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Johnny’s Beard

Johnny's Beard

Johnny’s Beard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny’s Beard

Michelle Worthington

Katrin Dreiling

Little Pink Dog Books, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9780648256304

Johnny was very proud of his magnificent, splendiferous, long, red beard and he spent many hours grooming it and making sure it was perfect. He washed it and combed it every day, and each day he walked over the hill and back again so he could enjoy the feeling of the cool breeze blowing through it, or it keeping him warm on cold, foggy days. 

On one cold winter morning Johnny met a twitchy little mouse on his walk and when he asked it what was wrong, the mouse told him its home was too cold and it would freeze when the snow came.  So Johnny invited the mouse to his house for the winter and soon the mouse was snuggled up in his wondrous beard.  Then he met a jittery rabbit who had the same problem so Johnny offered the same solution.  And then he met a shivering raven… and a family of hedgehogs… 

While the animals were all snug and warm, Johnny’s beard was tangled and it stabbed and pecked and tickled and poked.  What is he to do?

This is a charming, funny story that will have little ones imagining all the sorts of things that could have taken up residence in Johnny’s beard, while enjoying the descriptive language that bring both the beard and its residents to life. Katrin’s interpretation of the beard as so long and so thick and so red just adds to the appeal, setting up an opportunity for little listeners to describe the beards of those they know. 

However, it reminded me of the Edward Lear poem There was an old man with a beard and thus, a natural way to introduce little ones to his fun poetry. (He, himself, seems to have sported s splendiferous beard.)  What fun it could be to illustrate this poem as a group, or consider what Australian bird could have nested in it, while learning about rhythm as they try to fit the words in to maintain the beat. As well as learning the format of the limerick, there is also scope to explore rhyme beyond the familiar device of word families and examine all the combinations that could rhyme with beard such as feared, jeered, weird, scared, laird, paired and so on.  Young children love to explore language this way and have something interesting to contribute to the dinner-time conversation.

Given that many of his other poems, like The Owl and the Pussycat  and The Jumblies also inspire mind-pictures not only is there scope for lots of artwork but they are the perfect bridge between nursery rhymes that are familiar to the children and more ‘serious’ poetry within a natural context.    Enjoying the nuances of our language through a new medium as a natural extension of what they already know and love seems to be a win-win for me!

So what seems like just a fun story with bright pictures could lead to so much more and for that, this deserves a place in your collection and promotion to your teaching colleagues. 

Mince Spies

Mince Spies

Mince Spies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mince Spies

Mark Sperring

Sophie Corrigan

Bloomsbury, 2018 

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

9781408893463

Something or someone is destroying all the sweet Christmas treats in the supermarket and so the Mince Spies are sent on a mission to discover what is happening.  With puff pastry jet packs, shortcrust walkie-talkies and squirty whipped cream they foil the villains – with a bit of help from Santa.

This is a fun romp written in rhyme that moves along at a fast pace that little ones will like, although its outcome might be a little obscure for Australian children whose Christmas is in summer and thus whose Christmas dinner might not be laden with the winter vegetables familiar to English children. Nevertheless, something a little different from the regular Christmas story fare. 

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas

Santa's High-Tech Christmas

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas

Mike Dumbleton

Angela Perrini

New Frontier, 2018 

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

9781925594270

Santa has come into the 21st century in this hilarious story-in-rhyme from Mike Dumbleton.  No more making a list and checking it twice – as the presents are loaded he scans them on his techno-pad; parking is easier in his new-look sleigh and a rocket -pack gets him into high-rise buildings so quickly.  

But things start to go wrong when he drops his techno-pad and it no longer works.  Thank goodness Jasmin is there to help and she gets it going again.  But that’s not the end of his troubles…

With today’s young Santa-believers so used to and comfortable in their world of tap-a-screen, this is the perfect book to help them keep the faith.  Just this week Miss 7 was mixing the magic with her science and told me that Santa must have turbo-boosters on his sleigh to accomplish what he does in one night, and that the front reindeer would have tiny ones in their hooves so they didn’t plummet to the ground!!!  And of course, I agreed with her.  There’s always room for old and new ideas!

One to share just for the sheer joy of it .

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Jeff Kinney

Puffin Books, 2018 

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143309352

Lots of kids live on Greg Hoffley’s street, but because it is partly on the flat and partly on the hill, loyalties are fiercely divided and any peace is an uneasy truce. Those on the flat think they own the street, refusing to let those from higher up play there, but then the tables are turned when it snows and those from down below want to come uphill to enjoy sledding.  “if you live on Surrey Street, you’re either a HILL kid or a NON-hill kid and there’s no switching sides.”

