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Clancy the Quokka

Clancy the Quokka

Clancy the Quokka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clancy the Quokka

Lili Wilkinson

Alison Mutton

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760634711

Here’s Clancy the quokka. So friendly and charming.
His innocent face is entirely disarming…

But Clancy has a fancy for all things sweet and his favourite pastime is raiding the picnics of island visitors, something he plots and schemes to do at every opportunity.  So when he hears the noises of a child’s birthday party and sees the enormous feast that is on offer, including a huge birthday cake he determines that it will be his.  And so he sets out on his mission.  Nothing distracts him until he reaches his goal except the lit candles and then he gets cranky…

This is a funny story about how a determined creature can set their mind to something and be so set on achieving it they don’t even see the consequences of their behaviour, so great is their drive.  Is it OK to be so single-minded and focused that the impact on other people’s lives can be disregarded? Could there have been a middle road that would be a win-win for Clancy and the party-goers?

Written in rhyme that bounces along, with colourful illustrations that depict the perfect, traditional birthday party that all children would love, it’s hard to determine whether Clancy is a goodie or a baddy. which in turn sets up a discussion about characterisation.  Are characters/people one-dimensional or are we more complex than that?  A class vote and chart of the justification for the decision would prove interesting. When Clancy vows to change his ways, is that as easy as it sounds or is temptation a hard taskmaster? There might even be a conversation about how Clancy developed a love of sweet things could lead to awareness about human intervention in feeding wild animals and the consequences that can have. Is it ever OK?

Little ones will enjoy the rhythm and the rhyme, the plot and the ending but it’s also an opportunity to get them thinking about the importance of creating characters that they will invest in and care about enough to read to the end. And if there is a bigger picture for the reader to think about introduced, even better.

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Hercules Quick

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760296827

One day while out shopping with his Aunt Alligator, Hercules Quick spies a magic box in a shop window, one that he knows he would love to own.  And while he is dismayed that he not only doesn’t have any money of his own in his piggy bank, he doesn’t even have a piggy bank, he is not daunted.  He gets out his paints and makes a sign offering to do jobs for his neighbours for 10c a task. He explains to Aunt Alligator that 10 cents a day will be a dollar in 10 days and that’s $310 in 10 months – surely enough to buy the magic box.

But quirky neighbours mean quirky jobs and he has to work hard to  earn his money.  Will he reach his target?  And will he still want the magic box if he does?

An intriguing story for young, newly-independent readers who still need support with short chapters and lots of illustrations, this is something very different that can inspire.  In a world of instant gratification through clicking on this or that, many don’t understand the anticipation of having to wait for something and the thrill when the goal is achieved. So it’s a spark to help them set a goal, explore how they could reach it, track their progress and celebrate when they accomplish it.  A great one, in fact, for Miss 8, who is supposed to be saving for her first Cuboree!!! (Maybe the moneybox I bought her for Christmas will get some use, after all.)

This could have been a rather ordinary story but Dubosarsky’s imaginative spin on the characters takes it on a whole new journey, and Joyner’s illustrations are just the perfect match!

 

 

Elmer: A Classic Collection/ Elmer’s Birthday

Elmer: A Classic Collection

Elmer: A Classic Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elmer: A Classic Collection

David McKee

Andersen Press, 2019

152pp., hbk., RRP $29.99

9781783448678

Thirty years ago I discovered a lovable character that has been an integral part of the lives of the very young students I’ve taught and my grandchildren – a patchwork elephant called Elmer. Every time his creator David McKee offered a new story, it was in my hands and in the ears of the nearest children.  So now, to have a collection of the five earliest stories in one volume is heaven on a stick for such a fan.

Featuring Elmer, Elmer and the Rainbow, Elmer and the Lost Teddy, Elmer in the Snow, and Elmer’s Special Day, just five of the 27 stories in the series, the little patchwork elephant who likes to play jokes on his friends but is always compassionate and helpful, is set to make a whole new generation of fans as parents discover this childhood favourite all over again.

Elmer's Birthday

Elmer’s Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elmer’s Birthday

David McKee

Andersen Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $24.99

9781783447947

And to celebrate his 30th birthday, there is a new story called, appropriately, Elmer’s Birthday. Hoping to get their own back on him, the elephants decide to play a joke on Elmer on his birthday and spend the day getting all the other animals on board.  But who has the last laugh? 

Great for teaching children about elephants, the animals of the jungle, colour and patterns, as well as the themes of each story, I believe little ones have not had a real education if they don’t meet Elmer. These two are going straight to my version of the pool room!

 

Give Me Back My Bones!

