Archive | January 2021

Leafy Critters

Leafy Critters

Leafy Critters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leafy Critters

Yvonne Lacet

Blue Dot, 2020

36pp., hbk., RRP $A16.95

9781733121224

The limitless shapes, colours and textures of leaves is explored as an art medium in this almost wordless picture book to inspire young creators to try their hand.  The reader is encouraged to examine the components of the pictures that have been created so instead of seeing just green leaves in the environment, they start to realise that each tree has a myriad of colours and that the shapes can suggest all manner of things that can go together to make a whole.

As summer wanders on and some trees have already begun to change colour because rainfall is still scarce, this is the ideal time to take littlies outside to observe, gather, collect and create their own artworks using the free materials on offer from Mother Nature.

These creations help them search for the finer detail in the whole and examine the parts and their unique elements so as well as taking a closer look at their surroundings, they are also developing their visual acuity which is such an essential early reading skill as they distinguish letter shapes and search illustrations for clues to the text. 

Einstein declared that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

What better way to start a new school year than with such an open-ended imaginative project that will appeal to all ages. 

Let’s Go! (series)

Let’s Go! (series)

Let’s Go! (series)

On a Plane

9781921928802

On a Digger

9781921928710

Rosalyn Albert

Natalia Moore

Catch a Star 2020 

16pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

This new series of books created for our very youngest readers reflects a new approach that has been emerging in hoard books recently – that of real stories that engage, entertain and even educate our littlies as, at last, the importance of having quality stories for this age group is recognised.  There has been so much research into how critical reading to the very young from birth released, that those who create for this age are now providing more than one-word concept books and the understanding about how print and stories work combined with actually holding the book for themselves is doing so much for early literacy development.  Young readers are demanding stories that relate to them, have context and meaning that is familiar and a physical product that requires input from them rather than being passive recipients,  

So kudos to the publishers  for recognising that our youngest generation need and deserve quality stories that are as entertaining as any screen device placed in front of them. 

This particular series focuses on two children enjoying rides on a variety of transport. Familiar topics, catchy rhymes and colourful illustrations not only make for an enjoyable read that they will be able to retell themselves endlessly, but also promote what can be expected from story books. 

Little Gem

Little Gem

Little Gem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Gem

Anna Zobel

Puffin, 2021

240pp., hbk. RRP $A14.99

9781760896089

Sometimes getting a little lost can help you discover who you really are . . .

When her travelling spell at Witchcraft School goes wrong, Gem lands in an unfamiliar, empty, seemingly derelict cottage, outside a strange, colourful town beside the sea, a long way from the school on top of snow-covered mountains where she had begun.  But not only was this somewhere she didn’t know, it was a century on from the time she had been in! Telling herself she is not frightened but she is confused, Gem steps out to discover just what has happened.

Everyone in Ellsworth Pining thinks Gem is their new village witch, even when Gem tries to correct them. And Gem’s new friends do need her. The Weather Worker is missing, and there are tales of a terrifying beast in the woods. So, with the help of her cat Pomelo and the ghost Henry she not only sets out to solve the mystery but starts to believe that maybe she is not the worst witch after all.

This is a charming new series for young readers who enjoy a bit of magic mixed in with reality, and who, like Miss 9, have enjoyed series like Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch.  With all the scaffolding needed to support them including plenty of line illustrations, the reader will quickly be drawn into the life of Ellsworth Pining engaging not only with this first story but building anticipation for new episodes to come. Zobel was inspired to create the characters by children she had met – share this clip to help aspiring young writers understand that stories don’t appear by magic (even if Gem did) and that story starters are all around if we just look for them.

Dino Love

Dino Love

Dino Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dino Love

Michelle Worthington

Veronica Montoya

Catch A Star, 2020

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922326119

It is time for Little Dinosaur to start preschool and even though she is apprehensive, she soon learns that there is fun and friendship and love to be had beyond that of her family if she just takes some deep breaths and is open to new experiences.  And that although love can be expressed in words, it is also shown in all sorts of actions, and between all sorts of characters regardless of their size, shape, or colour.  That it doesn’t matter if you are a  this-osaurus, a that-osaurus or an other-osaurus, you all just want to have fun on the merry-go-round and know your parents are proud of you.