After a miserable week of bitterly cold days which have been a trial for Greg as he had to face walking to school while other friends’ parents drive past; indoor recesses where people sneeze their germs over him; worrying about frostbite because he is so skinny; navigating perilous footpaths and a host of other dangers that made his life more than difficult, his life is made more miserable because he’s in trouble for not digging the driveway clear, even though he did have it done but because he tried to renege on the deal he had made with some neighbourhood kids, they piled all the snow back again! So when the weekend comes and he’s looking forward to a lie-in and playing a few video games, he’s dismayed to discover that his mother decides he needs to spend the day outside being active, and even locks the door so he can’t come back inside.

And that’s when the conflict starts… but the end result is a great lesson in dealing with differences, problem solving,  strategising, co-operating, knowing when to compromise, all life skills that are so important.

Greg Hoffley has a legion of fans as his popularity grows from when we first met him more than 10 years ago  and this 13th book in the series will not only delight them but also garner him a lot more as new readers learn about this young lad who struggles to fit in with his peers in middle school (Years 5-8 in the USA) and his loyal best friend Rowley Jefferson.  With their first-person narrative that echoes the voice and thoughts of so many boys like Greg, their cartoon drawings and humour, this addition to the series is available in paperback, hardback, audio book and ebook so regardless of the format that most appeals to a young reader, they can access it.  

This is one of those books that even reluctant readers will want to have because to be talking about it will mean being part of the “in-crowd”, important for those who otherwise struggle to belong.

 

 

 

Funny Stories and Other Funny Stories

Funny Stories and Other Funny Stories

Funny Stories and Other Funny Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Stories and Other Funny Stories

Morris Gleitzman

Puffin Books, 2018

560pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143793380

Swap a bomb for three ice-creams on a train, bounce on a vampire’s bed, eat a pizza that makes you fearless, read the secret diary of a dog, unleash the awesome power of chips, save ten lives with a paper clip, surprise your mum with a chainsaw, use a demolition ball to defeat a bully, live in a house that gets wiped clean more often than a bottom…

Since Morris Gleitzman, the current Australian Children’s Laureate wrote The Other Facts of Life in 1987, he has been entertaining children with his stories -some long, some short , some serious, some not-so – and this bumper new release is a  compendium of all his shorts stories in one place, plus a bonus story! So in one volume that will satisfy the needs of those who like to borrow fat books, those who like to laugh out loud, and those whose preference is for short, read-in-one-go stories,  all the stories from Give Peas A Chance. Pizza Cake and Snot Chocolate are gathered together – 36 stories in all.  Even rationed to one a week, that’s a lot of the classroom read-aloud program taken care of for the year, or, for the young, independent reader, a lot of  fun practice in honing skills and enjoying the delight of the printed word! 

With at least 40 books with his name on the cover and the final in the Once series on the horizon,  Gleitzman not only has an established fan  base amongst teachers and parents, but this new offering will see that swell as others discover his quirky humour and his gift for telling stories. 

 

 

Morris the Mole

Morris the Mole

Morris the Mole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morris the Mole

Nicki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2018 

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

9781760630829

Up from the darkness, out of his hole…
Comes pioneer…

trailblazer…

MORRIS THE MOLE! 
With a twirl of his spade and a twitch of his nose, 
Morris makes TUNNELS wherever he goes…

Morris loves to dig and explore the great underground, finding treasures and tucker but when he pops out of the earth, he seems to create havoc. Ruining picnics, toppling stalls, disturbing games – it seems that Morris just has an unerring ability to come up in the wrong place! But the day that he hits concrete yet tunnels on undeterred changes his life forever…

Nicki Greenberg, creator of Meerkat Choir and The Naughtiest Reindeer series never fails to delight with her quirky characters and energetic  language that just oozes the rhyme and rhythm that young listeners adore.

Thwarted…
Obstructed…
Scuttled and stuck…
Is Morris defeated?
Is Mole out of luck? 

It doesn’t matter that most of the audience will be unfamiliar with moles- finding out about them is part of the experience – they will just revel in his energy and enthusiasm for his passion, as well as his determination to pursue it even though it lands him in trouble.  The surprise ending really sets up the scenario for a sequel – here’s hoping Ms Greenberg has one in the pipeline. 

