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Chook Doolan (Series)

Chook Doolan

Chook Doolan

 

 

 

 

 

Chook Doolan (series)

James Roy

Lucinda Gifford

Walker Books, 2017

64pp., pbk., RRP $A7.99

Chook is not his real name – that’s Simon – but he’s earned his nickname because he is anxious and scared about many things, even everyday encounters, and “chook” is another word for chicken.  Let’s Do Diwali, Up and Away, On the Road and Unhappy Camper are the latest releases in this series  especially designed for the young reader making the transition from basal reader to novels. 

In each story, Chook faces a situation that scares him such as working with new people,  speaking in public, being in a crowd, playing with strangers, sleeping away from home and he has to draw on his inner reserves to deal with each one.  Often circumstances are that he becomes involved in events and doesn’t realise that he has overcome his fear and come out the other side until it is all over, each time gaining a little more confidence. All the issues he faces are those that will be familiar to the young reader so they can draw strength and confidence from Chook’s success. 

Short chapters, large font and plenty of illustrations support the newly emerging reader and with such relevant topics told well this is a perfect series to entice even the reluctant reader into more challenging books and show them that this reading thing actually has something to offer them and they can be successful at it.  

The Big Bad Mood

The Big Bad Mood

The Big Bad Mood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Bad Mood

Tom Jamieson

Olga Demidova

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408839201

George is having a very bad day – an I can’t, I won’t, I don’t kind of day as he grumbles and shouts and stomps.  His mum tells him there is a big bad mood around him but George can’t see it and when he goes searching for it with no luck he gets even crankier.  Then suddenly, The Big Bad Mood is standing right in front of him!  Rough and smelly, it takes George by the hand and off they go to create mischief and mayhem.

At first it is fun but eventually…

Young children, and those around them, are no strangers to temper tantrums born of frustration as they push the boundaries of independence, but sometimes the stars are just not aligned and we wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  But right from the get-go we learn that expressing our displeasure through shouting and stomping is not acceptable and so there can be an expectation that we should be happy and cheerful all the time, never giving into whatever is making us feel less so.  Yet there can be no rainbows without rain and our lives are full of the ups and downs that give us light and shade so this is a wonderful kickstart to a discussion with little ones about whether it is ever OK to be angry and moody, and if so, how to deal with it. 

As George goes about his day with The Big Bad Mood, he slowly begins to realise the impact his mood and behaviour are having on those around him and his attitude starts to change and then his actions follow suit.  Little ones need to understand that being cranky is part of everyday life and it’s not a sin or a personality defect but it’s how they deal with the anger and frustration that shapes who they are, not just in the moment but long term as the responses we have become ingrained habits.  Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Often young people don’t have the vocabulary and the language skills to be able to articulate their frustration and that leads to even more tension but by having Olga Demidova’s illustrations that make the invisible visible they realise that bad moods are real, can be tangible and can be dealt with.  Equally important is acknowledging the feelings of those who have been affected by their attitude and actions and the power of saying sorry and trying to do better. Even though the target audience of this book are still too young to be able to step back and look at what is causing their mood objectively, nevertheless the patterns of their behaviour are being laid down so discussions about why they get cross and what they can do about it, as George did, are vital.

A perfect addition to your mindfulness collection!

Ava’s Spectacular Spectacles

Ava's Spectacular Spectacles

Ava’s Spectacular Spectacles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ava’s Spectacular Spectacles

Alice Rex

Angela Perrini

New Frontier, 2017

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

9781912076536

Ava does not like wearing her spectacles at school so she finds it difficult to see the board and read her books.  Her teacher understands this and knows she has to help Ava feel okay with wearing them so she begins to talk to Ava.  “If only Little Red Riding Hood had put on her glasses the day she went to visit her grandmother…she would have seen the big teeth and big eyes.”

Ava stops crying and Mrs Cook continues, gradually getting Ava to understand that wearing glasses is helpful and a good thing, not a badge of shame.

