How Many Dinosaurs Deep?

How Many Dinosaurs Deep?

How Many Dinosaurs Deep?










How Many Dinosaurs Deep?

Ben Kitchen

Vicky Fieldhouse

New Frontier, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99


Jim is learning how to swim but when it is time to move up from the baby pool to the middle-sized pool, he is not so sure that he is ready.   he’s concerned about its depth so his mother tells him that it would not even reach the knees of a stegosaurus.  This sparks a chain reaction of how deep would a … be and each time mum is able to explain it in terms of how many dinosaurs it would take to reach the surface.  And when she explains the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean would need 587 brachiosauruses standing on each other’s head, Jim finally feels he is ready to cope.

This is a unique story that combines the love of dinosaurs that so many little ones have with their natural apprehension of venturing into something they are unsure of.  Clearly Ben Kitchen has done his homework on  dinosaur dimensions and there are two pages explaining the key features of those that are mentioned, including some that young readers may not be familiar with.  While more or less anatomically correct, the illustrations are still whimsical and fun and readers will gain courage from them rather than fear.  

Something completely different for the younger reader. Perhaps even an opportunity to go outside and measure things to compare them with the dinosaurs to bring the imagination to reality.


AFL Factivity

AFL Factivity

AFL Factivity










AFL Factivity

Michael Panckridge

Puffin, 2017

48pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


ANZAC Day has come and gone and so that means it’s officially time to be indoors more often than not and watching footy on telly is a sanctioned activity.  

For those who follow AFL this bright colourful, carefully constructed factivity book is the ideal accompaniment as fans of all ages can test their knowledge, learn new things and participate in some brain-tingling activities that focus on their favourite sport.  Some of the activities are challenging, such as writing a player profile for the back of the Crunchy Crispies cereal pack; others will require some research while there are also the usual word searches and the like.  However, it can also be used as a teaching resource as many of the activities can be made open-ended, having students apply the challenges to a sport of their choosing or to have them create a similar challenge for their chosen sport.Developing your own crossword involves a lot more than just completing one.

Hooking kids into learning by engaging them with their passion is a surefire way of getting them to learn-by-stealth so even the most reluctant readers can find something that will help them understand reading does have a purpose, it can be fun and it IS for them.  A double sheet of stickers at the end could add to the motivation!

















Mac Barnett

Jon Klassen

Walker Books, UK, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Triangle lives in a triangular house with a triangular door.   One day he decides to visit his friend Square and play a sneaky trick on him.  He walks past lots of triangles – small, medium and big – and past a lot of others that weren’t triangles any more until he got to a place where there were many squares.  When he finally gets to Square’s house he plays his sneaky trick, hissing like a snake because he knows Square is afraid of snakes.  

But he gives the game away when he is laughing so hard Square discovers him.  After glaring at each other Square chases Triangle all the way home – back past the squares, the shapes with no names and the triangles – and has the last laugh.  Or does he?

Often the simplest ideas and illustrations create the best stories and that is definitely the case with this, the first in a trilogy of stories about sneaky shapes.  Mac Barnett has crafted a charming story that will intrigue and make young readers think, while Klassen’s  iconic muted illustrations allow the storyline and the main characters to shine while still being a critical part of the tale. Being able to  convey everything through just the shape and position of the eyeballs is proof of a master at work and will encourage the reader to look even more closely at the illustrations, building those critical concepts about print that are so vital for early readers.

Perfect as a standalone, readalong story that will become a favourite, it also offers lots of things to talk about such as shape recognition but could also extend the more curious with question like “Why aren’t they triangles any more? What might have happened?” or “What would you call the shapes without names?” And the question posed on the final page will elicit a vigorous discussion as well as predictions about what will happen next. There might also be a philosophical discussion about whether Triangle and Square are friends and whether this is what friends do to each other. Why did Triangle want to trick Square; how sometimes the prankster doesn’t realise the impact the prank is having and  is it possible to still be friends if someone plays a prank on you?

Young children will delight in creating their own versions of Triangle and Square, perhaps as stick puppets, and making up their own adventures to tell.

Looking forward to the next in the series…













Lisa Stickley

Pavilion, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99


Little girls love to do handstands and Edith is no exception.  She is teaching herself and each day she gets a little better increasing her upside-downness by a second each day.  But each day something interrupts her concentration like the worm who popped up by her hand, the bird who used her hand for target practice and the spider that crawled down her shorts when she rested her legs against a tree.  But nevertheless she keeps on practising…

This is an interesting book – it’s tagline is “a kind of counting book” which it is as Edith manages an extra handstand and an extra second each day and the words and numbers are included in the illustrations.  But it is also intriguing because as she encounters each little creature the creature gives its perspective on how Edith has interrupted it, offering an introduction to getting young readers to see things from another point of view.  The worm pops his head above ground and sees “a giant hand next to my preferred popping up place”.  It could spark some discussion and drawing about how little girls and little boys appear to the creatures in their environment. Resilience is also a theme – how we must practise and practise to get better and not be deterred by trivial things like a spider in your knickers.

