Archive | March 2021

Peppa Loves Easter

Peppa Loves Easter

Peppa Loves Easter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Loves Easter

Ladybird, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241476406

It’s Easter time and Madame Gazelle has a special Easter surprise for Peppa and her friends after playgroup – Miss Rabbit has organised an Easter Egg-stravaganza!

There’s Easter cakes, Easter cards to make, an egg decorating stall and Granny and Grandpa Pig’s fluffy newly-hatched chicks, but where is Miss Rabbit?And who is inside the huge Easter egg?

After the events of the last couple of years our littlest children are really revelling in the excitement of Easter and not only is this a lovely story to share with them, but it also provides the inspiration for creating a similar Eggstravanganza, either for the class or the family. It has all the elements that children like with the scavenger hunt providing a little bit of mystery and the activities providing a lot of fun! 

The Valley of Lost Secrets

The Valley of Lost Secrets

The Valley of Lost Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Valley of Lost Secrets

Lesley Parr

Bloomsbury, 2021

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781526620521

September, 1939. Jimmy and his little brother Ronnie are “in another country that feels like another world [and] there’s a big scary war on that no one seems to be talking about.”  Evacuated from London to a small coal-mining village in Wales where the landscape is so different; the family they are billeted with are viewed with suspicion by the locals; and London friends are now enemies and vice versa it is no wonder that 12-year-old Jimmy finds it so much harder to fit in than 6-year-old Ronnie.  And on top of that, by accident he finds a human skull in the hollow at the base of an old tree.  What are the secrets it holds?

This is an intriguing read that kept me absorbed from beginning to end as it will any young independent reader who likes a mystery that twists and turns but ends up just as it should. Taking them to a real period in history when the children were sent to stay with strangers in strange places to keep them safe from the expected bombs that would fall on London, the characters, although unfamiliar, are very relatable and the whole thing epitomised this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds opening up a different but real way of life.  While it’s not the green lush countryside his Dad promised him, and he can’t read the sign at the train station, to Jimmy nothing feels right  and everything feels wrong. Although Ronnie quickly settles in and embraces his new life with Aunty Gwen and Uncle Alun, Jimmy is reluctant, resentful. and, at time, rude. Confused by the circumstances, and convinced the war will be over by Christmas, he doesn’t want to accept their kindness feeling like it would be a betrayal to his family. Despite being surrounded by people, he feels alone. His best friend has changed and there’s no one he can confide in. Even though he knows that when he finds the skull it is a discovery that is too big to bear alone, and his imagination goes wild, he still keeps the secret close in a town where everyone seems to know everyone’s business and have an opinion about it.

While this is a debut novel, it has the power to send readers on a new reading journey as they seek to find out more about this period and the stories of children who endured so much more than they will ever know. Both Jimmy and Florence learn a lot about themselves and each other as the story evolves, encouraging the reader to perhaps look beyond the surface of their peers and be more compassionate and considerate in the future.

Added to that, the author has embedded another mystery in the pages for the reader to solve, making this a must-have read that deserves all the praise it is getting.

 

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Allison Paterson

Big Sky, 2021

72pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781922265234

As our nation prepares to honour those who have served this country in both war and peace on ANZAC Day 2021,  once again we will see and hold commemorations that while confronting in their origins are comforting in their familiarity. Regardless of which town or city we are in, there will be many aspects of the services that are familiar because they have been traditionally associated with ANZAC Day (and other remembrance days) for over a century.

In this new book, a companion to Australia Remembers  the author has worked closely with the Department of Defence and History and Heritage units of the Navy, Army & RAAF to deliver answers to questions I have often been asked as a teacher on our major days of commemoration, Beginning with answering the question “Why do we have customs and traditions?,  chapters address items such as mottos, codes, music, parades and drills, flags, banners and pennants, badges and awards, ranks, uniforms, animals and mascots and many other elements that go together to make up these special days.  It is more than just pomp and pageantry – there is a story behind each story!

With hundreds of photos, easily accessible language and all the supports needed to navigate the text easily, this is a fascinating look behind the scenes enabling students to have a better understanding of not just the overall ceremony but why things are done the way they are. Having been a teacher librarian for over 20 years, the author knows just what is needed to make a text student-friendly.

Remembering those who have served has a prominent and rightful place in the ceremonial life of our schools, as was demonstrated in 2020 when thousands stood at dawn in their driveways because COVID-19 prevented them from participating in the traditional assemblies (itself the beginning of a new tradition) and this new volume in this series  is another significant contribution to the library collection so that the memories and the understanding continue.

