George is having a very bad day – an I can’t, I won’t, I don’t kind of day as he grumbles and shouts and stomps. His mum tells him there is a big bad mood around him but George can’t see it and when he goes searching for it with no luck he gets even crankier. Then suddenly, The Big Bad Mood is standing right in front of him! Rough and smelly, it takes George by the hand and off they go to create mischief and mayhem.
At first it is fun but eventually…
Young children, and those around them, are no strangers to temper tantrums born of frustration as they push the boundaries of independence, but sometimes the stars are just not aligned and we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But right from the get-go we learn that expressing our displeasure through shouting and stomping is not acceptable and so there can be an expectation that we should be happy and cheerful all the time, never giving into whatever is making us feel less so. Yet there can be no rainbows without rain and our lives are full of the ups and downs that give us light and shade so this is a wonderful kickstart to a discussion with little ones about whether it is ever OK to be angry and moody, and if so, how to deal with it.
As George goes about his day with The Big Bad Mood, he slowly begins to realise the impact his mood and behaviour are having on those around him and his attitude starts to change and then his actions follow suit. Little ones need to understand that being cranky is part of everyday life and it’s not a sin or a personality defect but it’s how they deal with the anger and frustration that shapes who they are, not just in the moment but long term as the responses we have become ingrained habits. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
Often young people don’t have the vocabulary and the language skills to be able to articulate their frustration and that leads to even more tension but by having Olga Demidova’s illustrations that make the invisible visible they realise that bad moods are real, can be tangible and can be dealt with. Equally important is acknowledging the feelings of those who have been affected by their attitude and actions and the power of saying sorry and trying to do better. Even though the target audience of this book are still too young to be able to step back and look at what is causing their mood objectively, nevertheless the patterns of their behaviour are being laid down so discussions about why they get cross and what they can do about it, as George did, are vital.
A perfect addition to your mindfulness collection!
Naming Day at the school on The Hill -an old rubbish dump on the edge of the woods – is the most important day for the students because it is then that they get their surnames based on their expertise in particular disciplines such as metal craft and weaving. Chipmunk Twig, who prefers to read discarded picture books rather than the old instruction manuals preferred by the other students, is struggling to excel and seems destined to become a lonely Errand Runner. Shamed and embarrassed he runs away, falls into a river and when he reaches the shore he finds a golden egg from which hatches a dragon. And suddenly his fortunes change – or do they?
Miss 11, an avid reader, was drawn to this book on a recent visit because it is the sort of story she likes and she immediately put her nose into it. However her comments afterwards suggested it did not live up to expectations. Even though the writing is descriptive, she said she was glad there were the pictures to help because her imagination wasn’t drawing them for her.
She felt that the storyline did not match her predictions and there were several gaps that were unexplained such as how Twig got back upriver; what is making Char the dragon so sick; enemy Basil’s change of heart and how Lily, banned from seeing Twig manages to accompany him on the final adventure. She wasn’t keen on the up-in-the-air, to-be-continued ending which left the story unresolved until the sequel Bayberry Island is read. Sadly, Grandma didn’t have it. Perhaps if she did and all the loose ends were tied up she might have enjoyed it more.
Friendship and the ethics of keeping animals captive and cheating to achieve a goal are the themes of this story but to Miss 11, the target audience for the story, they were lost in her confusion of the story.
Unusual for me to publish a less-than-positive review but when you have the critique of the intended audience, it’s hard to ignore it.
Four eggs – one pink, one yellow, one blue, one green. Crack. Crack Crack. Three hatch and release their little ones – but the green one does not. Waiting, waiting, waiting…Listening, listening, listening… Peck. Peck. Peck. Until finally… But what emerges is not what is expected. And as the birds fly away in surprise it is left alone, sad and miserable. Until…
Described as “a graphic novel for pre-schoolers”, Caldecott Medallist Kevin Henkes has woven a magnificent story with the minimum of words and some seemingly simple illustrations. Using the softest pastel palette, simple lines and shading he conveys so much emotion and action that even the very youngest reader will be able to sit and tell the story to themselves and their teddies without having to know one word of the sparse text. They will enjoy predicting what might be in that final egg and be surprised when the secret is discovered. Could that really be inside an egg? Are birds the only things that hatch from eggs? They will also empathise with the surprise when it is left alone and lonely, perhaps able to express their own feelings when they have been in a similar situation. A perfect opportunity to build a word wall of synonyms for ‘sad”. Inviting them to retell the story will encourage them to organise and order their thoughts, begin to understand sequence is important, and use their own words and language skills to express what happened – critical elements in developing early reading skills. And of course, this story is the perfect lead-in to the classic tale of The Ugly Duckling.
