Archive | July 2017

The Secret Garden & Other Stories

The Secret Garden & Other Stories

The Secret Garden & Other Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden & Other Stories

Usborne Illustrated Classics

Usborne, 2017

388pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781409586562

Usborne have added another volume to their stable of illustrated collections that bring us the tales, stories, myths and legends that have been shared with and enjoyed by children throughout the generations.  This collection includes The Secret Garden, The Railway Children, The Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty, Little Women and Heidi, all based on the original stories and beautifully illustrated to entice the young reader ready to take their reading in a new direction.

There are some stories that have endured over time for very good reasons and this collection is one that celebrates some of those that continue to be published in full so many years later.  They are the sorts of stories that grandparents and even great-grandparents remember fondly and love to give so these abridged versions are the perfect introduction to the longer, original stories.  Apart from just being a good read, they give 21st century children a glimpse into the lives of children of the past to a time when life wasn’t dominated by screens and technology. Who wouldn’t be tempted to explore the mysteries of Misselthwaite Manor, wander down the yellow brick road or be afraid of going from luxury to poverty overnight?

As well as being an essential addition to the collection, this could be one to flag in your suggestions for Christmas purchases for parents!

The Sloth Who Came to Stay

The Sloth who came to stay

The Sloth who came to stay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sloth Who Came to Stay

Margaret Wild

Vivienne To

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781760290221

Amy’s family was the speediest family in the world.  Everywhere they went and everything they did was done at breakneck speed as they rushed through their day, only to do the same thing the next day. There seemed to be no time to chat or play or laugh or just enjoy each other’s company. Then one day Amy brings a sloth that she has found hanging in a tree in the park home – and sloths move at a very different pace to Amy’s family.  Will it adapt to the speed of the family or will the family change to meet the rhythm of the sloth?

Amy’s family seem typical of so many families these days who seem to need to cram so much into every day that they forget to stop and enjoy the things they do.  Once again, Margaret Wild has observed the everyday and asked “What if?…” and brought young readers a delightful tale that so many will relate to. Vivienne To’s illustrations are right up to date although for such a busy family it’s a wonder Amy’s dad hasn’t discovered what a waste of time ironing is!

There’s a saying that it’s about the journey not just the destination and this has been captured perfectly in this story as Amy declares the first day with the sloth the best day of her life.  An excellent addition to your collection focusing on mindfulness, the need to reflect and absorb what is and let it become part of who we are.  Look around, enjoy the subtle colours of a winter sunrise, the chatter of the birds and the sounds of night falling – be like a sloth and be happy and comfortable with that.

Aliens, Ghosts and Vanishings

Aliens, Ghosts and Vanishings

Aliens, Ghosts and Vanishings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aliens, Ghosts and Vanishings: Strange and Possibly True Australian Stories

Stella Tarakson

Richard Morden

Random House Australia, 2016

288pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781925324969 

Australia really is a ‘story country” and the tales, tall and true that have been collected in this volume prove just how rich and diverse this nation is.  Even our unofficial national anthem focuses on a ghost so why wouldn’t there be a wealth of stories about mythical creatures, mysterious locations, haunted places, UFO sightings, bizarre disappearances and strange happenings?

 

From bunyips and yowies to Azaria Chamberlain and the disappearance  of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, this is a collection that will absorb the lover of the weird, wonderful and utterly mysterious, some familiar and others not-so. Ostensibly for those 10 and over, its clear format, short chapters and abundant illustrations will appeal to any independent reader who is interested in finding out more about the strange and unusual that this country has on offer.   

As well as the stories themselves, there are pages with extra information and some of the sources the author used for her research are included for those who wish to investigate further.  

Identified as a Notable Book in the 2017 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, I know a couple of young readers who are going to be having to do scissors-paper-rock to see who reads this one first.

The Birthday Invitation

The Birthday Invitation

The Birthday Invitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birthday Invitation

Lucy Rowland

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408862995

Tomorrow is a very special day for Ella -it’s her birthday party.  She finishes writing the invitations and hurries through the woods to deliver them to her friends.  But she is so excited she doesn’t realise she has dropped one and that it is picked up by a wizard.  And so begins a remarkable journey for the invitation, one that means Ella is going to have the best celebration ever! Wizards, pirates, a princess and all sorts of interesting guests turn up – and each has a tale to tell about how they got there!

Written in rhyme which keeps the pace and action moving at a fast clip, this is a charming story that will engage and delight.  Laura Hughes’s bright detailed illustrations are sheer pleasure and the invitation almost comes to life leaving the reader to wonder where it will land next.  

As well as engaging young readers in its fun and light-heartedness, it’s also a great vehicle for focusing on sequencing and mapping the story.  Positional words such as first, next, after can be explored as a map of the invitation’s journey is constructed.  And for those who feel they have to, there is also an opportunity to investigate rhyming patterns as many of the couplets end with words with the same sound but a different spelling pattern.But I think the children will have much more fun thinking of the unique gifts that each character might give Ella for her birthday.

 

Digger Disaster

Digger Disaster

Digger Disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digger Disaster

Rose Impey

Chris Chatterton

Bloomsbury, 2017

24pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

978140887244

Tyrone T. rex and his Dino Diggers are building a new car factory for Mr Ali O’Saurus.  But Ali O’Saurus is impatient and wants things finished immediately.  Because the Dino Diggers’ motto is “We never let you down”. everyone starts working at a furious pace but disaster strikes when Tyrone ignores the plans and hits a water main flooding the worksite.  Will the Diggers be able to live up to their motto?

This is a book for those who love big machines and dinosaurs as both are combined in a story that moves along at a fast pace with lots of action on each page.  Clever use of dinosaur names that little ones always have their tongue around add a dimension to the characters and the bright detailed illustrations will appeal as young readers pore over them.  To top it off there is a digger to build from a cardboard cutout, complete with instructions to be followed, offering an opportunity to understand their purpose and the need for correct sequencing, as well as teaching about care and patience -something Tyrone T. Rex seems to lack!. 

Great for early childhood with others in the series to help carry what is known about characters from one story to another. 

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.