It will joined by Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly in September, which tells the story of Kamilaroi man Len Waters, who, during World War II became Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.

 

Little Owl’s Bathtime

Little Owl's Bathtime

Little Owl’s Bathtime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Owl’s Bathtime

Debi Gliori

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781526613875

Little Owl is back in another adventure that will resonate with our youngest readers as he tries everything he can think of to continue playing King of the Castle and avoid having a bath. Bathtime means the end of the day and the end of the fun. But Mummy Owl has a few tricks up her sleeve and entices him to wallow in Bubble Mountain and play with the Giant Invisible Penguin, so much so that Little Owl doesn’t want to get out. 

As with the others in this series, Gliori and Brown have combined to create a story around a familiar activity that the target audience will recognise and get great fun from.  Even if they can’t outwit their parents who are trying to bather them, they will have a host of new excuses to try out, while their parents may get some tips to deal with the situation without needing tears and tantrums.

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.50

9781922387646

When Carly Mills goes to Melbourne with the school choir, she gets more than she expected.  Thanks to her magic shawl that transports her back in time, she takes a trip back to 1867 and a chance meeting with a mischievous little girl who might just grow up to be the world famous opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba. If Carly is to help the little girl achieve her dream, she will have to endure Nellie’s practical jokes, an angry headmaster, and her father’s belief that opera is not a fit career for a lady. Not to mention Simone’s bad moods and Dora’s terrible singing. But at the same time, she discovers her own abilities to persevere if she wants to make her own dreams come true. 

This is the third in this series, written for newly-independent readers who are interested in learning about the lives of women who have shaped history  With a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women it brings them  alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. With her own website, and a host of resources for teachers and students, this is a series that will appeal to young girls in a similar way that Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy appeals to young boys. 

 

The Greatest ShowPenguin

The Greatest ShowPenguin

The Greatest ShowPenguin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest ShowPenguin

Lucy Freegard

Pavilion, 2021 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781843654681

Poppy the Penguin comes from a long line of circus performers. Many skills have been passed down from penguin to penguin. However, Poppy soon decides that performing in the family circus is not for her as she prefers to feel calm and in control. But the hardest thing is not juggling, or riding a unicycle – it’s telling her mum that she doesn’t want to perform any more. The bravery is worth it when Poppy discovers a better role – organising and coordinating the whole show. And what a show it turns out to be!

So often, we, as parents, lead our children down the path of learning the things we like to do and expecting them to love them with a similar passion.  But it can be a road fraught with danger because our children always see us as the experts and that somehow they are never going to be quite good enough, which can lead to mental health and self-esteem issues.  Even though Poppy is very good as a performer and her parents are really proud of her, deep down inside she knows that the limelight is not for her and luckily she not only has the courage but also the relationship with her parents to express her unhappiness. Perhaps sharing this story might be the catalyst for our students to have similar conversations if they feel they have the need.

Freegard also brings up another element that often rears its head, particularly during class performances – that of “job snob”.  How often is the lead in the school play sought by the class’s leading light and both child and parents celebrate their celebrity?  Yet, as Poppy shows, the whole show cannot go on without those backstage workers, the support cast and everyone else who helps to make it happen.  Here is a great opportunity to demonstrate that no job is better or more important than another – they are just different and without one, others will flounder.  The school cannot function without all the admin staff making it easier for the teachers to do their thing.

Some big life lessons in one little book! 

Courageous Lucy

Courageous Lucy

Courageous Lucy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courageous Lucy

Paul Russell

Cara King

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820775

Lucy is a child who worries constantly, and because she has such a vivid imagination she worries about the most incredible things such as one day her shadow turning into an enormous black hole and swallowing her up or that she might be the person who discovers Bigfoot on the day he stubs his toe… She didn’t like going first because she worried that she would mess things up, but she didn’t want to go last either in case she missed out.

But when her teacher Mrs Hunt starts auditions for the cast of the school musical, Lucy is either going to have to speak up or there will be no parts left.  Does she have the courage?

Many of our students are like Lucy, full of worry and anxiety about getting things right, not messing up and being laughed at and it is becoming a huge concern as not only does it impact their mental health, it also reduces their willingness to take those risks that allow us to learn.  Sometime, somewhere, somehow, someone has instilled in them that they are meant to be perfect first time and all the time, and thus their lack of faith in their own ability hampers their freedom to do something as simple as predicting what will happen in a story – an essential element of early reading.  This is a situation that needs more than a “Don’t worry…” and so this book could be really useful in opening up discussions about fear of failure and all that’s associated with that.  Because Lucy’s fears are so extreme and unlikely, readers will feel safer because it puts them at arm’s length, but they will relate to missing out on something they really want because they didn’t speak up. Providing students with strategies to cope if they do have to face their fears, or even a more general one when those uncalled for clouds start to loom in their heads are the ultimate goal but if sharing this so others understand that worry is natural and common, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming  may lead to less anxiety and thus the book has done its job. 

