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Maple the Brave

Maple the Brave

Maple the Brave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple the Brave

Chloe Jasmine Harris

Walker, 2019

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

9781925381924

Nestled in the high branches of a tree deep in the forest is a little house where Maple lived. “No one knew how she got there or where she came from, but nevertheless there she was.” Sustained by the rain that gave her water and the trees that gave her ripe fruit, Maple never ventured from her high house because she was afraid of everything that was below it.  Her dreams were peppered with fierce creatures who lurked below, the wind becoming their terrifying howls.  Until there came a time when the rain and the trees no longer gave her what she needed and she knew she would have to descend the ladder into the unknown…

Facing your fears and even conquering them is a common theme of picture books for the young, but the setting and the isolation of Maple without parents or history, gives this one an olde-worlde feel that will appeal to those who like gentle stories that are neither confronting or confrontational. At some stage in our lives we all have to step outside our comfort zone and face the unknown, an unknown that we may have already built up to be scarier than it is and Maple offers inspiration that it can be OK.

Beautifully illustrated by this debut author/illustrator with pictures that are as gentle as the story itself, this is one that can be shared as a read-along or a read-aloud to encourage young readers to take that first step.

 

 

Nits!

Nits!

Nits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nits!

Stephanie Blake

Gecko Press. 2019

32pp., pbk. RRP $A16.99

9781776572243

Simon feels a new emotion stirring—he thinks he is in love with Lou! Sadly, Lou loves Mamadou… One day Lou comes to school with nits. She’s suddenly not so popular any more. Except with Simon. He doesn’t care about nits! Lou gives Simon a big hug for being so kind—and some small visitors too..

Nits are the scourge of school life and it’s a lucky child who manages to avoid them. Even teachers start to itch when a case is discovered! But for the very young child who does catch them.  this is a simple story that will reassure them that they can be cured and still be loved. Wise parents will point out how clean and tidy Lou’s ‘hair” is, and emphasise that that’s what nits like so there is no shame and certainly no room for teasing. And for those who don’t have them and are inclined to judge and tease others who do, it’s an opportunity for them to think about how Lou feels and how they would feel if they were the “victim”.

 

 

The Jacket

The Jacket

The Jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jacket

Sue-Ellen Pashley

Thea Baker

Black Dog, 2019

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

9781925381788

The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was warm, like the afternoon sun. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front.

Amelia wore it everywhere – to kindy, Aunty Kath’s house, the shops, even to bed. But one day it didn’t fit her any more so she gave it to her younger sister Lily who also wore it everywhere – to the park, to Nanna’s house, to the library, even to the beach. But what happens when it’s too small for Lily?

This is a story that is as warm as a hug from the jacket itself.  It’s as familiar to my grandchildren as it is to almost every child – having to let go of something you love because you are growing up and it isn’t. Beautifully illustrated with repetitive phrases that wrap around the tongue like a jacket around your body, this is a charming story that will resonate widely as children snuggle more deeply into their favourite jackets as winter really begins to bite. Perhaps it could inspire a communal jacket drive  so all those outgrown jackets in children’s cupboards could find a new home.    

My Culture and Me

My Culture and Me

My Culture and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Culture and Me

Gregg Dreise

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143789376

Feel the rhythm of the music, from your heart down to your feet.

Enjoy the movements of melodies, as clapsticks keep a strong beat.

This is my culture. This is me. 

Beginning with preparing for a corroboree  with the relationships between the land and the body art to the way stories and beliefs and practices are passed from older to younger, helping both indigenous and non-indigenous children understand the connection to country that is such an integral part of Aboriginal culture.  

Beautifully written and illustrated, My Culture and Me is a heartfelt and stirring story of cherishing and sustaining Indigenous cultures, although there is relevance and applicability to all cultures whatever they may be, especially if the message of his dedication is read in its broadest terms…

To my children…and the children of Australia. You are the next generation of our Dreaming Circles, Everything that we do should look after this country, so it continues to look after our future generations.

An important addition to your indigenous literature collection and curriculum.

 

Don’t Make Me Cross!

Don't Make Me Cross!

Don’t Make Me Cross!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Make Me Cross!

Smriti Prasadam-Halls 

Angie Rozelaar

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A11.99

9781408885611

I’m a little monster, I am smiley, small and sweet,
With gorgeous little monster eyes and furry monster feet.
There’s just one thing that you should know 
I have to be the boss. And if you don’t remember 
I’ll get very VERY CROSS!

