Can You Find? (series)

Can You Find?

Can You Find?

Can You Find? (series)

Nancy Bevington

Catch A Star, 2019

board books, RRP $A12.99

Each of the books in this series for our youngest readers focuses on a location and introduces iconic items that would be discovered in such a place. Even if the location is unfamiliar to the young reader, they provide a valuable aid in building vocabulary and creating context for when the child encounters other stories set in that location. Unfamiliar items have both a name and a context, predictions can be made based on that knowledge and reading progresses.  Having been introduced to the various items, the child is then challenged to find them all again in the final pages.

While board books may appear simple to the competent reader, we should never underestimate their value in constructing and consolidating those vital concepts about print that are the foundations of successful independent reading and this series could be an integral part of that development.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends










The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

Eric Carle

Picture Puffin, 2019

12pp., board book., RRP $A16.99


Australia has some unique wildlife in a variety of habitats and Carle takes our very youngest readers on a journey through these with his iconic illustrations to discover some of them.  Using a lift-the-flap format, littlies will delight in discovering who lives where, identifying familiar creatures and meeting new ones. But where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?  

With its rich colours, interactivity and familiar theme, this is the perfect gift for the young reader just learning about the fun and excitement of books. 

Animology: The Big Book of Letter Art Alphabeasts













Animology : The Big Book of Letter Art Alphabeasts

Maree Coote

Melbournestyle Books, 2019

72pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


Every part of me’s a letter!

Does that help you find me better?

Look very closely- can you see

The hidden letters that find me?

Sometimes letters may repeat

To make more eyes or fur or feet

Look back-to-front,

Look upside down,

Every letter can be found!

This is one of the most unusual books I’ve reviewed for a long time and one of the most fascinating. Paired with an informative verse about its subject, each illustration is created by using the letters of the creature’s name and the reader is challenged to find each one. From the vibrant mandrill on the front cover, the challenge is set to take a journey through the natural world discovering everything from swans to budgerigars, all cleverly constructed from their letters.  

Readers have to examine the details in each illustrations, honing their visual acuity skills amongst others, as Coote has had fun with fonts, their shapes and sizes to tease even the most discerning eye. One for those boys who like to gather round the same book and test themselves.  And having got the concept by looking, students can then be challenged to try for themselves, remembering that they not only have to spell the name correctly and use all the letters, but make the finished design resemble to creature!! Something very different for an art/biology lesson that could be a shared activity as the artists draw and the wordsmiths research to create the verse!

A significant step up from the usual look-and-find books for younger readers.















Margaret Wild

Andrew Joyner

Puffin, 2019

24pp, hbk., RRP $A19.99


‘Boo!’ said the baby to the monkey in the cot.

‘Boo!’ said the baby to the penguin in the yacht . . .

Babies love to play peek-a-boo and these ones have a lovely time playing with their toys. But…

What happens next?

Turn the page and see…

Ready, steady, count- 

One, two three!

This is a delightful book for the very young who are learning the fun that can be had in picture books.  The constant repetition of the word BOO will encourage them to join in as it is shared with them, and they will just ROFL at the ending.  Maybe not one for bedtime because it encourages raucous rollicking fun, but nevertheless, one for building up that unique relationship between reader, child, stories and books!


Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

Argh! There's a Skeleton Inside You!

Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!










Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

Idan Ben-Barak

Julian Frost

A & U Children’s, 2019

32pp., hbk.,  RRP $A19.99


Quog the armless blob and Oort the gas cloud are on their way to Kevin’s party in their spaceship but they have run into some strife which they are having trouble fixing.  Being amorphous, neither of them have the means to open the spaceship door and so the reader is invited to help them.  Quog is fascinated by the reader’s hands which are first used to open the spaceship door, and then examines them more closely as other tasks are complete, discovering bones, muscles and nerves. As she investigates the purpose of each through the simple explanations offered, she grows her own so that she and Oort can get on their way to the party, once again.

This is another ingenious story from the creators of Do not lick this book to help our youngest readers understand how their body works.  Rather than examining the whole skeleton, just focusing on the hand, the body part that is helping repair the spaceship, the reader can interact with the text very easily without being overwhelmed.  By placing their hand on the picture and allowing Oort to look at it through x-ray type eyes, the bones, muscles and nerves are revealed and their function explained making it very interactive and engaging.  There is a more in-depth explanation about how to grow hands at the end of the book, but it’s what Quog does with her new hands that is the most appealing.

The original concept,  bright illustrations,  and cartoon-like format make this a book that will draw young readers back to it again and again as they learn more and want to know even more than that, perhaps taking them to other body books about their body parts and how they work. Non fiction for littlies at its best. (And just for fun, check out the origins of Oort‘s name! What about Quog?)

Frost, the illustrator, says  he uses his hands to “draw and write and make silly sculptures” while Ben-Barak uses his “to write, hug, scratch itchy bits and poke things to see what happens.”  What do you do with yours?


Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans










Roald Dahl’s Beastly Brutes & Heroic Human Beans

Stella Caldwell & Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99


Whether your child’s favourite Dahl book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, Matilda or The BFG, they will find their favourite characters brought to life in this unique book as they meet them face-to-face and learn more about what makes them tick.  From Grandpa Joe and Mike Teavee, to Mr and Mrs Twit and Muggle-Wump, to Sophie and the Fleshlumpeater. Miss Trunchbull and Bruce Bogtrotter, each has a special place in this collection that, as the title suggests. looks at Dahl’s most heroic human beans and beastly brutes, each created by Dahl to engage children and show them that children can have power over the adults. The main character from each book guides the reader around the story and introduces the rest of the cast. 

But, as the introduction states, “this is no ordinary book…it’s a press-out paper adventure” because there are lots of card press-outs of the characters and places that help the child describe the roles and personalities of the players and recreate and retell the story in their own words.  Making new from old. (And there’s a convenient envelope at the back to keep them in too.) Clever design means parts of the pages can be pressed out to reveal a glorious parade of characters, interacting with each other in quirky and mischievous ways. 

This is probably not one for the general circulation shelves but it would be the most wonderful prop for any study of Dahl, who has been and will be a children’s favourite for generations, or the ideal gift for a Dahl fan.  Like Dahl’s writing which offers something new with every reading (wouldn’t mind a dollar for every time I’ve read or gifted The BFG), this is a gift that will keep on giving, especially it if it’s teamed with the featured books!. 

That’s Not My Koala

That's Not My Koala

That’s Not My Koala








That’s Not My Koala

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99


For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. 

That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better









100 Ways to Make the World Better

Lisa M. Gerry

National Geographic Kids. 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99


From something as manageable as forgiving someone or leaving a complimentary note in their locker to more complex ideas such as taking a First Aid class or letting your trash be someone else’s treasures, this is a small book full of big ideas about how to make the world a better place both physically and emotionally. 

With philosophy such as being the kind of friend you’d like to have and being inclusive, it covers personal issues that can help the individual be more calm, more mindful and more responsive to their world while also taking actions that can help shape the world into what they want it to be.   Ideas are presented as simple concepts with engaging graphics and photographs, and many are followed by detailed supporting information, including advice from Nat Geo explorers, interviews with experts and weird but true facts. readers can get a sense of their own power to make a difference and an understanding of what actions contribute to positive outcomes and how they can change things by themselves.

While journalling and personal challenges are becoming a popular way to have students focus on the positives and support their mental health, sometimes knowing where to start can be overwhelming so this could be used to guide that journey by having students set themselves the 100 tasks over the school year, and help them structure their progress that way as they work their way through them. They might also have spaces for another 20 ways they discover that are not mentioned in the book and these could be added to a class wall chart to inspire others to look more widely. 

While these sorts of books always inspire when you first pick them up, without accountability life can go back to routine quickly so offering ways to keep the ideas in focus and support the reader over time will not only help them, but also the adult offering that support. We can all make our world better. 


Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?










Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Gordon Winch

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier, 2019

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


In 2017, Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington presented our youngest readers with an introduction to some of this country’s native fauna and flora in the hauntingly beautiful Can You Find Me?Now they have teamed up again to delve closely into what might be living in the garden with this new counting book that is as stunning as the first.

Beginning with some of the larger creatures such as the blue-tongued lizard and kookaburras, young readers are enticed to look more and more closely at the illustrations to discover just what might be hiding amongst the trees, bushes, flowers and leaves, culminating in a challenge to find all of them in the final spread. As well as the introduction to iconic creatures and enabling the reader to practise their counting skills, like the first book, it  encourages them to look more closely at their environment and see it with new eyes, to appreciate it more and perhaps even preserve it more carefully.

A counting book that does so much more than help little ones count.  

Leonard Doesn’t Dance

Leonard Doesn't Dance

Leonard Doesn’t Dance










Leonard Doesn’t Dance

Frances Watts

Judy Watson

ABC Books, 2019

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


It’s just a week until the Big Beaky Bird Ball and Leonard would love to go but he doesn’t know how to dance!

And so he decides to ask his friends to help.  On Monday the magpies teach him how to do the warble-warble- waltz. On Tuesday the duck teach him to do-si-do and Wednesday’s lesson is how to do the caw-caw can-can with the crows.  Despondent because none of the lessons has been successful, Leonard decides he is not a dancer and refuses the offers from the rosellas, galahs and woodpeckers, hiding in his nest, ashamed. He huddles down deeper when his friends come looking for him on Sunday but when he hears them say they can’t go without him he feels even worse and agrees to go…but he won’t dance!

With stunning illustrations that take you straight to the Australian bush even though there is a range of birds from around the globe, this is a glorious story that rollicks along on the rhythm of the alliteration with a surprising and funny twist that will have the young reader’s feet tapping in anticipation.  How would they dance if what happened to Leonard happened to them? An invitation to get up and move and try all the dances for themselves!

Dance, like music, is an innate human expression and this is a celebration of that.  Everyone can dance, even those for whom movement is tricky, and Leonard shows that you just have to find out what works for you!