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The Brave Knight

The Brave Knight

The Brave Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave Knight

Sally Gould

Celeste Hulme

New Frontier, 2018

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

978192559419

High in his treehouse, the handsome, brave knight stands guard over his lands – his backyard.  With his long, sharp sword and shiny, strong armour, he guards his castle against enemy knights, and when they arrive he tricks them, making them pay gold for knowledge of the secret entrance, eventually imprisoning them…

This is a charming story that will delight all those little lads who like to dream of being a knight in shining armour.  There are even instructions for making a sword so they too can be the guardians of their realm.

 

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

Dr Matt Beard & Kyla Slaven

Simon Greiner

ABC Books, 2018

192pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143792185

While helping students develop their information literacy skills is a critical part of enabling them to investigate the world around them, it is what to then do with what they learn that can be tricky.  As we teach them to be critical consumers of information we also need to help them be creative users of it, to interpret it in new situations, to view it from a different perspective, to ask “what if…” and to develop new knowledge and understandings.

Short & Curly is a podcast from the ABC aimed at 7-12 year-olds which asks short and curly questions about the world around them, focusing on ethics, the strand of philosophy that focuses on what is right and wrong and encourages thinking about “what should I do?”

In this print edition, using the Brains Trust – Arjun, Rabia, Koa, Sophia, and Mae – who are a team of young researchers who identify, observe and try to answer ethical dilemmas that face our students, the book puts forward a number of scenarios that demonstrate some of these issues like lying, being happy, learning, making choices, letting go, being fair, making promises, and so on. Each scenario is presented as a report rundown, a summary of the situation, which is accompanied by questions that focus thinking on the best way to handle the situation. Dr Matt responds with some ideas and poses some bigger questions that can be applied to a broader range of contexts, encouraging the reader to think about the situation from a variety of perspectives rather than just their own experience and then consider what they would do in that situation.

Philosophy and ethics seem like grown-up concepts on the surface, unlikely to have a place in the primary curriculum, but when they are expressed in the context of the everyday situations that children encounter such as whether it is OK to lie to protect someone’s feelings, it becomes much more practical and doable so this book is perfect for guiding the children’s development in this area, setting up discussions that allow a lot of perspectives and opinions to be aired in a calm, objective way, compromises to be made and solutions to be negotiated.  Not only does the classroom offer a forum for a wider variety of voices than the student’s family values, such discussions lay the foundations for calm, reasoned, evidence-based debates in the future as the students mature, are more able to cope with thinking on an abstract level and face bigger community-based issues as well as their own personal ones. 

While each scenario is a standalone within its pages, there are now many picture books that deal with the focus themes so using these in conjunction with each discussion would be value-adding in a significant way.  For those struggling with the Ethical Understandings strand of the Australian Curriculum, this is a solid base for your program, one that will reach far beyond both the classroom and a particular academic year.

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

David Whitney

Duncan Beedie

Walker Books, 2018

224pp., pbk, RRP $A16.99

9781406382495

Thirty years ago, I proudly showed off my first home computer to visitors – a Microbee-in-a-Box – because it was such a novelty to have such a thing in a home.  With its amber screen, mini floppy disks and text-only technology it was a step up from my friend’s BBC model that ran on cassette tapes, but such a long way from the devices and their capabilities that our students are so familiar with now. 

With 1988 classroom lessons focusing on manipulating a robot turtle around a pre-determined path with the only programming being done as students recorded the path it took on paper using  basic Logo language, to creating webpages using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver which required a basic knowledge of raw html, to trying (unsuccessfully) to make a cow jump over the moon using Macromedia Flash, the Web 2.0 world of drag and drop was not only a blessing for me but opened up the world of creating information as well as consuming it for anyone with a computing device. 