Brilliant for littlies but older children could gain a lot from looking at the techniques used to produce so much from so little.
Piglet trotted happily beside his best friend Pooh.
Talking about nothing much as best friends often do.
When suddenly Pooh stopped and said, “I’ve got a Grand Idea”.
“I’m going to catch a Heffalump. I’ve heard they live around here.”
Giles Andreae ofGiraffes Can’t Dance fame has taken this wonderful and well-known adventure of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and reinterpreted into a delightful rhyme and pictorial experience. More than 90 years on from the first publication of the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Tigger inspired by a real-life bear Milne’s stories are as enchanting and popular as ever so to have this one in a picture book version for our youngest readers is a treat indeed.
As well as providing a taste of the delights of what is in the original collection, it celebrates friendship, bravery and the imagination, even providing the basis for an inquiry project for beginners. Just what is a Heffalump, what does it look like, and what would be the best way to catch it? Each child could create their own version, design a suitable trap and bait and maybe even start to consider whether catching wild creatures is ever a good idea. Those a little older might even start to investigate the role of zoos and how they’ve changed, particularly given Winnie’s origins.
Even though this is an adaptation of a classic, in its new form there are so many layers to explore that it is perfect as a standalone., and another generation will learn to love this lovable bear and his endearing friends.
“Aussie Rules is awesome. Out on the boundary Bailey warms up. He takes a bounce and boots the ball; a banana kick bends towards me.”
As well as taking a romp through an Aussie Rules football game, this book also takes a romp through the alphabet using alliteration as a clever but not contrived device to keep the text flowing. Those familiar with the game and its terminology will enjoy the story as friends enjoy their game despite the appalling weather, while those who are not so aware will learn a little more so they might be tempted to watch a match or two.
There are few picture books about football written for the reluctant reader so this may also capture that market, as they recognise the action, the words and their meanings and start to believe that there is something in this reading thing for them.
Janine Dawson has not only captured the movement and action of the game but she has incorporated kids of both genders and a range of backgrounds that reflects the inclusivity of Aussie Rules and sport in general, so each child should be able to find themselves in the game somewhere. The fun and enjoyment of playing together in a team lifts right off the page and the score becomes irrelevant -just as it should be. Even the rain turning the oval into a quagmire so everyone is slithering and sliding in mud just adds to the fun, and the detail in the background (like the lady trading her umbrella for the pooper-scooper) emphasises the fact that weather cannot be the determinant of our activities.
An uplifting read about going out and having fun with friends, whether it’s Aussie Rules or something else, cleverly told so that is has a wider audience than just the AFL aficionado.
Henri is a little caterpillar with a big ambition. He wants to fly and go on an amazing, incredible, impossible-seeming adventure to see the world outside his garden. But how can such a little caterpillar make such a huge dream come true?
His friends want him to stay where he is – safely in the garden with them. But Toad tells if if he doesn’t chase his dreams, they will get away. And so with the help of other friends like Bird, Mole, and Fish he is on his way. But it is not until he sees a tethered hot air balloon that he believes his amazing, incredible, impossible-seeming adventure will begin. If he can get to the top he is sure he will be able to see the whole wide world. But as he begins to crawl up the ropes, something happens to him and he finds himself shackled and sleepy. And then when he wakes…
This is a charming story that will appeal to young readers, especially those who know the life cycle of butterflies and can predict what will happen to Henri. But it is also an inspiring story about believing in yourself, having a dream and making it happen, even if it means stepping w-a-y outside your comfort zone. It’s ending is comforting – knowing that there is nearly always a safe haven we can return to. It is a soft, gentle story cleverly echoed in the soft gentle palette and is a perfect bedtime read as children snuggle down to their own dreams.
Tapir lives in the jungle and Pig lives in the village but they meet at a common waterhole where they each go to play. W brothers or sisters of their own, they recognise they are similar but different but the differences don’t stop them eventually playing together, having fun swimming, chasing butterflies, wallowing in the mud and looking for yummy things to eat. They decide they are brothers from a different mother.
But when their fathers discover they are playing with each other, they are forbidden to mix with each other – simply because they are pig and tapir and thus different. Pig and Tapir are very unhappy and lonely and so they decide to disobey their fathers. Tapir heads for the village while Pig goes to the jungle, each meeting with opposition to their search but determined to forge on. And when they do meet up, all the fun is back on again as they wallow in the mud. But then their fathers come looking for them..
