Archive | March 2022

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2022

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

9780241543498

Although formal reading instruction usually doesn’t begin until a child starts “big school”, so much of the rate of success and achievement is dependent on the groundwork that has gone before.  Mem Fox has said, ” If every parent -and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy in one generation!” 

But this new Peppa Pig adventure offers an even greater opportunity for our littlest readers to start developing those early reading behaviours that are crucial to underpinning reading development because it requires the child to create their own story. This is a choose-your-own adventure for the very young.   

Starting with a page of pictures of possible destinations, the child chooses where in the world they want to travel – to the jungle, the ocean, the desert, the city or even outer space – and then on succeeding pages they use the picture cues to decide which of Peppa’s family and friends they will take with them; their clothing; their lunchtime menu; how they will travel and so on, building an entire adventure as they turn the pages. There are musical instruments to play, shops to visit, parties to attend – and each is the child’s choice,  And when they return home safely, they can go back to the start and map out another adventure to tell!  The power of print over the fleeting screen! 

While listening to stories and building the pictures in their imagination is vital, having the scaffolding to build your own story with your favourite character is brilliant – there are so many skills involved and learning that takes place, not to mention the empowerment of being the author and making the decisions that this is, IMO, a must-have in the library of any beginning reader.  In all my years of reading and reviewing, showing and sharing books with little ones, books that are interactive with lift-the-flaps and other devices, I don’t recall one in this choose-your-own format for this age group.  Love it! 

 

 

Who Makes a Forest?

Who Makes a Forest?

Who Makes a Forest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Makes a Forest?

Sally Nicholls

Carolina Rabei

Andersen Press, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781783449200

Who makes a forest? A wizard, a giant, a business corporation or an emperor and all  his armies?

With its very English orientation this has been sitting on my to-review pile for some time, patiently waiting its turn as I pondered whether it was appropriate for young Australian readers, But as other reviews unfolded, particularly the series about the development of the planet from the Big Bang , the formation of land shapes and landscapes that we view in awe today, and the birth of animal life  its place in the scheme of things began to evolve.  For if this planet was formed by a mighty explosion that left us with scalding molten rock that eventually cooled, how did it become covered in all the plant life we know today?  

Compounded by watching what, for decades, has been a sharp, clay bank where the earth was cut out for a building turn to a moss-covered haven for tiny creatures as this year’s rain has seeped through the ground from the hills above us, and lichen grew on tree stumps that have been dead for just as long, the book found its way to the top of the pile.  So even though the plants and creatures that the children meet as they walk through the woods with Grandpa, nevertheless it is the concept of how  a thousand tiny things can come together to change the face of the earth. And so just as the children find moss and algae and lichen on the rocks, so I too, am finding it in my very Australian bush landscape.  And just as they see the tiny plants emerging from the soil created as those mosses and lichen break down, so am I seeing the shoot of a grass.  And as they see the butterflies and bees followed by the birds whose droppings not only nourish the fledgling soil but leave seeds that will sprout, so am I seeing clumps of wattle trees and other wildflowers starting to carpet what has been barren clay and shale. 

So from what was a book that didn’t really speak to me loudly, it has now taken its place in that collection that will help our young readers better understand the world around them and how it works.  And regardless of what evolves in the middle of the story, the start and the end of forests are the same – and there are even tips on what we can do to help them last longer. 

Mila & Ivy

Mila & Ivy

Mila & Ivy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mila & Ivy

Katrina McKelvey

Jasmine Berry

Wombat Books, 2022

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

9781761110801

The fun that can be had with a cardboard box is only limited by the imagination and sisters Mila and Ivy have plenty of that. Mila is a cardboard design engineer and as well as the usual stacks, cars, tunnels and hats, she takes things further to build robots, zoos , roller coasters and the best time machine ever.  Currently she is designing and constructing a cupcake catapult Ivy but things change when Ivy destroys their project, making cardboard confetti instead. Mila is devastated and wants nothing more to do with Ivy. Mila continues to engineer – alone. But something is missing. Maybe Ivy was making cardboard confetti for a reason. So how do sisters rebuild their relationship while engineering their next ultimate cardboard creation?

Building on the theme of girls can do anything, and reminding them that no field of endeavour is off-limits because of gender, readers can have fun dreaming of something spectacular they could make with a cardboard box and then draw up plans, gather materials, experiment and document their work as they build not only learning a lot about the design process but also how to deal with their frustration when things don’t work out and developing patience and resilience as they solve the problems.  Perhaps there is a better solution than making cardboard confetti.

It is also a story of the inevitable clashes in the sister-sister relationship that opens the door to discussions about the reader’s relationships with their siblings, the range of emotions including frustration, heartbreak, stubbornness, and determination as they eventually reconcile and understand that such ups and downs are normal.  That no matter how pesky little sisters can be (says the grandmother of two, five years apart) that there is always a special bond and as they grow up, the age difference becomes less. 