Now coding is an official part of the Australian Curriculum, the behind-the-scenes world of the computer screen is coming alive for even our youngest students. There are  even coding competitions for kids (Miss 12 is an enthusiastic participant) and thousands of youngsters are intent on creating the next Minecraft or Fortnite. So this new book which teaches them to create five new games using HTML and Javascript so their games will run in a web browser will be a welcome addition to their libraries, as well as that of teachers tasked with teaching this topic.  So much more engaging to have an authentic project so that new knowledge is embedded in context.  

With its straightforward introduction and each game/mission having its goals clearly articulated, users can begin at their particular ability level so that their development is based on a solid platform of understanding. With plenty of illustrations and instructions (a far cry from the confusing, monochromatic books I remember buying in the 80s and never mastering), this is a book both for beginners and the more-advanced as even the initial mission has suggestions for extensions.

Miss 12 will be delighted to see this in her Christmas stocking. 

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

Alastair Chisholm

Jez Tuya

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781406365139

When it’s time for Jamie’s bedtime story, his Dad begins to tell an age-old fairy tale about a prince in a faraway land full of dragons, wolves and princesses in distress. But inquisitive Jamie can’t help but add to his dad’s story, and the prince is soon joined by an evil-eyed witch who turns people to jelly, a broccoli-wielding ninja frog and a jewel-thief, lock picking princess. It may not be the story Dad set out to tell, but together, he and Jamie create something much more energetic and hilarious than they could have alone.

Familiar to nearly every parent who has set out to tell their little one a bedtime story only to find that their child has very definite ideas on what the story should be about and what should happen, this is a lovely story that incorporates all the familiar characters of traditional fairy tales but with a modern twist. Young listeners will enjoy Jamie’s interruptions as they relate to him and learn that stories can be whatever you want them to be.  It just takes some imagination.

Dinosaur Day Out

Dinosaur Day Out

Dinosaur Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Day Out

Sara Acton

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781760650049

When Sally and Max go to the museum with their dad and discover their favourite dinosaur exhibition is closed for the day, they head into the city for a day out instead.  There are lots of things to see and do, but it’s amazing what a little knowledge and a lot of imagination can conjure up and their day is filled with dinosaurs.  

This is a charming story to share with young readers and even those not-so-young who are dinosaur fans.  As each dinosaur is encountered they will be able to add to the information that Dad  shares from the new book about dinosaurs he bought at the museum, and those who live in Sydney may well recognise some of the more familiar landmarks. 

Dinosaur books are always popular so to have one that entertains as well as educates and which is aimed at our youngest readers is a gift. 

Ideas for extending the story are available.

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book - 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

Daniel Lipkowitz

DK, 2018

280pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241314227

In 1932 and facing the Great Depression which was engulfing the world, Danish master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen closed his carpentry business and turned his attention to making wooden toys for children. Fifteen years later, after World War II and all its development with technology and materials, particularly plastic, Kristiansen purchased an expensive plastic injection-moulding machine and his wooden toys were now made of plastic. Using a name that is a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, the LEGO group was established and by 1954, the idea of building bricks that locked together firmly so they were stable but which also came apart easily was launched with the Town Plan range of construction sets.  Finally, in January 1658 the block was perfected, the patent lodged and the rest, as they say, is history. 

And it is the history of that block from its evolution as a plan for a toy that could be used to build virtually anything to that realisation that is the focus of this fascinating new release, marking the 60th anniversary of the building block as we know it. 

Driven by the belief that children and their development mean everything and that this must pervade everything that is created, and based on the principles that the system must

  • provide unlimited play opportunities
  • be for girls and boys
  • inspire enthusiasm in all ages’
  • be able to be played with all year round
  • provide endless hours of healthy, quiet and safe play
  • inspire imagination, creativity and development
  • be topical and provide add-on value for preceding products

those initial town construction sets have evolved into a world of designs and models that span buildings, characters, transportation, books, movies, furniture, fabric, licensed merchandise, even theme parks! That journey is traced in full colour photographs, easily-accessible text and the signature DK layout making this a dig-and-delve must-have in any LEGO fan’s collection or any library whose clients are LEGO fans.  Every page has something to pore over, wonder at and learn, making it perfect as a shared conversation book so important to emerging readers.

