Before you were born
and while you grew,
there was a party
just for you.
In the past, as in as late as the 1970s, pregnancy was a very personal matter and expectant mums like me hid their growing figures underneath voluminous tent dresses as though there were something to be ashamed of. In fact, there was even outrage just 24 years ago in 1997 when Nicki Buckley, co-host of the very popular Sale of the Century quiz show went on national television wearing a figure-hugging gown that showed her baby bump very clearly!
Thankfully, society has moved on and now pregnancy is celebrated with gender reveal parties getting more and more outlandish and the once humble, discreet baby shower taking on enormous proportions. So, although this book wouldn’t have been published when my son was born, it can be now and it is wonderful in its celebration of the excitement and anticipation of an impending birth. Written in rhyme and addressed directly to the child, Germein has captured the joy that parents-to-be feel but it is Magisson’s illustrations that show the diversity of families that celebrate the delight that are its focal point. No matter what culture, ethnicity, whatever, the happiness that greets the announcement of a pregnancy is universal. Families gather, the news is shared with all ages, nurseries are prepared and shared and the baby bump is not hidden away … pregnancy is no longer something secretive, even shameful!
This would be the ideal gift for an expectant couple who want something different to share with their child who was the focus of such love and joy but wasn’t quite there to share it!
Joining this popular series for young readers wanting to know more about their world, are two new titles. Gardening joins its earlier companion Composting to help young readers learn about plants, their needs and how they can care for them, while Dinosaurs is the latest in the Little Historian collection.
A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for over 80 years, Puffin has developed this series to introduce our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in the perfect size and format for little hands. Voiced by Puffin Little and speaking directly to the reader in a narrative style which ensures engagement, there is much to carry interest and open up new fields to explore. The contents page and glossary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned. There has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal.
Teacher librarians are reporting a real upsurge in young readers seeking non fiction written for their interests and abilities, particularly if they are collected together in one place in a series box, and so collections like Puffin Little have a significant role to play in helping children understand that books have a role to play in their search for information and understanding of the world, ad that not everything is available on the internet and certainly not at their level of understanding. Allen Lane, the founder of Puffin, began with a dream of establishing a publishing house to produce quality literature for children, beginning with four non fiction titles for children who had been evacuated to the country to keep them safe from German bombing and invasion. Now, 81 years on, his dream is still being realised.
Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town on his own with a basket, a shopping list and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes by Jo’s house, where she’s peering out the window, bored and lonely. When Jo sets out to follow him, a group of kids from school mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner and, excited to make new friends, she reluctantly hides the truth. But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows into a Great Dane-sized problem when Pawcasso gets his own internet fan club … will Jo be able to solve the mystery of the dog’s owners before she is caught out in her web of lies, will Jo risk her new friendships by telling the t? Are hew new friendships more important than telling the truth?
This is a graphic novel which provides many hilarious moments as it delves into Jo and Pawcasso’s adventures as well as setting up a dilemma that students may well debate the solution for as the various layers impacting Jo’s life are considered. What drives us to tell “little white lies” and when do they become untruths that can trap us? Is a “little white lie” ever acceptable?
The community which Jo finds herself venturing into reflects the communities that we all live in – there are always everyday issues that take on a life on their own and divide residents – and Lai uses clever techniques such as having Jo join a book club to discuss philosophical questions such as “If love comes from the heart, does hate come from the brain?” offering scope for lively class discussions within an at-arms-length context.
While its graphic novel format may entice hesitant readers to engage with reading, this is a story that poses questions in a way that demonstrates the power of story to address those big questions while being entertaining at the same time. There are several downloads for teachers available on the publisher’s website. Intriguing.
Once Salih’s life was ice creams at the park, his favourite teacher and warm milk at bedtime but now, like his pet tortoise, he carries his home on his back as his family, and thousands of others try to escape the deafening blasts of bombs, the white dust shrouding the sun and the sound of crying in the darkness. There is some solace when an old man teaches him to paint his happy memories on the scraps of waste paper that blow past their nighttime camps and Salih encourages others to do the same. He has plans for the pictures, keeping each one and rolling it up and putting it in a bottle to scatter on the ocean. But when they finally get there, the sea is angry and tosses the bottles and the families hither and thither – will they find a safe, welcoming new home?
Written in 2018 when thousands fled across the Mediterranean to find sanctuary in Europe, this is a story that will bring a new world to young readers -that of being a refugee, or as in the recent conflict in Gaza, a life that means living with bombs and noise and dust and constant fear. Sadly, it might be all too real for some of our students so this is one that must be handled sensitively by a teacher who knows the students well. But if we are to acknowledge the perils that some of our students have faced and build awareness and empathy in those who have had an easier upbringing, then sharing stories like this is a way to do it. There are two sets of teachers’ notes to accompany this story – the first focuses on refugees generally and the activity which has students selecting the items they would take if they had to flee but which must fit into their backpack is very powerful’ the second focuses on a spread by spread examination of the book. Both give students a better understanding of what life is like for too many children in this world.
A story that puts life into perspective offering a way to help students deal with their own problems even if they are not as dire as Salih’s. .
Whether spoken, shouted, murmured or just thought; whether written, read, screened or viewed, we are surrounded by words. Words that are big, little, shortened, extended, kind, hurtful, colourful or ugly. Words that ask questions, shout out loud or tell us to pause – our lives are dependent on our need to communicate and for that we need words.
