Archives

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!

The Whirlpool

The Whirlpool

The Whirlpool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whirlpool

Emily Larkin

Helene Magisson

Wombat Books, 2017

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

9781925563047

Life is lovely for Polar Bear Cub.  He has a happy, loving family where he is safe and protected.  He has friends and dreams for the future. Each day is better than the last and he is in charge of his life.  Even the stars shine just for him.

But suddenly all that is snatched away.  Without warning, darkness descends and there is no family or friends.  No hopes and dreams. Loneliness is his only companion – not even the stars are there for him.

Born from a uni assignment of using words and pictures together to make meaning, this is an unusual story because as the text speaks directly to the reader, it is the pictures of Polar Bear Cub that provide such a graphic interpretation of what they are saying, even though there is no reference to him in the words themselves. Together, they give depth and understanding to a situation that many of our children find themselves in when disaster and catastrophe strike their lives and all that is familiar is gone. Even its title is symbolic of the range of emotions that are within us, sometimes raging out of control but always eventually calming to a manageable level.

To children, some things – such as the coming of Santa Claus – seem to take forever, while to adults the time passes in a flash.  Similarly, to a child darkness lasts forever with no hope of light and their emotions are intense.  This book is written “for kids to know that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions. It’s okay to feel lonely, sad or uncertain – but these times don’t have to last. ”  

The well-being, particularly the mental health, of our students is receiving more and more focus in our curriculum as mindfulness programs are seen as crucial to a student’s success in other areas so this is an timely addition to that collection of resources to initiate discussions and provide support.

Nanna’s Button Tin

Nanna's Button Tin

Nanna’s Button Tin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nanna’s Button Tin

Dianne Wolfer

Heather Potter

Walker Books, 2017

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

9781922077677

Poor Ted.  He has been cuddled so hard for so long he has lost his eye and needs a new one.  And so it is Nanna’s button tin to the rescue.  It’s a special tin with all sorts of buttons – surely there will be one that is just right for Ted. One that is just the right size, just the right shape and just the right colour. Perhaps it is the yellow one that was on the baby jacket worn home from hospital – but no, it is too shiny-bright.  Maybe the brown, bear-shaped button from the birthday jumper; or the angel ones sewn on to the snuggly to protect a sick little girl.  For every button in the button tin has a special story and an important memory to be shared.  But none is quite right until… and a new story and a new memory are made.

In the days of the Great Depression and World War II, when make-do-and-mend was the mantra, mums everywhere saved buttons off outgrown clothes, pieces of string and all sorts of things for the day they would be needed again.  Button tins were the norm and many a young girl of the 50s had a special treat of being able to upend the tin, sort through the gems and hear family stories that may well have been forgotten if the connections were not made.  In these days of zippers, stretch fabrics and throwaway fashion one wonders how such family memories will be passed on.

This is a warm, wrap-you-in-a-hug story perfectly illustrated in a retro palette with gentle lines and details that will bring back memories of the button tin to many grandmothers sharing the story with their little ones.  And for more modern mums, it might be the inspiration to gather those special clothes together so a memory quilt can be made so the stories can be passed on.  For it is those intimate family details that continue our heritage as much as the monoliths of the past.  Who would have thought something as small and innocuous as a button could spawn so much, not the least an amazing book that needs to be on every family shelf.

This one is on its way to someone with her very own memories of her nanna’s button tin and a tin full of memories to share with her granddaughters.

Caterpillar Dreams

Caterpillar Dreams

Caterpillar Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caterpillar Dreams

Clive McFarland

Harper, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062386366

Henri is a little caterpillar with a big ambition.  He wants to fly and go on an amazing, incredible, impossible-seeming adventure to see the world outside his garden.  But how can such a little caterpillar make such a huge dream come true?

