact, shabby was better because it showed how loved it was but despite that, there is always room for change and sometimes when it is thrust upon us we need to embrace it.  This softness is not just in the storyline but also in the rhythm of the story – long sentences that spread out over vignettes and pages as life continues on its merry way but changing to shorter, more abrupt statements when the worst happens and then gradually getting longer and more rhythmic as life takes on a new pattern.  The whole wraps around the child like a hug, reassuring them that things will work out even if they are different. 

Sometimes when little ones go to big school there is a suggestion that it is time to leave their preschool lives behind, including their beloved toys that have been with them since birth.  And yet with this huge change in their lives they are left without the companionship of their most trusted and comforting friend and ally. Photos of Prince George starting school recently showed him looking a bit bewildered and unsure, and even though his grandfather Prince Charles thought the experience “character-building” we have to remember we can still count in months the time these little ones have been in the world and they need and deserve all the support they can get.  The astute teacher will acknowledge that these are more than just a collection of stitches and stuffing, that they are imbued with love, safety and security and perhaps having a special shelf so the special toys can come to school too with the child deciding when they want to wean themselves. Meanwhile the teacher librarian can encourage them to read to their special toy in school and at night and might even provide a collection of teddies for those who just need an extra hug or two. It worked for me!

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. 

What’s Up Top?

What's Up Top?

What’s Up Top?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Up Top?

Marc Martin

Viking, 2017

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143783886

Ever walked past a ladder propped against a wall and wondered what’s up top?  Could it be a hat or a cat? Or something that only a wild imagination could dream of?

Written in rhyme, this book lets that imagination go with each possibility getting more and more outrageous. Not since Enid Blyton introduced young readers to The Magic Faraway Tree has speculation about what might be at the top of the ladder been so intriguing.  

With soft colours and soft lines that emphasise the dream-like suggestions, creator Marc Martin cleverly does not answer the question, leaving it up to the imagination and speculation of the reader, opening up the opportunity for some artworks and discussions as the children offer their suggestions. 

Something quite different from Max but just as delightful.

I just ate my friend

I just ate my friend

I just ate my friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just ate my friend

Heidi McKinnon

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781760294342

I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?

Monster has eaten his friend and now he is on a search for another one.  One by one he asls other monsters but each has a different reason why they can’t oblige.  Too big, too small, too slow, too scary – each has a unique excuse.  But finally another one agrees…but this is definitely a case of “Be careful what you wish for”!

Set against a background of a dark starry sky, this is a story that has a dark humour to it and the twist in the end may puzzle very young readers but older readers will appreciate it. Even though the illustrations appear quite simple, there is a lot of expression built into the large white eyes and the slitted mouth that offer a lot of scope for encouraging young readers to look at the details in the pictures and interpret feelings from the facial features. Teaching them to read the pictures as well as the words is a critical skill to get the most from stories, even those that appear to be fairly simplistic. 

Using the universal desire for having a friend as its basis, it offers scope to discuss what it means to be a good friend and how you keep them.  Perhaps eating them is not the best idea, but what can you do when you find you don’t agree on something. Even discussing the fundamental question of whether friends can disagree and still be friends is important in developing the concept of friendship. 

Fresh, original and offering all the things a quality picture book should.

 

Guff

Guff

Guff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guff

Aaron Blabey

Viking, 2017

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

9780670077175

Guff is a somewhat weather-beaten soft toy. With both an eye and an ear missing, patches and fraying edges he looks like he has had a hard life, when, in fact he has had a loved life.  Given to the little girl when she was very tiny and he was as new and pristine as she was, he’s been with her every step of her growing-up journey and has survived the nearest of near misses like being left on the bus, floating out to sea  and even going through the washing machine.

With its sparse text the real story of Guff is told in the pictures with insight and humour – the mother’s expressions are exquisite and the love and the special relationship amongst mother, daughter and toy  just exudes from the page.

Guff is the toy we’ve all had, the constant companion that has given support and comfort when we’ve needed it – our best friend and confidante. Guff is there in all our childhood memories, intertwined with our adventures and misadventures. Guff makes it OK to go on your first sleepover or your first school camp with him close by your side even if you are in Year 4 or 5.  Guff is the warmth and comfort of Linus’s security blanket and just as acceptable.  He is the toy we will treasure and pass on to our children and tell them stories about.

Guff is Aaron Blabey’s latest masterpiece, not just a story for little people to listen to as they snuggle down with their Guff but one that will evoke memories for the storyteller and generate even more stories .

Guff is precious and very special – both the book and the toy.