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The Chocolate Monster

The Chocolate Monster

The Chocolate Monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chocolate Monster

Pip Jones

Laura Hughes

Faber & Faber, 2017

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

9780571327515

 

Oh my goodness!  A mighty tricky, sticky thief has been spotted on the loose.  It’s The Chunk.  He’s silent like a cloud, walks on tippy-toes, has HUGE hands and feet and a bulbous twitching nose.  His purple fur streaked with pink covers his gleaming eyes and even though he is very tall, he’s very good at disguise!  And his passion is chocolate – no matter where it is or how it is, he can find it and steal it.  

This is a lovely romp in rhyme searching out that elusive chocolate monster, that mysterious, invisible creature who manages to discover and devour any chocolate in the house or even the neighbourhood. Everyone is warned to be on their guard because who knows where he will turn up next – and with 100 000 chocolate bars as a reward, who wouldn’t be watching for it.

This is a hilarious standalone story that little ones will love but it also offers some great teaching opportunities, the first being to give the children the description of the monster without showing them Laura Hughes’s interpretation and challenge them to draw what the words suggest.  Even though they are all working with the same words, each picture will be different because of each individual’s previous experience so it is a great introduction to the notion that we all perceive events in a different way depending on what we already know and believe and our role within them.  As a follow-up, share A. A. Milne’s The King’s Breakfast and have the children draw the King!  

Back in the days when we could have fun at school, Year 3 did an investigation into chocolate which transcended curriculum borders and this book would be an ideal starting point for a similar investigation,  Why is chocolate so loved?  Would the book have the same appeal if it were a broccoli monster?  Does a chocolate a day keep the doctor away? Why, if not for a fly no bigger than a pinhead, would there be no chocolate? 

There are riches more yummy than chocolate itself in this book!

Emily’s Bush Christmas

christmas_countdown_2016

 

 

 

 

Emily's Bush Christmas

Emily’s Bush Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily’s Bush Christmas

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

HarperCollins, 2015

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

9780732286934

It’s Christmas Day in Shaggy Gully and all the animals are doing the things they do best – the kangaroos are bouncing, the echidnas are prickly, the emus are peckish, koalas are relaxing and the bats and wombats are just hanging about.  The Shaggy Gully chorus are sharing their Christmas carols  – the cockatoos and kookaburras are giving it their all while Emily tries to keep in tune with her tuba.  Suddenly the ambiance is shattered by a ghastly groan coming up from the creek.

“ooooogggggghhhhhh! I’m mad and I’m mean! I’m the BUNYIP ooooogggggghhhhhh!.”

In response, Emily Emu’s tuba echoes the same ghastly sound! The bunyip’s’ moan makes her tuba groan. But Emily decides that everyone, including bunyips, should be happy at Christmas and so she sets about trying to change the bunyip’s mood.  But no matter what she and her friends do, the bunyip stays mad and mean!  Until he discovers Emily’s tuba…

You just know that a Christmas story from Jackie French and Bruce Whatley is going to be Australian and it’s going to be good.  And so it is with this tale which is uniquely Australian and which will bring a smile to the face of little ones (and bunyips.) They will love to see what their favourite creatures get up to in the bush on this special day – even Ringo the Dingo is there – as Jackie always weaves a wonderful story that is worth reading over and over, especially if you play them this sound clip so they can hear the sound of the tuba and why it is so perfect for a bunyip!  

This team always produces the best – and this is no exception.

A Miscellany of Magical Beasts

A Miscellany of Magical Beasts

A Miscellany of Magical Beasts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Miscellany of Magical Beasts

Simon Holland

Various illustrators

Bloomsbury, 2016

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781408881958

Long before J.K. Rowling introduced us to basilisks, blast-ended skrewts and bow-truckles, literature was alive with fantastic creatures stretching way back into the mythology of ancient civilisations.  “Mythology is a place where we can meet all kinds of beings, from human-like spirits to hybrids formed from two or more different animals.”

From giants to griffins, Cerberus to Pegasus this luxuriously illustrated book introduces  a menagerie of sixteen fantastic creatures and explains their origins and their powers.  With the illustrations being done by a variety of artists and a myriad of techniques used, this is a lavish visual feast that has the reader delving into each creature’s story and learning the background of those things that inhabit so many favourite books and films and may even take them on a journey through the mythologies of storytellers, perhaps even investigate why they populate history in the way they do. 

This is a must-have in any school library collection to satisfy the fascination with fantasy and those which inhabit that world that shows no signs of abating.

 

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle

Justin Clarke & Arthur Baysting

Tom Jellett

Penguin Viking, 2016

32pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

 

Look! Look! It’s the Gobbledygook!
He’s reading his favourite mon-story book.

Comfortable in the library and using his best book-reading manners that he learned in The Gobbledygook is Eating a Book, the Gobbledygook is enjoying exploring his favourite book, whispering the quiet words, shouting the loud ones and making up those he doesn’t know (just like real-life early readers).  But when one of the monsters jumps right out of the book and begins to scribble all over the books the Gobbledygook is very distressed. While the Scribbledynoodle takes notice when it is told that it should not draw on the books, it then takes to drawing on everything else in the library – the walls, the shelves, even the librarian – until the Gobbledygook and his friend escort it outside.  And there it teaches them that there are pictures in many more places than a book. Clouds, rainbows, puddles and snail trails all have their own kind of pictorial magic with the day (and the story) ending in peeking ‘at the pictures we dream in our sleep.”

