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Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baz & Benz

Heidi McKinnon

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523688

‘Benz, are we friends?’
‘Yes, Baz, we are best friends’
‘For how long?’
‘For ever and ever.’

Baz and Benz are two little owls, and Baz is trying to discover how far he can push the boundaries of the friendship as he suggests all kinds of things he could do that might fracture the friendship.  But even when Benz gets annoyed, the friendship remains strong because Benz is very wise. 

From the creator of I Just Ate My Friend,  McKinnon once again explores the concept of friendship and what it takes to be a good friend.  As with her previous book, the illustrations are set against a plain night sky background, ensuring the young reader pays attention to the focal point and much of the emotion of both Baz and Benz comes through the facial expressions and body language. The story is carried in dialogue colour-coded to each character enabling very young readers to start developing early concepts about print. 

Perfect for preschoolers just learning about having friends and being one, as they reflect on their behaviour and its impact on those around them, as well as how other’s behaviour impacts on them. 

Lottie and Walter

Lottie and Walter

Lottie and Walter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie and Walter

Anna Walker

Puffin, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143787181

Lottie had a secret that neither her mother, baby brother or swimming teacher knew.  At the bottom of the learners’ pool lived a shark that only wanted to eat Lottie.  So every Saturday, Lottie would go to the pool, get changed, watch and wait and then get dressed again without getting wet.  But then she met Walter the Walrus who liked the things she did- books, bubbles and fish fingers. So she told him her fears.  Would Walter be able to help her before the pool party next Saturday?

Anna Walker, who created the iconic Mr Huff, has again used a child’s fear as a focus for her new picture book, exploring something common to many children and helping them understand that such fears can be overcome with a little help and imagination. Little people don’t always have the language yet to be able to articulate what is bothering them so Lottie’s use of a shark in the pool is a common device.  Even though her mother and swimming teacher might be able to prove to her there is no actual shark in the pool itself(if they knew it was there), nevertheless it masks something that Lottie can’t express yet.  The strength in the story lies in only Lottie knowing the secret and therefore only Lottie can sort it out, empowering her rather than making her dependent on grown-ups, demonstrating that both Lottie and the reader that little people can solve problems if given the space to do so.

Swimming is an essential skill that all Australian children need to master but there are many Lotties amongst them so this is a perfect book to share and discuss before swimming lessons begin, so that those who do have fears can realise they are not alone and can develop some strategies to overcome the “sharks in the water”. 

Tad

Tad

Tad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tad

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008212797

Tad was the smallest tadpole in the pond – so small she had to wiggle her tail twice as fast as her brothers and sisters to keep up – but that didn’t deter her from being brave.  Even though the others warned her about Big Blub, a great, big, nasty fish who was as old as the mud he lived in at the bottom of the pond, she wasn’t afraid  because she not only refused to believe in him but also made sure she kept to the shallow, sunny parts of the pond or hid carefully so he couldn’t find her – just in case he was real. But as the days went on, Tad’s sisters and brothers seem to be dwindling in numbers until at last she was the only one left.  And here comes Big Blub.  He is REAL.  What will she do?

Benji Davies has created a beautiful story that not only introduces young readers to the life cycle of frogs – a common topic in early biology curricula – but also to the concept of growing and changing and being brave enough to take the next step, generally.  With its stunning illustrations, it is full of opportunities and ideas to talk about, consolidating that special bond between reader and child and the stories they share.

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Juliet M Sampson

Karen Erasmus

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804218

Mrs Marino’s beautiful garden fascinates Grace and while she likes the veggie patch and the fish pond, it is the flowerbeds she loves best. And her favourite job is feeding the parrots their seeds, so when she comments that Polly likes a particular sort of seed and wonders what it is, Mrs Marino helps her investigate.  Firstly, she teaches Grace how to plant the seed properly and then helps her tend it till it grows.  But what sort of seed has she planted and what is the unique magic the particular species has?