Give Me Back My Bones!

Give Me Back My Bones!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Me Back My Bones!

Kim Norman

Bob Kolar

Walker Books, 2019

40pp., hbk.  RRP $A24.99

9781406384932

A stormy night and the fast-flowing ocean current has uncovered and scattered the pirate’s skeleton all over the seabed and he is desperate to put himself back together. And with clever language and a rollicking rhyme, young readers not only help the pirate gather himself but also learn how their own skeletons go together and the correct names for all the bones.

Help me find my head bone,

my pillowed-on-the-bed-bone,

the pirate’s flag-of-dread-bone-

I’m scouting out my skull.

But as he comes together, a danger even greater than storms and currents is lurking.  Will this be his last hurrah?

From the scattered bones on the front endpaper to the complete skeleton on the back, this is engaging, entertaining and educational and little ones will love to have it over and over, soon chanting the rhymes for themselves. Lots of fun and lots of learning, the ideal way to introduce the body’s anatomy.find their own bones and the potential for the children to try to piece the body parts together for themselves.

And because I can, and because it fits, and may even spark an idea for a discussion with older readers…

No photo description available.

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Sam Copeland

Sarah Horne

Puffin, 2019

320pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780241346228

Charlie McGuffin is a 9-year-old boy who can change into animals when he gets nervous, and once again Charlie is very nervous.

When his dad’s business takes a sudden turn for the worse, the McGuffin family face the terrible prospect of having to sell their house and move in with Aunt Brenda and her seventeen cats (and wooden leg). Only Charlie and best friends Flora, Mohsen and Wogan can save the day. If they can break into the fortress-like offices of Van Der Gruyne Industries and recover the McGuffins’ stolen gold, maybe Charlie won’t have to move away after all.

Trouble is, the pressure is getting to Charlie, making it harder for him to control when he changes into an animal – and harder still to change back. Can Charlie’s friends help him master his powers once and for all, or will he end up stuck as a pigeon forever . . . ?

This is the sequel to Charlie Changes into a Chicken  and is just as funny and will be just as popular as the original with newly independent readers who like a bit of quirky in their reading. Even though it is 320 pages long, it is not a daunting read because it is liberally illustrated and with footnotes offering extra information, the well-spaced prose is broken into manageable chunks.  And for those who missed the first one, there is more information about Charlie and his friends here.  A nice set to set aside for the Santa sack for young boys who need to read. 

Hey Grandude!

Hey Grandude!

Hey Grandude!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Grandude!

Paul McCartney

Kathryn Durst

Puffin, 2019

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

9780241375655

Grandad, known to his grandchildren (chillers) as Grandude, lives in a very normal house in a very normal street, but when the four chillers – Lucy, Tom, Bob and Em-  come to visit they have adventures that are far from normal.  For in his pockets, Grandude has some magic – postcards and a shiny compass. All he has to do is give the compass a rub, wave it over the postcard and say,

See the compass needle spin,

Let the magic fun begin.

And all of them are whisked away to the destination on the postcard, on a magical mystery tour that takes them to a tropical island, cowboy country, and listening to Grandude strum his guitar in Sound of Music country. And just as the day begins to wane and little ones begin to too, out comes the compass and a photo of Grandude’s very ordinary home…

From the  the creator of some of the world’s most iconic and recognisable songs, this story is based on McCartney’s own experiences of being a grandfather while giving the reader an insight into the magical imagination of someone who can  create such diversity as Yellow Submarine and Hey Jude. Setting aside the realisation that my teenage idol is now a grandparent (as am I) and trying to review this dispassionately, this is still a story that will appeal because it celebrates that special relationship that children have with their grandfathers (who are usually more relaxed than even their grandmothers) and inspires a conversation about where they would go if they had a postcard and a magic compass and the adventures that might happen when they get there, because none of those of Lucy, Tom, Bob and Em end well and they have to beat a hasty retreat! Or an opportunity to recall and retell some of the places they have already been with their grandparents and the memories evoked.

