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Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy

9781760893651

 

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg

9781760894528

Puffin Books, 2020 

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 

 

 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Stephanie Owen Reeder

NLA, 2020

132pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279521

December 1914, times are tough, war has broken out in Europe and 15 year old Will Hutchinson joins his father, two mates and six camels on and expedition to the South Australian desert outback to search for gold. But water rather than gold becomes their main concern as the harsh conditions become real, and in desperation the men leave Will to babysit the pack camels while they search for water.

But Will is not content to just sit and wait and so he too, goes off to find water. But he finds so much more – the opal fields of Coober Pedy owe their discovery to his courage, cool head and self-belief.

This is the fifth in the Heritage Heroes series that tells  the “true stories from Australia’s past featuring ordinary children and young people who have achieved amazing things against the odds”. As well as the narrative itself, Will’s story is interspersed with double-page spreads about the topics in each chapter such as riding the Ghan, the Afghans, the camels and surviving in the desert, all of which draw on the full resources from the National Library of Australia  to bring them to life and give them authenticity. There are also pages about the future of Will and the three men (Will came to a tragic end at 21), maps and details about the stories behind the story so readers can explore further.  Thus as well as an entertaining read for independent readers about a real person they can relate to, there is also a glimpse into a past that few know about. There is a reason that the main street of Coober Pedy is called Hutchison Street and the memorials that stand beside the Stuart Highway in South Australia and at Glengyle Station in Queensland.    Teachers’ notes will be available .

This is a series well worth highlighting in your collection so our young students not only learn the intriguing stories of this country’s past but can also be inspired by ordinary kids doing extraordinary things so perhaps they too can become a hero of the future. 

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Home To Country

Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760501921

The saying “there’s no place like home” has never been expressed so poignantly as in this new book from leading indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft who always creates a visual feast accompanied by lyrical text. The young girl is coming home across the old wrinkled hills, through the palette of “leaf green, red rust, yellow ochre, deep blue and crimson”  to draw in the breath of the valley, listen to the bird orchestra, slip into crystal clear waters and be held in the embrace of her ancestors. 

“This is peace” and even with its bright colours and traditional busy patterns, that is exactly the feeling that is evoked by the gentle words as they envelop the reader. With the tumultuous summer we are experiencing with such weather extremes and the insatiable fire dragon, this is the book that we and our children need so we can retreat to somewhere safe and know that there is the evidence that Mother Nature will prevail if we would only listen to those who have cared for the land for generations. In her dedication she urges her “three warriors” to keep rallying for change so that “all children can have hope for the future” and know that the fire-ravaged, desecrated landscape that they are seeing right now can heal.

A timely release as we seek to comfort those for whom everything currently seems bleak and black and silent so they know that there can and will be colour and noise and life again soon. 

Roo Knows Blue

Roo Knows Blue

Roo Knows Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roo Knows Blue

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2020

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

9780143790327

As Little Roo hops along she notices all the colours of the outback but as yet she thinks they are all blue. It’s her friend Possum who helps her learn about red and yellow and all the other colours that make up the palette of this vast country.

If I see Renée Treml’s name on any book (and there have been a few now) then I know I am picking up something special for our youngest readers that will be superbly illustrated and an engaging read.  Roo Knows Blue could have been written about Miss Now Nearly 9  who also thought every colour was blue when she was a teeny one (and whose favourite colour is still any hue of blue) and so that brought back lots of lovely memories for this ageing grandmother. But it also shows that a country that we might mentally picture as being predominantly red and grey-green is alive with a rainbow of colour if we just take the time to look more closely. Imagine sharing this and then going outside to do a colour search!  Making a colour chart and then trying to find things to match, just as Little Roo did. What memories!

The language, rhyme and rhythm of the text will appeal to both reader and listener and make predictions easy while the illustrations support all that is going on, making it an excellent choice for developing those essential concepts about print that  are the foundations of literacy development. 

 

Top Koala

Top Koala

Top Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Koala

Jackie French

Matt Shanks

Angus&Robertson, 2019

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

 9781460754818

I am top of every tree!

Top is always best to be.

Having convinced us he is not a bear,  Koala is determined to show us that he is at the top of everything because “top” means “best” and that will always, absolutely be him. In this charming, rhyming tale French and Shanks unite again to take the reader on a journey around Australia’s iconic sights introducing our unique fauna as Koala is intent on achieving his goal to be the top of everyone and everything

But at what cost? Because as Koala shinnies to the top of trees, masts, poles and people he is oblivious to the reactions of those he steps on as he goes – their expression perfectly caught in Shanks’s illustrations and suggesting that Koala might get to the top but there might not be too many willing support him once he is there.  Sound familiar? 

With the devastation of our wildlife during this terrifying bushfire season making headlines around the world and the koala being the “poster child” for the campaigns, on the surface this is a lovely book to introduce our youngest readers to the diversity of our wildlife and the impact that nature and humans  can have on their habitats, but, as with all books written by this brilliant author, there is something deeper to discuss with our older students too.  What are the qualities of a true leader?

I had to wait for my copy of this book because it sold out immediately, and I was disappointed, But given the events of this summer I’m glad I had to wait because it now has a much more prominent and  poignant place in our children’s literature story. 

