Archive | July 2014

Florentine and Pig and the Spooky Forest Adventure

Florentine and Pig and the Spooky Forest Adventure

Florentine and Pig and the Spooky Forest Adventure










Florentine and Pig and the Spooky Forest Adventure

Eva Katzler

Jess Mikhail

Bloomsbury, 2014

pbk., RRP $A14.99


Florentine and Pig were sound asleep on a quiet, still dark night when suddenly they are woken by the most ghostly noise.  Is it the sound of the Growling, Prowling Bog Mog?  Together they decide to venture outdoors to find it so it will never frighten them again.  So equipped with their cosiest sleeping bags, biggest binoculars, brightest torch, warmest hat and their camping cooking stove they set off on their adventure. 

“They walked and talked, and trudged and tramped.  They hopped and hurdled through dry and damp.  They splished and splashed through streams and brooks. They peeked through crannies, and peeped through nooks.  They searched down and up and in between.  But the Growling, Prowling, Bog Mog was nowhere to be seen…”

This is a great read-aloud story for younger children, with just the right amount of suspense to keep them intrigued but not frightened.  The language is perfect for exploring and exploiting the sounds, rhythms and nuances of our speech, and the use of a variety of fonts really encourages the use of expression and animation. As well as appealing pictures, there are ideas for making simple, essential Growling, Prowling, Bog Mog-seeking tools, and who hasn’t made a tent from a bedsheet?  Florentine and Pig take  only healthy snacks with them and the recipes for these are included.  Who could resist “roasty-toasty campfire kebobbles”, which are vegetable-based kebabs?  And how yummy does a “drink-in-your-sleeping-bag honey milk maltie” based on milk and Maltesers sound?

This is the first in this series about Florentine and Pig that I’ve shared with Miss 3 and Miss 8 and both of them really enjoyed it, especially the cooking part.  Now they are waiting till summer so they can have their own nighttime outdoor adventure – with thick snow nearby, it’s a little too cold to venture outside after dark now.  In the meantime, they’re having fun exploring the website

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

I Want My Mummy

I Want My Mummy

I Want My Mummy










I Want My Mummy

Tracey Corderoy

Alison Edgson

Little Tiger Press, 2014

pbk., 32pp., RRP $A14.95


It is a big day in Arthur’s life.  Today he is going to spend the day with his grandmother, the first time he has been parted from his mummy.  But rather than being excited, he is very apprehensive.  Even his favourite dragon onesie and his toy dragon Huffity don’t give him quite the courage he needs.  When Mummy finally says goodbye, he feels very lost and no matter what Granny offers, he is not interested. Even though he plays along for a little while, as soon as the doorbell rings he races off to see if it is his mummy.  But Granny, being a true granny, comes up with a game that makes him forget his woes until…

This is a lovely picture book that explores a common issue that pre schoolers face, and it’s perfect for a parent to share with their child before they leave them for the first time.  The bright pictures are very eye-catching and so beautifully drawn that you can just feel the softness of Arthur and his onesie, Grandma and Huffity. Who knew that a tea-towel and a feather duster could be so formidable???

When I was school-based, the preschool was part of “big school” and each week the children would come for storytime, to browse and then later bring their parents in to borrow from the special collection I had for them that would encourage them to read aloud and begin their child’s reading journey.  This title would have made a charming addition to that collection. 

All My Kisses

All My Kisses

All My Kisses










All My Kisses

Kerry Brown

Jedda Robaard

ABC Books/ HarperCollins, 2014

hbk, 32pp,, RRP $A24.99


Abby the piglet was very kissable.  Every night as she snuggled into bed she would be kissed once on the end of her nose, twice on her forehead and countless times on the bottom of her feet.  And Abby likes those kisses so much she keeps each of them in a special bucket to savour later, carrying them with her wherever she went.  But whenever she was asked for one, she would never share.  No matter who asked her, she kept her kisses to herself.  They were too special, too precious, too fragile to share.  But something starts to happen to those kisses, particularly the ones in the bottom of the bucket that are buried and cannot be seen.  In fact, they have turned into bleak, grey pebbles – ugly things that Abby throws away into the shadows…

This is a lovely story about how being selfish, even with something that was given just to us, cannot necessarily make us as happy as we would think and that sometimes giving it away can have unconsidered consequences. It’s about giving love as well as receiving it, and how giving makes the receiving so much richer.