Vescio, who has proven to be a master in saying so much with so few words, and Bartel, who has interpreted his words with the most exquisitely appropriate illustrations, have crafted a celebration of these most abstract yet concrete necessities. We celebrate a child’s first words from just a couple in the first twelve months to an exponential growth by the time they start school. In fact, the NSW Department of Education has declared vocabulary to be “the greatest predictor of success in literacy” so what better tool to inspire the study and development of words than a book about them. The possibilities are endless but if you’re stuck there are teachers’ notes available.
“Words string together like droplets of dew on a silky web and shape the heart with happiness through stories one word at a time and on a cold, frosty, foggy morning this book has lifted mine.
At the bottom of Anna’s garden is an old pear tree that is her favourite place and secret hideout. She loves being up in its branches, where it gives life and shelter to all sorts of creatures and allows her imagination to wander. But as autumn and then winter roll in, it loses its magic and wonder, just as Anna does as she succumbs to a deadly illness. The tree stands bare and alone until one day Anna returns and gives it a soft hug. And together they start the journey back to wellness and fullness…
Using the pear as a symbol of hope, as it is in many parts of the world, this is a delicate story of a young girl’s battle with cancer and chemotherapy tracing Anna’s journey in its illustrations more than its words so the reader really focuses on the parallels between tree and child. Just as the tree loses it leaves in winter but returns to its full glory as the warmer weather returns, so does Anna’s hope and resilience build until she is back able to celebrate her 10th birthday with her friends and family, under the shelter of the pear tree.
While some of our students may be in Anna’s particular situation, there are many more who are facing other challenges and who need the reassurance that time will pass, and like the pear tree, they will prevail. So this is one to share and talk about so each can take what they need from it.
If a writer or a movie-maker wants to add eerie, sinister atmosphere to a story, then the howl of the wolf is guaranteed to send shivers up the spine. For the wolf has its own kind of magic, one that springs from fairytales and legends, from history and mythology going back to the story of Romulus and Remus and even today, in a wolf-less Australia, wolves are the older boy’s dinosaur in the same way a dolphin is the older girl’s unicorn.
So this true story about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park in the USA will fascinate many. Once, wolf packs roamed from the Arctic tundra to Mexico, but the loss of habitat and extermination programs led to their demise throughout most of the United States by the early 1900s, leading to their being declared endangered. In the Yellowstone National Park, as in many other areas, the ecosystem started to collapse. Enormous herds of elk swarmed the plains, bears starved, rabbit families shrunk and birds flew away to new homes. Plants vanished, trees withered and rivers meandered.
But in 1995, Yellowstone was designated one of three areas where these creatures would be reintroduced under careful supervision and management and this is the story of that homecoming. Examining the landscape without the wolf as the primary predator, to the tracking and capturing of the first wolf and its mates to return, their reestablishment and the recovery of the landscape, this is a story that not only tracks the first 14 wolves but also demonstrates the important role that all species have in the protection and survival of the planet. Even where there is conflict between humans and predators it is critical that we learn to live alongside each other.
Written for independent readers as a narrative rather than a collection of facts and figures, this is one to suggest to those who want to know more about the creature that has captured their imagination and teamed with this information from the US National Park Service, you will be offering them a fascinating learning experience that could inspire them to even further investigation such as the story and impact of the eradication of the Tasmanian Tiger. Engrossing.
I was in my Granny’s kitchen eating extra-special cake, when the walls began to tremble and the roof began to SHAKE. KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Ring! Ring! Ring! Oh MY – a dino’s at the door. And now it’s taken Granny … SOMEONE STOP THAT DINOSAUR!
Grabbing her scooter, the little girl races off after the dinosaur careering through the park, the town and the woods, all the time shouting. But to no avail. Finally, the inevitable happens and she falls, grazing her knees and bruising her bum. And when she shouts for her Gran, suddenly the dinosaur re-appears with her and explains why he stole her in the first place.
Using rhyme to develop a pace as fast as the little girl on her scooter and convey the sense of urgency and drama of the situation, and big, bright, bold illustrations that have lots of humorous details to discover, this is a story that will appeal to everyone who likes dinosaurs and/or grandmothers. They will be able to join in the chorus to stop the brontosaurus and have much fun in doing so as they follow the chase. It highlights the special relationships little ones have with their grandmothers and the things they do together, (although this grandmother cannot lay claim to baking apple pie or cakes!)
One to share and just got the delight of the words rolling off the tongue!
Imagine appearing to be a regular young girl but in reality you are a werewolf with powers that make you super-fast and super-strong and give you x-ray vision. Lottie Luna is just that and although she doesn’t like to use her powers, preferring to be just the regular young girl, but if she finds her friends in a pickle she will use them to help them out.
In this fourth adventure in the series, when Lottie’s school holds its yearly talent competition, she finds that she might just have to use them… if she’s going to help her friends save the day and win first prize…
Written for for young, newly independent readers who see themselves as just like Lottie – being just regular little girls on the surface , but with a heroine not too far below the surface, each story is richly illustrated with all the supports needed to carry their reading journey forward making this is an ideal series to offer those looking for something new and different.
There is nothing quite as joyful for child and grandparents as time spent together and in this classic, now available in board book format, that’s just what Spot does. In typical lift-the-flap format, Eric Hill has crafted another story for our youngest readers that will engage them as they recognise such familiar figures and activities. It’s amazing how much mischief a little puppy can get into while helping Grandpa in the garden and youngsters will laugh out loud as they open the flaps to discover what he had done next.
Since Where’s Spot, the first in this series about this ageless little dog, was published in 1980 it has grown into a family classic passed down with love and warmth through the generations. Now in a sturdy format that will allow little ones to read it for themselves, another generation can delight in these adventures as they learn about the pleasure of books.