No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Place for an Octopus

Claire Zorn

UQP, 2019

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

978070226260 

At that special time when the ocean pauses its ceaseless movement, a little one goes for a walk to explore the mysterious water worlds in the cracks and crannies in the rocks that have been left behind by the retreating tide. Rockpools reveal all sorts of secrets and there, hiding behind the seaweed is an octopus!

Long. curly arms/legs, suction caps and a blobby head, perhaps a little afraid and definitely looking lonely,hungry, wet and cold. Imagine the fun it could have if the little took it home, fed it, bathed, it, made it comfy and snug, an interesting friend that could play games or even ride the roller-coaster…  Or could it?

With its intriguing front cover and stunning illustrations, the author’s first foray into illustration, indeed picture books, this is a story that will resonate with every child, indeed adult, who has wandered among the rockpools and been mesmerised by the life within them, and determined to take a creature home with them.  How many show-and-share sessions have we seen starfish and shells and other creatures carefully preserved in buckets of sea water, but so far away from their home they can never see it again? The message that the rockpool is the perfect place for the octopus, and all the other rockpool creatures, is very strong, despite the adventures we humans might think it would like.  Thus, this is a timely story to share and discuss as summer holidays loom and visits to the beach and rockpools are anticipated. No matter the temptation we need to take only photographs, leave only footprints whether that is the rockpool or the desert.  

Zorn says, “I wanted to engage with the child’s love of the absurd by placing the octopus in all sorts of silly scenarios…[but] I also sought to create an exercise in empathy where the child is able to identify the octopus’s feelings about the situation it finds itself in.”  She succeeded.

Teachers’ notes are available.

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

Matt Sewell

Pavilion, 2019

160pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781843654063

It is generally accepted that there are about 10 000 species of birds on this planet, using the traditional classification methods and avid bird-watcher Matt Sewell has selected those he considers to be the “most beautiful, strange, scary, speedy and enchanting” from around the globe  in this collection.

He has sorted them according to continental region and each is introduced through a bright watercolour illustration and a few paragraphs of easily accessible text. Along with the usual facts, he also adds in some other interesting stuff – for example, while the ostrich’s egg might be the largest in the world, in comparison to its body size it’s eggs are the smallest!

Suitable for independent readers, this would appeal to those who have an interest in the avian world or those who are curious about finding out more.

You can have  sneak peek here.

 

Can You Find? (series)

Can You Find?

Can You Find?

Can You Find? (series)

Nancy Bevington

Catch A Star, 2019

board books, RRP $A12.99

Each of the books in this series for our youngest readers focuses on a location and introduces iconic items that would be discovered in such a place. Even if the location is unfamiliar to the young reader, they provide a valuable aid in building vocabulary and creating context for when the child encounters other stories set in that location. Unfamiliar items have both a name and a context, predictions can be made based on that knowledge and reading progresses.  Having been introduced to the various items, the child is then challenged to find them all again in the final pages.

While board books may appear simple to the competent reader, we should never underestimate their value in constructing and consolidating those vital concepts about print that are the foundations of successful independent reading and this series could be an integral part of that development.

 

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Atinuke

Mouni Feddag

Walker, 2019

80pp., hbk.,  RRP $A29.99

9781406376586

No continent’s political borders seem to be as fluid as those of Africa and so this new publication is an introduction to all 55 countries on the African continent.  It captures Africa’s unique mix of the modern and the traditional, as its geography, its peoples, its animals, its history, its resources and its cultural diversity are explored in accessible text and colourful illustrations.

The book divides Africa into five sections: South, East, West, Central and North, each with its own introduction. This is followed by a page per country,which provides the merest taste of the riches of each that can be explored further if desired. The richest king, the tallest sand dunes and the biggest waterfall on the planet are all here, alongside drummers, cocoa growers, inventors, balancing stones, salt lakes, high-tech cities and nomads who use GPS! 

With so many classes now including students of African origin, this is a wonderful way to begin exploring their background, showing them that they are represented in the library’s collection and have a unique heritage to share – as the author says, Africa is the birthplace of the world’s population. It could be a great adjunct to an EALD program using the child’s home country to introduce meaningful reading and information literacy skills.

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa's Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2019

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

9780241405024

When Peppa wins a colouring competition, nobody can believe the prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Peppa and her family head to Australia to explore the wonders of the reef with Kylie Kangaroo and marine biologist Mummy Kangaroo. There are so many incredible creatures to find in their underwater adventure.

With its usual mix of entertainment and education, this is another brilliantly coloured addition to the Peppa Pig series that is so appealing to our youngest readers. 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 pace, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey.

Creators and publishers have also realised this and the quality of the stories has increased exponentially so it’s worth capitalising on the appeal and giving our little ones a headstart.  Being a successful reader is as much about having a positive attitude as it is about the skills involved. 