Something particularly special for the Santa Sack for any age!

If your foot has ever found Lego in the night and you hate it, this might restore your faith…

Jacaranda Magic

Jacaranda Magic

Jacaranda Magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacaranda Magic

Dannika Patterson

Megan Forward

Ford Street, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804010 

A hot, sticky summer afternoon and Will, Charlotte, Priya, Finn and Lizzie don’t know what to do with themselves. Lying under the large jacaranda tree, with little energy and less motivation they are bored with their regular pursuits and with each other.

“Too mopey for mischief, too wriggly to rest.

All stuck for ideas, no one knew what was best.”

Suddenly a little breeze blows through the tree and showers them with beautiful purple petals – and that gives Will an idea! And in a flash that tree becomes the ultimate playground – just add imagination.

In this age of wrapping our kids in bubblewrap and cottonwool and where allowing them to be bored is seen as the ultimate failure as a parent, this story whisks the reader back to a time when climbing trees was a vital part of growing up and there was no such thing as risk assessment and management.  In fact, schools spent a lot of money installing climbing frames and other equipment so that there were “fake trees” available and children could build their upper body strength and indulge in all the gross motor activities so critical for development. Climbing encourages children to develop their own risk assessment and management and while there may be falls and the occasional broken arm, it’s all part of growing up and building a willingness to take a chance and being resilient.

And at last, there is recognition that boredom is also critical for development, that on-tap entertainment in whatever form stifles the imagination and creativity which is THE essential element of human endeavour.  There is no more critical question starter that “what if…”

As the children scramble through the tree’s branches, feeling its different textures and letting its shapes inspire their imaginations, they discover a world of fun and endless possibilities that will not only encourage the reader want to find a tree and shinny up it, but will want them to return again and again as its potential for fun and discovery is endless.   

Even if there is no tree nearby for the children to climb, or policy forbids that, maybe start with asking the children “What would you do if you had an afternoon to yourself and no access to toys or technology?’ It’s amazing how many times the things that stick in the child’s memory are those that cost nothing and were done with family or friends.  Their imagination is not dead – they just need to time and space to explore it.  Just as Will, Charlotte, Priya, Finn and Lizzie discovered.

Teachers notes are available to kickstart your imagination. 

 

 

My Storee

My Storee

My Storee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Storee

Paul Russell

Aška

EK Books, 2018

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

9781925335774

When he is at home the stories running through his head keep him awake at night – stories about dragons and rainbow eggs at the bottom of Grandma’s garden; his teacher being eaten by a gruesome ogre; unicorn detectives chasing robotic pirates up alien volcanoes.  The wonderful, magical ideas just keep flowing and he writes and writes and writes.  It’s all about the adventures and not about the writing rules.

But at school, the adventures dry up because the writing rules rule. And the red pen is everywhere,

“But at school their are too many riting rulz and with all the rulz I can never find my dragons.”

At school he doesn’t like to write

Until a new teacher comes – one who is a storyteller himself and knows writing is about the story and not the rules.

In the 80s I was lucky enough to be deeply involved in the process writing movement where we truly believed that writing had to be about the ideas and the adventures and that the processes of reviewing, editing and publishing came later once there was something to work with.  Children were just happy to express themselves and as teachers, it was our job to guide them with spelling, punctuation and grammar, semantics and syntax, so that if one of their ideas grabbed them enough that they wanted to take it through to publication then we would work together to do that. Words were provided as they were needed in context and punctuation and grammar tackled on an individual’s needs rather than one-size-fits-all lessons. And if the effort of writing was enough and the child wasn’t  interested in taking it further, then we had to accept that – flogging a dead horse was a waste of time.   In pre-computer days, how many nights did I spend on the typewriter with the big font so a child could have the joy of their own creation in our class library?  Children enjoyed writing for writing’s sake, were free and willing to let their imaginations roam free and were prepared to take risks with language conventions for the sake of the story. 