His friends want him to stay where he is – safely in the garden with them.  But Toad tells if if he doesn’t chase his dreams, they will get away.  And so with the help of other friends like Bird, Mole, and Fish he is on his way.  But it is not until he sees a tethered hot air balloon that he believes his amazing, incredible, impossible-seeming adventure will begin.  If he can get to the top he is sure he will be able to see the whole wide world.  But as he begins to crawl up the ropes, something happens to him and he finds himself shackled and sleepy.  And then when he wakes…

This is a charming story that will appeal to young readers, especially those who know the life cycle of butterflies and can predict what will happen to Henri.  But it is also an inspiring story about believing in yourself, having a dream and making it happen, even if it means stepping w-a-y outside your comfort zone.  It’s ending is comforting – knowing that there is nearly always a safe haven we can return to.  It is a soft, gentle story cleverly echoed in the soft gentle palette and is a perfect bedtime read as children snuggle down to their own dreams.

Brothers from a Different Mother

Brothers from a Different Mother

Brothers from a Different Mother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brothers from a Different Mother

Phillip Gwynne

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Penguin Viking 2017

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

9780670078486

Tapir lives in the jungle and Pig lives in the village but they meet at a common waterhole where they each go to play.  W  brothers or sisters of their own, they recognise they are similar but different but the differences don’t stop them eventually playing together, having fun swimming, chasing butterflies, wallowing in the mud and looking for yummy things to eat.  They decide they are brothers from a different mother.

But when their fathers discover they are playing with each other, they are forbidden to mix with each other – simply because they are pig and tapir and thus different.  Pig and Tapir are very unhappy and lonely and so they decide to disobey their fathers.  Tapir heads for the village while Pig goes to the jungle, each meeting with opposition to their search but determined to forge on.  And when they do meet up, all the fun is back on again as they wallow in the mud.  But then their fathers come looking for them..

Superbly illustrated, this is a tale that reflects what happens in the schoolyard with kids all the time.  They look for similarities not differences and friendships are as diverse as the children.  Racist, ethnic, religious, economic and social differences are not part of their perspectives – those are concepts imposed on them by adults.  Using a saying that is currently popular amongst close friends, Gwynne has brought to life its true meaning and as well as creating a charming story he has offered a great springboard for discussions about acceptance, tolerance, diversity, inclusivity and understanding as our children encounter all these things every day in the playground.  One might suggest that there are adults in this world who could learn more from this story than their children.

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms

Will Mabbitt

Puffin, 2017

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

9780141375182

 “This book is about worms. (I can only draw worms.) “

And so that’s just what we are presented with.  Bright hot-pink worms (except for one yellow one because he lost his pen) that mix and mingle and get to know each other and have adventures, all of which the reader has to imagine because the author can only draw worms.  Set on white page juxtaposed with some really bright backgrounds the reader is drawn in, but while the blurb suggests that the book is “hilarious” and guaranteed to have children howling with laughter” I think there is a gap between the age of the reader that it visually appeals to and that able to grasp the humour.

It’s different, it’s quirky, it’s definitely bright and young readers will love to join in the counting aspect as Mabbitt brings this most humble creature to life., encouraging them to use their imagination to fill in all the missing illustrations because he can only draw worms.  

Gary

GAry

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary

Leila Rudge

Walker Books, 2016

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

9781925081695

Most of the time Gary is like all the other racing pigeons in the loft.  He eats what they do, sleeps with them and is always dreaming of adventures.   He even keeps a scrapbook based on the information they share with him after a race because that’s where Gary is different.  He doesn’t go on the races because he cannot fly. He listens to everything they say and records it in his scrapbook – he has notes about wind speed and directions, stop off points and flight paths. as well as a lot of other stuff they collect for him.

So when one day Gary accidentally finds himself far from home, his scrapbook comes in very handy. His brain becomes more important than his wings and suddenly he has adventures of his own to share that the other pigeons envy.

This is an engaging and clever combination of text and illustrations that require the reader to really interact with them in order to discover how Gary solved his problem. The reason for Gary’s disability is not disclosed – it could be physical or emotional – suggesting that it is not important; what is important is that he overcomes it and leads a full and happy life.  In fact, as in real life often, his adventures inspire others.  Gary, in his cute striped beanie and the racing pigeons in the red-hot jumpers will quickly become favourites with young readers – it deserves to be part of the CBCA 2017 shortlist for Early Childhood..

