Archive | October 2021

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Charles Fuge

Walker Books, 2021

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760653538

Little Wombat is so very excited because he’s found a fun new friend to play with – one with a strange name Pla-ty-pus and with an even stranger walk, a funny face and who can swim like a fish. But when Little Wombat tries to mimic Platypus’s walk and finds himself in the water and having to be rescued by his new friend, he realises water is not for him.  Nevertheless, he is determined to learn to swim and while tries teaching Little Wombat  Rabbit and Koala begin to wonder if wombats should, after all, stick to dry land!

Swimming lessons are such an integral and necessary part of our littlies’ lives that when the NSW “roadmap to freedom” was released it was quickly changed to bring forward the opening of indoor pools because of the outcry of parents demanding access to swimming lessons for their young children.  Indeed, in my teacher ed days in New Zealand we could not graduate until we each had our swimming teacher quals as swimming lessons were a compulsory part of the phys ed curriculum for both term 4 and Term 1 with most schools, even in the coldest parts of the country, having their own learner pools installed as a matter of course. 

So this is a timely tale about the importance of learning to swim and the fun it can be, as Little Wombat learns to kick his legs and float using a log, to paddle like a dog and dive like a frog.  After all, if a wombat can learn to swim and become a wom-bat-y-pus, then so can any little child! So sharing this message with a lovable little character with the most endearing expressions with them will give them confidence to try and the expectation that if they work hard as Little Wombat does, they will succeed.  Swimming is just what Australian kids do. 

Drover

Drover

Drover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drover

Neridah McMullin

Sarah Anthony

Walker Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760652081

In 1889, A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson in his tribute to the iconic Clancy of the Overflow, wrote…

In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving “down the Cooper” where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And in this stunning book those pleasures are brought to life by the lyrical text and the evocative illustrations as the reader joins Drover on the trail as the herd of bullocks are moved over the vast interior of this country.  Even though each day seems to be a repeat of the routine of the one before it, the ever-changing land and sky scapes make each unique and enjoyable, even though they are bone-weary and saddle-sore and a tiny bandicoot spooks the flighty Shifty so the whole herd stampedes. 

But there is a twist in this tale – for it is only once they have wheeled the bullocks into Dajarra to the thrill of the gathered crowd, after thousands of kilometres and six months on the trail that the identity of “Drover” is revealed to be Edna Jessop, a real-life character and Australia’s first female boss drover who took this herd from WA to Queensland in 1950 after her father fell ill.  

Droving cattle is not just a part of this country’s history, but also its present as during recent droughts many farmers have been forced to send their stock out onto the long paddock,  the term given to the travelling stock routes that traverse outback Australia. Many has been the time when we have slowed to pass the herds as they graze the verges of the highway, drovers and dogs on high alert as the traffic passes within metres.  So as well as celebrating the remarkable story of Edna Jessop, it also opens up another avenue of exploration to explain where we have come from, perhaps even inspiring them to plan a family journey to discover those pleasures that Paterson, Clancy and Edna all experienced.   

The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere

The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere

The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere

Jaclyn Moriarty

Kelly Candy

A & U Children, 2021

432oo,, hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781760526368

Even though his stepdad was seen dropping him off at school each morning, Oscar didn’t seem to make it through the school gates and Deputy Principal Kugelhopf is demanding a written explanation.

But how can you explain that you were on a quest  to locate nine separate pieces of a key, held by nine separate people, in order to unlock a gluggy silver spell that had trapped the Elven city of Dun-sorey-lo-vay-lo-hey? That the quest was an urgent one because Friday at noon, the spell would become permanent, the Elves would be crushed to death and Oscar would be trapped in this magical world forever? That, even though you’re just a regular non-magical kid who likes to skateboard, your companions were Bronte, a girl who makes magical ‘Spellbinding’ rings, Alejandro, a former pirate/current prince who can shoot arrows and make fire from stones, Imogen, who can read broken maps and is a kickboxing master, Esther, who saved her entire world from some kind of ancient monster, Astrid, a smart ten year old who can read minds, and Gruffudd, a surprisingly speedy (and always hungry) Elf?

But, between himself and Imogen, Oscar manages to recount the adventures and from them emerges the fourth book in the Kingdoms and Empires series, a whimsical fantasy series for independent readers . While there are lots of illustrations, this is one for the older reader who enjoys fantasy and is perhaps looking for a new series to explore if they haven’t already discovered it. 