It’s Little Monster’s birthday and his friends are coming to his party. But it’s not much fun playing party games with someone who always has to win … or having birthday tea with someone who wants ALL the food for himself. So when they play hide-and-seek and he throws a tantrum with disastrous consequences because he can’t find them, Little Monster finally learns the importance of being a good friend and how to be one. 

Written for young readers who may recognise themselves in the story, this is a story about how not to behave at a birthday party, even if it’s your own. Lots to talk about as little ones share their ideas about what Little Monster should be doing, thus reinforcing their concept of friendship and what it entails. 

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bug Collector

Alex G. Griffiths

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594539

George loves Sundays because that’s the day he goes on an excursion with his grandfather. Today they go to the Museum of Wildlife but instead of stopping to look at the dinosaurs, whales and other wondrous creatures, Grandad takes him to Insect World.  Immediately George is captivated and can think of nothing else on his way home.  He even dreams about them! Next day, he arms himself with a host of bug collecting equipment and once he gets the knack of catching them, it’s not long before he has his own collection all lined up in jars in his treehouse.  But Grandad is not as excited to see them as George anticipates.  In fact, he is the opposite – and George learns the role that bugs play in keeping the environment healthy and flourishing.  Clever Grandad also has a solution…

To many, bugs and minibeasts are things to be afraid of and are stomped on,  sprayed or otherwise disposed of without thought to their purpose or place in nature’s hierarchy.  Certainly, anything with eight legs or more can expect doom inside my house. But as George learns, they do have a vital role in the ecology and so this is an excellent book to introduce young readers to this and help them develop a healthy appreciation and respect for them from the get-go. 

Based on his own childhood memories of his relationship with his grandfather and their time together in the garden, this is one that can have wide appeal because no matter what sort of garden we have access to, even if it’s just a hoop of grass on the playground, it is amazing the diversity of wildlife that exists there and the learning that can springboard from that. Perhaps the playground will be transformed in the same way George’s garden was.  Then, if investigating minibeasts doesn’t appeal, there is always the relationship the child has with an older person, grandfather or other, and the memories they share and will share with their children.

Griffiths says that this is his first foray into actually creating the story to go with his illustrations and that he found it quite difficult, but the end result is so rich and so relatable for every young reader that he should be ecstatic about the result.  It’s certainly taken this grown-up to a happy, nostalgic place and hopefully I can provide my grandchildren with some memories too. 

   

 

Lottie and Walter

Lottie and Walter

Lottie and Walter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie and Walter

Anna Walker

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143787181

Lottie had a secret that neither her mother, baby brother or swimming teacher knew.  At the bottom of the learners’ pool lived a shark that only wanted to eat Lottie.  So every Saturday, Lottie would go to the pool, get changed, watch and wait and then get dressed again without getting wet.  But then she met Walter the Walrus who liked the things she did- books, bubbles and fish fingers. So she told him her fears.  Would Walter be able to help her before the pool party next Saturday?

Anna Walker, who created the iconic Mr Huff, has again used a child’s fear as a focus for her new picture book, exploring something common to many children and helping them understand that such fears can be overcome with a little help and imagination. Little people don’t always have the language yet to be able to articulate what is bothering them so Lottie’s use of a shark in the pool is a common device.  Even though her mother and swimming teacher might be able to prove to her there is no actual shark in the pool itself(if they knew it was there), nevertheless it masks something that Lottie can’t express yet.  The strength in the story lies in only Lottie knowing the secret and therefore only Lottie can sort it out, empowering her rather than making her dependent on grown-ups, demonstrating that both Lottie and the reader that little people can solve problems if given the space to do so.

Swimming is an essential skill that all Australian children need to master but there are many Lotties amongst them so this is a perfect book to share and discuss before swimming lessons begin, so that those who do have fears can realise they are not alone and can develop some strategies to overcome the “sharks in the water”. 

There’s Only One Mum Like You

There’s Only One Mum Like You

There’s Only One Mum Like You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Only One Mum Like You

Jess Racklyeft

Affirm Press, 2019

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

9781925712902

I love your quiet stories,
songs sung loud in the rain.
No one can hug like you, Mum
or makes me feel the same.