Brightly illustrated, this is an eye-catching book that will appeal to our youngest readers as it taps into the universal fascination with dinosaurs, the natural concern about stepping out of the family and into the world, and the reassurance that there is someone to catch us if we fall. Perfect for this time of year when so many are taking that next step.

Share it and then talk about how each little person has experienced love from both a family member and a friend that day so they start to understand that love is as diverse as they are.

Let’s Go, Little Roo

Let's Go, Little Roo

Let’s Go, Little Roo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go, Little Roo

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760896751

It is time for Little Roo to leave her mother’s pouch and be a little more independent. But Little Roo is afraid and no matter how much her mummy tempts her, she really just wants to stay put in the comfort and safety of what she knows. Deep down, she really wanted to taste the fresh green grass and play with the other babies but her fear made her want to stay hidden even more. 

But then Mummy Roo spots another little joey also tucked down in the pouch and Little Roo starts to think about just what she is scared of, and soon…

Apart from the fact that this has Renée Treml’s name on it and she has created so many stunning stories for little readers, this is the perfect one for this time of the year when so many of them are facing new worlds of kindy, prep, reception, whatever or even preschool and childcare.  Because, despite the anticipation and excitement in the lead-up, there are always those inner voices than can cast doubts that cause shadows.  Mummy Roo is very wise and knows that this is a step Little Roo needs to take, and while she acknowledges Little Roo’s fear , she is determined to show her that it is natural and can be overcome, with any anxiety she may have being well hidden.

With her characteristic, evocative line drawings that bring the characters to life, once again Treml has given our youngest readers a gift – not just of her talent but her understanding so they too can be like Little Roo and Little Wallaby, put their brave on and discover new worlds. Instead of stepping in, she is teaching them to step up!

Funny Kid Next Level

Funny Kid Next Level

Funny Kid Next Level

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Kid Next Level

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020

176pp., pbk, RRP $A4.99

9780733340895

Every kid wants to laugh, but Max is the boy who can make it happen.

He’s not the smartest kid; he’s not the fastest kid; he’s not the prettiest kid; but he might just be the funniest kid you’ve ever met.

In this novella from the unstoppable Matt Stanton, Max, like most of his mates, has been swept up in the craze for the new video game sweeping the school. He really wants to be the champion but can he get the time and access to beat the mystery pro gamer? 

Toilet snoozes, student protests, parent-teacher nights that go horribly wrong and an epic courtroom battle against Max’s baby sister are just some of the things in store for Max and his friends in this Funny Kid adventure.

The perfect length (and price) for a quick holiday read, Funny Kid fans will be happy to spend a few hours with this and then spend some time learning how to draw Max and Duck, the Stanton way.

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Helen Castles

New Frontier, 2020

170pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922326010

Scoop McLaren is the thirteen-year-old news editor of her own online newspaper Click! Her role model is her dad  (who runs his own newspaper too) and he has taught her that delivering the news is an extremely important job because people rely on it so they can be properly informed.  Together with Evie, her roving reporter best friend, the girls strive to keep the residents of their seaside village of Higgity Harbour informed while using their sleuthing skills to solve some curious mysteries along the way. 

This is the second episode in this series for independent readers and in it Scoop has another mystery to solve. When Fletcher, her childhood friend enters the Higgity Harbour top surfing competition, strange things start happening… It looks like someone could be out to stop Fletcher from winning! With her roving reporter, Evie, by her side, Scoop investigates all avenues. Can she track down and rescue her friend to solve this monster wave of a mystery once and for all?