Maxine

Maxine

Maxine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maxine

Bob Graham

Walker Books, 2021

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

9781406387636

There are lots of babies being born in the neighbourhood, but now it is Max who is going to have a little brother or sister. And even before the ultrasound can tell if it is a boy or a girl, the traditional family mask is in place!

When she was born there was a hand-knitted Super cape from Grandma and soft leather boots from Grandpa and she grew up to be just like her mother Madam Thunderbolt, her dad Captain Lightning and of course, Max.  She was so clever that she started school early, but there things began to change, because she just didn’t seem to fit in with the other children.  First to go, much to the family’s chagrin, was the cape – jeans were so much more practical – but Maxine kept her mask.  

But will she ever going to be able to break free of her family’s expectations and be herself?

To quote the publisher, this is a book about “a coming-of-age superhero story about growing up and discovering your identity, with the support of a loving family” and while that might be a popular theme in literature for young child, this one has the magic of Bob Graham’s craftmanship.  And even though it is 20 years since we first met Max himself, this one is likely to be just as timeless and relevant in 2041. 

Mummy! Where are You?

Mummy! Where are You?

Mummy! Where are You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummy! Where are You?

Charmaine Oates

Jelena Jordanovic-Lewis

Little Steps, 2021

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

 9781922358912

Mummy! Where are you?’
Today is Charlie’s favourite day of the week – it’s stay-at-home-with-Mummy day!
But it’s Mum’s only day off from work and she has a lot to do! Moving from room to room, Mummy is too quick for Charlie to keep up but by lifting the flaps, he is always able to find her.

This is a charming story that will resonate with both parent and child as sometimes it seems the only escape from the cry of “Mummy, where are you?’ is to take refuge in the loo.  (And even then, it’s not always a hideaway.)  But because it is so familiar it is ideal for sharing with our youngest readers because they can readily recognise the situations, see themselves as Charlie, and by using their existing knowledge of the context, predict  where mummy is and what she is doing before lifting the flaps.   

Before even learning the skills of reading itself, there are many concepts about print to be understood, the first being that stories are fun, and this book offers all the elements of that as well as celebrating the special relationship between  mother and little one, even when doing the most mundane things.   Sharing the book together adds another layer to that bond. 

Cat Dog

Cat Dog

Cat Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Dog

Mem Fox

Mark Teague

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761045868

This is an hilarious story about a dog, a cat and a cheeky mouse, who because they are traditionally enemies, are always a combination that can have any number of outcomes and this one does.

Its format  will appeal to very young readers because each page is based on a question that the reader has to answer Yes or No to, ensuring they use the clues to make their prediction. And not everything is what it seems.  And with the ending in the reader’s hands,  there is so much scope for imagining ‘what if’.

Mem Fox is the master of creating stories that not only engage young readers but draw on all her knowledge and expertise of early reading behaviour to ensure they discover the joy of stories and reading and sharing them from the earliest age.  Teague’s depictions of the characters not only add to the intrigue but also add humour and a touch of whimsy.  Definitely one for the younger readers in your life, but also for those studying the art of the picture book because this is an example of the very best at their best. 

In My Mosque

In My Mosque

In My Mosque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Mosque

M. O. Yuksel

Hatem Aly

Farshore, 2021

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

9780755502608

The mosque as both a place and the way of life it represents plays such a significant role in the lives of so many of our students that this book that explores how it is used by families, friends and communities for worship, learning, eating, helping each other and playing will be welcomed by many.  For not only does it reflect the lives of so many – and we know the power of reading about ourselves in books – but it also demystifies the building and what happens within for those who are unfamiliar.

Based on the author’s visits to many mosques around the world, it shows both similarities and differences and how through these there is unification overall. Illustrated by the artist behind The Proudest Blue the reader is taken inside a place that radiates peace and love and the simple commentary of what happens explains much.

An important addition to the collection of any library that serves the followers of this faith, as well as others as we try to break down the walls by offering insight and understanding. 

The Great Book-Swapping Machine

The Great Book-swapping Machine

The Great Book-swapping Machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Book-Swapping Machine

Emma Allen

Lisa Coutts

NLA Publishing, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279736

 

Late one night, a thing appears in the paddock next to Fabio’s house, way out in the outback where people just drove past without stopping. .