Accompanied by enchanting illustrations in soft colours which capture Abby’s personality and emotions perfectly, this is a lovely tale about bedtime routines, sharing and makings friends that should be high on your recommendations to your parents of preschoolers.


The Last King of Angkor Wat

The Last King of Angkor Wat

The Last King of Angkor Wat










The Last King of Angkor Wat

Graeme Base

Viking/Penguin 2014

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


Amongst the ruins of Angkor Wat, the “City of Temples” built hundreds of years ago by the Khmer people in the north of what is now Cambodia, Tiger, Gibbon, Water Buffalo and Gecko look at the ancient stone carvings and muse on what it would like to have been a king.

Tiger believes he would have been a fine king because he is strong but Gibbon declares he would have been better because he would have ruled with compassion and kindness.  Water Buffalo says he would have never given up, no matter what, while tiny Gecko proclaims he would have been a fearless warrior.  And so an argument about who would have made the best king ensues.  Their talk is interrupted by Elephant.  “It takes many qualities to be a good king”, he says.  “Strength, compassion, resilience and courage.”  He then challenges them to find out if they are worthy by going to the temple at the top of the hill.  And so begins a race during which each creature encounters Snake and other obstacles, dealing with them accordingly, not realising what their decisions and actions are saying about them as potential rulers.  When they reach the temple at the top of the hill Elephant is waiting, but rather than the giving the title to the victor, he forces them to examine their journey and learn from it.  Who will be crowned king? Will any of them make the grade?

Set against a backdrop of opulent, evocative scenes detailed in the way that we associate with Graeme Base’s illustrations, this is a tale with a message about humility that would be a perfect adjunct to a values-based program. Often, Base embeds either a textual or visual puzzle into his books but this time, the puzzle is in the meaning of the words.  But even with the story told and retold and understood, the young reader will be drawn again and again to the elaborate, exquisite illustrations search for the riches within, perhaps discovering the butterfly who also makes the journey or the author’s signature. Such is Base’s reputation, his fans have learned to look for more than meets the eye.     

Another magnificent masterpiece.

Listen to an interview with Graeme Base about the creation of this book.

I Have a Dog (an inconvenient dog)

I Have A Dog (an inconvenient dog)

I Have A Dog (an inconvenient dog)









I have a dog (an inconvenient dog)

Charlotte Lance

Allen & Unwin, 2014

hbk, 32pp., RRP $A19.99



When I wake up my dog is inconvenient.

When I’m getting dressed, my dog is inconvenient.

And when I’m making tunnels, my dog is really inconvenient…

But there are some times when the dog is not inconvenient and sometimes when there is no other source of comfort, particularly as the day draws to a close and dinner is disgusting, television is scary and it’s time to snuggle down to dream.

This is a quintessential picture book where neither text nor pictures can make sense without the other.  As we follow the child through the day, the text is minimal but the pictures tell the story so well, creating lots of laugh-out-loud moments as scenes familiar to anyone with a dog, particularly a young one, are played out with a detail that means there is no need for additional words.  This would be a great bedtime read-aloud where parent and child could share it together, talking about their own experiences.  (My dog is inconvenient when it’s bedtime and I want the pillow but she is very convenient when we need to put the chooks away at night!)

But as well as its entertainment value, it also has an educational one particularly for the early reader because it encourages them to search the pictures for clues, interpret and explain them so the story make sense and forms a whole..  Putting on my reading teacher’s hat of days gone by, I can picture myself using this delightful book with some of my little characters who were struggling with sorting out this reading thing.  As well as the value with the text/illustration relationship and having them talk and draw about their own dogs, it would also help them understand that they CAN read ‘real’ books just like their friends, overcoming the negative thoughts they impose on themselves about never succeeding.  Imagine the thrill of being able to take it home and really read it so your listener listens, not to mention having mastered a roll-off-the- tongue word like “inconvenient”! (Miss 3 loved her new word!)

