Kate is about to start her first day at a new school, and like thousands of other kids who have to face the same experience, she is feeling anxious and reluctant. But then a mysterious white Thing comes into her life and helps her set the fear aside temporarily as it shows her the beauty in the colour of the autumn leaves and the joy in the sound of the sidewalk buskers. All through her first day and the days following, Kate has the Thing by her side, giving her courage and confidence to hang in there, take each new event one step at a time and gradually stepping back so she can go it alone.
Then one day she spots a new boy, sitting forlornly and lonely on a bench, a Thing next to his side that he hasn’t yet seen…
Every child who has faced being new at somewhere or something will relate to and empathise with Kate. The feelings of having to step into the unknown and even the uncomfortable will be familiar and they will relate to having The Thing, or Some Thing giving them invisible support to keep putting one foot in front of the other until the walk is mastered, giving great scope for exploring feelings and emotions and building vocabulary.
This story offers a couple of lines of investigation – before and after. While Kate has The Thing to support her, it’s helpful to teach students how to prepare for new situations by having them envisage what might go wrong and having some strategies to deal with these if indeed they happen. Knowing that even if the worst comes to the worst you have some action you can take can often give an added boost of confidence.
At the other end of the spectrum, as teachers many of us will have had new students starting in our classes over the past couple of weeks as new terms start around the states. So perhaps this is a time to check up on them and see how they are settling in, that no one is slipping through the cracks in the busyness that is the start of the school year.
Heidi Cooper Smith has written a story that everyone can relate to and which can offer a springboard to more than just the story of Kate and her Thing.
It’s a day like no other – the first day of school. Together mother and daughter get ready – waking early, having a special breakfast of pancakes and fruit salad, getting dressed, new shoes, washing and scrubbing, packing bags – all the routines that will become familiar as the novelty wears off and school becomes the place you go to every day.
But while this is a theme that has been done in so many ways in so many stories, this one has a particular twist that will not only heighten its appeal to parents but also give pause for thought. Is it only the child who is encountering new environments and experiences?
Daddo has a knack for taking the unusual within the usual and turning it into a story while Bentley’s illustrations are just perfect.
One for both preschool and school libraries that can be used to provoke discussion on those transition days, encourage new friendships and perhaps even initiate a follow-up, catch-up, how-are-you-coping meeting that can help overcome anxiety and isolation in the community.
Sisters Addie and Clara have just moved to a new house in the country, where they discover that their backyard is a gateway to the enchanted realm of magical butterflies called Wishing Wings. These special butterflies have the power to make wishes come true!
Each story is complete with plenty of illustrations (the covers alone will inspire imagination) and contain a gentle life lesson as the problem and its resolution are explored.
This is a new series for newly independent readers, particularly girls, who are looking for something with sparkle, magic and the beginnings of fantasy. While the first, The Wishing Wings, is available now the others will be released in quick succession so these young readers do not have to wait too long to revisit this new magical world.
A delightful new series that will encourage young readers to keep coming back for the next episodes.
For Oliver and Ivy it is the best day of the week because it’s the day their dad takes them to the library. That’s because that’s the day they can tip=toe through the lion’s lair into the realm of fairies and on into vast rolling oceans ruled by pirates, and even play ping-pong with purple llamas from Timbuctoo! Every book on the library’s shelves takes them to a new world and introduces new characters to frolic with in their words and pictures. Princess, sea creatures, kangaroos, ballerinas are all their as the magic carpet sweeps them on new adventures … those amazing books bring their imaginations alive.
If this book were only this story that is as powerful an advertisement for stories and reading as the Superbowl ad was for Australian tourism, then it would be amazing as Darlison’s rollicking rhyme shares the possibilities of story, but it is more than that because this is the second one that has drawn on the talents of Australia’s children to illustrate it. Like its predecessor Zoo Ball, each page Wombat Books invited children all over Australia to submit drawings to accompany the story to provide them with an introduction to the world of illustrating and the opportunity to be published professionally and so each page has its own unique illustration to accompany Darlison’s text, and providing a different and unique interpretation of it, just as stories do. Now more than 30 budding illustrators have had their work featured, but over 600 took the opportunity to participate – a figure that suggests we need to consider offering students as much opportunity to draw as write as we teach.
