Hilda Snibbs is not like other people. She doesn’t have a dog or a cat or even a goldfish – she has three little monkeys. Their names are Tim and Sam and Lulu and they are very lively. Every time she leaves the house and leaves them on their own, they trash it. Nothing is safe – not her hat, her knitting, her favourite shampoo, the toilet paper…
She tells them she is disappointed in them, she asks what she has done to deserve such wretched little monkeys; she wonders how long she can put up with them – and each time Tim and Sam and Lulu look at her with their big round eye and say nothing. One day after they had been into everything in her bathroom, she cries, “Oh, for a peaceful life without these wicked little monkeys!” But when she comes home the next day and they are gone, she realises how much she misses them until…
This is a funny, lovable story that will become a favourite of little ones as they recognise some of the mischief they themselves might have created over time. Quentin Blake’s words marry so well with Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations – little vignettes that are full of action and fun as they show the monkeys at work – that this is a masterful collaboration. Even though the monkeys are so naughty they remain lovable and it’s Hilda Snibbs who becomes the “villain”. As Miss 5 said, “Why did she keep leaving them on their own? She’s stupid!”
Three Little Monkeys is the perfect bedtime read-aloud as the children delight in the antics and naughtiness of the monkeys and see that they are loved regardless of what they do, while Hilda Snibbs will resonate with exasperated parents who sometimes long for the quiet life they had before their own little monkeys were born., even though they know they wouldn’t have it any other way.
When there is a big mess in the house, Not Me is the cause. When the bathroom is flooded after battles fought with tough pirates, Not Me is responsible. When the garden is trashed because masses of monkeys have been chased away, it’s Not Me’s fault. And when the bed breaks because it’s been used by a circus tumbler, Not Me has done it again.
This is a funny and familiar story about a little boy and his invisible twin brother Not Me whom he holds accountable whenever something that is done that makes his mum cross. Young readers will resonate with its invisible friend theme but they will also like the ending which exposes the real culprit. As well as the rhyming text which invites the reader to join in with “Not ME”, the pictures cleverly incorporate the leg of Not Me running off to the next page to cause some more mischief and inviting us to tag along. And although we don’t see mum looking cross and cranky, we do see the little boy looking very sheepish and remorseful and you just know that he will own up to the devilment because mums ALWAYS know!
A charming debut story for this new author-illustrator.
Look! Look! It’s the Gobbledygook! He’s reading his favourite mon-story book.
Comfortable in the library and using his best book-reading manners that he learned in The Gobbledygook is Eating a Book, the Gobbledygook is enjoying exploring his favourite book, whispering the quiet words, shouting the loud ones and making up those he doesn’t know (just like real-life early readers). But when one of the monsters jumps right out of the book and begins to scribble all over the books the Gobbledygook is very distressed. While the Scribbledynoodle takes notice when it is told that it should not draw on the books, it then takes to drawing on everything else in the library – the walls, the shelves, even the librarian – until the Gobbledygook and his friend escort it outside. And there it teaches them that there are pictures in many more places than a book. Clouds, rainbows, puddles and snail trails all have their own kind of pictorial magic with the day (and the story) ending in peeking ‘at the pictures we dream in our sleep.”
This is a wonderful romp in rhyme for young readers who will delight in its tongue-twisting words, fast pace, crazy ideas and bright, colourful pictures. Even though the Gobbledygook is a monster with big teeth and even bigger feet, he’s not one that will scare them and you can just hear the oohs and ahs as they see the destruction that the Scribbledynoodle causes. Even though they are young THEY know better and will delight in telling the adult reader so. But they will be pleased that instead of the Scribbledynoodle being in BIG trouble, it gets redirected and through the kindness of the Gobbledygook and his friend, it not only makes new friends but shows them important things too. The children will be on their way outside to see if they can see an elephant’s bum in the clouds! But they will also look at the colours, shapes and patterns in nature with new eyes, perhaps getting inspiration for their own drawings.
