As Year 6 moves along Alex has one goal – to make a friend, preferably Jared and the other popular kids, who won’t be mean to him when he starts secondary school. Because this is not easy when you are autistic and have super sensory awareness when sights and sounds, particularly overwhelm your brain, he has developed a plan to achieve this. It has three components – to be an expert at the computer game Orbs World; to run fast enough so his relay team, which includes Jared, can go to the district competition and for his beloved cockapoo Kevin to win a trophy at the upcoming dog show, Paws. However, when his expectations and plans start to go awry, he pins all his hopes on Kevin being successful…
Based on her own son’s experience when the family adopted a spoodle, the author has created an engaging story that will engage the reader from start to finish. Told by Alex himself so that we discover how he thinks, what he does to help himself and why, this is a rare insight into the world of the autistic child and the challenges they encounter just dealing with everyday situations we take for granted. Unlike the neurotypical brain that comes with ‘templates” for responses to situations, autistic brains are wired differently and Alex’s story shows how they have to build these responses from scratch, learning through mirroring and masking experiencing hard emotional lessons and confusing rejection as they do. Human behaviour being what it is, even his mum and brother can’t always match his need for consistency, and the one constant in Alex’s life is the unconditional love and sensitivity of Kevin. The bond between them is critical to his well-being.
While it is intended for independent readers, it would also make an excellent class read-aloud particularly for any class that has a child like Alex. If we are to develop empathetic, compassionate children then they need to understand the challenges that others endure, and this does that perfectly in a story that you can’t put down.
One of the most effective ways to promote and support inclusivity in our schools is to acknowledge and celebrate the festivals that are important in the lives of our students. Having various groups develop a display and gather a collection of books about their country and their beliefs to share with their peers really says to them that they are important and valued within the school community.
In this new publication as well as the usual celebrations like Christmas, Diwali Eid Ul-Fitr and the lunar New Year, there are lesser known ones such as Anastenaria, Matarki the Whirling Dervishes festival of Turkey and the Bunya Dreaming festival of our indigenous people. There are also festivals associated with each of the seasons, so the library could be the most vibrant place all year round.
Each celebration has its own double-page spread with easily accessible information and illustrations offering opportunities to become involved in crazy celebrations and holy holidays, from graveside picnics to epic dance-offs, tomato-throwing frenzies, crying-baby competitions and the biggest bathing ritual on the planet.
This is an important book to add to the collection so that those who celebrate the various festivities can read about themselves while opening a world beyond the usual for others.
There are many steps in building a house and it’s important that they be done in the right order.
In this charming story-in-rhyme by Mike Lucas (he who always writes such fabulous Book Week theme poems) young readers not only begin to understand how a house is built and the vocabulary associated with it, but they can join in the rhymes and provide appropriate actions as they do. It’s perfect for exploring and consolidating the concept of sequencing and learning the language of order – first, second, third, next, before, after, last and so on.
But most of all it’s a love story between a father and daughter as they work together to make one of the most important things we need – shelter.
Very different from both Vanishingand Olivia’s Voice , this is one to appeal to much younger readers especially if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they have learned or they have family members that they see in the illustrations!.
Dandy was a best-in-show sort of hound while Dazza was a rough-and-tumble sort of mongrel. As dogs go, they couldn’t be more different. One liked five-star food, the other old bones found in the rubbish bin; one liked peace and quiet; the other barked and went crazy; one walked demurely to the park in a fur-lined coat and leg-warmers; the other pulled and strained at the leash covered in the mud and muck from rolling in puddles on the way…
Could two such different temperaments ever get along?
From the title to the endpages to the text itself, you just know that this is going to be a book of contrasts that brings so much fun to the reader. And it doesn’t disappoint. How will two such polar opposites be able to share the park together? This is a story that will appeal to young readers, especially those with dogs because no doubt they will recognise their own pooches in the pictures and the antics. The bright, brilliant illustrations catch the eye and the roll-off-the-tongue text will make this a favourite while sparking discussions about how opposites attract and despite our differences, friendship is still possible..
Little Mole looks on with envy at the birds soaring through the sky, the ducks swimming, the grasshopper leaping and the squirrely climbing.
“I wish I could do that,” she said with a sigh. Wise Owl hears her and tells her that rather than envying the others, she should just be herself. But when Little Mole decides her talent is digging and sets out to dig the biggest hole in the world, it seems that everything just turns to disaster – or does it?
This is a gentle story-in-rhyme for young readers that demonstrates the meaning of clouds having silver linings. Although it appears that her digging only upsets Fox and Hedgehog and Rabbit and she decides to give up, a meeting with Otter spurs her on and the ending is most unexpected. Perhaps Little Mole’s talent is more important than digging the biggest hole in the world.
From a tiny window, too high in the eaves to be noticed from below and too small to let in much daylight, came a delicate tune. A melody, a song, a sound so sweet which drifted on the breeze to the lanes and streets below. … Day after day, the song is heard through the town. making the old feel young and comforting the lonely. It fills the whole town with joy and kindness. No one knows who sings the song, but they know it is good. Until one day, the music stops. Can the town work together to save the song for everyone?