 

 

 

 

Playtime with Ted

Playtime with Ted

Playtime with Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playtime with Ted

9781408880807

Bedtime with Ted

9781408880791

Sophy Henn

Bloomsbury, 2017

10pp., board, RRP $aA12.99

For the reading delight of toddlers comes a new series of lift-the-flap books featuring Ted who has an amazing imagination and makes fun from the most mundane things- things that the little readers will recognise and relate to. 

In Playtime with Ted he has extraordinary adventures in what, to the adult eye, is an ordinary cardboard box but which to Ted is a racing car, a digger, a submarine – even a rocketship!

In Bedtime with Ted the nightly routine of bathing, teeth-cleaning, having a final class of milk are made all the more fun when you share them with some unusual friends.

Perfect for teaching our newest readers that not only is there fun in books and stories but they have the power to manipulate the story as they guess what might be under the flap and then lift it to find out.  And even if their predictions don’t match the pictures, that’s okay because they’ve had fun bringing what they know to the words.  Good stuff!

 

Millie Loves Ants

Millie Loves Ants

Millie Loves Ants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millie Loves Ants

Jackie French

Sue deGennaro

Angus $ Robertson, 2017

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

9781460751787

Ants are the most numerous insect in the world -scientists estimate there are more than 10 000 species and maybe 100 000 trillion individuals – which is a good thing because Millie the echidna loves them.  No matter where they are – on the path, beneath the bath, in the kitchen, in the shed, on a picnic, in the bed – Millie is on an endless quest to eat as many as she can.  Whether it’s a hunter ant, a soldier ant or even a queen flying before rain, she is on their trail because she is on a special mission…

Echidnas are not uncommon in the bush environment from rainforests to dry sclerophyll forests to the arid zones and with their formidable spines and remarkable ability to grip the ground, even hard concrete so they cannot be disturbed, it is no wonder they are are the oldest surviving mammal on the planet today. Knowing that author Jackie French lives in the bush environment in south-east New South Wales, one can imagine her watching an echidna snuffle across her backyard on the trail and this delightful book being born as she pondered its search and brought it to life in rhyme. 

While Millie continues her dogged pursuit, which is such a steady but remarkably speedy pace,  artist Sue deGennaro adds movement and humour in her portrayal of the ants who are as clever as they are numerous.  We’ve all seen them carrying food bigger than they are but who would have thought they could manoeuvre four cupcakes and a suite of garden tools!! And in amongst the frivolity there is a lot of information about the benefits of these tiny creatures to our landscape and lives, even if we do see them as pesky annoyances in the sugarbowl! 

Having endeared us to the ants through these charming pictures, we then discover the reason for Millie’s journey and hearts melt all over again – while a lesson in life is learned. We need food to provide food.  Little readers will not only understand echidnas a little more after experiencing this book but they will also view ants in a different light and perhaps take time to observe and think about what the ants are doing before hitting them with a spray or a foot.

Extensive teachers’ notes are available as well as a poster but this copy is winging its way to Queensland for Miss Almost 2 just for the share joy and delight of the words, the rhyme, the pictures and her love of stories that is already well-cemented because of tales like this.

A frequent visitor

A frequent visitor

 

Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?

Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?

Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?

Eric Carle

Picture Puffin UK, 2017

10pp., board, RRP $A16.99

9780141374352

The world was first introduced to the very hungry caterpillar as he munched his way through a menu of goodies almost 50 years ago!  Now he is back, hiding somewhere under the flaps waiting to be discovered by little fingers.  

With the bold colours and readily recognisable illustrations of the wondrous Eric Carle who has a gift of turning the mundane into the extraordinary, it’s time for little ones to have even more fun with the little caterpillar that so many of them already know and love.  And as well as recognising the familiar foods from the original story and perhaps even being able to read the words for them because of that, they can also learn what other tiny creatures inhabit the world beneath their feet and maybe tread a little more gently on this earth.

This ticks all the boxes about helping our first readers to understand the basic concepts about print that are so vital to their reading success, particularly making connections between this new story and the one they know as they learn to carry that knowledge and apply it to a new situation.  Brilliant from what might appear to be a humble board book!