But when publicity-seeking politicians whose only experience with the classroom was their own decades previously declared that “assessment processes need to be more rigorous, more standardised and more professional” (a quote from Teacher ) we find ourselves back to the red pen being king and our future storytellers silenced through fear. While the teachers’ notes tag this book as being about a dyslexic child, it really is about all children as they learn how to control their squiggles and regiment them into acceptable combinations so they make sense to others, a developmental process that evolves as they read and write rather than having a particular issue that is easy and quick to label and therefore blame.  We need to accept what they offer us as they make this journey and if they never quite reach the destination, or are, indeed, dyslexic, then as well-known dyslexic Jackie French says, “That’s what spellcheck and other people are for.”  So much better to appreciate their effort than never have the pleasure of their stories.

So many children will relate to this story – those whose mums have “to wade through a papar ocean to wake [them] up” – and will continue to keep writing regardless of adults who think they know better. But who among those adults will have the conviction and the courage to be like Mr Watson? Who among the powers-that-be will let them do what they know works best? If the red pen kills their creativity now, where will the storytellers and imaginative problem-solvers of the future come from?

 

Monsters

Monsters

Monsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monsters

Anna Fienberg

Kim Gamble & Stephen Axelsen

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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

9781760293369

Tildy hated the night.  Night meant sundown. Sundown meant moonlight. Moonlight meant monsters. They sailed in from outside and hid behind the curtains., invisible to anyone but Tildy. No matter how much reassurance she got from her mum and dad, her aunts and uncles and 23 cousins (including the one who told her not to eat spicy food before bedtime) the monsters remained very real and bedtime was nerve-wracking.  It’s very hard to sleep with one eye open!

However when Hendrik comes to school and spends his time drawing monsters that he kills with his sword, Tildy finds an ally – someone else who believes in these fearsome creatures of the night. All is well until Hendrik invites her to his house for a sleepover and suggests they can sleep in the garden in his tent…

Adults and children alike are plagued with monsters in their lives, some with shape and from like Tildy’s, others not so tangible but just as scary and threatening, and so the message from this book that there is a way through is important.  Little ones who have their own monsters will draw comfort from knowing that they are not alone and may even offer suggestions for how Tildy can relax and enjoy the sleepover before  she is faced with her fears.            

Lovers of Tashi will adore this latest book from the imaginative mind of Anna Fienberg, the final one from Kim Gamble who became too ill to finish it so his close friend Stephen Axelsen took over.  The story of its creation is told in part on the endpages as we bid farewell to Kim, but Megan Daley’s blogpost is just exquisite.  Vale Kim Gamble – thank you for all the joy you have brought me, my family and the children in my care over the years.

There’s a Dragon in Your Book

There's a Dragon In Your Book

There’s a Dragon In Your Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a Dragon In Your Book

Tom Fletcher

Greg Abbott

Puffin, 2018 

32pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9780141376127

OH LOOK!

There’s an egg in your book!

It looks ready to hatch.

Whatever you do, don’t turn the page…

With such an intriguing introduction of course you are going to page – I can’t believe you did that! – and suddenly there is a dragon in your book.  A baby dragon who, when her nose is tickled at the author’s invitation, sneezes and sets fire to the book!  Oh no!  How are we going to get the fire out?

This is the most charming, fun, interactive book for little people that I’ve seen for a while.  The conversation between the author and the reader immediately invites the child to interact, use their imagination and just delight in this story that celebrates everything that is fun and enjoyable about books and reading, reinforcing their understanding that reading is something pleasurable to do.  

The saying on one of my Storybook Cushions is “Dragons breathe fire and magic into stories” and this one certainly does – but in the nicest way with child-friendly illustrations that depict a happy baby dragon that will not frighten little listeners before bed. 

Interactive, imaginative and fun – what more do little people need in a story?