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Noah’s Ark

Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noah’s Ark

David Miles

Familius, 2016

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

9781939629562

This is a very simple retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark for very young readers.  In just a few sentences it captures the essence of building the Ark, putting two of every animal on it, the flood, the dove and the rainbow.  

Made of lightweight foam and accompanied by colourful pictures with pieces that lift out to reveal another picture underneath, it would be perfect for very young readers who are just discovering the joy of story and wanting to read for themselves.  Miss 18 months loved it because the interactivity allowed her to participate rather than just listen.  Great for the Christmas stocking.

 

The Crayons’ Book of Numbers

The Crayons' Book of Numbers

The Crayons’ Book of Numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crayons’ Book of Numbers

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins 2016

18pp., board book., RRP $A16.99

9780008212865

In 2013 Daywalt and Jeffers introduced us to a most unlikely set of heroes, or at least a set that they probably didn’t realise would become so popular they would become a series.  But that is what has happened to Duncan’s seemingly innocuous packet of crayons.  From the day they refused to be stereotyped any longer in The Day the Crayons Quit to their second adventure when they came home even crankier than ever in The Day the Crayons Came Home their stories and individuality have delighted young readers.  Now they are the stars of a number of board books for the very youngest readers beginning with getting them to count them as they find them.  Typically though, each crayon does not come quietly – there’s a comment from each one of them as they are discovered.

This is a lovely book for a parent-child exploration helping the littlest one learn numbers and colours at the same time and just delight in the joy of these clever, quirky characters.  Why can’t dinosaurs be pink? Why are red and blue so tired and worn out?  What else could green do apart from colour in crocodiles?  Lots to chat about and speculate on.

 

The Mix + Match Lunchbox

The Mix + Match Lunchbox

The Mix + Match Lunchbox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mix + Match Lunchbox

Cherie Schetselaar

Britney Rule

Exisle, 2016

102pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781942934660

Imagine opening your lunchbox and finding almond joy popcorn; cream cheese pinwheels and a melon and grape fruit salad.  Or quinoa cookie bites, chopped Thai chicken salad and a homemade ranh dip.  Or any one of the 27 000 three-course combinations embracing whole grains, proteins and fruit and veggies that can be made from this glossy mix and match flip book.

With Term 4 here and another 10 weeks of school lunches looming, this is a timely release that lit up Miss 10’s eyes as soon as she saw it because there was nothing too difficult for her to make here.  

Beginning with an explanation of why a healthy lunch is important and then the role that the four food groups play in achieving it,  it continues with a section on the perfect lunchbox so that everything stays fresh and cool and then helps with time and menu management by helping to plan ahead and food preparation.  

Each suggestion comes complete with coloured photo and the recipe at the side using simple, easily available fresh ingredients  so that the lunchbox looks appealing, is healthy and satisfying.  No more dumping soggy sangers in the nearest bin!!

Having looked at it thoroughly, Miss 10 and Miss 5 (who could easily help because of the simplicity of the suggestions) were heard to say that they wished school was back already!

Definitely one to promote to parents not only looking for new ideas but also ways that will encourage the children to join in the preparation and perhaps start them on their cooking journey.

 

Did You Take the B from My _ook?

Did You Take the B from My _ook?

Did You Take the B from My _ook?

Did You Take the B from My _ook?

Beck & Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2016

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

9780733334832

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.

Look forward to many more…

Have a look for yourself!


 

 

 

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book

Barbara Beery

Brooke Jorden

Michele Robbins

David Miles

Rebecca Sorge

Bloomsbury, 2016

160pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781942934653

This book is exactly what the title says – it is all to do with princesses and royalty from stories to recipes, games and activities, things to make and how to be a princess. Richly illustrated,  it begins with half a dozen traditional stories of princesses from around the world and then moves on to a section bursting with all sorts of recipes fir for a secret garden tea party, a cottage picnic and a pink princess party .  There are tips for serving the food, correct table manners and etiquette including how to wave and curtsey and even a guide to the members of the Royal household.  In fact there is little about being a princess that is not covered.

