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Penguin Problems

Penguin Problems

Penguin Problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Problems

Jory John

Lane Smith

Walker Books,  2016

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

9781406375992

Poor Mortimer.  His life really is difficult.  It’s so hard living in the Antarctic when you don’t like snow, the light is too bright, you have to swim in the ocean which is too dark and it smells salty, you sink like a stupid rock and there are lots of things that want you to be their dinner.  And when you are on land you have to waddle and you look silly when you waddle, and that’s just the beginning.  Try looking like everyone else and not being able to find your parents… Is there no end to the problems that penguins have?  Every day seems to be a “terrible, horrible, no good very bad day” and then a  walrus tapping him on the shoulder. Is this day going to have a very bad ending too?

Apart from being very funny even though Mortimer himself is so serious and makes sure he gets the last word, this is an important book in the armoury of the mindfulness collection and even moreso with the issue of children’s mental health attracting official attention so teachers in all sectors can detect and determine students’ problems early. Mortimer is definitely a pessimist who can see no joy in anything and as teachers, we are all aware of the child in our class who has a similar outlook.  While one story alone is not going to turn this around – as the final page in the story suggests – nevertheless we can help children start to count their blessings, look for positive validation in themselves and offer genuine affirmation to others. 

Perhaps the author deliberately chose a penguin as his protagonist because of their stark “black-and-whiteness” where life is either good or bad and Lane through her illustration style not only softens the edges of Mortimer but also his surroundings so that there is the possibility of some light getting through.  If we are teaching our students to be critical readers and ask, “What is the author’s purpose for writing ?” ;”What does the author want me to know from reading this story?” and “How is the message being conveyed?” then this would be an excellent tool as we try to get them to examine  issues of objectivity and accuracy in other resources.

Right from the get-go with no title on the front cover (it is on the back, though) and the inner flap setting Mortimer’s tone, the reader knows this story is going to be different. A search online will reveal a range of resources to support it, but as with all quality picture books, it stands alone as an entertaining story first and foremost whether its underlying message is explored or not. 

 

The Wolf, the Duck and The Mouse

The Wolf, the Duck and The Mouse

The Wolf, the Duck and The Mouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolf, the Duck and The Mouse

Mac Barnett

Jon Klassen

Walker Books, 2017

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

9781406377798

When the wolf swallows the mouse, Mouse is very surprised to find that his cries of woe wake Duck who is safely ensconced in bed and trying to sleep.  Because it is dark in the wolf’s tummy, the difference between daylight and darkness can’t be discerned but when Duck discovers it is morning he declares it is breakfast time and produces the first of many surprises for Mouse.

Explaining that on the ‘outside’ there was always the danger of being swallowed, but now that that has happened Duck has no intention of being eaten and so has set up home in the ‘belly of the beast.'”You would be surprised what you can find inside of a wolf”.

But their celebrations give the wolf a bellyache and his howls attract the attention of a hunter…

Despite the limited colour palette, there is much that is included in Klassen’s illustrations that those attuned to looking for detail will enjoy and which will make the ending not only surprising but appropriate.

This story has a fable/fairytale quality that is enhanced by both the choice of characters and the language they use, and its conclusion cements that.  While primarily for younger readers, it also has a place in the library of those a bit older as the underlying message that it is those who are flexible who will flourish in a world and time of change is so relevant.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star

 

 

 

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star

P. Crumble

Louis Shea

Scholastic, 2017

24pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781742833309

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

So many of a certain generation recall this traditional rhyme from yesteryear and marvelled at how much one old lady could fit in her stomach.  Even the somewhat brutal ending didn’t faze us because it was inevitable.  Now Victorian author P. Crumble has taken this rhyme and built it into a series of hilarious editions that are so much fun for younger readers, encouraging them to read and recite them just for the delight of the words on their tongue and the pictures on their eyes.

So this one, newly released with 3D pictures and glasses, which features the old lady getting very greedy about Christmas, will be the perfect addition to Miss 6’s Santa Sack.    And I’m so glad that even though she swallowed Santa Claus (to wild applause) there is a happy ending.

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

Nicki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781760295653

All the reindeer are fast asleep, tucked up in their beds resting before the big night ahead when their dreams are shattered by Ruby telling them it is time to get up!  Except it’s not.

But she is determined to get a head start on the Christmas deliveries because she is tired of taking the blame for time running out and everyone getting anxious and stressed and so she takes off on her own…

Luckily when she runs out of puff, she crashes into George and Amelia’s home – they are familiar with her from her previous antics in The Naughtiest Reindeer and The Naughtiest Reindeer at the Zoo but what are they to do with her when she is a day early? Easy – they take her to school!!! Oh dear!

The naughtiest reindeer has become a Christmas favourite of the Christmas Countdown and this new adventure is no different.  It rollicks along with rhyme and illustrations each highlighting the chaos that only Ruby can cause! I know two little girls who will enjoy renewing their friendship with her before sharing this latest adventure this Christmas Eve. 

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard

 

 

 

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard

Terry Pratchett

Mark Beech

Doubleday, 2017

204pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780857535504

Christmas and Christmas stories are a little bit different in the mind and hands of master storyteller Terry Pratchett.  Instead of the usual, sometimes twee, tales of reindeer, helpful elves and generous children this collection has  a huge exploding mince pie, a pet abominable snowman, and  a very helpful partridge in a pear tree. Father Christmas himself  goes to work at a zoo,  causes chaos in a toy store  and is even arrested for burglary!