Indeed, offering them the text and inviting them to interpret it as part of your lessons would not only provide an authentic way to investigate how we each interpret the same words differently according to our personal experiences but also open up discussions about perspective and interpretation of events and our role within them. That’s as well as giving you a unique and intriguing display particularly if students are then encouraged to suggest and find stories that match the pictures, accompanied by their comments about why they love their library!
I hope Wombat Books continue to offer this opportunity to young Australian illustrators, but even if they don’t, it gives us a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of the picture!
Bobby was the last of Peggy’s litter of Australian cattle dogs to find a new home – some of his brothers and sisters had already moved to new homes – but he was OK with that because he was just a puppy. His mother consoled him and told him not to worry because he would find friends and “be accepted by others.” Because Booby was different. Instead of having the regular markings and patches of his breed, his face was plain.
He didn’t know he was a bit different until the other cattle dogs at his new home, when a farmer finally came to claim him, wouldn’t play with him and this saddened him In fact it wasn’t until he befriended Mother Duck and she had him look in a pool of still water that he noticed the difference. Was he going to spend his life being different and alone? It would seem so until something happens that makes Bobby a hero and finally he is accepted for who he is inside rather than what he looks like.
Based on a real dog and his experiences with other dogs, this story has a strong message of being accepted for who we are rather than what we look like.
Bullying, in all its facets, is certainly at the top of the agenda in these weeks following the suicide of Amy “Dolly’ Everett and there are calls from all quarters for it to be addressed, with the brunt of the expectations falling squarely on the shoulders of schools. While the other dogs don’t nip or bite or otherwise abuse Bobby in what is the overt form of bullying, excluding him because of his looks is just as damaging and it makes a good discussion starter to raise the issue with young children so they can understand that bullying can take many forms and each can have unforeseen and unseen consequences.
Written for young, almost independent readers, this is the first in a proposed series that is designed to teach young children to look beyond exteriors because “It’s what on the inside that counts.” There are teachers’ notes available as well as a plush toy that will give the story extra meaning.
Mother Mouse – the one in the rhyme, the one that climbed the clock at one, then ran back down – is frantic with worry and in a desperate hurry to find her two bold sons. They had been playing outside in the moonlight when the cat pounced quite unannounced and they scarpered for safety. Now Mother Mouse is searching the house for them with the cat hot on her tail.
Where can they be? They are not in the playroom or the kitchen; not the pantry or the garage or even the backyard. Every room in the house is visited in this desperate dash, as wherever she searches the cat is there, ready to pounce but being bamboozled each time either by mouse savvy, swiftness or circumstance.
Finally, exhausted and sobbing after two hours of searching, Mother Mouse sits on the verandah almost without hope – and then she has an idea…
Even if this hadn’t been selected for the 2018 National Simultaneous Storytime it would have been an automatic hit with a wide range of readers. As with his first book, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon Wilson has drawn on a familiar nursery rhyme and given it new life with his own twist and message of perseverance and the lengths a parent goes to for the love of their children. Clever rhymes move the story along at a dashing pace and with the cat in hot pursuit, the reader wonders if this will have a happy ending. As well as the suspense there is also humour – the cat’s fate in the nursery will produce a LOL moment- as each time Mother Mouse narrowly escapes a horrible fate. Laura Woods’ illustrations use so many different perspectives that we can feel Mother Mouse’s fear as well as using light and shade cleverly to bring the house at midnight alive and put critical elements in focus.
Suggestions for using the story as part of NSS 2018 are available but as May 23 draws closer there are bound to be more and more available as it lends itself to many facets of the curriculum, including maths. But even without formal curriculum-related activities, this is just a rollicking read that is likely to become raucous as the children are drawn into to its almost vaudeville-like humour. Watch out, Mother Mouse!
