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Koala

Koala

Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koala

Claire Saxby

Julie Vivas

Walker Books, 2017

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

9781925126396

 

When Little Koala climbs up the branch for dinner he gets a nasty surprise when instead of feeding him, his mother’s pouch is closed and she gives him a cuff around the ear.  He is no longer welcome as she is pregnant again and it is time for him to become independent.  Koalas not only live solitary lives but they are also territorial so the search for his own home among the gum trees is not easy.  When he thinks he has found a safe place to sleep he is woken by a thunderous roar and pushed out of the tree by another older male but he must find another resting place quickly because he is unsafe on land.

Bushfire-ravaged country, storms, snakes and food options limited make finding a new home challenging – is there a safe place for him?

Koala is a perfect book for not only teaching young readers about one of our iconic faunal symbols but also introducing them to the concept of non fiction.  Like Python , it crosses the boundaries between imagination and information by bringing real life to life through story. Even though the story of Koala only took place in Saxby’s imagination, it is so well-researched and accurately portrayed by Vivas’s lifelike illustrations that it could have happened, and, as we read, we get both information and insight into these extraordinary creatures.  Vivas has portrayed the key physical attributes of the koala accurately so its need for two thumbs and strong sharp claws are evident but she has also given him emotions as he is kicked out and faces going it alone. As well as the details embedded in the story there are also additional facts included in a different font so the distinction between story and information is clear and this is referred to in the simplified index, itself a great teaching tool.

Young children always have questions about their world and this concept of “faction” is the perfect way to help them learn more before they are able to read independently.  Finding non fiction that is accessible to young readers and answers questions as well as generating more is difficult in early childhood, but this certainly meets all the criteria to spark a range of investigations, not the least of which could be comparing the koala’s age of independence with that of the child as well as a variety of family structures. 

An important addition to any primary library collection.

 

Chook Doolan (Series)

Chook Doolan

Chook Doolan

 

 

 

 

 

Chook Doolan (series)

James Roy

Lucinda Gifford

Walker Books, 2017

64pp., pbk., RRP $A7.99

Chook is not his real name – that’s Simon – but he’s earned his nickname because he is anxious and scared about many things, even everyday encounters, and “chook” is another word for chicken.  Let’s Do Diwali, Up and Away, On the Road and Unhappy Camper are the latest releases in this series  especially designed for the young reader making the transition from basal reader to novels. 

In each story, Chook faces a situation that scares him such as working with new people,  speaking in public, being in a crowd, playing with strangers, sleeping away from home and he has to draw on his inner reserves to deal with each one.  Often circumstances are that he becomes involved in events and doesn’t realise that he has overcome his fear and come out the other side until it is all over, each time gaining a little more confidence. All the issues he faces are those that will be familiar to the young reader so they can draw strength and confidence from Chook’s success. 

Short chapters, large font and plenty of illustrations support the newly emerging reader and with such relevant topics told well this is a perfect series to entice even the reluctant reader into more challenging books and show them that this reading thing actually has something to offer them and they can be successful at it.  

The Big Bad Mood

The Big Bad Mood

The Big Bad Mood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Bad Mood

Tom Jamieson

Olga Demidova

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408839201

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!

Ava’s Spectacular Spectacles

Ava's Spectacular Spectacles

Ava’s Spectacular Spectacles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ava’s Spectacular Spectacles

Alice Rex

Angela Perrini

New Frontier, 2017

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

9781912076536

Ava does not like wearing her spectacles at school so she finds it difficult to see the board and read her books.  Her teacher understands this and knows she has to help Ava feel okay with wearing them so she begins to talk to Ava.  “If only Little Red Riding Hood had put on her glasses the day she went to visit her grandmother…she would have seen the big teeth and big eyes.”

Ava stops crying and Mrs Cook continues, gradually getting Ava to understand that wearing glasses is helpful and a good thing, not a badge of shame.

Every now and then you pick up a story that really resonates with you and Ava was me 60 years ago, right down to the red hair tied up in bunches. It’s as though illustrator Angela Perrini had been looking at my family photo albums (although we didn’t have coloured photos way back then!)  And then six years ago, it was my granddaughter who was Ava and in the intervening time, hundreds of other kids too. No one likes to be different when they are little and wearing glasses seems like a huge placard that tells others you are not 100% perfect and that somehow you are less than the other children in your class.  As a teacher of 45 years, I’ve seen it over and over although luckily there is much greater acceptance these days.  Oh, to have had a teacher as understanding and as smart as Mrs Cook.

This is a book that not only belongs in any collection for young readers but which should be actively promoted to both teachers and parents as a strategy for getting little ones to be comfortable with wearing their glasses rather than ashamed.  While Mrs Cook sticks to well-known stories and rhymes where 20/20 vision would have been helpful there would be plenty of incidents, real and imaginary, that teachers and parents could draw on to play the what-if game.  