Brave mums, playful mums, cuddly mums, quiet mums – every mum is special in her own way and author/illustrator Jess Racklyeft celebrates the many things that mums do to make their child’s life better in this ode to mothers that has been released just in time for Mothers Day.

But rather than a twee platitude of a kind that we see too much of, Racklyeft has illustrated this with watercolours of a host of different mums from the animal kingdom, showing that motherhood is not just the realm of humans and that in their way, mums are critical in a child’s development well beyond birth. 

For those who are focusing on Mothers Day and may be treading warily in acknowledgement of those students without mums, this is an innovative approach that offers something a little different.

 

A Great Escape

A Great Escape

A Great Escape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Escape

Felice Arena

Puffin, 2019

176pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143794042

Berlin, August 13, 1961, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US and its allies is at its peak and  Peter is playing with his mates Max and Hubert, ignoring his mother’s requests to come inside because they are leaving to visit the western side of the city, controlled by the Western Allies and entirely surrounded by the Soviet-controlled East Berlin and East Germany. It doesn’t seem like a big deal because Peter can always stay with his grandparents as he frequently does.

But this time things change for overnight the East German authorities start constructing the wall which divided the city for 28 years and Peter finds himself separated from his parents and little sister Margrit as they are unable to return to the East and he can not join them. Guarded by tanks and soldiers with ferocious dogs and who shoot to kill, it seems that Peter will never see his family again.  However, he is determined to escape and despite seeing the fate of most of those who do try, including the body of his best friend’s older brother left caught in the barbed wire as a warning, his resolve to rejoin his parents doesn’t waver.  While he meets new friends Otto and Elke he is scorned by others, including being taunted and beaten by his old friend MAx who considers him to be a traitor for wanting to be reunited with his family.

This is knife-edge reading about a period in time that was the backdrop to the life of a generation and inspired by the author’s visit to Berlin and asking himself, “If the Wall were to be implemented today, and I were separated from my family, what would I do?” He has brought the period and the dilemma of so many to life through Peter and his friends, and created another must-read to go with The Boy and the Spy and Fearless Frederic.  As well as shining a spotlight on a recent period in history that is still fresh in the minds of many of our students’ grandparents who will have seen it, perhaps even been affected by it, it also sets up a number of ethical questions that could lead to some robust discussions.  

Just as with its predecessors, this is a meaty book that will appeal to those who like some real depth to their reading and who are then compelled to find out more about the events and circumstances.  Perfect for independent readers who are a little older and have a sense of history and are interested in the lives of other children in other places in other times.  As Arena asked himself, what would they do if they found themselves in another’s shoes?

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Devon Sillett

Nicky Johnston

EK Books, 2019

32pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9781925335965

Olivia and Barkley are best friends who do everything together, especially catching the bad guys,  With her trusty cape and his sensitive nose, they were two pieces of the same puzzle, but then Barkley got sick and instead of helping Olivia, he just lay in his basket all day. Olivia tried to understand and to go on without him but it just wasn’t the same and when he died she was totally bereft.  Like everyone who suffers any sort of loss of a loved one, the bottom fell out of her world and she was too sad to do anything.  Sleeping didn’t even help because if she dreamed of him, he was gone when she woke up.  And life would never be right again, because every superhero needs a sidekick.

But then, slowly, even though she was still grieving she was able to think about the fun they had together and when she woke up one morning, she had a plan…

Every one of us loses someone who is dear and sadly, that is as true for children as it is for adults.  Devon Sillett, author of both Scaredy Book: It’s not always easy to be brave! and The Leaky Story is gradually building a body of work that shows she is in touch with the thoughts and emotions of our youngest readers and is able to help them recognise, articulate and share those feelings with others.  This is a gentle, tender story of the loss of a loved pet but one which has a happy ending that shows that while the loved one can’t be replaced, there is still life to live and love to give, even if it’s different from what you imagined.

Nicky Johnston’s illustrations are as soft and gentle as the words and add to the poignancy of the whole story and from the front cover to the final endpaper the love that Olivia has to give is on display. In fact the endpapers cleverly preface the story – Barkley hiding under the covers at the front, and Spud pulling them off and the astute adult sharing this story might even prepare the child for its content and theme by wondering aloud why there are two different dogs. Teachers’ notes to assist in exploring and explaining the story are available.

This is an essential addition to both home and school library as it is a sensitive approach to a situation that so many of our little people will face but will not understand without some adult guidance.