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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?

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

Laura Gehl

Sarah Horne

Carolrhoda Books, 2018

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

9781512431308

Three times Ana asked Abuela Lola for tickets to the amusement park for her birthday but instead, she got a CHICKEN. Somewhat pragmatic Ana figures it’s better than socks or a sweater or underwear and she does like scrambled eggs, but this is not ordinary chicken.  Rather than laying eggs and doing other chicken things, this one has a long list of the most extraordinary things including straw, sticks and bricks, 100 steel girders, 10 000 screws, 60 000 nails, a host of familiar nursery characters, even a partridge in a pear tree!  

Then with the help of Ana’s other pets, the chicken sets to work digging, building, hammering… what on earth is happening?

This is a unique story that has the most outrageous but fun ending that will delight young readers.  Told by the bewildered Ana with the title being the repetitive pattern, and the chicken only communicating through placards, the sparse text is in direct contrast to the illustrations which are full of busyness, action and foreground detail. Little ones will be wondering just what it is the chicken is doing and even the adult reader will suspend their disbelief as the story rollicks along.

Fun for everyone especially if they are then challenged to design their own amusement park or work on Ana’s wish for her next birthday.

Cloud Conductor

Cloud Conductor

Cloud Conductor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Conductor

Kellie Byrnes

Ann-Marie Finn

Wombat Books, 2018

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

9781925563344

Frankie’s active, outdoors life is cut short when she finds herself confined to a hospital bed and she is physically restricted to the four walls of the room.  But her imagination has no such boundaries and as one of those walls is a large window, she is able to slip outside and explore the beauty and magnificence of the clouds that pass by, something she loved to do when she was well.  Through the seasons their shapes, colours  and movement change and Frankie rejoices in their splendour, listening to their melodies, conducting “symphonies in the sky” as her hands wave in time to the beat of her imagination – even on the darkest of days. She sees their pictures and lets them take her on journeys to familiar and far-away places, far beyond the reaches of those physical walls.

Spring, summer, autumn, winter – the clouds are her escape mechanism allowing her to leave her reality behind, if just for a short time.  And then she realises, this is a gift she can share…

Children don’t have to be in a hospital bed to have horrible stuff happening in their lives and this beautifully illustrated book celebrates the unconfined power of the imagination to escape, even if just for a little while. to somewhere else, to touch base with another world where trouble doesn’t intrude and even offer a fresh perspective on the situation itself.

While teachers’ notes are available, taking the children outside in all sorts of weathers where they can see the sky and letting them look and imagine and conduct their own symphonies would be the most powerful of all.

 

Papa Sky

Papa Sky

Papa Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papa Sky

Jane Jolly

Sally Heinrich

MidnightSun, 2017

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

9781925227291

Way up high in the cloud forests where the earth meets the sky, Papa Sky is having fun taking handfuls of clouds, shaping them into beautiful sculptures and then, with a puff, sending them east and west across the lands.  All day he is does it. making amazing lifelike images to drift across the big blue for cloud-dreamers to watch and imagine. 

But that night he is so tired that while he is sleeping a wind blows him down, down, down through the forest where he lands with a thump and a bump startling the inquisitive creatures below.  But while they are fascinated by their unexpected visitor, they know that he must return to his home for “Without him, we are nothing.” And so, from the smallest, and the quietest to the most secretive they work together to try to get Papa Sky back where he belongs.  Can they do it?  Will be once again be the maker of cloud-shapes and fabulous figures?

From the first endpaper to the last, this is a beautiful story stunningly illustrated with a palette as gentle as the text making it a seamless match of words and pictures that is unique. High over some of the worlds tropical and subtropical regions where there is persistent moisture that continually rises in the heat, rainforest canopies mingle with the clouds making for a mysterious setting just waiting for someone with the imagination of Jane Jolly and the talent of Sally Heinrich to weave something magical, almost a modern legend that could be shared with children when they ask where the clouds come from and start to see the ever-changing shapes. 