So many children will see this book as a mirror and learn to love reading even more as they read about themselves, while others will see it as a window and begin to understand how self-conscious Ava and others feel and how they can be more empathetic. They might even explore other “disabilities” and the sorts of ways that science and technology can now assist in overcoming them comparing the advances to the days when no such help was available and life became a misery. 

Superb.

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger, Tiger

Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger, 2017

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

9781848694446

Mother Tiger has somewhere she needs to be so she leaves her cub in the care of Old Tiger.  But while Little Cub wants to play and explore, Old Tiger thinks he is too old to babysit and just wants to sleep.  But he consents to a “very slow stroll”  through country he has seen so many times that he believes “There’s nothing to see around her any more.”  But he doesn’t factor in the joy and enthusiasm and fresh eyes of the very young and gradually his grey, tired world takes on new colours and new life.

With plenty of action words that young readers will love and relate to as well as text that sometimes rhymes, this is a story that moves from shadow to light as Old Tiger rediscovers the sights of his youth and even begins to take the lead in the play.  Sometimes, as we age and life seems to weigh heavily at times, we forget to take delight in the everyday things that surround us so this story is a reminder that we need to make time for the simple and that there is fun to be had without always having to be entertained by external things.

Lambert is first and foremost an illustrator and that’s evident not just in the detail in the pictures but in the way he has used colour to reflect Tiger’s perception of the world.  At first the jungle is dull and grey but as the adventure continues the colours brighten and the details are more intense and lush.  The reader sees more and more just as Old Tiger does.

A great book for little ones and older ones alike.

 

 

Ollie’s Treasure

Ollie's Treasure

Ollie’s Treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ollie’s Treasure

Lynn Jenkins

Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books, 2017

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

9781925335422

When Ollie receives a letter from his grandmother in the form of a treasure map, he is very excited.  What could his treasure be?  Could it  be a new truck? Or walkie-talkies? Or maybe that game he had been wanting forever?  Full of excitement and anticipation he sets out on the trail – looking for the tree with the biggest leaves and gazing at the sky; smelling the brightest yellow rose that reminds him of Gran; wiggling his toes in the grass by the fountain then listening to the tinkle of the water as it splashes; and tasting a plump, red, ripe strawberry in the bowl on the picnic blanket.  Finally, he has to lie down and look upwards – and there is in treasure.  But it is not what he thought it would be and he is angry and disappointed until he notices the note that Gran has written…

This is a wonderful story about finding joy in the simple things that are all around us just by using our senses and taking notice of what it always there. Beautifully illustrated in a gentle palette that accentuates the text, young readers could have fun talking about what they would consider to be treasure and whether it has to take the form of a physical object and discuss whether Ollie was right to be disappointed and angry when his was not what he expected. They could talk about their own favourite sights, sounds, smells and surfaces and perhaps, as a class, identify a sensory treasure trail around the school, map and travel it, taking photos and writing about their discoveries.  On a more personal note, some might even get their own treasure map from their own grandmothers!

An original story with a wonderful message.

The Whirlpool

The Whirlpool

The Whirlpool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whirlpool

Emily Larkin

Helene Magisson

Wombat Books, 2017

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

9781925563047

Life is lovely for Polar Bear Cub.  He has a happy, loving family where he is safe and protected.  He has friends and dreams for the future. Each day is better than the last and he is in charge of his life.  Even the stars shine just for him.

But suddenly all that is snatched away.  Without warning, darkness descends and there is no family or friends.  No hopes and dreams. Loneliness is his only companion – not even the stars are there for him.

Born from a uni assignment of using words and pictures together to make meaning, this is an unusual story because as the text speaks directly to the reader, it is the pictures of Polar Bear Cub that provide such a graphic interpretation of what they are saying, even though there is no reference to him in the words themselves. Together, they give depth and understanding to a situation that many of our children find themselves in when disaster and catastrophe strike their lives and all that is familiar is gone. Even its title is symbolic of the range of emotions that are within us, sometimes raging out of control but always eventually calming to a manageable level.

To children, some things – such as the coming of Santa Claus – seem to take forever, while to adults the time passes in a flash.  Similarly, to a child darkness lasts forever with no hope of light and their emotions are intense.  This book is written “for kids to know that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions. It’s okay to feel lonely, sad or uncertain – but these times don’t have to last. ”  

The well-being, particularly the mental health, of our students is receiving more and more focus in our curriculum as mindfulness programs are seen as crucial to a student’s success in other areas so this is an timely addition to that collection of resources to initiate discussions and provide support.

Bear Grylls: Survival Skills Handbook (series)

Survival Skills Handbook

Survival Skills Handbook

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Grylls: Survival Skills Handbook

Camping

9781783422593

Dangers and Emergencies

9781783422999

Knots

9781783422982

Maps and Navigation

9781783423002

Bear Grylls

Bonnier, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $A12.99

 

Apart from being the star of his Emmy Award winning television show Man vs Wild, Bear Grylls is also Chief Scout to the UK Scout Association and so a series of handbooks about survival with his name on it has authenticity and authority.  Drawing on his 21 years of experience in the British SAS and with a personal philosophy of “Life is and adventure. Live it.”, Grylls encourages young readers to get outdoors, explore what’s on offer and with the help of clear illustrations and information, take a few risks to maximise the experience. From learning to set up camp, build a fire, gather food and water safely, build a shelter to using a compass, reading a map and tying basic knots, these step-by-step instructions are a must for young children whether they are setting up a tent in the backyard for an overnight sleepover or being more adventurous out in the bush with friends. Even if they are not planning a trip, the tips and tricks learned here may well provide them with necessary knowledge for a sticky situation in the future.