Superbly illustrated, this is a tale that reflects what happens in the schoolyard with kids all the time. They look for similarities not differences and friendships are as diverse as the children. Racist, ethnic, religious, economic and social differences are not part of their perspectives – those are concepts imposed on them by adults. Using a saying that is currently popular amongst close friends, Gwynne has brought to life its true meaning and as well as creating a charming story he has offered a great springboard for discussions about acceptance, tolerance, diversity, inclusivity and understanding as our children encounter all these things every day in the playground. One might suggest that there are adults in this world who could learn more from this story than their children.
Princess Cassandra had everything she could possibly want – hundreds of dresses, thousands of books and servants to bring her anything she wanted. She should have been the happiest princess in the world.
But there was one thing she didn’t have – she was lonely playing by herself and desperately wanted a best friend. In particular, she wanted a pet – one that would match her best dress, swim and jump and play all day and at night sit on her pillow and sing to her. So the Royal Pet Handler set off on a quest to find the perfect pet, but nothing was quite right. The mouse was too squeaky, the kitten refused to swim, the hippo wouldn’t jump and none of them were green. The task seemed impossible until one day the Royal Pet Handler arrived with a frog. It seemed just perfect. It was able to swim, jump and play, AND it was green. But when Princess Cassandra put it on her pillow and kissed it goodnight, it turned into a prince!
“Princes aren’t pets,” she declared and banished it to the royal kitchens. So the Pet Handler went in search of another frog and the same thing happened. Again and again and again, until there were princes everywhere. Then one day, the princess found her own frog but the same thing happened, except this time the prince wanted to stay a frog. Will she ever get the perfect pet?
This is an hilarious take on the traditional Princess and the Frog story made even moreso by the terrific pictures of Palacios who brings the characters to life through their facial expressions. Who would have thought there were so many different frogs?
A playful bedtime read that might make little ones think twice about kissing things goodnight!
Built in the first flurry of winter snow, Drift was the loneliest of snowmen. With his stick arms, small mouth and coal eyes he stood forlorn and forgotten amongst the bare winter trees. He dreamed of having a smart scarf, warm gloves and a long orange carrot nose like the other snowmen so he could join in their banter, their fashion parades, snowball fights and other fun stuff. But he was too plain and different to be included, so his days were spent swooshing and sliding through the woods, stopping and standing in the shadows to watch the others at play.
Then one day some children gave Drift all that he wanted – a fluffy blue hat, warm mittens, a soft scarf and even a long orange carrot nose. Suddenly the other snowmen found him acceptable now that he had his new accessories and watched as he played all afternoon with his new friends. But that night a blizzard blew and Drift lost his smart new clothes and no matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t find them. All he had left were his scarf and his long orange carrot nose. Then he heard a tiny voice – a little bunny was lost in the snow, frightened and shivery cold. Drift knows he can save the bunny by wrapping it in his soft scarf and giving it his long orange carrot nose but can he bear to part with them? Can he go back to being that plain snowman with skinny stick eyes, a small nose and coal eyes?
As winter begins to grip southern Australia and some parts are seeing early snowfalls, this is a charming story about what it means to be “perfect” and whether it is about looking a particular way or having the right things or whether it runs deeper than that. What is the meaning of the old adage “Clothes maketh the man” and is it true? Are we more visible and therefore perhaps more powerful because of our external appearance?
It also raises the concepts of selfishness and selflessness and whether even giving just a little can make any difference. Do we need to be applauded and rewarded for doing something kind or should it be enough to within that we have made a difference? Do we have to be the person giving the boldest and brightest present at birthday parties or is it the phone call saying thank you afterwards that is most remembered?
The soft palette echo the gentleness of both the story and its message but this is more than just a story to welcome winter.
Willowvale Girls Grammar is an agricultural boarding school with 500 students offering a Vet Cadets program, and Abbey, Talika and Hannah are sharing a room. They need to learn to live together even though they come from very different backgrounds – Hannah obviously has money on her side and is a neat freak, while Abbey is the opposite, and Talika is Indian, which neither of the others have any experience of. But each has a family who loves them and fusses over them, and each has first day nerves.
Nevertheless, adjust they must and it is not long before the adventures begin and they become an inseparable trio solving mysteries, causing chaos and all the time, learning more and more about the creatures they care for..
From the author of Juliet, Nearly a Vet comes this new series for slightly older readers who are interested in caring for animals, perhaps even becoming vets themselves. With three other titles due for publication over the next few months this promises to be a great addition to your collection to satisfy those girls who are always after new animal stories.
To celebrate the launch there are two Vet Conventions being held in Queensland but check the website for availability of spaces.