Total Quack Up

Total Quack Up

Total Quack Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Quack Up

Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck

James Foley

Puffin Books, 2018

262pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143794905

Put two of Australia’s favourite authors Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck in charge of gathering together some of their author-mates like Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks,  Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton so each can contribute to a book of short stories to raise funds for the Dymocks Children’s Charities and the result is a Total Quack Up.

Criminal cats, superheroes, pigs dressed in footy gear, crazy robots, hippos who love the beach and birthday parties that end in disaster are all features of this collection of short stories designed for younger independent readers who not only like funny stories but also still need a little support as their reading skills develop.

As part of the process, Penguin Random House ran a writing competition for young writers and the winner, 12-year-old Ella Wallace has her story Who Blocked Up the Dunny included.

All the royalties from this book go to Dymocks Children’s Charities, a group of initiatives created to support children’s literacy within Australia encouraging students from priority schools “to cultivate a love for books and read every day “just because they want to”. Quite simply it’s about getting great books into kids’ hands!”  So, apart from the fun of reading that your own students will have, your money will go to help others experience that too. 

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

Mark Sperring

Ed Eaves

Bloomsbury, 2018

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

9781408873991

Meet Norman the Brave:
He’s in need of some knaves
to help him get ready for royal parades.

It’s amazing just how much work there is to do to get ready for a royal parade – not just catching his horse and squeezing him into his armour, but darning his socks and ironing pants as well!  And if that’s not enough, there are dragons and bandits and brigands to ward off on the way to the parade ground!!!  But there’s a catch – and it may not be the job for you.  In which case…

This is a rollicking rhyme through medieval times that is full of fun and humour that will appeal to a wide range of readers.  The text is superbly set off by the bright. bold pictures which are packed full of detail and fun, but sadly Norman’s behaviour may well resonate with some.  He is the Queen Bee while his knaves are just his drones and his treatment of them is unbecoming but common.  

So if the little ones decide that being a knave for a knight is not for them, they can speculate on what it might be like to work for a …

Fun and funny!

 

 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2018

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

9781408879146

Don’t let an elephant drive a digger . . .
Diggers are big – but elephants bigger.
No, if you want to move earth or dig holes,
best not let an elephant near the controls.

So begins this follow-up to You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus which is just as hilarious as its predecessor.  All the animals want to do is help you through your day but with a crocodile wanting to help you with teeth cleaning, a kangaroo assisting you on the loo and a seal preparing your meal, things could get a little chaotic.  Luckily they come up with their own solution.

Winter has been dragging on – record rains in some parts, drought in others and so many minus-many nights where I live that it really is time for a good laugh, and this book provides it.  Sharing a bunk with a skunk brings its own mental images and little ones could have fun making their own suggestions.  What about a giraffe in your bath or a pheasant who’s unpleasant??

Lots of fun to bring a smile to the gloomiest face as the imagination runs wild. 

The Magic Pudding – centenary edition

The Magic Pudding

The Magic Pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Pudding

Norman Lindsay

HarperCollins, 2018

208pp., hbk., RRP $A49.99

9781460756201

Written a century ago to settle an argument with his friend Bertram Stevens who believed children liked to read about fairies while  Norman Lindsay believed they liked to read about food, The Magic Pudding is now celebrating its 100th anniversary with this new slipcover edition.

Written in four slices,  it tells the story of Bunyip Bluegum the koala, Sam Sawnoff the penguin and Bill Barnacle the sailor who have a magic pudding called Albert who reforms into a whole pudding no matter how much of him is eaten. 

Albert is cranky, has bad manners and is always demanding that he be eaten because that is the only thing gives him pleasure. As they travel together, they meet Possum and Wombat who want to have Albert for themselves and the newly-formed Noble Society of Pudding Owners then embark on a series of adventures trying to defend Albert from being stolen regardless of the dastardly tricks that the Pudding Thieves try.

Albert

With such an original, funny and intriguing plot it is no wonder that The Magic Pudding is considered one of five great children’s classics in Australian literature along with Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Blinky Bill , The Muddleheaded Wombat and Dot and the Kangaroo.,  This collector’s edition also  includes a section, ‘From the Publisher’s Archives’ that contains a fascinating collection of correspondence between Norman Lindsay and his publishers, Angus & Robertson. The letters have come from the A & R Archives held in the Mitchell Library and were selected with the assistance of Lindsay’s granddaughter, Helen Glad, who also wrote a short biography of him especially for this book.

Perfect for starting a child’s collection of quality Australian stories so they learn about their literary heritage.