One that will resonate with so many… 

 

 

Amazing Animals

Amazing Animals

Amazing Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Animals

Sabrina Weiss

Paul Daviz

What On Earth Books, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781912920358

Record breaking tongues, playful dolphins, sleepy koalas – animals come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes… Discover over 100 of the world’s most remarkable creatures in this illustrated tour of Earth’s wildlife.

Animals come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. From the record breaking tongue of a chameleon to the dashing dance of the peacock spider,  it includes the most amazing examples from air, land and sea. Beginning with an introduction to the animal kingdom itself,  and the different environments they live in, the book is divided into sections that group the animals according to their habitats and habits, providing a snapshot of information about each that whets the appetite to know more. A central gatefold offers a world map which reveals the locations of all the animals included in the book.

A great beginning text for newly independent readers, this offers a gateway to learning more about those with whom we share the planet encouraging them to investigate those that capture their interest further by providing a list of the sources of information used, as well as a glossary and index to help with navigation. 

 

That Cat

That Cat

That Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Cat

Jacqueline Harvey

Kate Isobel Scott

Puffin, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761040702

All over the country I meet lots of interesting cats

Cats of all shapes and sizes in many different guises…

Using simple rhyming terms but very clever, detailed illustrations to completely engage the reader, this is a brilliant book for all cat-lovers and all ages.  For the Mat Cat is not a modest moggy curled up on a rug in front of the fire as you might expect, but a very fit, energetic yoga expert!  The Rat Cat hasn’t caught something nasty to leave at the front door but an echo of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

While young readers will love being able to read it for themselves because of the simple rhyming pattern, it is drawing the connections between the words and the pictures that adds depth, humour and a storyline that has the most comforting ending. Author and illustrator first met when Harvey taught Scott at school and that relationship shines through this book as though Scott knew that Harvey would never intend for a Fat Cat to be a self-satisfied feline surrounded by dead mice. 

Adorable in itself, and never written to be an instructional text, nevertheless this is one that could be shared with a class focusing on phonics and word families (don’t get me started…) but in a fun way where the children search out other -at words and then use their imaginations to illustrate them in surprising ways.   Or just re-interpret the words in the story.  Either way, they will not only learn a common sound for the -at combination but also start to look at character and how that can be expressed in the details of an illustration.  Can what has happened to Scat Cat be any more obvious even though there are but three words on the page???  The cues and clues offered through the pictures in a picture book are a critical, integral part of the child’s early language and reading development and texts like there that require a focus on both are an essential part of any book collection. 

 

Playing At The Border

Playing At The Border

Playing At The Border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing At The Border

Joanna Ho

Teresa Martinez

HarperCollins US, 2022

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

9780062994547

“Feet planted on the soil of one nation, eyes gazing at the shores of another, Yo-Yo Ma played a solo accompanied by an orchestra of wind and water.” 

On April 13.2019, on the  US banks of the Rio Grande he played a piece of music hundreds of years old to an audience on the opposite banks in Mexico to show that building bridges is so much better than building walls.  

But this is more than just a story of one man playing a cello alone to be heard by a few – this is the story of a renowned cellist, himself a blend of cultures as he was born to Chinese parents in France and raised in the US. Because his fingers were too small for a double bass, as a little child he chose the cello – and its particular blend of international origins is woven into both the story and the music.  And from its strings comes the music dancing ‘over rocks and rivers and walls into the sky”, born in Germany 300 years before, lost,  then found in Spain, and renewed in the US to unite those who had once been one but who were now separated…

Connecting cultures and countries through music was Yo-Yo Ma’s ambition when he began the Bach Project in 2018, reviving the rare cello solos which “create the sound of harmonising melodies on one instrument” there was as much symbolism as there was entertainment on that day in 2019 when the people of two nations momentarily joined together again, in defiance of the rhetoric and actions of the then POTUS. And in Johanna Ho‘s text, which is as lyrical as the music itself, we discover that there were many more than just two nations involved in making it happen. 

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

Jarvis

Walker, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781406392517

David has flowers in his hair and that’s just fine with all the other kids in the class, particularly his best friend. But when the bright, pretty petals start to fall off and David just has spiky twigs, things changed.  David was quiet, he didn’t want to play and he started to wear a hat. He never wore hats.  And when he took it off and reveled that he was twiggy, spiky and brittle, the other kids didn’t want to play with him either.  Until his best friend had an idea…

This is a touching story about what being a best friend really means – being there when your mate is at their most vulnerable, whether that be through illness or any other hardship that might strike.  The clichéed “thick and thin” that few are fortunate to experience, but when they do it means a lifelong bond that is remembered forever. Even though having flowers growing out of your head might be noticeable in the adult world, it is totally accepted as natural by the children who haven’t yet learned about adult perceptions or prejudices. But whether it’s because they’ve heard parental whispers or it just takes them a while to adjust to David’s new look, their attitudes and behaviour changes when he does, leaving him even more vulnerable than he would have been just dealing with its cause. Thank goodness for his best friend who supports him regardless.