With appealing illustrations created by Durst which show her experience as both an  animator and an intern with Pixar Studios, this is a modern story, unsentimental but nevertheless engaging and one deliberately structured to draw the curtains on the day.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

 

 

Miss Kraken

Miss Kraken

Miss Kraken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Kraken

Nicki Greenberg

Allen  $ Unwin, 2019

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

9781760637743

It’s the beginning of the new school year and the children are looking forward to meeting their new teacher.  But this one is very different – she’s strict, she imposes rules and confiscates contraband and is no fun at all.  So when she disappears on an excursion to the aquarium because the students have reverted to their usual abominable behaviour, it seems like a good thing…at first.  But having to be fetched by the principal and her replacement for Miss Kraken who never returns is not necessarily the outcome the children were wanting…

There are those who think that teachers should always be like Miss Kraken – after all, there is no discipline in schools these days and boundaries never hurt the proponents who have all turned out perfectly – and there are those who think that there is room for change, a happy medium between fear and anarchy because rule by fear does not bring about sustained behaviour change but no boundaries breeds confusion and confrontation. So apart from the humour in the story, and the surprising solution that could spark debate, this is a great discussion starter about why society needs rules to guide it and whether these should be imposed or negotiated for greatest success. Classes will see themselves in the story and there could be great debate and greater understanding if a “what if…?” question were posed, as they examine the impact of the class’s behaviour on those working or visiting the aquarium, even the creatures themselves. How does their personal behaviour affect those around them?

The more often you read this story the deeper the questions that can be asked and explored…  

A Curious Menagerie: Of Herds, Flocks, Leaps, Gaggles, Scurries, and More!

A Curious Menagerie

A Curious Menagerie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Curious Menagerie: Of Herds, Flocks, Leaps, Gaggles, Scurries, and More!

Carin Berger

Greenwillow Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062644572

We’ve all heard of a herd of cows and a flock of sheep, but what is a group of giraffes called?  A murder of crows is a common trivia answer, but what about a mischief of mice?  Exploring collective nouns is always fun and in this book the ringmaster and the monkey investigate 64 of them opening up a menagerie of creatures for little ones to learn and perhaps wonder about and perhaps research their validity.  A parliament of owls?  Really?  That could either be flattering to some parliaments or insulting to some owls!

Berger has used her skills of making cut-paper collages to create fascinating illustrations and tying the collection together with the ringmaster and the monkey makes it a bit more engaging than the usual word book, especially the final pages!  One that will encourage small groups to share and delight in, and perhaps try to make up their own.  Would a group of koalas be called a cuddle?  Or a group of cockatoos a squawk?

 

Noodle Bear

Noodle Bear

Noodle Bear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noodle Bear

Mark Gravas

Walker Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760651022

Throughout the winter, instead of sleeping like other bears, Bear has been watching Noodle Knockout, a television game show that now has him addicted to noodles.  When Fox has a Welcome Spring party, and Bear finally turns up he is not interested in the food the other animals have brought – all he wants is noodles, particularly as he has eaten his entire supply.

When no one can help him he decides to travel to the city to be on the game show himself in the hope of winning a lifetime’s supply but ends up beginning to understand that too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing.

Written and illustrated by the creator/director of television favourites such as Yakkity Yak, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie  and Caspar’s Scare School, this is an engaging read for young children that explores what we gradually understand to be the most important things in life – family, friends and home.

While young readers might like to share their favourite foods that they would like to eat for a lifetime (offering an opportunity for data collection and mapping), others might like to look at the way the cover has been designed and explore what they can do with the various noodles and other pastas available.  Cooking might also be an option so they start to be able to prepare themselves a simple meal and there is also the not-so-simple task of learning how to eat noodles in public! There are lots of ways to make this fun story come alive!

 

Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

Stella Caldwell & Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9781760891589

Whether your child’s favourite Dahl book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, Matilda or The BFG, they will find their favourite characters brought to life in this unique book as they meet them face-to-face and learn more about what makes them tick.  From Grandpa Joe and Mike Teavee, to Mr and Mrs Twit and Muggle-Wump, to Sophie and the Fleshlumpeater. Miss Trunchbull and Bruce Bogtrotter, each has a special place in this collection that, as the title suggests. looks at Dahl’s most heroic human beans and beastly brutes, each created by Dahl to engage children and show them that children can have power over the adults. The main character from each book guides the reader around the story and introduces the rest of the cast. 

But, as the introduction states, “this is no ordinary book…it’s a press-out paper adventure” because there are lots of card press-outs of the characters and places that help the child describe the roles and personalities of the players and recreate and retell the story in their own words.  Making new from old. (And there’s a convenient envelope at the back to keep them in too.) Clever design means parts of the pages can be pressed out to reveal a glorious parade of characters, interacting with each other in quirky and mischievous ways. 

This is probably not one for the general circulation shelves but it would be the most wonderful prop for any study of Dahl, who has been and will be a children’s favourite for generations, or the ideal gift for a Dahl fan.  Like Dahl’s writing which offers something new with every reading (wouldn’t mind a dollar for every time I’ve read or gifted The BFG), this is a gift that will keep on giving, especially it if it’s teamed with the featured books!.