Growing things always fascinates young people and this is a delightful story that will encourage them to try planting some seeds for themselves. The success of school kitchen gardens where students plant, nourish, harvest and eat the produce has been well-documented so any stories like this one that inspire them to go outside and get their hands dirty has got to be good.  There are teachers’ notes to assist both teacher and parent but the wonder of watching something grow is reward in itself.  The science side of things is obvious, but then there is always this to start a whole new exploration…

 

Stand Up for the Future

Stand Up for the Future

Stand Up for the Future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stand Up for the Future

Puffin Books, 2019

208pp.. hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780143794394

There will be many teachers and teacher librarians who will skim the contents of this book and be unfamiliar with most of the names, but to our students they will be very familiar because in this companion to Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women and High Five to the Boys: A Celebration of Ace Australian Men the focus is the heroes of the younger generation -the inventors, the conservationists, the sports people, the entrepreneurs and innovators whose names are so well-known to the current generation and whose names will feature in the “Famous Australians” contents pages of the future.

Using the same format as the other two of a clear one-page bio and a portrait by one of Australia’s leading illustrators, each of them an inspiring and aspiring young illustrator, this books celebrates the achievements of those who can see a brighter future for this nation and its peoples, one that is inclusive, socially and environmentally aware, and compassionate. 

From my own hero Cameron Remess, who at the age of nine taught himself to sew so he could make teddy bears for sick kids in hospital and has now made over 1700 bears and established his own charity Kindness Cruises  to Baker Boy 2019 Young Australian of the Year, there is an amazing group of young people featured who shine in many areas. 

This is an exuberant, uplifting book that needs to be in every library collection and promoted so our students  can find new role models, new directions and even new dreams, as well as understanding that paths to success can change directions, present obstacles to be overcome and that “failure can be a source of learning and inspiration”.

As with the others, all royalties are donated to The Smith Family.

Colouroos

Colouroos

Colouroos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colouroos

Anna McGregor

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734418821

In the Red Centre of Australia live the red kangaroos; in the Blue Mountains live the blue kangaroos; and on the Gold Coast live the yellow kangaroos.  When the drought drives each group from their traditional homes and they go in search of water and end up gathered around the same waterhole, they look at each other and think they are strange. But they all enjoy the cool water, are afraid of dingoes, leap on their long legs and eat the juicy grass and when, at night. “the colour left to dance in the sky above”, they all looked the same.  And strange things began to happen…

On the surface this is a delightful Australian story for our youngest readers about the mixing of colours to create new ones, and it does this very effectively, although the adult sharing it might have to explain how joeys arrive. Full of colour, rhythm and repetitive text it engages and perhaps inspires the young child to do some experimenting with their own paints and ask What happens when…? It could give rise to a host of science and art activities about colour and light.

But a deeper look could also lead the older reader into considering how humans also mix and match, mingle and marry and give birth to the continuing story of multiculturalism and diversity that makes each community so special. Not just colours interacting but also cultures, foods, sports …

If there is one book to put on your to-buy list in preparation for the next Harmony Day, this is it. The best picture books span the age groups seamlessly and this debut by this author/illustrator has nailed it.

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

Katie Daynes

Marie-Eve Tremblay

Usborne, 2019

14pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474953030

As the days go by and the calendar inexorably creeps towards the cooler months of the year, young students will start to notice that there is a change in the weather, the clothes they wear and the things they do.  Now there is football on television rather than cricket; they’re looking for a beanie rather than a sunhat and scruffling through the leaves is much more fun than crunching over dry, prickly grass.

So what causes these changes? This new lift-the-flap book from Usborne is another one in their excellent series that helps little ones understand the world around them using the interactivity of lifting the flap to find answers. Each question uses the simple language that children do – What are rainbows made of? How hot is the sun? – and the answers are just as direct, satisfying their immediate need. Grouped together under the headings Where, What, When, Why, How, Which, and Yes or No. finding the particular question is easy and the pictorial flaps make searching for the answer fun.  At the end, readers are challenged to offer explanations for some simple questions using what they have learned and there are even instructions for making their own water cycle using a ziplock bag! And, as is usual with these sorts of Usborne titles, there are Quicklinks to resources that provide more information for those who want to know more.

 As well as being ideal for early childhood, this is also a role model for older students as a presentation tool. Whatever the overall topic, each can pose a question that intrigues them (perfect for helping them develop the skill of asking questions rather than just answering them), find the answer and then collaborate to produce a text that covers a gamut of sub-topics so that the task is manageable, is engaging and is owned by them.

 

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Aitziber Lope

Luciano Lozano

Wide Eyed Editions, 2019

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

9781786037046

As the daytime temperatures drop and you enjoy the warmth of your car heater during the morning commute, are you aware that you can thank a woman for the privilege?