While the story itself deals with David’s hair, which, while being the thing we often notice first about a person yet which is really the easiest thing to change, it could apply to any situation where the child feels isolated or marginalised and so, in the hands of a sensitive adult, it can help little ones share their own stories – perhaps illness, divorce, financial hardship, whatever – while helping to build compassion and empathy amongst their mates as they understand that their friend is still the same inside,  

Sensitively written and illustrated, this is one for the mindfulness collection that deserves to be shared and discussed and valued for its bravery/rarity in touching on a delicate subject in such a tactful way. I could use the other cliché, “Ask me how I know” but all I will say is that I have been David, and hopefully I’ve also been his best friend. 

Little Owl’s New Friend

Little Owl's New Friend

Little Owl’s New Friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Owl’s New Friend

Debi Gliori

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526628282

Little Owl is back in another story for littlies but this time instead of waiting anxiously for a new sibling; being concerned about starting preschool  or looking for any reason not to stop his game and have a bath , or trying to avoid going to bed. Little Owl is introduced to a new friend in the middle of his game with Hedge.  But this new friend talks so much and tries so hard, that Little Owl doesn’t want to be friends until… 

Over the last few years, Little Owl has become a favourite with our youngest readers as his adventures and concerns mirror their own so closely, and this new one is no exception.  They will all remember a time when a third party to a game becomes a third wheel.   And as always, wise Mummy Owl is there to help without intruding and taking over., knowing that Little Owl has to work these things out for himself. Alison Brown’s illustrations capture the author’s text perfectly making the characters very endearing while having enough detail for the young reader to work out what’s happening even if they can’t manage all the words yet. 

A series worth collecting for your little ones. 

 

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

Ben Hoare

Dorling Kindersley, 2018

224pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241334393

There comes a time in almost every child’s life when they want to know more about the creatures they share this planet with, and this fascinating animal encyclopedia with a twist showcases more than 100 animals in close-up detail. Arranged from biggest to smallest, the wildlife of the world is revealed with stunning photography and gorgeous illustrations while the easy-to-read storybook descriptions will delight newly independent readers.  Not only will they  discover amazing animal facts, such as why the humpback whale blows a bubble ring around a shoal of fish and how the plodding pangolin protects itself from predators, as well as some of the stories and myths surrounding their other favourite beasts.

With the usual navigation tools including a visual guide, this modern bestiary lets them find the animals of interest independently as well as uncovering new favourites along the way. From lions and butterflies to sharks and spiders there’s an animal for everyone in this celebration of the animal kingdom. Every animal is shown both photographically and illustrated, and children will love poring over the detailed images. The index is packed with reference information, including the size and location of each species, and a tree of life shows how the animal groups are connected.

With foil on the cover, gilded edges, and a ribbon for keeping your place, it is also  thick and heavy which is often the primary criteria for a certain age group.  Definitely worth the investment. 

Greek Myths

Greek Myths

Greek Myths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Myths

Jean Menzies

Katie Ponder

DK, 2020

160pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241397459

Even though the ancient Greek civilisation stretched across the Mediterranean, all parts share the same gods and heroes, their way of understanding the world around them and explaining to those less educated how things worked. The gods and goddesses who forged the Earth and set rules for all others to follow were such an integral part of their lives that they were integrated into daily life through their stories, their arts and even referenced in their law.  To this day, thousands of years since they ruled the known world at the time, these stories are known and their heroes recognised. 

In this impressive, weighty tome whose physical appearance belies its accessibility to its target audience of young independent readers, the stories are retold in modern easy-to-understand language accompanied by lots of illustrations.  They are organised under headings of The Beginning, The Olympian Gods, Humans and the Gods, and Heroes and there is also a section that explains more about the role of the myths in Greek life.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As with all DK publications for young readers, there are the usual supports for young readers such as an easy-to-navigate contents page, glossary and index, but, importantly, for this one, there is also a pronunciation guide so little tongues can master those tricky names.  Imagine not only being able to say “tyrannosaurus rex” but also ‘Chimaera’ and ‘Eurydice’ and even ‘Penelope’ (which was what I was to be called except my mum knew people couldn’t pronounce it!)   Perfect for dropping at the family dinner table and all because the child found this amazing book in the school library collection!

If your curriculum includes a unit focusing on superheroes, this is a must-have… how do today’s heroes match up and will they still be around in 1000 years?