This is “a magnificent, magical, colourful doodle of a day in the life of a Scribbledynoodle”. which will go from first-read to favourite very quickly!
“I’m so famishing, I’m vanishing,” moaned the mahoosive mammoth when he woke up early in the morning with an empty tummy. But even though his friend Bug finds and feeds him an enormous amount of food through breakfast, a snack, brunch and lunch, and afternoon tea at the seaside the mahoosive mammoth is still hungry and nothing will satisfy the funny feeling deep inside.
But Bug is clever and realises why his friend is always hungry – and comes up with the perfect solution. And Mammoth finally fixes that funny feeling inside.
This bright, colourful story-in-rhyme moves along at a fast clip and young readers will be astonished at how much food can be eaten by one creature in one day! They will delight in the language – watch ‘mahoosive’ become part of their vocabulary – and have fun thinking of new snacks that might fix that funny feeling or imagining the consequences if the mammoth’s tummy does pop!
Grandma Wombat is like most wombats – and a lot of grandmas! She likes to spend her day relaxing – scratching, eating, sleeping and occasionally baby-sitting. She solves problems like there being no carrots and thinks that, unlike the kangaroos who bounce around her, her grandson is polite, well-mannered and even, better behaved.
But while she is sleeping, Grandson Wombat is NOT! Oh no! He’s off having his own adventures because, to him, kangaroos are playmates and their wombat-size pouches and their big bouncy legs are perfect for taking a wombat to places where a wombat has never before ventured. Grandson Wombat is a master at hitching a ride wherever he sees one but on the back of a skydiver might be a jump too far!
Once again, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have created a wonderful adventure for little people that is just bursting with the joy of life and the fun of the perfect marriage of text and illustrations that will make them want to read it over and over and over again. And perhaps think up their own adventures for next time they go to visit their grandma…
Did you take the B from my _ook, or my _ed, _ull, or even my _utterfly???
Following on from the hilarity of This is a Ball, Beck and Matt Stanton have created another delightful romp for preschoolers focusing on what happens when their favourite letter ‘B” is removed from some of their favourite words.
Starting by introducing the sound and the noise it makes, it continues with some single words which are then combined into a series of hilarious sentences that just beg for the child to interact and supply the missing letter. Look! The _eetle is wearing the _lue _oots, jumping on the _ed and _ouncing the _all with the _ulls!” Someone has stolen the “b’ and only the child can fix it! At the bottom of each page there is a commentary between the writer and the reader, openly inviting them to join in so there is even more fun to be had.
Like its counterpart This is a Ball, this book has a much wider audience than a first glance would suggest and a much wider application than fun between parent and child as a bedtime read. With such an emphasis, rightly or wrongly, on phonics in early reading instruction these days this is a perfect way to introduce this sound and all the others, in a way that plays with language and makes it fun so the desire to be a reader is enhanced. It could spark a host of class books based on favourite letters or those that start the children’s names so they explore its sound, the words that start with it and then put them together in crazy sentences that can then be illustrated. There might even be a discussion about how those letters not chosen might feel and a joint construction made as a model prior to their creating their own. The Bruna-esque illustrations are perfect with their entire focus being the particular word or sentence in focus and provide an easy-to-emulate model.
Those learning our language for the first time would delight in it, particularly those who are a bit older and who want something more than a traditional alphabet book and posters of words starting with a particular phoneme. There would be so much engagement that the learning would be natural and meaningful and go deeper than other more traditional strategies.
Both this and This is a Ball seem such simple concepts for a book that you wonder why they haven’t been done before – but it takes creators who have a real understanding of just what it takes to engage a child in reading so they are bouncing about and demanding more to pull it off so successfully.
But it didn’t happen on the first attempt, or the second or even the third.
As the cow, the cat, the fiddle, the dog, the dish and the spoon sit on the barn roof and watch the moan soar gracefully overhead they decide to make the traditional rhyme come true.