Or if you have a baby and bless the convenience of disposable nappies that it was a woman who invented the first prototype? Or if you have used technology involving wifi, bluetooth and GPS today, then that is also the idea of a woman beginning during World War II as a secret communication system between actress Hedy Lamarr and American composer George Antheil.

This intriguing book brings together “15 incredible inventions from inspiring women” , pioneered decades ago and now household items taken for granted.

Small, no-frills text giving just enough information to outline the what, why, where and when is set against large illustrations making this an ideal book for the emerging reader who wants to know the basic story behind such everyday items, not only setting them up to want to know more about these particular inventions but also setting them wondering about the story behind so many other things.  They say “necessity is the mother of invention” but how many of those inventors were actually mothers? 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With STEM subjects having such a focus in current curricula, to discover that so many of the things we use daily without thought were the invention of women with a need and an imagination must surely continue to inspire our girls who sadly, still seem to think that they are venturing into a man’s world.

One to share, promote and celebrate.

 

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Devon Sillett

Nicky Johnston

EK Books, 2019

32pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9781925335965

Olivia and Barkley are best friends who do everything together, especially catching the bad guys,  With her trusty cape and his sensitive nose, they were two pieces of the same puzzle, but then Barkley got sick and instead of helping Olivia, he just lay in his basket all day. Olivia tried to understand and to go on without him but it just wasn’t the same and when he died she was totally bereft.  Like everyone who suffers any sort of loss of a loved one, the bottom fell out of her world and she was too sad to do anything.  Sleeping didn’t even help because if she dreamed of him, he was gone when she woke up.  And life would never be right again, because every superhero needs a sidekick.

But then, slowly, even though she was still grieving she was able to think about the fun they had together and when she woke up one morning, she had a plan…

Every one of us loses someone who is dear and sadly, that is as true for children as it is for adults.  Devon Sillett, author of both Scaredy Book: It’s not always easy to be brave! and The Leaky Story is gradually building a body of work that shows she is in touch with the thoughts and emotions of our youngest readers and is able to help them recognise, articulate and share those feelings with others.  This is a gentle, tender story of the loss of a loved pet but one which has a happy ending that shows that while the loved one can’t be replaced, there is still life to live and love to give, even if it’s different from what you imagined.

Nicky Johnston’s illustrations are as soft and gentle as the words and add to the poignancy of the whole story and from the front cover to the final endpaper the love that Olivia has to give is on display. In fact the endpapers cleverly preface the story – Barkley hiding under the covers at the front, and Spud pulling them off and the astute adult sharing this story might even prepare the child for its content and theme by wondering aloud why there are two different dogs. Teachers’ notes to assist in exploring and explaining the story are available.

This is an essential addition to both home and school library as it is a sensitive approach to a situation that so many of our little people will face but will not understand without some adult guidance.  

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

I'm not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

Anna Milbourne

Daniel Riebey

Usborne, 2019

24pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

9781474940726

During the daytime I’m not afraid of the dark. In the daytime the Dark is small and tucks itself under things almost as if it’s hiding.  But it’s different as the day draws to a close and the Dark starts to stretch out and starts to cover EVERYTHING. It’s not too scary when the lights are on even though there are corners where the Dark lurks, but once the lights are off…

And when Dad suggests a camping trip that means being outside in the Dark where the noises are unknown, well that’s a whole new level of scared…

Fear of the dark is a common phenomenon, particularly for little ones who don’t yet understand the concept of Earth’s rotation and night and day and thus it is also a common theme in stories for them. What sets this one apart though is the way that the Dark is personified and explored using engaging language that expresses the child’s thoughts so well.  Instead of referring to “shadows”, the little boy says it “tucks itself under things almost as if it’s hiding.” and illustrations that show those same shadows getting longer and longer.  But the standout feature is the use of cutouts throughout the book that cleverly highlight  the text -“the feeling inside me gets bigger too-like a hole I could fall into” as well as offering a peek into what’s coming.  Even the very last page has some that provide the perfect ending.

Like others on this theme, there is much that both parent and teacher can explore with the child as the book is shared – the concept of darkness and how it is created and needed, emotions and fears and how these can be addressed, the stars and other bodies in the night sky … 

All in all, a great story beautifully told and brilliantly illustrated that offers both comfort and learning.