This is a wonderful romp in rhyme for young readers who will delight in its tongue-twisting words, fast pace, crazy ideas and bright, colourful pictures.  Even though the Gobbledygook is a monster with big teeth and even bigger feet, he’s not one that will scare them and you can just hear the oohs and ahs as they see the destruction that the Scribbledynoodle causes.  Even though they are young THEY know better and will delight in telling the adult reader so.  But they will be pleased that instead of the Scribbledynoodle being in BIG trouble, it gets redirected and through the kindness of the Gobbledygook and his friend, it not only makes new friends but shows them important things too.  The children will be on their way outside to see if they can see an elephant’s bum in the clouds! But they will also look at the colours, shapes and patterns in nature with new eyes, perhaps getting inspiration for their own drawings.

This is “a magnificent, magical, colourful doodle of a day in the life of a Scribbledynoodle”. which will go from first-read to favourite very quickly!

 

Fright Club

Fright Club

Fright Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fright Club

Ethan Long

Bloomsbury, 2015

30pp., board book, RRP $A9.99

9781681190433

It is the night before Hallowe’en and time for one final meeting of the Fright Club to make sure that all is in readiness for Operation Kiddie Scare.  Vladimir is determined that his monsters will be perfect with their ghoulish faces, scary moves and chilling sounds.  But he only allows the scariest monsters to join – Only the scariest of monsters can join Fright Club-Vladimir the Vampire, Fran K. Stein, Sandy Witch, and Virginia Wolf have all made the cut – so when an ‘adorable bunny’ knocks and requests membership, it is turned away.    The same things happens when the bunny returns with Frances Foxx, Public Attorney, claiming discrimination.     But Bunny and Foxx have a plan…

Don’t be put off by the format of this book – board books are usually associated with simple stories for the very young – because it is an engaging story that will not only send shivers up the spine but have the audience practising their own ghoulish faces, scary moves and chilling sounds so they, too, can become members of the Fright Club.  Frances Foxx’s  question about whether  only monsters can be frightening can open up discussion about what they might be frightened of as well as opening the door for an investigation about why people dress up to scare at this time of the year.  Even though Hallowe’en is widely dismissed as “an American thing that should have stayed there”, its origins go back long before America was even discovered and provide for a fascinating insight into the beliefs and thoughts of our ancestors – something that is crucial to understanding the works of those like Shakespeare!

Ethan Long is an award-winning author and it’s easy to see why with his ability to pack so much into what is seemingly a simple story for littlies.  They will enjoy it.

Dragon Jelly

Dragon Jelly

Dragon Jelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Jelly

Claire Freedman

Sue Hendra

Bloomsbury, 2014

pbk., 3299/. RRP $A15.99

9781408838846

 

It’s Max’s monster party – there are yucky, scary games to play like bouncing on the jumping castle that sprays out gunk and pass-the-parcel which contains something not-quite-nice.  There’s even a hairy green magician who can make frogs hop from behind Max’s ear, and before they eat there’s time to cool down in the paddling pool filled with buzzing botfly eggs and whiiffy fruit-bat drool. The food is just as savoury and there’s excitement when Max’s birthday cake appears.  Earwax candles???   But the pièce de resistance is the dragon jelly that is scary hot to eat.

This is a fun romp through a children’s birthday party told in rhyming verse that will delight the very young – perhaps their first introduction to the horror genre or an inspiration for their next birthday party.  Whichever, the imaginative text and the bright pictures set against a black background for extra effect will engage and entertain and this is sure to become a firm favourite.  Just perhaps not as a bedtime story just in case of nightmares 

Birthday parties are big deal for the very young so this would be an ideal way to help young students think about the steps required to plan them, starting with lists of guests and games and food and then a flowchart to sequence and sort – the first steps in helping them to select and organise their information. Information literacy can start at a very young age with the simplest of scenarios.  

Rory and the Monstersitter

Rory and the Monstersitter

Rory and the Monstersitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rory and the Monstersitter

Rosie Reeves

Bloomsbury, 2014

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

9781408845516

 

Rory the Monster loves to cook and he’s always creating new and interesting recipes using whatever ingredients he has to hand – bats, bugs, anything is likely to end up in the mix.  One evening, his parents decide to go on a dinner date, hiring an enormous hairy monster to look after Rory, Fangus, Lily and Baby Grub. The monster sits himself down in front of the television ignoring what the children are up to in the kitchen and then outside.  Their tummies are rumbling so while their parents are enjoying a  delicious dinner at the Cockroach Café, they concoct their own dinner starting with leaves and twigs, a splash of water, a twist of pepper and a sprinkling of salt.  But it is missing a vital ingredient…

This is a laugh-out-loud story that has a superb twist in its telling (not just the twist of pepper.)  When I first read it to some six-year-olds they were quite quizzical at the ending, but when it finally sunk in what had happened and what was planned they begged for it to be read again and again. Between the text and the superb illustrations there was much to pick up on and enjoy.  It also led to a discussion about how authors use unexpected events and endings to turn stories on their heads and how, sometimes, even with all we know we are surprised.

It would be very easy to use this text address the Australian Curriculum Year 1 outcome ACELY1660 (“Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning about key events, ideas and information in texts that they listen to, view and read by drawing on growing knowledge of contexttext structures and language features”) because it’s humour and twist set it apart from many of the other stories for this age group.