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Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl's 1 2 3

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9780241330364

What happens when you mix the master storytelling of Roald Dahl, iconic bright illustrations by Quentin Blake and the time-proven format of a counting book?  You get a fantastic book for very young readers that introduces them to an author/illustrator combination that will delight them for years.

Using The Enormous Crocodile as its base, young children will delight in seeing all the other chiddlers gather to play in the park while at the same time, in true pantomime style, wanting to yell out at warn them about what they can see hiding in the bushes.  Counting books are plentiful, those that tell a story not-so, and those which build to a climax that is only resolved by a cunning lift-the-flap conclusion, rare.  This book ticks so many essential boxes in helping our youngest readers continue their reading journey with confidence and independence  knowing that the BEST books tell a story.  Miss 3 adored it and will be a Dahl/Blake fan for life, just like Miss Almost-12!

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

Mark Lee

Chris Jevons

Carolrhoda Books, 2018 

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781512426014

“If you ask me, a best friend is the best thing in the world .  Best friends enjoy the same things. They play together all the time. and they always get along with each other.”

So it was never going to end well when one wanted to be the captain of the spaceship and the other, the captain of the pirate ship.  Harsh words are said, a friendship is split and a new best friend has to be found.  But dogs, cats, hamsters and even goldfish have their drawbacks as best friends and so…

This seamless combination of text and illustrations challenges the concept that many little people have that best friends are like peas in a pod, liking and doing the same things at the same time and never being different.  Is it possible to have different ideas and do different things and still be best friends? If someone disagrees with us, does that mean the friendship is doomed or does it offer an opportunity to explore and respect the differences, perhaps even learn something new?  Can we have more than one friend at a time? How is a best friend different from a regular friend? While in this book the friends look similar, is this a pre-requisite to being friends?  How do shared values and beliefs affect friendships? Is it OK to be angry with or disappointed in or surprised by your best friend?

“What is a friend?” is a perennial topic in early childhood education and this book can take the conversation a step further by having the children consider those sorts of questions. Having friends is about being a friend and there are many facets to that.

 

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Ben Long

David Cornish

Ford Street, 2018 

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

9781925736038

“By the corals of the ocean, where it’s quiet, calm and cool, 

an octopus named Jasper dragged his tentacles to school.

He felt that counting jellyfish was too much of a struggle.

“I just can’t do it,” Jasper said. “I’d rather learn to juggle.”

And so, with the help of some obliging jellyfish, he did.  First he tried throwing them all in the air but they splattered everywhere, so on the wise advice of freckle he started with just one, then two then three, then four.  But four proved a bit of a challenge so it was time for some more advice, this time from Curlywurly and soon Jasper discovered he could count way past the original five!

With its unique concept, rhyming text that is LOL funny, and bright bold pictures, this is a charming counting book that will engage the young reader because it has a real story to it.  It’s more than just pointing, matching and counting underscoring the book’s message that we can learn anything if we find a way that suits us.  And there is so much more in the story than just being able to count to 12, all of which would lend itself to some splendid artwork that could explain all that the children have learned while they’ve been having such fun.

Superb.

The All New Must Have Orange 430

The All New Must Have Orange 430

The All New Must Have Orange 430

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The All New Must Have Orange 430

Michael Speechley

Penguin Viking, 2018

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

9780143788973

Remember the fidget spinners of last year that were the essential, all-new, must-have for kids?  The beyblades? The shopkins? And a hundred other toys that clever advertising has made top-of-the-toy-parade but which fade as quickly as they appear?  Well, Harvey had them all – and then some! Boxes and buckets full of them! So when he heard about The All New Must Have Orange 430 then he had to have that too.

The only thing that was empty in Harvey’s room was his money box but after checking everything and everywhere he finally found enough coins to be able to buy his latest desire.  So intent was he on owning it that he didn’t notice the huge April Fools’ Sale sign or that this  All New Must Have Orange 430 sat on a shelf surrounded by items such as dead batteries, free fat, grey fluff and even a lead balloon! He was only focused on having The All New Must Have Orange 430!