I’m Ready for Preschool

I'm Ready for Preschool

I’m Ready for Preschool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Preschool

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2019

14pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9781760891602

I’m trying something new soon. Something new and exciting . . .

Like many young Australians, a new adventure is on the horizon for Master Koala as the new school year looms (less than three weeks away for most) and it’s time to take the next step towards independence – preschool! There is much to do and prepare but he is convinced he is ready, even though there are some nervous butterflies in his tummy.  But it’s OK – everyone else feels the same and with a teacher who is smiling and more toys than he has ever seen, his day passes quickly and he’s not ready to go home.

This is another in this series of books designed to mirror the lives of Australia’s youngest children as they encounter milestones in their lives, demonstrating that any anxieties are common and normal and that there are ways to deal with them.  They can compare their own experiences with those of the characters as well as learning that books can be useful sources of information as well as entertainment as parents work through each page as they share them.  

The perfect gift for the little reader in your life. 

 

Christmas Wonder

Christmas Wonder

Christmas Wonder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Wonder

Vicki Conley

Cheryl Orsini

Affirm Press, 2019

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

9781925870770

Christmas time,

Seven sleeps.

Busy house

Tummy leaps.

In a series of eight-word rhymes, the magic and excitement of the countdown to Christmas in Australia is captured in this charmingly illustrated book.  Embracing all the familiar things that families do at this time, combining the traditional with the contemporary, young readers will enjoy spotting their family in the illustrations while talking about what’s happening and sharing their stories of what they do that is similar as well as what they do that is a bit different. It’s a great opportunity to broaden understanding and share diverse perspectives – there are few who don’t celebrate Christmas, even if they do it differently. 

In a storyworld with many Christmas-themed books to choose from, it is refreshing to have a new story that has some depth, reflects who its readers are and what they do while not making them caricatures of all that is “ocker”, and opens up the opportunity to explore and explain.  

I’m Ready for Christmas

I'm Ready for Christmas

I’m Ready for Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Christmas

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2019

board book., 14pp., RRP $A 12.99

9781760891619

Getting ready for Christmas is an exciting time for little ones. And it is no different for Miss Wombat’s family. There is much to do such as baking a big, round pudding from Great-great-great- Grandma’s recipe and decorating the tree. 

Very young readers will love seeing the things that their families do reflected in this very Australian interpretation of the Christmas experience, all helping to build anticipation for the great day. 

This is a new series of board books for our youngest readers shining a light on familiar events in their lives, aimed to bridge the gap between single-word concept books and the longer narrative of picture books.  Little ones can compare what the characters do to their own lives learning valuable concepts about stories and how they entertain as they do, a vital part of early literacy development. While their story might parallel Miss Wombat’s, why isn’t there any snow and the other trappings of the northern hemisphere Christmas that are so prevalent in what they see in print and on film?  Critical thinking can start as early as you like!

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

Fauna: Australia's Most Curious Creatures

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

Tania McCartney

NLA Publishing, 2019 

56pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279545

Eyes, legs,  tails and tongues peek out at you from the cover of this new book from Tania McCartney, beckoning you to open it and discover who they belong to. The intrigue is repeated on the endpages, enticing the reader to search for the whole that matches the snippet as they are introduced to a variety of Australia’s unique indigenous creatures. Given that Australia is home to more animal species than any other developed country, and 87% of the mammals, 45% of the birdlife, 93% of the reptiles and 94% of the amphibians are only found on this landmass, it would be impossible to highlight every single indigenous creature so McCartney has made a judicious selection of familiar and not-so so that there is a well-rounded introduction to tempt the reader to discover more.

From those that are already extinct through to those of least concern, each creature is identified with its conservation status as well as a range of interesting, easily-accessible facts and illustrations, several of which show McCartney’s quirky humour. With an animal family tree that helps show how the puzzle pieces fit together, two indices and a comprehensive glossary this is something more than just “a tourist’s guide to…” offering budding naturalists who are independent readers something that is written for their level and also has enough information to satisfy and spark their curiosity  including breeding and feeding habits, physical characteristics, habitat and other unique features that will leave them wanting to discover more, while trying to match those vignettes to their owners. 

Usually books about this topic can be dry and cold, but the combination of text and illustration that is so uniquely McCartney make this warm and engaging and one to treasure. She has called is “a labour of love” and that shines through.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s

My Folks Grew Up in the '80s

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s

Beck & Robin Feiner

ABC Books, 2019

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

9780733339417

To those of us of a certain vintage, the 80s don’t seem all that long ago but to today’s generation they really are the olden days – the days of their parents’ childhood when technology was just starting to emerge and become part of everyone’s everyday life, rather than that of industry or business.  In this light-hearted lookback, today’s kids are introduced to telephones that never left the house; movies that had to be hired from and returned to a store; music that was carried on the shoulder and clothes and hairstyles that will hopefully never return. 

In the colours and style of the era, students like Miss 8 and Miss 13 can look at life when their parents were the same age, and wonder at how they coped in times before the Age of Instant Gratification. But even though it could be a little tongue-in-cheek, it could also be the kickstart to investigating the development of the things that are taken for granted today as well as the impact of technology on lives and lifestyles. And to be honest, if this were Miss 8 and Miss 13, they wouldn’t have to go far to discover working examples of most of the things mentioned in the book! Just because their grandfather is a Luddite….