Every now and then you pick up a story that really resonates with you and Ava was me 60 years ago, right down to the red hair tied up in bunches. It’s as though illustrator Angela Perrini had been looking at my family photo albums (although we didn’t have coloured photos way back then!)  And then six years ago, it was my granddaughter who was Ava and in the intervening time, hundreds of other kids too. No one likes to be different when they are little and wearing glasses seems like a huge placard that tells others you are not 100% perfect and that somehow you are less than the other children in your class.  As a teacher of 45 years, I’ve seen it over and over although luckily there is much greater acceptance these days.  Oh, to have had a teacher as understanding and as smart as Mrs Cook.

This is a book that not only belongs in any collection for young readers but which should be actively promoted to both teachers and parents as a strategy for getting little ones to be comfortable with wearing their glasses rather than ashamed.  While Mrs Cook sticks to well-known stories and rhymes where 20/20 vision would have been helpful there would be plenty of incidents, real and imaginary, that teachers and parents could draw on to play the what-if game.  

So many children will see this book as a mirror and learn to love reading even more as they read about themselves, while others will see it as a window and begin to understand how self-conscious Ava and others feel and how they can be more empathetic. They might even explore other “disabilities” and the sorts of ways that science and technology can now assist in overcoming them comparing the advances to the days when no such help was available and life became a misery. 

Superb.

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.

Rose’s Red Boots

Rose's Red Boots

Rose’s Red Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose’s Red Boots

Maura Finn

Karen Erasmus

New Frontier, 2017

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

9780957988446

It’s a perfect Autumn day with fairy-floss clouds and a gentle breeze – ideal for pulling on your red boots, taking your dog and heading off to the open spaces to fly a kite.  

So that’s exactly what Rose and Banjo do – her little red boots marching, marching, marching merrily on their way. 

And what’s Autumn without playing in the leaves so your little red boots can be crunching, crunching, crunching to hear that crunching sound?

Rose and Banjo have a wonderful time exploring the sights and sounds of this season, all the time experiencing the sensations through those little red boots.  And when that beautiful blue sky turns threatening and rain and thunder and lightning shatter the idyll, they are still there to go racing, racing, racing…

Miss 6 adored this story as she has little red boots that she loves to pull on and go exploring and we had lots of fun investigating all the sorts of actions and sounds her boots could make on a particularly cold frosty morning.  Her favourite was the creaking, squeaking, creaking as she stomped on the ice in a frozen-solid puddle watching it splinter and crack as her boots sank into the muddy water beneath. That was closely followed by the thunking, clunking as she kicked them off ready to come into the warm for hot pikelets and jam!

The stunning illustrations capture the sights and sounds of Autumn perfectly and little people will enjoy not only recognising those they are familiar with but also anticipating what they can do the next time they pull their own little red boots on.   Both text and illustrations reinforce the idea that the journey is as important as the destination and there is fun and wonder to be had everywhere. The refrain encourages them to join in predicting what sound or action the boots will make as they extend their vocabulary and really engage with the story.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of Autumn being a time to wrap up in coats and hats and boots and go scrunching in the leaves, they might like to think about what their little red boots would do. while those who can relate might think about what the little red boots might do and see if the story were written in winter .

A great introduction to exploring the changing of the seasons.

 

 

Mosquitoes Can’t Bite Ninjas

Mosquitoes Can't Bite Ninjas

Mosquitoes Can’t Bite Ninjas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mosquitoes Can’t Bite Ninjas

Jordan P. Novak

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781681192154

Mosquitoes can bite all kinds of people–ballerinas, chefs, babies, even you and me. But they can’t bite . . . NINJAS! Mosquitoes might be quick, but ninjas are quicker. Mosquitoes might be sneaky, but ninjas are sneakier. And mosquitoes might be hungry, but ninjas are . . . hungrier!