This is a gentle story that shows how it is the little things that can shape our day and our well-being. With the music being depicted as whirls and swirls of tiny flowers and leaves small enough to get into everyone’s ears and heart, yet its origins not revealed till the climax of the story+, young readers can predict not only who or what is offering this gift to the town but also what has happened to make it stop.
A peek inside…
It also shows that music is a universal language and begin an investigation into its various genres and what they think would be the one tune that everyone would like to hear. How does music affect our mood? What mind pictures does it create ? Is there, indeed, a song for everyone?
In Children’s literature: A reader’s history from Aesop to Harry Potter. ( 2008, Chicago, IL., USA: University of Chicago Press) Seth Lerer contends that “Ever since children have learned to read, there has been children’s literature” and having children learn lessons about life through literature has been a constant thread. Didacticism has been a hallmark of children’s stories from the 18th century moral tale to the modern problem novel as using realism to instruct its readers has always been its central aim. Although this has changed from trying to inculcate better, more mature behaviour to presenting a problem without suggestion of a solution, nevertheless for generations of readers education has always been placed before entertainment.
And that is the central thread of this collection of forgotten fairytales, as common in their time as those of Snow White, Cinderella and their ilk today but lost throughout the years. With their focus on the many ways we can be courageous or kind, they feature both genders as heroes and diverse cultures demonstrating that essentially, children are the same the world over. With their message of being kind to ourselves, having the courage to stand up for what we believe in, and being compassionate towards others, even though the stories themselves are over a century old, their message today is as applicable as ever.
Fairytales remain a part of the study of literature across the age groups and this collection offers some “new” stories to compare to the more well-known ones to investigate whether they have a common structure, theme or message that children in 2021 can learn as well as those in 1821. Have things changed so much?
If there is one word that children of today know as well as their name it is “virus”. So much of their lives have been affected by this tiny, invisible thing that has had such huge impact. But what is a virus? Using the successful Lift-the-Flap Q&A format of others in this series, readers can investigate just what a virus is, discovering that there are many more than just COVID 19! They also learn the importance of the rules like social distancing, washing their hands and other personal hygiene issues, important because if they understand the why about the what they are more likely to comply. it also alleviates some of the fear that their imaginations can conjure up.
In the past we have been teaching our littlies about why they need to eat well, sleep long and play hard to have a healthy body and preventing illness has been a peripheral, but things have changed and this is an important addition to the collection so they can better understand this thing that is going to shadow their lives for a long time to come.
When Amira’s family arrive in their new home as refugees, it is clearly different from what Amira is used to and she is felling lost and alone. But hiding in her suitcase is a tiny seedling struggling for life and it becomes her new best friend, thriving as she nurtures and nourishes it. Something warm starts to grow inside her as she is reminded of happier times.
As children do, Amira meets some of the other children in the camp who share their seeds with her and despite being surrounded by poverty, tin shacks, and not much else between them and the friendship that grows like their plants, they are able to bring a little beauty to the bleak environment and harsh life that is now their reality. And just as the seedlings climb and reach for the sun, so do the children build hopes and dreams.
This is a gentle text that tells an all-too common story of displacement but it is tempered by the friendships that are born and thrive like the seedling in Amira’s suitcase. It is a story of acceptance and hope as the children reach out to each other oblivious to race, colour, beliefs and backgrounds, seeing only someone to talk to, to play with and who understands the circumstances. Smiles appear on their faces again as families meet new families and a community begins to grow because a little girl felt lonely and found a seed.
There will be children in our care who will have their own stories to share about camps such as that Amira finds herself in, in a world very different to what they have now and that of the children who are their peers. But just like Amira they will build new friendships and a new future buoyed by seeing themselves in a story book, learning that just like plants, friendships need to be nurtured to make them strong and healthy.
Do fish wear pyjamas? What’s the sound of an iceberg melting? How many sheep did it take to launch a Viking longship? Which is faster – a tsunami or a bullet train?
The answers to these and many more questions are available in this book that explores the history, science, environment and art of our planet’s seas and oceans. Beginning with a double-page spread that proclaims Planet Earth should be known as Planet Ocean because 71% of its surface is water and only 29% solid ground, the reader is taken on an intriguing journey that covers everything from the one tiny sea creature that keeps us breathing to the sea that has no shore to the origins or mermaids and beyond. Using rich illustrations and bite-sized pieces of information, this book opens up the world both above and below the waves offering the reader at least 100 journeys to explore further, a journey they can take using the Quicklinks that are provided with these sorts of publications from Usborne.
A peek inside…
Sadly, there are still some who believe that there is no need for a non fiction section in the school library collection because “everything is available on the Internet”. This book, especially written for those emerging independent readers who are learning about their world generally and who don’t know enough yet to formulate specific questions, and its companions in this series. are the perfect way to show that there is a place for print beyond fiction.