Moonfish

Moonfish

Moonfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonfish

Graeme Base 

Puffin, 2019

48pp., hbk. RRP $A26.99

9780143791409

The fish that live in the pond beneath the dragon-moon are happy. They know the moon will keep them safe. But it was not always like this . . . There was a time when they looked to the skies with fear.

In this stunning new picture book, Graeme Base, creator of so many stunning picture books including Animalia , has crafted a story about being and belonging, about having to leave to discover who you are, with undertones of the ugly duckling but so much more than that. Set in China, it tells the story of a baby fish who is found and taken in by a family who care for him, but as he grows and grows and grows, understand his feeling that he doesn’t fit in and needs to undertake a journey to discover where he does. It will resonate with lots of students who feel where they are isn’t quite the best fit for them, whether that is physically, sexually, culturally or whatever is making them uncomfortable, yet despite its dark palette it offers hope and possibility.

You can learn more about the story behind the story here., but expect this one to be on the 2020 awards lists.

Total Quack Up Again!

Total Quack Up Again!

Total Quack Up Again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Quack Up Again!

Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck

James Foley

Puffin Books, 2018

320pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760893583

This time last year, Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck saw the outcome of all their work in getting their mates to write a short story for an anthology whose proceeds would all go to help children through Dymocks Children’s Charities. Total Quack Up featured stories from some of Australia’s leading  authors for kids including Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks,  Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton and became one of the most popular books of short stories for newly independent readers, especially boys, in the collection of a couple of school libraries that I know.

And now they have done it again.  This time they have garnered the services of people such as Nat Amoore, Felice Arena, Adam Cece, Jules Faber, Tim Harris, Kim Kane, Belinda Murrell, A.L. Tait, Shelley Ware, Michael Wagner and Nova Weetman, As with the first, there is also a story from a budding child author – after teaming up with Kids WB and running a competition, The Duck Pond  by Coby Sanchez was selected as the entry to be published in this new collection. Add to that Jacqueline Harvey’s Ten Top Tips for Writing which encourage our students to put pen to paper for themselves and you have another volume of what is hopefully a continuing series.

Totally kid-oriented in its focus, support and outcomes, this is the perfect book for the collection or the Christmas stocking to ensure our readers keep reading.  For those of you able to get to  Camberwell, Vic, there is a charity launch  on October 19.

Annie and the Waves

Annie and the Waves

Annie and the Waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie and the Waves

Louise Lambeth

Carissa Harris

Louise Lambeth, 2018

44pp., pbk., RRP $A15.00

9780648435709

Holidays are coming and Annie and her family are heading to the beach for a week.  It’s their first time and Annie is very glad that some surf lifesavers have come to her school to teach her about the nature of waves and how to stay safe in them.  But when she is confronted with the actual thing she is very daunted and it takes time and a chat with a surf lifesaver to pluck up the courage to take the first step. But sometimes a little bit of confidence can be overestimated and Annie finds herself having to put what she has learned to the test.  

Over the Australian summer of 2017-2018, 249 people drowned in our waters, and while the majority of these were young men taking risks and drinking alcohol, nevertheless it could be argued that the lessons learned in schools about surf safety prevented many more, particularly among children.  So, with warm weather here already and summer holidays being planned, this is a timely book to share with students to reinforce those messages. Uncluttered by rhyme and rhythm and extravagant illustrations, the plot is simple and the message unfettered – you can be safe in the ocean and here’s how. It’s not about being cocky but being confident because you respect the danger and know how to minimise it.

Although Annie’s experiences drive the story, the key theme is taking care, being able to recognise “safe” waves, knowing the role of lifesavers, swimming between the flags and never swimming alone.  And while teachers and parents can talk about these for ever, it is the impact of a story, perhaps coupled with a visit from some surf lifesavers that is likely to stick and perhaps keep our children safer. Written by a surf lifesaver who has seen what can happen firsthand, the rules for beach safety are clearly written at the front (perhaps inspiring a poster activity to illustrate them) and reiterated with a quiz at the end, and there is also a link to BeachSafe , a website and app that provides information about the conditions about every Australian beach, including rips. 

Endorsed by Surf Lifesaving Australia, this is a critical addition to your health and safety program and resources. As well as the small book format, it is also available as a big book and an education bundle. There is also an audio book being produced so those who find it difficult to access print for whatever reason, do not miss out on this vital message.  And although, on the surface, it appears to be for early childhood, we have many students who have arrived in Australia older than that who need to hear this message now and share it with their parents because while the beach can be our greatest drawcard it can also be our greatest tragedy for those not familiar with it.  Let’s do all we can to ensure our students and their families are safe in the surf this summer. 