One to promote to your early childhood teachers as well as your parent body.

Meet… Douglas Mawson

Meet...Douglas Mawson

Meet…Douglas Mawson









Meet… Douglas Mawson

Mike Dumbleton

Snip Green

Random House , 2014

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


Douglas Mawson is one of Australia’s most iconic heroes.  As the leader of the first Australian expedition to the Antarctic a century ago, his journeys are commemorated through having his portrait on the $100 note, a suburb in Canberra named after him and the longest continuously operating station south of the Antarctic Circle bearing his name, Douglas Mawson deserves a place in this series of books which celebrates great Australians.

The story of his remarkable journey which began in Hobart in December 1911 is told is simple, straightforward text which is perfect for its intended audience of younger students just starting to learn about the people who have helped build our nation. Accompanied by illustrations that use a limited colour palette, reminiscent of the colours of Antarctica itself, and which capture the beauty and drama of the landscape so well, it tells of the challenges of this incredible expedition undertaken long before there was mechanised transport or navigational devices such as a GPS.  The timeline at the end of the book provides a summation of this man’s amazing life and contribution to Australia’s continuing presence in Antarctica.

This series fits neatly into the history strand of the Australian National Curriculum for Years 3-4, its picture book format adding to its appeal. Written in a way that draws the reader into a story rather than just a series of facts and figures, this is a perfect introduction to the topic that teaches as it tells. Others in the collection include Ned Kelly, James Cook, Mary MacKillop and the ANZACs.  It is so good to see publishers responding to the need and demand for non-fiction that not only addresses the requirements of the Australian Curriculum at an appropriate level but which satisfies those readers who, from an early age, already show a preference for informative books that offer them more than just pictures to look at and interpret.  I’m looking forward to the next in the series which focuses on Nancy Bird Walton!


Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots: Rhymes and riddles to make you giggle

Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots: Rhymes and riddles to make you giggle

Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots: Rhymes and riddles to make you giggle










Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots: Rhymes and riddles to make you giggle

Mark Carthew

Mike Spoor

IP Kidz, 2009

hbk, 32pp., RRP $A26.00


ebk $A8.00



In a gourmet café by the Bay of Biscay.

The seafood buffet was well on its way

When a curried satay

Caught fire on a tray

And flambéed the moustache of a waiter named Ray!”

This is the first rhyme in this unusual book which focuses on the multitude of ways that a particular sound can be spelt in English. It is accompanied by a riddle – “This creature crawls beneath the bay, Searching for rocks and sand each day” –and hidden amongst the rich full-page illustration is the answer to that riddle. But as the students search they will also discover a host of other items that have that ‘ay’ sound even though their spelling might be different.  In this instance they could find archway, bay, beret, birthday, bray, buffet and more than 20 others!  Each page features a different sound combination and takes the explorer on a journey through their imagination as they examine a trolls’ lair, a magician’s cave, a circus, a castle, ski slopes and the outback. 

Given the popularity of books like Where’s Wally that have even the most reluctant readers poring over pages to spot the hidden items, this book is a winner on many levels because it teaches as the children search and encourages them to think and discuss and focus on the inconsistencies of our language.  Also hidden on each page is a tiny newt or bandicoot playing a lute enabling even those not yet ready for the spelling aspect to participate. 

Once the basics of letter/sound recognition have been mastered, the most commonly used skill in determining the correct spelling of a word is whether it looks right, and so developing visual perception and discrimination are critical skills.  So combining the elements of rhythm, rhyme and riddle and accompanying them with complex, colourful and quirky pictures makes this a great book that will provide for hours of entertainment and learning. And then there is the next one, Witches, Britches, Itches and Twitches