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Leaf

Leaf

Leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf

Sandra Dieckmann

Flying Eye Books, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781911171317

 

Crow saw it first. The strange white creature, carried upon the dark waves towards the shore…

When a polar bear arrives unexpectedly in the woods, a creature unlike anything the other animals  had seen, they fear and avoid him, suspecting him to be dangerous particularly when it began to collect leaves. They nicknamed him Leaf and desperately wanted him to leave because no one should live in fear.  Then one day Leaf burst through the forest covered in leaves and leapt off the hill with a giant roar.  Perhaps inspired by the crow’s feathers that helped it fly to freedom he has turned the leaves into wings, but sadly they lifted him but briefly and he tumbled into the lake. 

A meeting of the other creatures was held and attitudes started to soften, but like many such meetings, the only outcome was an agreement to disagree and nothing was done. But when Leaf tried to fly again a few days later, this time landing in the ocean realisation dawned and  things begin to change…

There is a quote on the dedication page of this book…

“Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught in life.” -Friedrich Schiller

And so it is with this book which is one of those that resonates more and more with each reading.  Accompanied by the most stunning, memorable artwork which is rich in colour, pattern and details, on the surface it is a tale about a polar bear who wants to go home.  But what is the message behind the polar bear arriving on a shard of iceberg in the first place? Climate change? Refugee? And what can we learn about and from the forest creatures’ automatic fear and distrust of this unfamiliar, different animal in their midst? Or is the whole a metaphor for a child or adult with a terminal illness who wants to die but who must endure the intervention of science and medicine before finding release? The dedication suggests this…

While the polar bear is the subject, the story is told very much from an objective observer’s eye, a narrator that states the facts and actions without emotion,even though there is so much emotion embedded in the illustrations. An intriguing book that makes the reader ponder.

 

Shapes of Australia

Shapes of Australia

Shapes of Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shapes of Australia

Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare, 2017

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760129286

So often we walk around with our eyes open but we don’t really see anything.  Yes, we see trees and rocks and distant mountains and even birds in the sky but do we ever see the distinctive shapes they make and the patterns within them?

With her artist’s eye, Bronwyn Bancroft has taken the items we take for granted and brought them to life through colour and pattern in the distinctive way that only she can, ensuring that next time we see ocean waves and river boulders, even city skyscrapers, we will look at them with new eyes.

Inspirational for its bold use of colour, intricate, detailed patterns and simplified geometry emphasised  by the shapes within the shapes, this visually stunning book will also inspire poetry as students appreciate the simple sentences that accompany each picture building metaphors like the “crystal shards” of skyscrapers and the “quilt of nature’s comfort” of the grasslands. 

An excellent companion to Colours of Australia students could be encouraged to examine the unique shapes of their own landscapes, even if that is just the playground, and reproduce them in Bancroft style.

Why do we need bees?

Why do we need bees?

Why do we need bees?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do we need bees?

Katie Daynes

Christine Pym

Usborne, 2017

12pp, board book, RRP $A19.99

 9781474917933

Type the title of this book into a search engine and you instantly get millions of results including this video, such is the importance of this tiny creature to the welfare of the world.  For without bees to pollinate the plants there are no plants and therefore no food to sustain people or animals. 

So it makes sense to make our very youngest scientists and botanists aware of the critical need to protect these creatures as they carry out their important work and this new release in the Usborne Lift-the-Flap series does just this. 

Using the question-and-answer format that little children themselves use and which lays the foundations for inquiry-based learning, the role of bees is explored in six double page spreads.  Each starts with a key question such as what are bees?; why do we need bees?; and where do bees live? and this is then supported by a more focused question, the answer to which is hidden under a flap. Delicately illustrated but sturdily constructed as a board book, each page offers much to explore and learn, with both the questions and answers in simple sentences and vocabulary that young readers understand. And for those who want to know more Usborne Quicklinks supplies vetted weblinks to satisfy.

Children are curious about the world around them and we know that as parents and teachers we can’t always answer all their questions.  Helping them understand that there is information to be found in books and their questions can be answered is a first step in the development of their information literacy, and learning that you can dip and delve into books as your interest is piqued and that you can readily return to what you discover is invaluable.  