Series remain popular with young readers as they become so familiar with the characters they not only see them as friends but also see themselves as being in the story, rather than an arm’s length observer.  So as our readers head back to the library to see what is new and exciting after the long summer break, new additions to favourite series are pounced upon starting the reading journey for the year.  This series is for those who like a mystery that has realistic, relatable characters and the promise of more episodes to come…the last page ends on a cliff-hanger ensuring another one won’t be far away.. 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 2: The Tumbling Tortoises

The Tumbling Tortoises

The Tumbling Tortoises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 2: The Tumbling Tortoises

Brenda Gurr

New Frontier, 2020

104pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781921928796

Zoe Jones has a hidden talent and a secret identity.  Daughter of one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world, sadly dead now, and a secret globe-trotting international food critic, at the age on nine, she has inherited her mother’s interests and talents, and when she is not at school she creates masterpieces that are highly sought after, aided and abetted by her guardian Aunty Jam and her magical cat Coco.

In the second in this series  for younger newly independent readers, Zinnia has won the Wildside Zoo’s endangered animals competition with her cute tortoise cupcake idea! But when she does more research about tortoises, one of her classmates starts asking too many questions… Can she remain the secret pastry chef everyone loves?

Baking has seen a real resurgence amongst the young in recent months – being a pastry chef is currently high on Miss 14’s to-do list – and given the maths, science and reading involved to create the perfect masterpiece, it should be encouraged. This series (and the Sage Cookson series) are the perfect accompaniments particularly as there are scrumptious recipes included such as the chocolate swirl cupcakes in this episode.

For me, the new school year was an opportunity to hook new readers to new series as well as pair up those who had started and were clamouring for the next episode. So I’d create a display of all the favourites which had had new adventures added and sit back and watch both the reading and the chattering.  What I liked most was how new friendships were formed as unlikely individuals or new-to-the-school students came together over a love for a particular character, proving, again, that books can change lives.

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760893392

Nelson used to hate vegetables- their smell, their look of them and their taste which was tricky because his family loves them.  His grandparents grow them, his father cooks them and the family devour them – all except Nelson who had the grossest pile of smuggled, uneaten vegetables stored under his bed.

The other thing that Nelson hates is school, particularly Mr Shue who has been his teacher for four years, since Kindergarten.  They are always on a collision course. However when his grandmother tricked him into swallowing an entire bowl of pumpkin soup, Nelson discovered that he had superpowers, and suddenly his relationship with vegetables changes.

In the second in this new series , broccoli  becomes his new best friend and while he is determined to discover why veges give him superpowers, he also wants to know  what is the mysterious flying machine at his grandparents’ farm and finds himself embroiled in a spy mystery!

This series will appeal to newly-independent readers who are ready for something more meaty but still having the short chapters and liberal illustrations to support them.  With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience,  Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Unlike Nelson who was looking for ways to hide his veges, perhaps readers will even be moved to seek out  recipes and then cook them and find a new taste that appeals – although I have to say there are better places for broccoli than my mouth.

Three Dancing Frogs

Three Dancing Frogs

Three Dancing Frogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Dancing Frogs

Leigh Hardingham

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier , 2020

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

9781921928819

From high in the hollow of a tree, the owl watches the strange activity below.  The animal orchestra is gathering, a stage and seating are being set up and tickets are being sold.  What is happening? From far and wide the animals gather – possums, geckos, bilbies beetles…everyone is ready in anticipation.

And then onto the stage come three little frogs, dressed in their tutus and ready to put on a show they have been practising for a long time.  In the moonlight they entrance their audience, but in the distance thunder is rumbling… will it end the show before it is finished?

Told in rhyme with a rhythm that echoes the nature of the frogs’ performance (reflecting the author’s singer-songwriter background), this is a feel-good story that is just right for drawing the curtains on a rambunctious day.  The illustrations are just as soft and gentle with lots of detail to discover with each reading, bringing a serenity that will settle the most fractious.  And should there be a storm rolling around then they will gain comfort and calm by knowing the frogs danced through it without fear.

It opens up lots of possibilities to not only explore the bush creatures but also the instruments of the orchestra and the world of dance.  With fruit bats on flutes, a spider on a harp, the violin, the cello and the viola, and a big bass drum, the child could listen to the sounds they make and suggest the sort of music that the frogs are dancing to and then make up their own movements. Or follow up with an introduction to   Swan Lake with this clip.  Or this one. While this was not the inspiration for the story, it is too good a match not to share!