The Thing That Goes Ping!

The Thing That Goes Ping!

The Thing That Goes Ping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thing That Goes Ping!

Mark Carthew

Shane McG

Ford Street, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804669

In the faraway town of Figgy-tra-ling, you may hear the faint ring of a thing that goes ping!

But this ting’s hard to find though its sound is quite loud

As the thing that goes ping can get lost in a crowd.

If you wish to know where you can find this ping thing

Let’s ask the good people of Figgy-tra-ling…

And so begins the quest to  discover this thing that goes ping, whatever it might be.  Moving through the town using rhyming couplets that instantly reminded me of a recent favourite, The Dingle-Dangle Jungle, the reader is taken on a journey that introduces a variety of creatures in a range of settings around the farm until eventually that thing that goes ping is revealed.  And it is a satisfying solution that makes the trip worthwhile!

This story works on a number of levels for all ages, particularly younger readers who are not only learning the names of common creatures but who revel in the sounds and rhythms of our language.  The rhymes roll off the tongue in a most satisfying way and with the repetition of the phrases and the very supportive illustrations they will not only be joining in but also be predicting the next text. Perfect for early reading behaviours, encouraging readers to suggest, write and illustrate their own resident of Figgy-tra-ling who could help the quest.  It is also excellent for using with students for whom English is an additional language as not only can they connect the English words with creatures they readily recognise, but again, the predictive text and the rhyme will help them explore the language easily.   As well, there are comprehensive teachers notes, song lyrics and even card games to download, making this the complete reading experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

Sandra Morris

Walker Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781925381801

“Earth is divided into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere by an imaginary line called the Equator.  One of the most important differences between the two hemispheres is the timing of seasons. Because of the hemispheres’ different angles and distances relating to the sun over the course of the year, their seasons – and their weather patterns – occur at different times.  In both hemispheres, animals deal with the changing seasons in various ways. Whichever hemisphere they live in, they need to be able to read the signs of the changing seasons to survive.”

But with climate change, many of those signs are changing and human activities are also having a massive impact, so more and more species are at risk as they are not adapting as fast as the changes.  This beautiful non-fiction picture book contrasts, month-by-month, some of the world’s most-loved Northern and Southern Hemisphere animals and the ways the climates in those regions affect the way they breed, feed, adapt, hide and survive. Using an element common to both focus creatures, such as camouflage, building a home, being armoured and migration. two are in the spotlight for each month showing how they deal with what they have always had and what they are now facing. 

It is an intriguing introduction to the environment and the continuing impact of climate change that will leave young readers with a greater understanding of how even the smallest action can have a huge effect.

From the detailed end papers which  have a clearly labelled world map showing the hemispheres, continents, countries, oceans and the animals mentioned in the book, including several from Australia and New Zealand to the supporting pages featuring a comprehensive glossary, index, further reading suggestions as well as  information on how individual readers can help, this is a must-have for any library collection and any unit of work that focuses on sustainability of the environment, animal adaptation and climate change, adding so much more to the reader’s understanding of the topic rather than the traditional “all you need to know about…”.

Look for this one in awards’ lists over the year.

 

 

 

Marie Curie and Her Daughters

Marie Curie and Her Daughters

Marie Curie and Her Daughters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marie Curie and Her Daughters

Imogen Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg

Bloomsbury, 2021 

64pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781526614001

Imagine someone told you that your dream could never come true. What would you do?

Meet Marie Curie. Shy and reserved, she loved science more than anything else in the world. But she lived at a time when women couldn’t be scientists. Marie followed her passion and is now remembered for her game-changing discoveries. But while she tinkered away with test tubes and experimented with a glow-in-the-dark chemical elements, Marie became a mother. Irene and Eve grew up to be fiercely independent and determined women just like their mother, and had many adventures of their own.

Meet these three incredible women in this illustrated book as they save lives during WWI and WWII, win Nobel Prizes, overcome tragedies, travel all around the world and change the history of science forever. This uplifting and touching tale of strength, science and sisterhood is a triumph of female empowerment, introducing yet another generation to their work that changed the world..