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The Birthday Invitation

The Birthday Invitation

The Birthday Invitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birthday Invitation

Lucy Rowland

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408862995

Tomorrow is a very special day for Ella -it’s her birthday party.  She finishes writing the invitations and hurries through the woods to deliver them to her friends.  But she is so excited she doesn’t realise she has dropped one and that it is picked up by a wizard.  And so begins a remarkable journey for the invitation, one that means Ella is going to have the best celebration ever! Wizards, pirates, a princess and all sorts of interesting guests turn up – and each has a tale to tell about how they got there!

Written in rhyme which keeps the pace and action moving at a fast clip, this is a charming story that will engage and delight.  Laura Hughes’s bright detailed illustrations are sheer pleasure and the invitation almost comes to life leaving the reader to wonder where it will land next.  

As well as engaging young readers in its fun and light-heartedness, it’s also a great vehicle for focusing on sequencing and mapping the story.  Positional words such as first, next, after can be explored as a map of the invitation’s journey is constructed.  And for those who feel they have to, there is also an opportunity to investigate rhyming patterns as many of the couplets end with words with the same sound but a different spelling pattern.But I think the children will have much more fun thinking of the unique gifts that each character might give Ella for her birthday.

 

Ambulance Ambulance!

Ambulance Ambulance!

Ambulance Ambulance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambulance Ambulance!

Sally Sutton

Brian Lovelock

Walker Books, 2017

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

9781925126303

The nee nar nee nar nee nar wail of an ambulance siren is a familiar sound to many young children, particularly those in bigger towns and cities and there are few people who don’t pause to think about its destination and the fate of the person waiting to hear its cry.  

In this book for early childhood, we follow the paramedics as they are called to an emergency and see what they do both inside and outside the vehicle.  In bold rhyming text it helps dispel some of the fear that often surrounds such situations allowing the young child to have a little insight if they or one of their family or friends ever requires an ambulance. 

Clear illustrations and lots of sound and action words give the story pace and vigour and they will love to join in and make the siren sound for you. Even though author and illustrator are a New Zealand team, this is a story that could take place anywhere – some things are universal. 

A story that gives reassurance and peace of mind, as well as gratitude that we have access to such emergency services and the perfect starter for learning about how and when to call 000, being able to stay calm and know your name and address.

I’ll Love You Always

I'll Love You Always

I’ll Love You Always

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Love You Always

Mark Sperring

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A13.99

9781408873335

How long will I love you?
A second is too short.
A second is no time
for a love of this sort.
A minute is no better,
for minutes fly by!
They’re gone in a moment
like a sweet butterfly.
Moving through the day, the seasons and then the years, Mother Mouse’s ode to her child and everlasting love will reassure children that they are lovable and loved and will be always.  “Love you to the moon and back” is something our little ones hear often but this story, told in rhyme and accompanied by charming pictures that just ooze warmth and love, expresses that concept in a way that little ones can understand.  The affirmation that a mother’s love is never-ending, even when our offspring challenge us, is so important and this is a wonderful way of helping them understand that, especially as there are lots of other mums depicted in the pictures. This is a universal feeling, not one confined to Mother Mouse and her baby.

Time is such a nebulous and abstract idea that children find it difficult to get their heads around it, but this delightful story helps to explain it by quantifying the measurements in order.  A second is so short we can but blink, but there are many things we can do in an hour or a morning, while nighttime brings its own unique activities and each season its features.  

A perfect lullaby-type story to draw the curtains on the day for our little people.

Gecko’s Echo

Gecko's Echo

Gecko’s Echo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gecko’s Echo

Lucy Rowland

Natasha Rimmington

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408859490

Once there was a gecko
and she lived inside a cave.
She was very, very small
but she was also really brave.

Not only was she brave, but she was also very smart.  For inside her cave were three gecko eggs that needed to be guarded day and night because there were many crafty creatures who thought that gecko eggs would make a tasty snack.  But she was ready for them and when Snake slithered by at sunrise looking for his breakfast she told him he would need to be very brave because inside the cave were 100 geckos! And just one shout would bring them out.  But Snake didn’t have his brave on so he slithered on.

Eagle also thought gecko eggs would make a tasty lunchtime treat but she too turned away when threatened with 100 geckos waiting for her.  But come evening, when Rat was looking for his dinner he wasn’t intimidated.  In fact he decided to call Mother Gecko’s bluff…

Clever use of rhyme and charming illustrations carry this tale of courage and trickery along and young readers will really enjoy the fact that Mother Gecko can outsmart her enemies.  They will also enjoy investigating how echoes are created – they are fascinated by them and whenever you take a child into a tunnel or an underpass or wherever conditions are perfect, they delight in shouting and hearing their voice come back to them.  Why does that happen?  A perfect kickstart for a science lesson as well as a good story!