 

Available to order from Storybook Cushions

Available to order from Storybook Cushions

Clancy the Quokka

Clancy the Quokka

Clancy the Quokka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clancy the Quokka

Lili Wilkinson

Alison Mutton

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760634711

Here’s Clancy the quokka. So friendly and charming.
His innocent face is entirely disarming…

But Clancy has a fancy for all things sweet and his favourite pastime is raiding the picnics of island visitors, something he plots and schemes to do at every opportunity.  So when he hears the noises of a child’s birthday party and sees the enormous feast that is on offer, including a huge birthday cake he determines that it will be his.  And so he sets out on his mission.  Nothing distracts him until he reaches his goal except the lit candles and then he gets cranky…

This is a funny story about how a determined creature can set their mind to something and be so set on achieving it they don’t even see the consequences of their behaviour, so great is their drive.  Is it OK to be so single-minded and focused that the impact on other people’s lives can be disregarded? Could there have been a middle road that would be a win-win for Clancy and the party-goers?

Written in rhyme that bounces along, with colourful illustrations that depict the perfect, traditional birthday party that all children would love, it’s hard to determine whether Clancy is a goodie or a baddy. which in turn sets up a discussion about characterisation.  Are characters/people one-dimensional or are we more complex than that?  A class vote and chart of the justification for the decision would prove interesting. When Clancy vows to change his ways, is that as easy as it sounds or is temptation a hard taskmaster? There might even be a conversation about how Clancy developed a love of sweet things could lead to awareness about human intervention in feeding wild animals and the consequences that can have. Is it ever OK?

Little ones will enjoy the rhythm and the rhyme, the plot and the ending but it’s also an opportunity to get them thinking about the importance of creating characters that they will invest in and care about enough to read to the end. And if there is a bigger picture for the reader to think about introduced, even better.

Handa’s Noisy Night

Handa's Noisy Night

Handa’s Noisy Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handa’s Noisy Night

Eileen Browne

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781406320015

Handa and her friends Akeyo live in Kenya, and when Handa has a sleepover with Akeyo, the girls are allowed to spend the night in a little hut near the house. They’re excited to be on their own, but as they get ready for bed, Handa feels more and more nervous. She keeps hearing things – strange snorts, chitter chattering, a big thud. Akeyo says it’s only her noisy family, but on the opposite page the reader sees the nocturnal animals who are really making the noise – and while some of them are familiar, others are very peculiar-looking indeed! 

With rich, vibrant night-time illustrations, sound effects, and plenty of curious animals, coupled with Akeyo’s explanations which are not only hilarious, but ingenious. this is a story that will resonate with children the world over as they step out of the familiar and have their first sleepover away from home with all the unfamiliar noises that will keep them awake.  While the causes might not be as exotic as those that kept Handa awake, nevertheless there is never a limit to the imagination when it’s dark. 

We first met Handa from the  Luo tribe in south-west Kenya in  Handa’s Surprise nearly 25 years ago and that book was  included in the  Seven Stories’ Diverse Voices list –  50 best children’s books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK since 1950. That, and its sequel Handa’s Hen have sold more than a million copies globally, with each focusing on a topic that children all over the world can relate to, and perhaps even adapt to their own circumstances.  If you were sleeping in a tent or a caravan, what might be making the snorting, chattering, rattling, squeaking and slurping noises you can hear? Rich pickings for the imagination! 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Don't Worry, Little Crab

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406385519

In the rockpool above the sea, live two crabs: Big Crab and Little Crab. Today, they’re going for a dip in the sea. “This is going to be so great!” says Little Crab as they go tic-a-tac, tic-a-tac over the rocks, splish splash, splish splash across the pools and squelch, squelch, squelch through the slimy, slippery seaweed. “I can go ANYWHERE”, says Little Crab.

But when he reaches the sea and sees the size of the ocean waves, he is somewhat daunted and very reluctant to take that final leap.  Will he find the courage?

The illustration style  is very distinctive and it tells as much of the story as the text does, about a little one finding the courage to face their uncertainty. This is a common theme in children’s picture books, this time inspired by the creator’s observations of crabs and their human-like way of moving. and the way they braced for the impact of a wave but then went about their business once it frothed away. In fact, the story of the story’s evolution gives a real insight into where authors get their ideas and how they are shaped, so it is worth sharing that too. It wasn’t so much the message that came first, but thinking about what was in front of him and working from that! Perhaps a lesson for budding writers about being observant and curious and working backwards!