When he got home he eagerly unwrapped it.  It had EVERYTHING _ a thingy that did nothing; a whatsit that did squat; a dooverlacky that was whacky; and a something that was silly.  But what did it do? No matter what he did, it did nothing and he finally realised it was “actually completely useless.”

So he decided to take it back – and then his life changed forever.

In a world that seems to be all about having the latest and greatest, keeping-up-with-the-Jones is paramount and we are bombarded by advertisements in every aspect of our lives (even in public toilets),  this book is a breath of fresh air.  As parents find it easier to give into pester power than suffer the sulks of a firm “no’ as their children mimic their own consumer-driven behaviour, the ideas of looking for value or even restraint and second thoughts seems to have disappeared in this age of instant gratification. So to have a well-written, superbly illustrated book that compels the reader to think before they buy is excellent and will serve as a brilliant teaching tool to introduce the power of advertising, peer pressure, impulse buying, the value of money and even saving for something that seems to be beyond the mindset of so many, including Miss 12! Maybe, for those who are a little older, there could be an examination of the psychology that drives the need to belong, to be one of the flock rather than individual.

Its sepia tones used for all but The All New Must Have Orange 430 add to its layers as they depict what appears to be a beige life with the only spot of colour being a new purchase. But once the brief thrill of the purchase is made, and everyone has what the other does, it too fades to beige in anticipation of the next best-thing.  

As nearly all of us seek more and more storage for more and more stuff, swearing that we will declutter someday soon, reading and taking heed of the important themes of this book may help our younger students refrain from being Harveys in the first place!  

Definitely one for Miss 12 and Miss 7 – perhaps even their parents!  And definitely one for any unit of work that focuses on consumerism and marketing. 

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Leaf

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2018 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925736007

In the centre of the local town there are huge trees, planted generations ago and now the source of the most stunning leaf show in autumn that children and adults alike love to swoosh through, making them scatter, building piles to fall into and have some great free fun on Mother Nature.  

And so it is with Elly and Mai on this “cold-sun sort of day, this wind-in-the-branches day.  Both are in the park and they meet as they kick their way through the rustling, crunching piles, each searching for that perfect leaf and eventually finding something even more special.  Is there a perfect leaf to be found?  Is it yellow as butter or red as a summer apple? Delicate as gold or crimson velvet? Like a warm flame on a winter’s day of rain or like the sun on your face on a day so cold that your breath steams like a dragon’s? Does it matter if there is a tear, a mark or a hole or do they all have a special magic?

The language, the pictures, the colours of this story make the fun of playing in autumn leaves that we all remember burst from the page in a joyous celebration of childhood delight.  Young readers will readily relate to Elly and Mai and their special quest while adult readers will have a smile of reminiscence. Apart from the riot of colour, Andrew has also hidden lots of little woodland dwellers in the shapes and shadows pictures – you can find the list in the teachers’ notes  – so the reader is encouraged to not only look at the details in the picture but also to look more closely at the natural world that surrounds them so that something like a pile of autumn leaves becomes a full sensory experience.  Perhaps they, too, will find the magic as Elly and Mai did. 

Each time I receive a book with Andrew Plant’s name on it (The Poppy, Spark and Glitch) I look forward  to something special – and this is no different. A wonderful kickstart to asking “Why do the leaves change colour?” and all the STEM activities associated with that.

Scaredy Cat

Scaredy Cat

Scaredy Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scaredy Cat

Heather Gallagher

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2018 

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

9781925594171

“Have you seen my Scaredy Cat?

He’s afraid of this and afraid of that…”

There are many things that put fear into her beloved pet like “noise and walking toys and  calling, sprawling, brawling boys”  but the little girl is very brave and protective and happy to keep him safe.

The repetitive text, rhyme and rhythm make this a catchy story to read and share and the clean, crisp illustrations provide lots to enjoy but don’t overwhelm the page so that the reader can still have fun trying to find Scaredy Cat in them.  He’s there in each one.  The ending is quite unexpected. 