 

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ready, Steady, Hatch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ben Long

David Cornish

Ford Street, 2017

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

9781925272536

Way down yonder in the pumpkin patch, ten little eggs were beginning to hatch.  As they did, they danced and twirled – it was time to go and see the world.  But the last little chick gets distracted by a large cherry, unseen by the others who marched on to meet their mother.  But she was very concerned when she counted them because that morning there were ten and now there were only nine! So with Mother Hen in front they set out on a hunt to find the missing chick.  But no matter how or where they searched, they had no luck until…

This is a rollicking romp in rhyme which will appeal to young readers as they enjoy the language, the search and the charming illustrations which add so much action and sound you are drawn into the story. The rhythm of the rhyme is reinforced as the chicks march to the musical notes and then drum on logs and stomp their feet trying to bring the little one out of hiding.  

There is something about the theme of Chooks in Books that has always appealed, perhaps because it lends itself to lots of research such as investigating whether chickens are the only creatures that start life as eggs as well as lots of artwork for there are so many ways to create chickens to build a class mural to retell the story, surround with chook facts, and build a wall of Chooks in Books stories. Imagine how much easier the concept of 10 and ordinal numbers will become as the children identify the subtle differences between the line of chooks and then line themselves up like the chickens and march or run or creep around to the beat of a drum.   

Ben Long and David Cornish have created a story that will capture the attention of little ones and reaffirm their understanding that there is much fun to be had between the pages of the book. 

 

Winnie the Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt

The Great Heffalump Hunt

The Great Heffalump Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winnie the Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt

Giles Andreae

Egmont, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781405278300

Piglet trotted happily beside his best friend Pooh.

Talking about nothing much as best friends often do.

When suddenly Pooh stopped and said, “I’ve got a Grand Idea”.

“I’m going to catch a Heffalump. I’ve heard they live around here.”

Giles Andreae of Giraffes Can’t Dance fame has taken this wonderful and well-known adventure of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and reinterpreted into a delightful rhyme and pictorial experience.  More than 90 years on from the first publication of the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Tigger inspired by a real-life bear  Milne’s stories are as enchanting and popular as ever so to have this one in a picture book version for our youngest readers is a treat indeed.  

As well as providing a taste of the delights of what is in the original collection, it celebrates friendship, bravery and the imagination, even providing the basis for an inquiry project for beginners.  Just what is a Heffalump, what does it look like, and what would be the best way to catch it?  Each child could create their own version, design a suitable trap and bait and maybe even start to consider whether catching wild creatures is ever a good idea.  Those a little older might even start to investigate the role of zoos and how they’ve changed, particularly given Winnie’s origins.

Even though this is an adaptation of a classic, in its new form there are so many layers to explore that it is perfect as a standalone., and another generation will learn to love this lovable bear and his endearing friends.

 

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger, Tiger

Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781848694446

Mother Tiger has somewhere she needs to be so she leaves her cub in the care of Old Tiger.  But while Little Cub wants to play and explore, Old Tiger thinks he is too old to babysit and just wants to sleep.  But he consents to a “very slow stroll”  through country he has seen so many times that he believes “There’s nothing to see around her any more.”  But he doesn’t factor in the joy and enthusiasm and fresh eyes of the very young and gradually his grey, tired world takes on new colours and new life.

With plenty of action words that young readers will love and relate to as well as text that sometimes rhymes, this is a story that moves from shadow to light as Old Tiger rediscovers the sights of his youth and even begins to take the lead in the play.  Sometimes, as we age and life seems to weigh heavily at times, we forget to take delight in the everyday things that surround us so this story is a reminder that we need to make time for the simple and that there is fun to be had without always having to be entertained by external things.

Lambert is first and foremost an illustrator and that’s evident not just in the detail in the pictures but in the way he has used colour to reflect Tiger’s perception of the world.  At first the jungle is dull and grey but as the adventure continues the colours brighten and the details are more intense and lush.  The reader sees more and more just as Old Tiger does.

A great book for little ones and older ones alike.

 

 

Once Upon an ABC

Once Upon an ABC

Once Upon an ABC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once Upon an ABC

Sophie Masson

Christopher Nielsen

Little Hare, 2017

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

9781760128432

A is for Anansi, both clever and neat,

B is for Brer Rabbit with tar-sticky feet…”

This is a clever romp-in-rhyme through the characters of familiar fairy tales and folktales that will bring back memories of loved stories as well as suggest new ones to explore. Who is Herd Boy?  Why was the Nymph protecting her tree? And why is ‘ugly’ just a disguise?  Perfect for extending children’s reading into traditional tales from a range of countries as they try to match character with story.

But while the illustrations are quirky, I’m not so sure that the target audience is attracted to these muted, retro colours that seem to be so prominent in children’s books at the moment. My experience of 45 years with littlies is that children will view the cover as quite dull and pass it over in favour of something more eye-catching, so that while the text is brilliant it will take an adult’s encouragement to entice the child to explore it.  

Concept is great, presentation not so.

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!

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