The appearance of the book is also interesting – harking back to a time when handstand competitions were features of recess and lunch break entertainment for girls of my era, the colours and style give it a definite retro feel.  Even the name ‘Edith’ suggests a bygone time. The illustrations are also what a child the age of the narrator might draw adding to the impression that this is, indeed a young girl telling her story, but the font, presented in the style of a young child might prove tricky for young readers  to start with. 

Even though this appears to be a counting book at first flick-through, there is much more in it that can provide lots of chat between child and adult and even tempt them to try a new skill.  I’m sure Miss 10 and Miss Nearly-6 eyes will boggle at the thought of Grandma being the school handstand champion a lifetime ago!!!

The Baker’s Dozen






The Baker's Dozen

The Baker’s Dozen











The Baker’s Dozen

Aaron Shepard

Wendy Edelson

Shepard Publications, 2010

40pp., pbk.


Van Amsterdam the baker was well known for his honesty as well as for his fine Saint Nicholas cookies, which were made of gingerbread and iced just as people imagine St Nicholas to look like. When his made the cookies he weighed his ingredients meticulously and always gave his customers exactly what they paid for — not more, and not less. They were very happy and Van Amsterdam was very successful.

But one day a mysterious old woman in a black shawl came into the shop and demanded that Van Amsterdam give her thirteen biscuits because that was how many were in a ‘baker’s dozen’.  Van Amsterdam refused so the old woman left without her cookies but as she left she told Van Amsterdam “Fall again, mount again, learn how to count again.”

From that day, business went downhill and Van Amsterdam was left almost penniless and with no customers.  Then one night he is visited by St Nicholas in a dream and he learns a lesson about being generous.

This is a retelling of an old tale that goes back into history with the first recorded version being noted in 1896.  Accompanied by exquisite illustrations it brings yet another legend associated with Christmas to life and underscores the need to be unselfish at this time.  It includes a recipe for St Nicholas cookies and a Readers Theatre script  

Something a little different.



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


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


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.


Look and Learn Fun

Look and Learn Fun

Look and Learn Fun


Look and Learn Fun





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.  

Australian Maths Dictionary

Australian Maths Dictionary

Australian Maths Dictionary











Australian Maths Dictionary

Judith de Klerk

Dorling Kindersley, 2016

128pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99


Maths has always been a critical subject that is embedded in every aspect of life, not just a regular timeslot in the class timetable..  It is receiving an even greater focus as the buzzword of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sweeps across the curriculum.  Mastery of it is built on a spiral where one thing leads to another and another and another and if a basic is missed it can be difficult to fill the gap and the foundation can become shaky.

It is also, arguably, the subject that perplexes parents the most if it is sent home as a homework task because there is a perception that the way things are done now are not methods they are familiar with and the end result is frustration and a feeling of failure for both child and parent. The temptation to convince themselves they are no good at maths is so easy.

How much easier things would be if students had access to a maths dictionary in the same way they have access to a word dictionary; if they had access to a ready reference where they could look up a particular term and discover just what it is.  For example, what’s a scalene triangle and how is it different from an isosceles or equilateral one? If the problem tells the solver to ‘deduct’, what does that mean?  And what on earth is a “mixed number”?

This new publication from Dorling Kindersley is set out like a dictionary with clear definitions and diagrams and should be a must in every home and desk or tote tray.  While it doesn’t share particular processes, it does explain over 400 terms used in primary school mathematics and thus offers invaluable support to both children and parents in their quest to understand and master basic concepts, because not everything is possible on the calculator.  You need to have an idea of what you’re doing so you know the calculator is telling you the truth.  And it’s much quicker to access it than searching the Internet.

Definitely a publication to let teachers, parents and students know about.

Ten Little Owls

Ten Little Owls

Ten Little Owls









Ten Little Owls

Renée Treml

Random House, 2016

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



The little wombat from One Very Tired Wombat is back in a new counting book adventure!  But this time, instead of being kept awake by all the daytime creatures, it is his nighttime friends who are coming out to play.  Hopping mice, quolls, Tasmanian devils, sugar gliders and fruit bats are all there in their nocturnal romp from dusk till dawn until the ten little owls hoot a goodnight tune and signal that the sun is rising and it’s bedtime.

So many baby animals exploring their nighttime surrounds under the cover and care of darkness show the very young reader that this is not a time of rest for everyone and that for many creatures once the sun goes down is a time of safety and security.  They can speculate about why some animals feel safer at night and learn new words like ‘nocturnal’ and ‘diurnal’, perhaps even seeking to find out more about the creature that most appeals to them.  Anticipating how many creatures might feature on the next page is always fun as counting skills are consolidated and confirmed is a bonus.

Slightly older children might even do a compare and contrast with One Very Tired Wombat or use this as a model for a class book as they explore what other creatures prefer night to day, where they live and what they find on their nocturnal wanderings.

Renée’s exquisite scratchboard illustrations bring each creature to life in great detail and the rhyming texts provides a rhythm that’s going to ensure the little listener will be joining in enthusiastically.

For those of you in Melbourne, the book will be launched at The Little Bookroom at 759 Nicholson Street at 3.00pm, this Saturday August 27.  More details here