Australia has its own cloud forests beyond Cairns, as does New Zealand so students could investigate what creatures would be there to help Papa Sky if he had fallen there, and, using the back endpaper as a model, present their discoveries. A new way to studying the perennial “creatures of the rainforest” topic! Or perhaps pose the question, “If Papa Sky doesn’t make the clouds, where do they come from?” and male a mural on cloud-shaped paper of the suggestions and then investigate and create an explanation. Or maybe just take them outside on a “partly cloudy” day and let them experience the joy of just lying back and watching the clouds and wondering

This book deserves its place among the CBCA Notables for 2018.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Bear in our Backyard

The Bear in our Backyard

The Bear in our Backyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bear in our Backyard

Emma Middleton

Briony Stewart

Affirm Press, 2018

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

9781925584806

Mum says, “Tom and Tilly if you go outside and play, don’t make too much noise in case your bear is there today.”

As they go out, they find large muddy footprints that lead to the treehouse,  where the bear might be sleeping!  Preparing a nice sugary sweet snack to entice the bear to wake, as they go up the stairs to share it, they drop it.  The bear is awake…  Playing lots of games and having lots of fun, the children and the bear spend a precious afternoon together, sharing dinner and then “Bear” has to leave.

With Mother’s Day on the horizon this is a charming book that celebrates the relationship between mothers and their children, one that goes beyond the dull, dreary routines that have to be done and explores those special times when the only focus is fun. Young readers will like sharing their special mum-moments while perhaps thinking about how they can help mum with the dull and dreary so she has more time for making memories with them.

A companion to The Lion in Our Living Room, this is one to share whenever the focus is on families.

 

 

 

The Dream Bird

The Dream Bird

The Dream Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dream Bird

Aleesah Darlison

Emma Middleton

Wombat Books, 2018

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

9781925563337

George was a day child – he loved to run and play in the sunshine and light.  But it was a different story at night time when it was time to snuggle down and sleep.  No matter what he did, he could not sleep.  Even following the suggestions of his family like counting 100 sheep backwards and drinking hot milk did not work. 

Deciding to try something new, he crept into Gran’s room but her bed is cold without her cuddles to make it cosy.  But as he slips forlornly to the floor, she slips into the room and tells him a story about a magical bird that will help him sleep and have the nicest of dreams…

This is a most intriguing story, one that has many layers.  Certainly, on the surface, it celebrates the power of the bedtime story as an essential part of the nighttime routine and it also opens up discussions about the importance of sleep and the ways we can help ourselves drift off.  But what is Grandma’s secret?  Is she alive?  Did she die in her sleep making George scared that that will happen to him?  Is it her “ghost” telling the story of the Dream Bird?  

The contrast in the illustrations between George the day child and George the night child using the softest palette and increasingly ethereal lines, the transition between the two parts of the story is perfect, and even though Grandma is the youngest looking grandma on the planet (probably appropriate given George’s age), it all goes towards making this another Darlinson delight that will entertain as much as it intrigues. 

See Hear – a beginner’s book of senses

See Hear - a beginner's book of senses

See Hear – a beginner’s book of senses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Hear – a beginner’s book of senses

Tania McCartney

Jess Racklyeft

EK Books, 2018

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

9781925335675

“If I stop and look around, I can see so many things.”

In this sequel to Smile Cry, Piglet, Bunny and Cat are looking closely at the world around them and then using their words to describe what they see – the crawling spots on the ladybird; the squiggly rain down the window, the heavenly horses in the clouds…

Then flip the book over and they explore the world through it sounds – baby birds tweeting in the nest, a page being turned, the sizzling of carrot chips in the pan…

And then the two sides meet in the perfect observation – the endless stars and the endless quiet of outer space.

Young children find out so much of what they know about the world around them through their senses – they’re not yet old enough to consult books, watch David Attenborough or search Google – so teaching them to really look and listen is such an essential skill.  But also essential, and what Tania McCartney does so well, is to teach them to express what they see in words that create pictures and memories, to use all their senses to evoke and provoke emotions. Will you ever hear thunder again and not think “calamitous clouds”?