There are few children who have not read a Richard Scarry book in their early childhood and now five of his most popular stories have been collected together in one volume. Featuring Great Big Mystery Book, Busiest People Ever, Great Big Schoolhouse, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, and Best Lowly Worm Book Ever, each with several complete stories this is packed with entertainment and bedtime reading that will intrigue and engage for a long time.
As Scarry says, “I’m not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people have worn out my books or that they’re held together by Scotch Tape”, so his signature presentation of multiple vignettes interspersed with minimal but entertaining text ensures that the young reader will discover something new each time as they return again and again.
Scarry has been a staple in the preschool library for 55 years – and with this collection he is set to entertain and educate another new generation.
The Dino Diggers have a new project – this time they are building a new house for Mr and Mrs Triceratops and all the little ceratops. But not not all of them are working hard – Ricky Raptor the apprentice is day-dreaming about being a proper Dino Digger driver and he very nearly lands in all sorts of trouble because he is not concentrating. Is he going to end up in the barrel of the cement mixer???
With its bright pictures and a cardboard model crane and brachiosaurus to build this will appeal to young readers who like big machines and dinosaurs. Each dinosaur has its own personality so this series is great for encouraging young readers to recall what they already know and ponder on how the new story will evolve.
Sadie loves playing with colour and finding patterns and shapes in unlikely places, looking at details of lines and texture with the eye of an artist. More than anything she wants to be a painter, just like her best friend, Tom whose brush dances across the page, swooshing and swirling into shapes and stories and drawing Sadie right into them. . But whenever Sadie picks up a paintbrush her colours slip and slurp, splatter and splodge and her paintings don’t look anything like the real thing. So instead, she spends her time working in the garden or playing with Tom.
But, one day, when she ends up painting herself instead of a picture, Sadie chucks a tantrum in frustration and climbs her favourite tree – and suddenly gets a look at things from a different perspective and makes a big discovery about herself and her own creativity.
This is a unique story, charmingly illustrated in water colour, that will offer a new perspective to those who don’t see themselves as creative just because they cannot paint. It opens up lots of potential for discussion about how each of us is creative even if “we can’t draw a straight line”, whether it’s working in a different medium such as stone or fabric or in a different field such as words or music or movement. While we each interpret our environment differently. each one of us is creative and it is creativity that drives us forward.
Like many kids, Sadie focuses on and is frustrated by the things she can’t do rather than paying attention to that which she does well and her self-talk of doubt takes over. Sadly, sometimes negative language is all that some of our students hear so they need to learn to think “I can…” rather than “I can’t…” with the help of visible affirmations so maybe get the students to write a personal “I can’t …” statement relating to something they really want to achieve, then rephrase it into an “I can …” mantra that can start to change their inner voice and the thinking that drives it.
Quality picture books are like the seeds that Sadie planted … an engaging story that is the beautiful flower but so much more beneath the surface that is grounding it and helping it grow. This is quality.
The 15 students in Room 12B are not happy. As they walk into class, they discover the aptly-named Miss frost writing a list of rules on the board, none of which inspire positive behaviour but promise dire consequences for the opposite. “Discipline is the new order” is her mantra and she further inspires their love and co-operation (not) by handing out 11 pages of handwriting exercises, and then walks around criticising everyone’s efforts.
The class that had been labelled misfits and miserables who were just beginning to blossom and bloom with their quirky but beloved Mr Bambuckle, fired by Principal Sternblast, started to shrink back as though they had been sprayed with weedkiller.
But Vex Vron has a plan and it’s time to put it into action… but he will need the help of his classmates and their particular and peculiar powers.
Readers who took a shine to Mr Bambuckle in the first of this new series will be glad to see him making a quick comeback – is there anything worse than having to wait a year for a sequel?- while others might be comparing their new year’s teacher with him and wishing they could be in 12B too! Ideal for independent readers with its humour, identifiable characters, short chapters, copious illustrations and other inserts that break up the text, this series is a perfect read-aloud to break the ice of the new school year and to encourage even reluctant readers that there is much fun to be had between the covers of books – they just have to open them!
Great thing that the ending of this one sets things up perfectly for yet another sequel.