Going through a ‘princess stage’ is almost a rite of passage for little girls, enhanced by Disney’s adaptations of many of the traditional fairy tales, and there was always a big demand for anything of this nature in the school I was in last year, particularly with those girls who were learning English as another language and who saw this as a way into the language of the playground.  This would be like a bible for them as the stories and concepts are already familiar so as well as speaking the ‘same language’ they can now read it too.

With is lavish hardcover protecting its spiral bound contents, it is attractive and would be one to recommend to grandparents looking for something special for the Christmas stocking.

The Arty Book

The Arty Book

The Arty Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arty Book

Nikalas Catlow & David Sinden

Bloomsbury, 2016

160pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781408870662

 

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is a major study following the development of 10,000 children and families from all parts of Australia. The study commenced in 2004 with two cohorts – families with 4-5 year old children and families with 0-1 year old infants. Among its findings is that many children under 12 are spending a third of their waking hours in front of a screen of some sort and this is having, and will continue to have, ramifications on their physical, social and emotional well-being.  Experts say that there are two keys ways of reducing this amount – being a role model so not being on a screen all the time ourselves, and making sure that other activities have priority so that screen time is restricted to what little time might be left over in the day.

With the school holidays happening or fast approaching in Australia, The Arty Book could be part of the solution to providing alternatives to endless television or computer gaming. 

While it is somewhat similar to the activity books of old that we remember, this one is much more upmarket, interactive and appealing to an older audience.  It’s key character is a cartoon-like character called Arty with quirky curly hair and distinctive red glasses and users are invited to participate in all sorts of activities to make Arty unique so their own creativity is to the fore.  This is not a colour-in-the-lines or connect-the-dots book.  They can change Arty to what they want him to look like as they are presented with just his trademark glasses; make Arty badges; even use their feet to make  Footprint Arty.  Each page has a new suggestion that encourages them to customise the Arty artworks so they are imaginative and personal . They also take the child into new areas of art they might not have explored before so there is scope for new explorations like collage and spatter painting, 

Parents and grandparents who are looking for something engaging that will be more appealing than a screen would love to know about this book – especially if the school library were to host an after-holidays display of Arty drawings seeking the most imaginative, original and unique as the centrepiece of a collection of art-technique books and a Makerspace challenge to create a 3D Arty. There might even be a storyfest with Arty, based on one of the drawings, as the central character!  A great opportunity to embrace so many areas of the curriculum.  

From little things…

Look and Learn Fun

Look and Learn Fun

Look and Learn Fun

 

Look and Learn Fun

Colours

9781409876282

Shapes

9781408876299

Bloomsbury, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

These are two of a series of activity and sticker books designed to help young children learn and consolidate the basic understandings of literacy and numeracy.  

While they do focus on those early childhood concepts and offer a range of activities for the child to complete, they do demand a certain level of fine motor skill development so that lines can be traced and small shapes coloured. While many of the activities are prescriptive there is stil the opportunity for some personal input and creativity Even though Miss 5 knows her colours and shapes, she still found them challenging and engaging and perfect for a wet afternoon when she was confined to bed with a nasty lurgy.  

Worth popping in the Santa sack.  

Snooze with Hairy Maclary

Snooze with Hairy Maclary

Snooze with Hairy Maclary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snooze with Hairy Maclary

Dame Lynley Dodd

Puffin. 2016

16pp., board book., RRP $A17.99

9780143507284

Everyone’s sleepy,
in need of a snooze.
What place do they go to?
Which spot do they choose?
After some frolicsome fun, Hairy and his gang are ready for a nap. But where will they choose to sleep? Horatio Morse, Barnaby Potts, Schnitzel von Krumm and all the rest of Hairy Maclary’s friends each have their favourite spot to sleep when it’s time for a nap.  And in this superb touch-and-feel book young readers will delight in exploring them.