 

While on the surface this looks like a book for the preschooler, imagine how it could be used to encourage young writers to bring depth and richness to their words, to explore the world of metaphor and simile, to really look and listen and feel and taste and then share that with their readers. Start by having each contribute a new page for the book, making the common uncommon,; the stereotype original; the banal beautiful. Watch their writing grow!

Such riches in an exquisite combination of author and illustrator that goes so far beyond the usual eyes see, ears hear books for this age group.

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I Grow Up

Andrew Daddo

Jonathan Bentley

ABC Books, 2016

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

9780733333422

Hairdresser, inventor, astronaut, writer, performer, secret agent…little people have big dreams when they are asked that perennial question about what they want to be when they grow up.  And these days nothing is impossible.  But there is one thing that is more important than anything else…

This is an engaging book that not only explores the range of possibilities that little ones suggest but also has fun exploring what they think those jobs involve.  For example, the writer suggests he will write a story about “a prince [rescuing] a princess, and she’ll say, “I can rescue myself, thank you!” But they will still live happily ever after.”  The inventor will invent “a bedroom cleaner (that’s not called me)” while the budding hairdresser will tame goldy locks  into buns and braids, bobs and beehives  and give the boys buzzcuts or bowls. 

Once again, Jonathan Bentley’s superb illustrations take the text to a higher level as they translate imagination into reality.  

These sorts of books are perfect for helping budding readers and writers as they serve as a wonderful model for a class book.  Imagine the interest in writing and illustrating a page about your dreams for your future and then having these collated into a book to be pored over and over, maybe even set up as a slideshow to be shared with parents and grandparents from afar. Even research can begin as they discover just what is involved in their choices perhaps inviting parents or representatives of their choices to talk to them -learning that it is often not enough to say what they want but justifying it too.

Personal, in-context activities like these are irresistible to young children and boost their writing and reading enormously as they have such an explicit, overt purpose and meaning consolidating what they expect from a story.

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior (eds)

ABC, 2018

128pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780733337932

A boat of stars came down tonight
and sailed around my bed –
it sprinkled stardust on my eyes,
put dreams inside my head…

Poetry, with its vocabulary, rhythm and sometimes rhyme, and its nuances that are the sounds of our spoken language is a critical part of helping our young readers not only learn to speak but also to fire their imaginations and create dreams.  Sadly, though, it has been a long time since we have had a new anthology of children’s poems that is appealing enough to attract the eyes and ears of our younger generation and so, to them, poems have become something you dissect for structure and syllables and struggle to emulate, missing the magic and meaning in the poet’s words.  

In this new collection put together by Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior because,like many parents and teachers, they struggled to find something that would engage, many of Australia’s renowned writers and illustrators have plied their craft with words and media to bring a joyful, diverse, and thoroughly engaging posse of poems that will re-ignite the beauty of the format and have children feeling satisfied that despite the brevity, they have visited a new place, thought new thoughts and heard a story. 

With topics ranging from zucchinis to giraffes to balls and beyond, each one is different in topic and structure and each reaches out to the everyday lives of our children, drawing them into something they are familiar with but told in a brand new way.  Something as common as a new baby coming into the family is given a whole new spin by Sophie Masson and  Julie Vivas; as ordinary as getting a new hat (Alexa Moses and Matt Shanks) or even just digging a hole (Kate Mayes and Matt Shanks) are brought to life in a way that inspires the imagination and suggests that poetry really does have a special place in their reading menu.  Being able to tell a story in just a few words and even fewer lines is a gift that few have but to the listener/reader it highlights the beauty of our language and shows how it is possible to make every word work hard to stir the brain and the heart.

This really is “a boat of stars” for the imagination and dreams, one that is accessible to all as a shared experience and a welcome addition to a critical area of literature and language that has been neglected for too long.