There is a constant cry from the world of adults that kids are too screen-bound, too indoors-oriented and they need to get out more so the growing obesity epidemic is halted so this series would be a great support to any studies of survival, self-preservation, needs vs wants and perhaps even encourage some to look at joining the Scout movement.  

The Blizzard Challenge

The Blizzard Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blizzard Challenge

Bear Grylls

Bonnier,2017

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9781786960122

Olly hates activity camp and its pointless activities. Why should he bother building a stupid shelter or foraging for food with his teammates – he’d rather be at home in the warm and dry, where the sofa and the video games are.

But then Olly gets given a compass with a mysterious fifth direction. When he follows it, he’s magically transported to a high mountain range where he meets survival expert Bear Grylls. With his help, Olly must learn to survive in sub-zero temperatures, including what to do if the ice cracks when you’re crossing a frozen lake, or a blizzard sets in . . .

But can his adventure with Bear Grylls change Olly’s mind about teamwork and perseverance? And who will Olly give the compass to next?

This is the first of a 12 book series written for younger readers, each with a new hero who is given the magical compass to follow on an adventure.  Well-written, full of survival information embedded in the narrative and illustrated, it is perfect for inspiring the independent young reader to not only read but perhaps to also experience the outdoors for themselves.  Using just their knowledge and wits rather than magic, super powers or fantastic creatures to get themselves out of trouble this is a down-to-earth series that kids can really relate to.  This is something THEY can do and they can be their own hero.

While Miss 11 and Miss 6 might not be the female Bear Grylls, both adore their burgeoning Scouting journey and these books are going to be perfect additions to their bedtime reading routines as well as giving them even more knowledge and skills to build on for their next adventure.  

 

Playtime with Ted

Playtime with Ted

Playtime with Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playtime with Ted

9781408880807

Bedtime with Ted

9781408880791

Sophy Henn

Bloomsbury, 2017

10pp., board, RRP $aA12.99

For the reading delight of toddlers comes a new series of lift-the-flap books featuring Ted who has an amazing imagination and makes fun from the most mundane things- things that the little readers will recognise and relate to. 

In Playtime with Ted he has extraordinary adventures in what, to the adult eye, is an ordinary cardboard box but which to Ted is a racing car, a digger, a submarine – even a rocketship!

In Bedtime with Ted the nightly routine of bathing, teeth-cleaning, having a final class of milk are made all the more fun when you share them with some unusual friends.

Perfect for teaching our newest readers that not only is there fun in books and stories but they have the power to manipulate the story as they guess what might be under the flap and then lift it to find out.  And even if their predictions don’t match the pictures, that’s okay because they’ve had fun bringing what they know to the words.  Good stuff!

 

Ballerina Dreams: A true story

Ballerina Dreams

Ballerina Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ballerina Dreams

Michaela & Elaine DePrince

Ella Okstad

Faber Children, 2017

80pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780571329731

Many a young girl dreams of becoming a ballerina and so it was for Michaela DePrince after she saw a picture of a girl in a tutu in a magazine.  Sound familiar? Probably.  But life for Michaela was very different than that of many of the girls we know.  She was an orphan living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone after her parents were killed in the war and teased unmercifully by the other children because she suffered from vitiligo, a condition that affects the pigment of the skin.  They called her Spots and “the devil’s child”!

How does a little girl from such a background become a leading dancer in a world that valued a different sort of beauty to hers? Currently  the Grand Sujet for the Dutch National Ballet’s main company for the 2016-2017 ballet season, Michaela tells her story in this specially adapted version of her memoir Hope in a Ballet Shoe. It is a story of hard work, perseverance and hope, a message which she constantly shares with other disadvantaged children in order to encourage them to strive for a dream. In 2016 she was named an Ambassador for War Child Netherlands.

Perfect for those who dream of being ballerinas, it is also a story of following your dreams and being willing to put in the hard work that it takes to achieve them.  Ideal for newly independent readers, with short chapters, larger fonts and many illustrations, it can also introduce autobiographies to young readers showing them that there is much to learn, enjoy and inspire in this genre.

Just after she was adopted and living in the USA she watched a video of The Nutcracker; when she was eight she auditioned for and won a role as a polichinelle girl in the ballet, and vowed that one day she would be the first black Sugar Plum fairy. She achieved that in 2015.

As Michaela writes, “It doesn’t matter if you dream of being a doctor, a teacher, a writer or a ballerina.  “Every dream begins with one step. After that, you must work hard and practice every day. If you never give up, your dream will come true.”