Even though this is a lift-the-flap book, a format normally associated with the very young, it contains a way into non fiction that is perfect for early childhood and could serve as a model for presentation for older students required to investigate the world around them as they learn to pose questions as well as answer them succinctly.  An interesting way to introduce keywords, note-taking, summarising, paraphrasing and using your own words!  

A book that has riches beyond those given to us by its subject!

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Drew Daywalt

Adam Rex

HarperCollins, 2017

48pp., hbk, RRP $A24.99

9780008252397

In the ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of the Backgarden lives the warrior Rock.  He believes he is the greatest because no one can give him a worthy challenge that will prove his superiority.  While his battle with the clothes peg and the apricot entertain the backyard dwellers, he feels unsatisfied so he leaves the garden in search of a worthy foe.

Meanwhile in the Empire of Mum’s Study, Paper is feeling the same way. No one can outwit him and so he, too, leaves to look for a worthy opponent.  At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, Scissors has beaten both Sticky Tape and Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets  so she also goes on a quest to find something better.

And in the great cavern of Two-Car Garage, the three meet for the first time…

Children (and adults) everywhere play the traditional game of Rock Paper Scissors to help them make decisions and reach compromises and now the mastermind behind The Day the Crayons Quit has brought us their true story. Told in narrative and speech bubbles which make the most of bold fonts and imaginative layout, and accompanied by fantastic pictures that bring the most mundane objects to life and emphasise the action, this is a story that will be enjoyed again and again.  Children will love the boldness and loudness that oozes from the pages and you can just see them swaggering around like the characters as they take on their favourite. 

“Dramatic”, “raucous”, “bombastic”, “energetic”, “outrageous” – all have been used to describe this story. Apart from encapsulating it perfectly, what fun students can have suggesting their own adjectives for it and investigating what those ones mean. Further teachers’ notes are available.

A superhero origin story of a slightly different type! 

Little Baby Books (series)

Little Baby Books

Little Baby Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Baby Books

Everyday

9781408873762

Outdoors

9781408873786

Mel Four

Bloomsbury, 2017

10pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

These books for very young readers stand out from other first-word books because of their design and format.  Basically done with white text on black pages, the focus word and its picture are done in eye-catching foil so they stand out. 

Designed to be shared with very little people just learning to recognise objects and perhaps even associate speech and writing, they would be an unusual but welcome addition to a baby shower gift collection or a new mum wanting to start her infant’s library.

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.

 

 

Archie and the Bear

Archie and the Bear

Archie and the Bear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archie and the Bear

Zanni Louise

David Mackintosh

Little Hare, 2017

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

9781760127510

Archie loves being a bear but people just see his as a boy in a bear suit.  Strong-willed, determined and frustrated that people don’t believe him, Archie runs away to the forest where he meets a bear who is all about being a boy.  When Archie comments on the bear’s boy suit the bear growls at him that he is a boy not a bear, and instantly there is a bond between them.  Sharing the things they love like honey sandwiches, fishing and reading they support each other until darkness falls and the night grows cold and suddenly it’s better to be who you really are.

Mackintosh’s illustrations bring each identity to life using scale to show not just the physical relationships but also the emotional ones. And despite being so small, even just a speck in some pictures, Archie’s will remains strong and large saying much about physical size and shape not defining us as people. 

This is a quirky, original story about being true to yourself that will open up all sorts of discussions about imagination, self-belief and friendships. Even though adults might not see Archie as a bear, young readers will get it as the author has climbed into their thinking and they will relate to it. Sometimes it’s not enough to be a powerless little boy in an adult-dominated world.

Discussions may even wander into the field of how each living thing has adapted to its environment, each with its own special needs met within it, and why the ending was inevitable.

Unusual but intriguing.    

All about Peter

All about Peter

All about Peter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Peter

Beatrix Potter

Penguin UK, 2017

10pp., board, RRP $A16.99

9780141374758

When Beatrix Potter first wrote about Peter Rabbit for five-year-old Noel Moore, son of Potter’s former governess Annie Carter Moore, in 1893 and then revised it until it was finally published by Frederick Warne in 1902, I wonder if Ms Potter could have imagined that 115 years later it would have been translated into 36 languages and sold over 45 000 000 copies worldwide.  I wonder if all those publishers who rejected it when she first submitted it to them are kicking themselves as yet another incarnation is set to introduce a new generation of little people to the wonderful characters and distinctive illustrations.

