Archive | May 2018

Along Came a Different

Along Came a Different

Along Came a Different








Along Came a Different

Tom McLaughlin

Bloomsbury, 2018

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


The Reds loved being red- to them being red was the most important thing and it was The. Best. Thing. Ever.  But when, unexpectedly, their space was intruded upon by Yellow, things changed.  The Yellows (who thought being yellow was The. Best. Thing. Ever) didn’t like the reds  and the conflict began.  And when along came a Blue (who also believed that being blue was The. Best. Thing. Ever.) things deteriorated even further.  There seemed to be no common ground at all – none of them liked each other and demarcation lines were drawn as the insults and grievances grew.  Eventually a set of rules was constructed and things settled down, but then unexpectedly…

Is there any way at all that each group can learn to live with and get along with each other?

Using colour, shape and whimsical illustration, McLaughlin explores the concept of judging others based on their appearance and how flimsy the arguments for discrimination really are.  While each colour has its unique features, there is common ground and much to be said for the symbiosis that occurs when there is co-operation, collaboration and even harmony.

Discrimination based on perceived differences is an adult concept that most young children do not even notice unless an adult points it out.  This book is the perfect conversation starter so that when they do encounter prejudice they have this experience to draw on so they can see the stupidity of it and reject it.  Life should be about friendship, inclusivity and acceptance and McLaughlin demonstrates this perfectly.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale








Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Robie H. Harris

Chris Chatterton

Walker, 2018

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


Elephant is building a tower with his blocks.  He wants it to be as tall as he is and while he just manages it on his first attempt with four blocks stacked on their edges, it’s very wobbly!  CRASH! BOOM! Down it tumbles.  

After throwing an elephant-sized tanty, using all sorts of maths-related words, he has another look and another try.  This time he tries the same blocks, but flat this time… 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8!  And is stands until he crash booms it himself.  And then he looks at the other blocks in his tub…

Far from being a stand-alone subject in the curriculum that brings out the moans and groans, we are surrounded by maths concepts and even our youngest readers will enjoy this story as the illustrations are so evocative, the text is just a bonus!  Exploring 3D shapes; which stack, which don’t; counting the blocks as they are added and thinking about why one tower took 4 and the other 8; using the language of comparison and building towers that are as tall as, taller  than, shorter than other objects; even the dexterity and eye-hand co-ordination involved in the stacking – there is a wealth of activity in this seemingly simple book.  

Perfect for keeping the preschooler occupied for hours without a screen and learning at the same time!

Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried










Wemberly Worried

Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow Books, 2010

32pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99


Wemberly worried about spilling her juice, about shrinking in the bathtub, even about snakes in the radiator. She worried morning, noon, and night.

“Worry, worry, worry,” her family said. “Too much worry.”

And like many children,  Wemberly worried about one thing most of all: her first day of school. But when she meets a fellow worrywart in her class, Wemberly realises that school is too much fun to waste time worrying!

Wemberly Mouse’s anxiety is on an extreme scale though and regardless of her family’s reassurances she cannot relax.  She clutches Petal her doll and strokes her ears when the levels rise, but then worries if she strokes them too much they will fall off.  She is so good at thinking “What if” that she may have a career as a writer when she grows up! 

As the year ticks by and many of our younger children are going to start the transition from daycare and preschool to big school, there will be those who are starting to get a little anxious already with all the usual concerns that making such a big step encounters.  And those worries can become so enormous that they become fears and the anticipation and excitement of this new adventure that is somewhat of a rite of passage are overwhelmed. 

Often it is not enough to just say, “Don’t worry”, (as Wemberly’s family does) to children with a high level of anxiety – they need to have their fears listened to and, where appropriate, helped to develop coping strategies should the worst happen.  There are many resources available now to help parents help their child but sometimes when little ones go to big school there is a suggestion that it is time to leave their preschool lives behind, including their beloved toys that have been with them since birth and have been their confidante and security blanket in stressful times.  And yet with this huge change in their lives they are left without the companionship of their most trusted and comforting friend and ally.  Wemberly would have been unable to cope without Petal just as Jewel would have been lost without Nibblet.  The astute teacher will acknowledge that these are more than just a collection of stitches and stuffing, that they are imbued with love, safety and security, and perhaps having a special shelf so the special toys can come to school too with the child deciding when they want to wean themselves. Meanwhile the teacher librarian can encourage them to read to their special toy in school and at night and might even provide a collection of teddies for those who just need an extra hug or two. It worked for me!  

This book has been in continuous publication since its release in 2000 – that, in itself, says so much about how it resonates with little children and needs to be part of that transition process.  There will be  both a Wemberly and a Jewel in each new cohort.