 

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Susannah McFarlane

Allen & Unwin, 2019

128pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524715

“Bold: typically describes one who is willing to take risks; who is brave in heart as well as deed.”

In this new collection of rewritten, remastered fairy tales featuring  Jack and the BeanstalkHansel and GretelThe Emperor’s New Clothes and Prince Leo and the Sleeping Princess, Susannah McFarlane  editor of Stuff Happens one of my favourite series for boys,  shows that there is more to brave than brawn and bravado slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress. It’s about doing what’s right, being clever and honest, that how you do something is as important as what you do.

Illustrated by Simon Howe, Matt Huynh, Louie Joyce and Brenton McKenna, four of our leading illustrators, in a style that takes the book beyond the realm of the cutsey, Disneyfied fairytale, it is the perfect companion to Fairytales for Feisty Girls which turns  Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina around to meet the demands of the modern young lady. 

Designed for independent readers in novel format with chapters within each story, it is ideal for re-engaging young students with the traditional tales of childhood literature and start discussions about how things change over time to meet the needs of the audience – these are indeed a long way from the didactic tales of Grimm et al whose purpose was to scare little ones into doing the right thing because of the dire consequences that awaited if they didn’t. 

 

 

 

Scruffle-Nut

Scruffle-Nut

Scruffle-Nut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scruffle-Nut

Corinne Fenton

Owen Swan

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594768

As winter leaves tumble and twirl a wisp of memory wraps itself about me and whispers me back to long ago…

As a child, her Nanny Clementine took her to the park where she played on the swings and the see-saw and rode the carousel horses for as long as time.  And one day, she sees a squirrel, one that the others squirrels growl at and chase away because he has a stumpy tail, not a magnificent curled one like theirs. And so begins a brief friendship between them – the little squirrel who is a bit different and the little girl who is also a bit different – and there is a strong sense of empathy that builds up, until the snow falls and the park is closed. What is it that the little girl learned from that squirrel in those few short days that has stayed with her all her life?

Sensitive, with beautifully descriptive passages that are sublimely illustrated in a palette and manner as soft and gentle as the story, this is a story that tugs at the heart-strings for we all know the child who is shunned because of their “stumpy tail” and the silent pain and rejection they feel.  One to share and talk about what it would be like to be the one that is on the outside, rather than being part of the Bully-Bunch, and perhaps change a few perceptions. 

Ollie and Augustus

Ollie and Augustus

Ollie and Augustus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ollie and Augustus

Gabriel Evans

Walker, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760650711

Even though Ollie is small (like a pickling jar or a shoebox) and Augustus is big (like a table or a fridge), they do everything together,including cycling, painting, dressing up, digging (Ollie’s favourite thing) and stick collecting (Augustus’s favourite thing), as best friends do.  But soon it will be time for Ollie to start school and he is worried that Augustus will be lonely without him.  So he sets out to find him a friend.  But none of the dogs that apply for the position are quite right and so Ollie has to start school and leave Augustus on his own.  All day he worries that Augustus will be lonely and bored, but is he?

Term 4 has started and that means “big school” is on the horizon for many of our littlest readers, with all the anxieties that that prospect brings.  There will be many Ollies among them who will worry that their treasured pets will be lonely and not being toys, they have to be left at home. So this is a timely story for them to reassure them that all will be fine and at least one concern can be alleviated. Perfect for sharing with preschoolers about to take the next big step in their growing-up adventure.

 

 

Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running with the Horses

Alison Lester

Puffin, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760892760

Nina lives with her father above the palace stables at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses. She loves watching the famous white stallions as they parade for the crowds, but her favourite horse is a mare called Zelda – an old cab horse Nina often pats on her way home from school.

When Nina’s world changes dramatically, she and her father have to flee from the city. Their journey over the mountains with Zelda and the stallions seems impossible, with danger at every turn. It will require all of Nina’s bravery, daring and faith in an extraordinary old horse.

This is a new edition of the picture book first released 10 years ago, now in a format that will attract newly independent readers to enjoy this story inspired by the rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during the Second World War, offering yet another story and insight into that conflict. although Lester insists it is a work of fiction.

With all the original illustrations – the main characters being in  black and white line drawings set against lavish colourful backgrounds – this is an intriguing read that justifies its re-release and promotion to a whole new generation.