When we were in New Zealand last year, my family decided they would go to Hobbiton but I chose to find the sculpture of Hairy Maclary and friends in Tauranga instead.  Despite the pouring rain, I was determined to pay my respects to this favourite creature of my childhood and I was not disappointed.  

No child should go through childhood without meeting this wonderful little dog and his mates.  They just bring such joy and this new tale is the perfect introduction. 

hairy_maclary_sculpture

 

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizzy Bear Spooky House

Benji Davies

Nosy Crow, 2016

10pp., board book., RRP $A9.99

9780857636904

“The ever-intrepid Bizzy Bear has come for a visit to a super-spooky Halloween house. As he climbs the rickety stairs and walks the cobwebby corridors, all sorts of creepy characters appear from doors and hidey holes. Bizzy, naturally, remains undaunted – but where could he be going and what will he find there?”

This is a delightful board book perfect for the very young who will enjoy the rhyming text and the interactivity of the things to discover on the pages.  Discovering what’s hiding behind the chair, who’s behind the door and predicting why they are all getting together will delight them for ages.  Although there is little text, there is great detail in the colourful illustrations which will enrich and enhance the child’s vocabulary as they make their collection of spooky things.

I predict it will become a favourite as they will be able to tell themselves the story very easily. 

Computer Coding Games for Kids

Computer Coding Games for Kids

Computer Coding Games for Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Computer Coding Games for Kids

Jon Woodcock

Dorling Kindersley, 2016

224pp., pbk., RRP $A35.00

9781740333405

Way back when, in the dawning of the age of home computers which were huge and clumsy in comparison to today’s mini-marvels; which ran on cassette tapes; had green or amber font on a black screen and had no facility to display graphics, if you wanted to play a game you bought a book of instructions and carefully tapped the commands in, one keystroke at a time. It was the realm of the real computer nerd and if you were patient and precise, eventually you got to play the most basic of games.

Fast forward 30+ years and now our kids have computers in their pockets, on their wrists and even in their clothes.  And with the increased focus on science, technology, engineering and maths once again the red-hot buzzword in schools is ‘coding’ as students learn not to program a clumsy turtle that only went backwards, forwards and sideways, but to create and develop their own games to play, some in the hope that theirs will be even bigger than Pokémon Go!  

But no longer do they have to sit in solitary confinement painstakingly tap, tap, tapping. These days, the most commonly used development tool is Scratch™ https://scratch.mit.edu/, a free program which “helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century”, and Dorling Kindersley have produced what might be the beginners’ bible in learning how to create a computer game.  Not for them the single volume, monochrome “pamphlet” that crossed your eyes just looking at it – this is a beautifully presented, full colour, step-by-step guide presented in the typical DK layout that is so user-friendly.  Beginning with an introduction that describes what makes a good game, the types of games and how coding works, it moves on to introducing Scratch, accessing it and then straight into making a basic game, eventually moving on to more and more complex tasks and challenges.    

Fifteen years ago I went to computer classes and tried very hard to make a cow jump over the moon using a program Macromedia Flash™.  Night after night it absorbed me until I gave up in defeat and despair – clearly I just didn’t have the brain for it.  So to test out Computer Coding Games for Kids I read through the introductory chapters, accessed Scratch™ and had a go at the first project – Star Hunter, “a fast-paced underwater treasure hunt.”  In just seven quick steps I had a cat that followed my mouse all around the screen and was ready to build the next part of the game. WINNER!  If I can do it, anyone can! So when the curriculum requires students to have a basic knowledge of coding, this has to be the go-to book for teachers and students.  Even the most confirmed luddite will succeed and the students will be having such fun as they read and follow instructions and learn without realising it that ‘coding’ will become a key part of the school day!   

In fact this book was going to be a donation to a school library I know but I think I will keep it because I can see hours of fun ahead for Miss 10 and Miss 5 and me on the wintery days yet to come for us and even those when it’s too hot to go outside.  Who knows, we may be the creators of the next Pokémon Go!