Moving away from its iconic appearance as the familiar small white-framed books perfect for little hands, this new version is a Peter Rabbit-shaped board book which introduces Peter in rhyme.  Little ones are introduced to Peter and then invited to join him as he hops, jumps and scampers through the woods with Cousin Benjamin until it’s time for sleep.  It’s the perfect introduction to this endearing and enduring cast of characters for today’s toddlers, getting them ready to meet all Peter’s family and friends and romp through Mr McGregor’s garden and the beautiful British countryside brought to life by Potter’s meticulous and detailed artworks.  

Miss 6 met Peter and his mates when she was still in her cot – now it’s time to pass the baton to Miss 2, the 4th generation of our family to be enchanted.  

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

Mark Carthew

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2017

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

9781925059786

“When Jess and Jack open the gates to the zoo
It was strangely deserted. Nobody said BOO.”

So where have all the creatures gone? Because the more they look, the less they see – just trails of scats and feathers and tracks. Determined to find them they separate following the clues but as dusk falls and there is still no sign, Jess is getting concerned.  Then comes the sound of music from the nearby bush and a huge flash of a flare splits the sky and Jack emerges.  The animals are having a party but what are they celebrating?

A charming story told in rhyme which  will enchant young listeners as they try to guess where the animals have gone, and once they’ve been discovered, predict what they are up to. Filled with movement and sound both words and pictures convey the fun and excitement of a party  – just the feel of the word ‘hullabaloo’ on the tongue is fun.  But being part of it is even more fun so be prepared for making music!

But  there is also the opportunity for little ones to learn more about the creatures in the zoo – the fact that each has a different-shaped foot that makes a unique track starts the exploration on the endpapers, the references to the different feathers of the different birds and the introduction of the term “scats” and what they are and how they offer valuable clues about their producer all meld to make this an intriguing initiation into a more in-depth recognition of animals than just their shape and colour.

Further ideas are available in the teachers’ notes and Anil Tortop has demonstrated her illustrative techniques  to show how a pencil sketch becomes such a beautiful picture full of depth and colour.

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere Else

Gus Gordon

Viking, 2016

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

9780670078851

Some birds fly north; some birds fly south; some birds take the bus… but George Laurent doesn’t go anywhere.  It seems he is too busy baking his scrumptious pastries to be able to explore the world.  Even when his world-travelling customers try to tempt him with descriptions of a sunrise over the Andes, or Paris by night, even the Alaskan tundra in autumn, George always has an excuse – even the ironing is more important!!

But come the bleak, cold days when all his feathered friends have disappeared to warmer parts and George is left alone, his only remaining friend Pascal Lombard drops in looking for somewhere warm for winter.  He is puzzled that George has not gone with the others, and slowly he manages to eke out the truth – George Laurent, baker extraordinaire, does not know how to fly.  When it was flying lesson day all those years ago he had been doing something else and since then he had just made excuses not to – even though he really would have liked to have been able to go somewhere else.

Pascal, who believes he has a knack for solving tricky problems, is determined to teach George how to fly but it is not until they see a picture in a newspaper…

This is an engaging tale which will resonate with many children – having a zillion reasons for not doing something you can’t but are expected to be able to do.  As a teacher I was a master at detecting avoidance behaviour because I lived it at home with my son, so as soon as I started reading I knew there was an underlying issue.  But astute readers may well pick it up in the clues in the amazing illustrations which use a variety of media, particularly collage.  From the carefully selected advertisements of old styles of luggage on the endpapers, Gus Gordon has skilfully used pieces of print from all sorts of sources to add depth, mystery and humour to the exquisite illustrations. Every time you read it there is more to peruse and ponder.

Time to get out the atlas and discover the places that George’s friends went and maybe even investigate the concept of animal (and human) migration.  Why are they always on the move? We can tell the seasons where I live by the variety of birdlife that is present so perhaps it’s time to do an inventory of the local birdlife over time – perfect real-life context for data collection and interpretation. Or perhaps a physiological investigation into how most birds fly but some can’t and how this has been translated into human flight. Then there is the philosophical question about “no place like home” as George and Pascal discover something familiar is missing from their travels. Some children might even learn from George and seek help to find pathways around their own difficulties.

I love picture books that seem to be written for one age group but with some consideration can transcend all ages, offering the prefect reason to return to them again and again apart from just being an absorbing story.  A CBCA Notable for 2017, I was surprised this did not make the shortlist.