The King with Dirty Feet

The King with Dirty Feet

The King with Dirty Feet










The King with Dirty Feet

Sally Pomme Clayton

Rhiannon Sanderson

Otter-Barry Books, 2018

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


Ask a child to draw a picture of the king and they will always give him a crown.  They would never give him dirty feet!  But that is the problem for the Indian king in this story inspired by a Bengali folktale called The King and the Cobbler.

Even though the king lives in a beautiful palace in a kingdom filled with trees, flowers, animals and a broad flowing river, he himself is not so beautiful because he loathes bathing.  To put it bluntly, he stunk so much that it even offended him and so he reluctantly decides to bathe in the river.  But when he steps out the riverside dust dirties his feet and so he has to get in the water again. But again they are dirty when he steps out. Realising the problem he orders his servant Gabu to remove all the dust and dirt in the kingdom and gives him just three days to do it or…

Gabu’s first two solutions work but the king doesn’t like them.  The third solution works but then a wise old man shows him that the land won’t like it.  Is there a way  for the king to have his clean feet and the land to still produce the plants and animals that make it so remarkable?

This new version of an old story is brought to life by an acclaimed storyteller so it is easy to hear yourself reading it aloud to a captivated audience while the colourful, detailed illustrations  show a different kind of king and kingdom to challenge the stereotype.

Something a little different to share and spark a range of conversations from the importance of hygiene to the purpose of clothes to the stereotyping of particular characters .


Cloud Conductor

Cloud Conductor

Cloud Conductor











Cloud Conductor

Kellie Byrnes

Ann-Marie Finn

Wombat Books, 2018

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


Frankie’s active, outdoors life is cut short when she finds herself confined to a hospital bed and she is physically restricted to the four walls of the room.  But her imagination has no such boundaries and as one of those walls is a large window, she is able to slip outside and explore the beauty and magnificence of the clouds that pass by, something she loved to do when she was well.  Through the seasons their shapes, colours  and movement change and Frankie rejoices in their splendour, listening to their melodies, conducting “symphonies in the sky” as her hands wave in time to the beat of her imagination – even on the darkest of days. She sees their pictures and lets them take her on journeys to familiar and far-away places, far beyond the reaches of those physical walls.

Spring, summer, autumn, winter – the clouds are her escape mechanism allowing her to leave her reality behind, if just for a short time.  And then she realises, this is a gift she can share…

Children don’t have to be in a hospital bed to have horrible stuff happening in their lives and this beautifully illustrated book celebrates the unconfined power of the imagination to escape, even if just for a little while. to somewhere else, to touch base with another world where trouble doesn’t intrude and even offer a fresh perspective on the situation itself.

While teachers’ notes are available, taking the children outside in all sorts of weathers where they can see the sky and letting them look and imagine and conduct their own symphonies would be the most powerful of all.


I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!









I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

Daisy Hirst

Walker Books, 2018

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


Monster siblings Natalie and Alphonse love books and stories – picture books read to them by their dad, scary stories read by their mum, Granny’s stories , stories remembered and those made up.  It didn’t matter – they loved their books and the tales within them.  Natalie is so excited that she is going to learn to read…

“When I can read, I’ll have all the stories in the world whenever I want them.” 

“And you can read them to me!” said Alphonse.

But then Natalie got her first school reading book…

In this so-true story Daisy Hirst has captured the experiences of so many little people who can’t wait to go to school because that’s where “real reading” is learned and then have their expectations shattered because they get a book about a cat that like to sit on a mat. *But it isn’t a story… Nothing even happens to the cat.” And with no real story and the letters and words looking like “Scuttling insects with too many legs and eyes” how many other children are like Natalie and declare they “don’t like books anymore”, their reading journey over before it starts! Even all the encouragement that Natalie gets from her family doesn’t overcome the disappointment of a meaningless text. 

I could write a uni assignment based on this book alone but won’t.  Suffice to say that it must be made mandatory reading and discussion material for all those who determine the books and the programs we offer our very earliest readers to start their own reading story and the impact that those decisions can have.  The profound message in its seeming simplicity is enormous!

Who Hid the Socks?

Who Hid the Socks?

Who Hid the Socks?









Who Hid the Socks?

Rosemary Coombs

Lorraine Robertson & Warren Brown

Bullawai Books, 2018

24pp., pbk., RRP $A15.00


Laundry day and everything is in the basket – but where are the socks?

David and Stephen are sent out on The Great Sock Hunt and find them in the most amazing places!

In the garage they peered around

and on Dad’s messy bench they found

cotton socks, wool socks,


Dave’s were in the tool box

from cleaning up his trike.

They tossed them in the wash and then set off to look for more.  