One to make us think about how far we would go for our pets. 

 

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.

Let’s Visit the Olobobs

Let's Visit the Olobobs

Let’s Visit the Olobobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Visit the Olobobs

Leigh Hodgkinson

Bloomsbury Children’s, 2018

12pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9781408897621

Olobob Top is a children’s television series currently screening on ABC Kids in Australia. It follows a group of young creative creatures called the Olobobs. Tib, Lalloo and Bobble live in a big forest and have fun playing, exploring and solving everyday problems. In each episode, they work together combining shapes, colours and patterns to create a new character, who joins in with the Olobobs’ fun, while a friendly narrator encourages them to think for themselves to solve everyday problems using their imagination and creativity.

So this lift-the-flap book and its companion Make Your Own Olobob Home an activity book that demands their input will encourage very young readers to find their favourite characters in another medium.

Make Your Own Olobob Home

Make Your Own Olobob Home

Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of KMart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading.  To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own page, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey. 

Focusing on shapes, colours and patterns both of these titles (with several more to come over the next two years) encourage interaction and learning and demonstrate the rigorous quality required for books for even our earliest readers these days. 

 

What are Stars?

What are Stars?

What are Stars?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are Stars?

Katie Daynes

Marta Alvarez Miguens

Usborne, 2017

12pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

9781474924252

As soon as children are old enough to see the night sky and the stars, they have questions about them…

What are stars?

Can I visit a star?

How many stars are there?

Which star is the nearest?

Are all stars the same?

These, and others, are answered in this lift-the-flap book especially designed to answer the questions of  very young readers.  With several flaps on each page to lift, they can discover so much about the worlds that are revealed after the sun sets, the curtains are drawn and the lights turned off.

Driven by providing answers to questions, it is a great introduction to the inquiry process and information literacy as the child learns to seek answers, searching for them in different places and  discovering that often, answers lead to even more questions.

Young readers will delight in learning new things and sharing their developing knowledge. 

 

 

Waves – for those who come across the sea

Waves - for those who come across the sea

Waves – for those who come across the sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waves – for those who come across the sea

Donna Rawlins

Heather Potter  & Mark Jackson

Black Dog, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781925381641

“If you are not an Indigenous Australian, your family have, at some stage, come to Australia from across the waves.”

“Every journey is perilous, every situation heartbreaking. Every refugee is a person forced by famine or war or fear to leave their
home, their families, their friends and all they know. Children have travelled on the waves of migration to the shores of Australia for
tens of thousands of years. This book tells some of their stories.” 

In this poignant narrative non fiction that begins with endpapers forming a timeline of people and their vessels from 50 000 years ago to the present, we meet the fictional children who are representative of all those who have come before as they tell their stories of their situation and circumstances and their anticipation for a new life in a new land. War, famine and fear have forced each of them to leave all that is familiar and escape across the treacherous seas to safety and security with the waves of migration almost as regular as  those that hit our shores interminably.  

Somewhat reminiscent of the iconic My Place by Nadia Wheatley, each double-page spread presents a new child’s story, a snippet of the life that set them on the waves and the life they hope to have, softly and superbly illustrated to give life to the words. 

From Anak who arrives by raft from Indonesia to settle in northern coastal Australia 55 000 years ago to  the refugees of the the present day, it demonstrates how this nation has been shaped by those who have sought solace, safety and security here.  But as well as bringing to life this country’s chronological migration history, it is also an opportunity to spark students’ interest in their own stories and to investigate the circumstances that brought their families across the waves.  Naturally this would have to be done with some sensitivity as not all would be stories that parents would want to be shared especially if there were difficult or traumatic circumstances but it could fill parts of the identity jigsaw as well as stimulate greater understanding and empathy for others.

Teachers’ notes focusing on the History and English strands of the Australian Curriculum for Years 3-6+ are available. 

If we are to put human faces to our history so that its study has relevance, meaning and connection for our young students, this is a must-have to be in every collection and to be promoted. It is indeed part of Australia: Story Country.