But what they don’t say in the songs from that day
Is the cow didn’t jump it first time.
It seems a moon clearance takes great perseverance…
And that is the underlying theme of this superb story from Tony Wilson and perfectly illustrated by Laura Wood.
The cow’s first attempt was at 9.17 pm when with little preparation or assistance, the cow made her first leap and fell flat on her face! “She never did make it to space”. She’d tripped over the little dog Rover! But she was not to be deterred. Using all sorts of techniques including pole-vaulting and a trampoline, she tried and tried again with the help of her friends who were as determined as she was that she would succeed. Even taking a wrong turn and feeling the burn of the sun just made her more determined. Until on her seventh attempt just as day was dawning and the moon was disappearing…
It is no wonder that this was an Honour Book in the Early Childhood category of the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards. As a standalone story about perseverance, resilience and friendship it is a masterpiece for offering children the hope and encouragement to keep trying and trying until they get all these new things they have to learn and achieve sorted – that growth mindset and determination to succeed that is becoming such a part of the focus on their emotional being these days. By using a familiar rhyme that the age group will relate to rather than an anonymous character for whom there is no connection and its familiar rhythm Wilson has engaged them straight away and right from the get-go they are willing the cow to succeed. They will even offer suggestions about how the friends can support the cow or what they would do to help, helping them to put themselves in the shoes of others and build empathy, respect and a feeling of responsibility to help – more of that consideration for others and positivity for their endeavours essential for mental wellbeing.
But the real story behind the story is its dedication to the author’s son Jack who suffers from cerebral palsy, the most common physical disability affecting childhood.
“Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is a permanent life-long condition, but generally does not worsen over time. It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance.” Steptember, 2016
Every 15 hours an Australian child is born with cerebral palsy – that’s one in every 500 births. Tony Wilson’s child Jack is one of those ones and on his blog he talks about Jack’s daily struggle to do something as seemingly simple and everyday as putting a piece of pasta in his mouth. It’s about his goal of being able to walk 100 steps in a day over three sessions while nearly 70 000 people (including me, my son and my granddaughter) are endeavouring to do 10 000 steps a day to raise funds to help with treatment and equipment.
But it’s also about children like Ollie a little boy I met at the school I was teaching at last year; it’s about Jayden whom I taught years ago and who is now representing Australia at the Paralympics in Rio; and it’s about all the other 34 000 Australians living with the condition and the 17 000 000 worldwide. And with no known cure that’s a lot of people for whom living the normal life we take for granted is about as possible as the cow jumping over the moon.
There are many teaching resources to support The Cow Jumped Over the Moon available via an Internet search but if you want to learn more go to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and if you want to help, donate to Steptember. Our team is called The Waddlers but any donation to the cause is welcome.
Tony Wilson and Laura Wood – it’s an honour to review this book. I hope it spreads the message about all the Jacks there are and builds awareness and raises funds.
“I’m afraid of the water . . . but Grandpa loves it, and he’s teaching me to swim”
And to help him overcome his fears, Grandpa tells him all about his biggest adventure -the time he swam around the world. Covered in grease which drove Grandma crazy, holding a big plastic bag to keep things dry and taking sweets to eat and tea to drink, Grandpa swam all day long but rested at night because that’s when you bump into things. Dealing with sharks, dining with the Prince of Wales and trying to beat the fish to the answers to the quiz shows on television, Grandpa had all sorts of tales to tell as they go up and down the pool, getting better and better without really knowing it. Distraction is a very effective way to overcome fear!
This is a wonderful story that is such a great example of the tall tales that grandpas are allowed to tell their grandchildren without being discredited. Tom Jellett’s illustrations turn the text into a truly believable adventure and highlight the clever word play which adds humour and fun to this extraordinary feat.