The Suitcase

The Suitcase

The Suitcase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suitcase

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nosy Crow, 2019

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

9781788004473

A strange creature, looking dusty, tired, sad and frightened, arrived in the neighbourhood pulling a big suitcase. Immediately, the locals started quizzing him about what was inside. And the stranger told them there was a teacup, as well as a table and a wooden chair for the teacup and him to sit on, and that there was even a little kitchen in a wooden cabin where he made his cup of tea.  Then, because he was so tired after having travelled for so long, he lay down to rest.

But the locals were sceptical.  How could all that fit in one suitcase?  How could they befriend and trust anyone who told such lies? And so they decided to break open the suitcase…

Naylor-Ballesteros, author of I Love you, Stick Insect and I’m Going to eat This Ant, can be relied upon to write engaging and entertaining stories for young readers that are always a bit different, and this one is no exception.  Told almost entirely in dialogue – a different colour for each character – it echoes the natural reticence we have for strangers who seem a bit different, but also sets up the dilemma of how far is too far when it comes to investigating them. Did Fox, Rabbit and Bird go too far smashing open the suitcase? There is also the rich discussion that could be had about what they discovered; what it tells them about the stranger and how everyone has a unique story, perhaps even secrets; their efforts to right their wrong and the stranger’s reaction to that.  How would they have responded?

On the surface, it seems like a simple read-once story for little ones, but, like the best picture books, there are many layers waiting to be discovered and discussed.

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Cori Brooke

Fiona Burrows

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594751

Nabila is the new girl in school and like many new kids, she’s finding it hard to fit in with the established crew, particularly when she looks different to them and eats her strange lunches alone. But Holly comes to her rescue as their common love for soccer takes over.  But when both Holly and Nabila are picked for the school team, there is still disunity and the two girls realise if they are to come together to play well, they need a plan…

A search for “Twelve Days of Kindness” on the Internet brings up a number of projects and resources, mostly connected to Christmas but this is something that could be developed by a group or an individual at anytime to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and build something harmonious. Some schools like to take students on camp in the early days of Term 1 to build bonds for a successful year, but if this is not viable, organising something like Twelve Days of Kindness could be an alternative.  Having students directly involved by having them articulate those things they don’t like and identifying how such behaviour can be changed and the environment they would like to be in gives ownership and helps them understand the power to change is in their hands.  Promoting empathy activities  rather than always focusing on the ‘don’ts’ of bullying can be a new approach that has an impact by making it personal.  Again, the solution is theirs to decide and implement.

Author of the CBCA shortlisted All I Want for Christmas is Rain, (as appropriate now as it was in 2016) Brooke has again delivered a story that promotes thought and inspires action.

 

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pip Finds a Home

Elena Topouzoglou

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594744

When Pip is discovered wandering around the Arctic by a young explorer, she tells him that penguins live at the South Pole and gathers him up and takes him there on their ship. When he eventually meets up with some penguins, they are very friendly but they discover he is not one of them.  They are Adelie penguins. Perhaps he is a Macaroni penguin because he jumps like them but doesn’t have feathers on his head. Or maybe an Emperor, although he is too short.  Or a Gentoo but his beak is black and white, not orange… Just what sort of penguin is he?

This is a charming story that introduces young readers to the variety of penguins that inhabit the Antarctic as well as showing that there can be friendship and fun amongst us, even if we are a little different.  None of the penguin species shunned Pip because he wasn’t quite like them – he is accepted immediately for who he is, a nice change from some darker stories I have read and reviewed recently.

When Pip’s species is revealed, it is a surprise and there is more information about him and his kind on the final page, as well as brief notes about the species who befriend him. Older readers might like to speculate about why we do not see Pip and his relatives today. Very topical.

Illustrated in a manner and palette that is as soft and gentle as the narrative, this could be the introduction to a study pf endangered and extinct species, starting even the youngest readers thinking about how gentle they can be on the environment.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

 

Teachers notes  are available.

 

1, 2, BOO! A Spooky Counting Book

1, 2, BOO! A Spooky Counting Book

1, 2, BOO! A Spooky Counting Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1, 2, BOO! A Spooky Counting Book

Paul Howard

Bloomsbury, 2019

22pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781526612052

We went trick-or-treating and we saw …

When a brother and sister go trick-or-treating, they compete to see who find the most bizarre and brilliant things. As they try to count all the hair-raising creatures, including  ghosts, skeletons, dancing monsters, and spooky bats, everything escalates until …

With Halloween on the horizon, this is a fun book for littlies that will help them join in the fun with a rhyming story that will also consolidate their counting skills.  Even if they are too little to trick-and-treat themselves, they could keep a tally of the skeletons, witches and other costumes who  come to their door and work out which was the most popular. And then they too, can participate in the ending.

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

Helen Martin & Judith Simpson

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2019

26pp., big book, RRP $A39.99

9780733340062

As soon as they are old enough to notice the difference between day and night, perhaps even before that when they first ask “Why is the sky blue?”, little people have questions about space.  This book with its rhyming text, provides the first introduction to that mysterious world beyond our planet.

Designed to help little ones become more observant, such as looking at the changing phases of the moon, it also encourages their imagination as they think about what it might be like to land on the moon.

Now in big book format so it can be shared with groups it is perfect for preschoolers with questions!