His dad calls it ‘space junk’ and rang the Space Agency to come to take it away. But Fabio figures it is more than just junk and when he opens the hatch and climbs inside he discovers books. Books about the galaxy; big, fat books; books full of poems. On the pilot’s seat is a book called A Daydreamer’s Guide to the Galaxy and he can’t resist taking it home, staying up late into the night reading and learning. Next morning he feels he is ready to fly but when he pulls the big red lever, nothing happens and he throws the book out in disgust.  The next morning it is gone – but not too far.  The girl from next door is reading it and she hands him one of her books. It is the first of many swaps made among all sots of people, all of whom have to band together to stop the persistent people from the Space Agency from taking the “space junk” away.

This is one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve read and reviewed this year – but then, given its focus, that’s hardly surprising.  With its  funny, original and imaginative story, whimsical illustrations and an informative fact section, it’s a book about the joys of reading and the importance of community, both of which are dear to my heart.  While the usual fact pages at the back of any NLA publication give information about the National Library itself ( a familiar, favourite stomping ground for me) and little street libraries it opens the door to investigating the many different libraries in the world such as The Library of Ashurbanipal, the oldest known in the world, to the packhorse librarians of the Appalachians to their local children’s library and all stops in between.

I adore stories that send me down rabbit holes of discovery and this one has all the elements to do just that.

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s, 2021

128pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780734420046

Natural history illustrator Sami Bayly, the mastermind behind two of the most intriguing non fiction titles that have got young boys, particularly, reading recently – The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly  Animals has produced another outstanding offering that will have readers as intrigued as its predecessors did and the phenomenon of young lads grouped together poring over the pages during lunchtimes in the library will return.

Bayly has collected stories of 60 peculiar pairs – plant and animal species that rely on each other for their survival – and over half of them call Australia home.  Whether parasitic or symbiotic; teeny -tiny like the Heath’s Tick and the Mountain Pygmy Possum or large like the Ocean Sunfish and the Laysan Albatross; land-bound like the Stinking Corpse Lily and the Liana Vine or water-dwelling like the Spotted Handfish and Sea Squirt; plant-plant, animal-animal or plant-animal Bayly has brought together a fascinating group of creatures whose relationships need to explored. 

The book has a built-in ribbon bookmark and serendipitously mine fell open on the entry about the Canberra Grassland Earless Dragon and the Garden Wolf Spider. One of the reasons we bought a home where we did in Canberra was its proximity to the proposed Gungahlin shopping centre, making access to facilities more convenient as we aged.  But then the site was discovered to be the only habitat of the Earless Dragon in Australia and so the whole precinct was moved to preserve its home.  Like all the other entries in the book, its relationship with the spider is explained as well as other facts and figures that just make for a fascinating read in language that is accessible to all. We learn new terms like mutualism and commensalism )which describe the type of relationship) -the sorts of words youngsters like to offer at the dinner table to baffle their elders – as well as critical information such as the environmental status. As usual, the illustrations are very realistic , each pair having a full colour double-page spread. 

While my review copy will be going to the same little lad as I gave the others to because they have been the springboard to his becoming an independent reader within months of beginning, he will have to wait until I’ve finished reading about pairs that I didn’t even know existed let alone that I wanted to know more about them!

Look for this one in the shortlists and winners’ circles. 

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

Graeme Base

HarperCollins, 2021

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

9781460754696

Deep in the Scottish Highlands, many years from now …

Gertie Gif, a lowly cleaning droid from the village of Loch Lan, sets out on an heroic quest to liberate her fellow robo-folk from the curse of a legendary, battery-draining laptop who lives in the castle on the hill.

Will Gertie and her little software-wolf companion succeed in cleaning out the vampire’s corrupted heart?

Or will the Curse of Voltoid remain forever hanging over the valley?

In this new release from the amazing Base, he combines an old-fashioned tale of good versus evil with 21st century techno-speak to produce an intriguing, clever story that marries the very old with the very latest.   In a castle high on a hill overlooking the valley dwells the dreaded Voltoid , “a giant laptop, black as night, with wings and pointy teeth” who sweeps down into the village to drain the resident robots of their power in order to recharge his own. Then, as in true tales of old, an unlikely hero volunteers to confront the enemy and in in clever rhyming text, an epic encounter ensues.

“In time, the tale become a myth and finally a meme

with feature films and merchandise…

A total data stream. 

Deviating from his familiar full-colour illustrations, this time Base has kept to black and white but with the typical exquisite detail that make his illustrations as rich as both the concept and the text.  This is one for more mature readers who can appreciate the subtlety of the words and the connections between them and the pictures. 

So much food for thought…