Little ones will enjoy it and will be asking their grandpas what they did when they were young. It would be a tall tale indeed to beat this one – unless it was about going to the moon.
Albert is one of those dogs – a lovable golden labrador puppy with a voracious appetite for everything, regardless of whether it is ‘official’ dog food or not. Each day, when no one is around he finds something that grabs his attention and as is the manner of dogs, explores it by eating it. Taste is not an issue – pink ribbons, red flags, white cords, green swim goggles, a black bike helmet – they are all part of Albert’s diet, much to the family’s frustration and threats. Until on Saturday he eats something dogs should NEVER eat – chocolate!
As they sit at the vet hoping he will pull through, the family begin to realise what Albert means to them and regret their hasty comments. But whether Albert pulls through and whether he learns his lesson is an ending for the reader to discover…
This is a captivating story that is so full of riches, not the least of which is how Albert would feel if he were human and all he heard were negative remarks. Because each double spread only shows the times when Albert’s appetite has got him into trouble you wonder if that is the only time this busy family with their pilates, ballet, swimming, school, bike-riding and so on notice him. Is he doing this stuff for the attention he craves? Do we only notice and attend to the things our children,our students or our pets do wrong, rather than acknowledging the 99% of the time they bring us love and joy? are we so busy being busy that we forget why we had the children or got the pet in the first place? Do we only stop to reflect when there is a crisis? Hmmm…
Davina Bell’s text is perfect for engaging the young reader in early-reading behaviours. It has a repetitive refrain that encourages the child to join in (and consolidate their knowledge of the days of the week) and Sara Acton’s pictures invite prediction of not only what Albert will eat but how that will impact on the ‘victim’. Focusing on the essential storyline with white space instead of extraneous detail, little people will be able to read this to themselves easily, able to work out what happens as they turn each page – but hearing the words will add so much more to the experience that they will want it over and over. It will move from first-read to familiar to favourite very quickly. It is a cumulative story so each episode leads into the next in a way that is really cohesive so there is also the opportunity to talk about cause and effect. If you leave your swimming goggles where Albert can eat them, how will you cope at swimming the next day?
But mostly this is a story of the unconditional love we have for our pets and readers, adult and child, will be able to put themselves into the story sparking memories that can be shared and drawn. . Maybe everyone and everything will get an extra hug today.
Miss 5 is going through a ‘dog phase’ and this is one she is going to adore.
Clever Trevor’s name is not really Trevor. It’s Stuart. But nothing rhymes with “Stuart” and because he is so clever – he invented and built the Rabbit Brain Booster out of his dad’s old computer and a car battery – his friends have renamed him Trevor.
But for all his cleverness Trevor was still failing at school, especially this year with Mr Schmedric. Nothing Trevor submitted for his assignments met Mr Schmedric’s expectations – but then Mr Schmedric was one of those teachers who thought there was only one way to do anything. He won’t accept Trevor’s inventions as acceptable solutions for assignments and bullies him mercilessly. He is the epitome of a nightmare teacher – and thankfully one that no student will ever meet.
So you can imagine Trevor’s shock when he discovers that Mr Schmedric is not only confiscating his projects but he was selling them… and making a lot of money, which he makes sure Trevor knows about. So Trevor and his friends hatch a plot to get their own back, but Mr Schmedric is smarter than they give him credit for. When he threatens to make Stuart repeat his class next year, they have to come up with a new plan…
This is another very funny book-length cartoon from the talented Andrew Weldon. We first met Clever Trevor as a friend of Steven, The Kid with the Amazing Head, and now he comes into his own. It is an engaging tale which brings up all sorts of issues about the ethical use of information and ideas as well as the concept of power. Can authority be misused? Is it possible for the underdog to win? Can brains overcome brawn?
Younger readers, particularly the boys and those who are reluctant readers, will enjoy this story in its very accessible format and will be eagerly awaiting a new adventure from this talented creator. And in the meantime they can use the makerspace to create their own great invention!