And Ninjas certainly don’t bite mosquitoes unless…

With a particular television program inspiring mini-Ninjas in playgrounds all over the country, this is an amusing book that pits the greatest scourge of mankind against the power of a Ninja. As well as learning to be Ninjas from an early age, children also learn to recognise that familiar whine of the female mosquito looking for blood and how to slap them dead as soon as they can so they will relate to the peskiness of these creatures and be glad that it meets its end, even if in an ugly way.  

The cartoon-like illustrations expand the minimal text very well, adding a lot of character and expression particularly to the mosquito who is clearly  intent on doing evil,  While there is no actual violence portrayed there are several instances where the mosquito comes off second-best and the reader can use the clues to conclude just what has happened.   Perfect for getting young readers to examine the illustrations to make the most of the story.

This is one reader, highly allergic to the venom of these creatures, who would be very glad if MANY mosquitoes were harmed in the making of this book!

Brambleheart

Brambleheart

Brambleheart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brambleheart

Henry Cole

Katherine Tegen Books

288pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780062245441

Naming Day at the school on The Hill -an old rubbish dump on the edge of the woods – is the most important day for the students because it is then that they get their surnames based on their expertise in particular disciplines such as metal craft and weaving.  Chipmunk Twig, who prefers to read discarded picture books rather than the old instruction manuals preferred by the other students, is struggling to excel and seems destined to become a lonely Errand Runner. Shamed and embarrassed he runs away, falls into a river and when he reaches the shore he finds a golden egg from which hatches a dragon.  And suddenly his fortunes change – or do they?

Miss 11, an avid reader, was drawn to this book on a recent visit because it is the sort of story she likes and she immediately put her nose into it. However her comments afterwards suggested it did not live up to expectations.  Even though the writing is descriptive,  she said she was glad there were the pictures to help because her imagination wasn’t drawing them for her.

She felt that the storyline did not match her predictions and there were several gaps that were unexplained such as how Twig got back upriver; what is making Char the dragon so sick; enemy Basil’s change of heart and how Lily, banned from seeing Twig manages to accompany him on the final adventure.  She wasn’t keen on the up-in-the-air, to-be-continued ending which left the story unresolved until the sequel Bayberry Island is read. Sadly, Grandma didn’t have it. Perhaps if she did and all the loose ends were tied up she might have enjoyed it more.

Friendship and the ethics of keeping animals captive and cheating to achieve a goal are the themes of this story but to Miss 11, the target audience for the story, they were lost in her confusion of the story.

Unusual for me to publish a less-than-positive review but when you have the critique of the intended audience, it’s hard to ignore it.  

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!

 

Glitch

Glitch

Glitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitch

Michelle Worthington

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2017

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

9781925272710

Glitch, a trembly, twittery,twitchy kind of bug built amazing creations from the things that he found on the rubbish dump where he lived.  It really was a case of one man’s trash being another’s treasure.  His best friend June was a much calmer bug as well as being the best billycart driver ever.  Glitch spent his time rummaging through the mountains of mouldy mess deposited daily by the dump trucks trying to build June the best billycart ever.  But even though he managed to do that, they had never won a race.  Somehow, despite June’s brilliant driving, Glitch’s issues as the co-driver denied them victory.

So this time, June decides that Glitch will be the driver – a thought that terrifies him and has him seeking all sorts of excuses why not.

Full of alliteration that give it pace and rhythm this is a story that will delight young readers and culminates in something they will resonate with – having to put their brave on and do something that scares them. Great for getting the children to think about what they are afraid of and considering taking the first step to vanquish it.  Andrew Plant, illustrator of the magnificent Spark   and the brilliant The Poppy has really let his imagination go wild and got down and dirty amongst the rubbish heaps to bring the story to life and show how the most mundane things can be repurposed.  With makerspaces the current big thing in school libraries, this is the perfect book to challenge students to make a billycart for a bug using recycled and repurposed materials.

Miss 6, whose first task at Joeys was to help build a raft from drink bottles, is right into recycling so she is going to love this.  Such a strong message told in such an entertaining way.