This is a previously unpublished selection of seasonal stories from Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the popular Discworld series, and perfect for the Christmas Countdown for slightly older readers who can appreciate his humour and perspective.  Stories are short, funny and liberally illustrated with pictures as wacky as the words.

Given it is nearly three years since his death, this may be the last original, unpublished work offered from this author so it may become a collector’s piece for that alone.  

 

 

I Went to See Santa

 

 

 

I Went to See Santa

I Went to See Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Went to See Santa

Paul Howard

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408844724

It’s a classic scenario of little ones and their need to be just that bit better than their friend.  So when the little girl announces that she went to see Santa and got a pair of Christmas glasses, her friend says well he not only got Christmas glasses but also an amazing magic set!

And so it goes on and on, getting more and more fabulous until the most unexpected end!

Young children love stories like this where they can not only join in but also help the ageing, forgetful adult remember all the things in the list.  

If you share this with more than one, prepare for a rollicking, raucous time that will bring joy and delight and an affirmation that stories and books and reading are FUN!

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables

Tim Harris

James Hart

Random House Australia, 2017

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143785859

Imagine walking into class and instead of seeing Miss Schlump you see a man in a dazzling blue suit riding a unicycle balanced on top of a desk! Not only that, he seems to be able to magic tricks like flicking rasher of bacon and some eggs from his sleeves and cooking his breakfast on a pre-heated frying pan. Then to top that off he also seems to know everything about each student already and has a unique way of getting them to tell their stories and overcome whatever is bothering them!

Despite the one-size-fits-all curriculum imposed on teachers, the best know that each student is a unique individual with their own unique personalities shaped by their life’s events and only by reaching and teaching the student not the subject, is the child likely to start knowing themselves and reaching their particular potential.  Mr Bambuckle is such a teacher -although Principal Sternblast is definitely not – and through getting the students to tell their stories within a more general narrative framework he does just that. 

There are 15 students in 12B and each has a thumbnail introductory sketch at the beginning of the book, emphasising that this will be a story about them rather than Mr Bambuckle which is just how a class should be.  The child is very much at the centre of his teaching and author Tim Harris has drawn on his long experience as a primary teacher to show that it is possible to know each child individually and draw out the best from them, starting by giving them ownership of what they will do by having them design their own merit stickers – the tried and true but somewhat meaningless tool-of-trade of many. 

Both independent readers and those listening to it as a read-aloud will either recognise their own teacher or wish they were in 12B,while teachers might also like to be Mr Bambuckle.

Great new story from a new author with others in the series on the horizon!

Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet

Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet

Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly Mischief: My Perfect Pet

Adam Hargreaves

Pavilion, 2017

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

9781843653424

Molly, aka Molly Mischief or MOLLY!!!, has lots of ideas, some of which are not as good as others.  When her dad takes her and her brother to the zoo, she decides that she would really like a BIG pet, one much bigger than Polka her pet mouse.

And so she tries a few – a hippopotamus, a polar bear, a giraffe, a tiger, a rhinoceros, even a walrus – but none of them is just right.  Even the ostrich and the snake weren’t suitable – her family is so hard to please.  But then she discovers the elephant…

 When his father Roger died after a series of strokes in 1988, Adam took over the successful Mr Men series and even though it took him “years of trial and error” to perfect his father’s art style, he persevered and it is that same canvas that adds the charm to this new series that will resonate with many children who have good but out-there ideas, annoying brothers, and a twinkle in their eye.  

When almost-independent Miss 6 spotted this on the review pile, she pounced on it and did not surface until it was complete, and even after reading it she had so much to tell us as she speculated on the sort of pet she could/would have! A better recommendation than any fancy words I might write!

 

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curly Tales: Short Stories with a Twist

Bill Condon

Dave Atze

Big Sky Publishing, 2017

130pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781925520590

A worm who wants to be an anaconda, an elephant that won’t do tricks, a gorilla named Harry Hairybutt… these are among the memorable characters that The Simple Things     author Bill Condon has  created in these 14  animal-based short stories that will appeal to the young emerging reader transitioning to novels.  

Each is based on a familiar proverb but that proverb is twisted to suit the story, and, depending on your opinion of puns, they are clever or dreadful. But each story is very funny and just the right length in a well-spaced font with plenty of illustrations.

At the end there is a glossary of the original proverbs with their actual meaning that introduces them to the reader, enriching their experience with the stories themselves. 

Fun and entertaining.

Icky-foodia: The Ultimate Guide to Disgusting Food

Icky-foodia

Icky-foodia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icky-foodia: The Ultimate Guide to Disgusting Food

The Listies

Puffin, 2017

210pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143784388

When the blurb of the book begins, “It’s a CROOKBOOK full of INGROSSIENTS to make every kid into a DISASTERCHEF. It contains smelly and just plain horrible words, scribbles, COOKING DESTRUCTIONS and a guide to the world’s worst RESTAURWRONGS. Full of made-up history, bonkers definitions, food unfacts and packed with illustrations …” then you have an idea of what this book is like and who its target audience is. If the blurb doesn’t warn you then the realistic cockroach on the front cover should.

This is an “alphabetical guide to disgusting foods, horrible recipes and weird meals”  that will appeal to those who like the weird and wacky and almost-naughty and who don’t particularly like reading but cope with tiny bits of information and lots of visual features. 

The follow-up to Ickypedia which became a stage showThe Listies are comedy duo Matthew Kelly and Richard Higgins whose aim is to make kids laugh using the sort of humour that boys of a certain age relate to.

While not necessarily having a lot of literary merit, if you want to entice reluctant readers into the world of books this may be the bait you need.