In the lounge room, inside a chair

were hidden with some of their underwear…

new socks, old socks


stripy, spotty, bold socks,

with cars and boats and bikes.

So many socks for just four feet but who has been hiding them?  Has Dobby been collecting them to free his house-elf friends or is there something else afoot?  Missing socks is one of the mysteries of the universe – there’s even a Lost Sock Memorial Day!

Image result for lost socks meme

But in this charming  story that rattles along at a great pace because of the clever rhyme and rhythm the answer is much more simple. And, as well as enjoying the tale, young readers can also have fun trying to find all the items in each illustration, using the lists at the back as a guide. 

Matching and pairing socks and counting them is a great early childhood maths activity but wearing matching socks is overrated IMO!

A lot of fun either as a bedtime read or a class activity, both the book and teachers’ notes are available directly from the publishers.

Scaredy Book: It’s not always easy to be brave!

Scaredy Book

Scaredy Book









Scaredy Book: It’s not always easy to be brave!

Devon Sillett

Cara King

EK Books, 2018

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


Book lived among many friends in the comfortable, warm, peaceful library and loved it.  From where he perched he could see his friends skip out the door tucked under the arm or in the library bag of a delighted child as they went on great adventures and met new friends and then returned to tell the tale. Book would have liked to have had those sorts of adventures for himself but he was afraid – he thought of those books that came back damaged -creased, ripped, sticky or even with their pages missing – or never returned at all leaving a gap in the shelves where they had once stood proudly. 

Will he ever overcome his fear and let himself go on an adventure? What happens when he meets Emma whose favourite place is the library?

This is a delightful, original story that sensitively explores the fear of the unknown and the courage involved in stepping outside our comfort zones to experience those things we would really like to if we weren’t so timid. Book, Emma and all of us have an imagination that can sometimes cripple us from taking action because of the ‘what-ifs’ and we can make the negatives so huge they outweigh the positives.  But it also a book that can inspire moving forward – by turning the ‘what-if’ into something we can develop a strategy for in advance if, indeed it does happen.  It can also inspire empathy by helping the worried child consider the concerns of those they are going to meet – perhaps they are just as scared.

Quite different from her debut book The Leaky Story, nevertheless this is another great example of the “what-if’ story starter that triggers speculative fiction that has been the focus of Sillett’s academic research.  The illustrations are in a gentle palette with soft lines that emphasise the tone of the story and reinforce the atmosphere of calm and peace and tranquility that prevail.

Either as a class or a personal read, this is a wonderful way to have children begin to talk about the things that concern them and help them navigate their way through them so they, like Book, can discover a whole new world of adventures.

I Am Enough

I am Enough

I am Enough











I Am Enough

Grace Byers

Keturah A. Bobo

Balzer + Bray, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Like the sun, I’m here to shine…

Like time, I’m here to be, and be everything I can.

In a time where there seems to be an expectation that we will each be smarter, richer, thinner, bigger, better than anyone else, it seems to be impossible to just be – and let who you are be enough. But in this stunning new release, the little girl does not feel the need to compete with anyone.  She not only accepts who she is and is proud of that but also respects the individuality of others…

I know that we don’t look the same: our skin, our eyes, our hair, our frame.

But that does not dictate our worth; we both have places here on earth.

Apart from the powerful message that all children, indeed everyone, needs to take away from this book, it’s other strength is its diversity – each child is different in ethnicity, religion, and even physical ability although their gender is the same and that perhaps is its one negative.  Perhaps in a world where gender equality is still an issue. showing girls and boys together could have added just a little more.

Nevertheless, this is an important book to share and discuss as we try to promote positive mental health from an early age and that needs to start with the acceptance of ourselves as we are with no compulsion to compete to match someone else’s expectations. 



Blast Off!

Blast Off!

Blast Off!











Blast Off!

Shelly Unwin

Ben Wood

Random House Australia, 2018

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


Eight planets in the solar system.

spinning round and round.

Let’s climb aboard our rocket ship

and zoom off planet-bound.

Young readers can join two intrepid astronauts and their dog on this rollicking adventure around the solar system full of fun and laughter as well as facts.

Expecting to be able to fry up some bacon and eggs and make woofles, they discover “Mercury is mega-hot and closest to the sun.  You couldn’t visit Mercury, the heat would burn your bum.”

Combining clever, engaging text-in-rhyme with illustrations that add so much more to the adventure, as well as a chart at the bottom to show where each planet is in the scheme of things, this is a clever introduction to the solar system that will introduce our youngest readers to what is out there and whet their appetite to find out more. The journey back from Neptune contains more ‘formal’ facts about each planet including a brief explanation about why Pluto is no longer included as a planet.

A fun way to take a journey out of this world.