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Happiness is a Cloud

Happiness is a Cloud

Happiness is a Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness is a Cloud

Robert Vescio

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2020

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

9781922265715

Out for a walk with his father and dog, Jasper, Harry sees a flying pig! Well. it’s actually a cloud shaped like a flying pig and suddenly the walk is made more interesting as the two spot all sorts of shapes in the clouds overhead.  Even when dark, ominous ones roll in with menacing shapes like a rhinoceros and a wolf that make Harry shiver,  his dad shows him how they are good for the earth and all that grows in it.

 Just as the clouds change shape and colour so does Harry’s mood, particularly when Jasper disappears, and Vescio has cleverly mirrored these changes so young readers can understand that while they may be sad and unhappy now, there will come a change to happier times, just as the sun will always return to peek through and fill us with joy and hope again.  We just need to be patient and resilient to wait for it. That is the silver lining of clouds.

As well as being an engaging way to help young children understand the cycle of moods and feelings, this is also a wonderful way to build imagination and vocabulary as there are few things more peaceful than lying down and watching the endless patterns of clouds. Harry even touches on the question of what clouds are and why they can’t be touched, so that opens up another avenue of investigation while Bevington’s illustrations of Harry, his father and Jasper superimposed onto real cloudscapes will attract the artistic mind.

Living in a rural landscape with no pollution, reading the clouds to predict the weather and just appreciating their diversity of shape, colour, density and speed is one of the joys of the simple life. This book will connect our kids to these oft-overlooked phenomena while also showing them that there is always hope on the horizon.

Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake

Peril at Lizard Lake

Peril at Lizard Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake

Laura James

Emily Fox

Bloomsbury, 2020

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408889374

In a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee lives Fabio, the world’s greatest flamingo detective. He’s not tall or strong, but slight and pink. And he’s very, very clever …

Most of the time. But when an unusual lapse of judgement leads Fabio to accept a ride in his associate Gilbert’s plane, little does he know he’ll be nose-diving into a new mystery!

When the tiny plane crash-lands near a remote village in the savannah, all Fabio wants is a pink lemonade to calm his nerves. But the town well has dried up, and the water didn’t just disappear on its own! Fabio’s on the case, and it’s going to take a daring sting operation to set things right.

With its hot pink and citrus yellow colour scheme in both the illustrations and pages, this is a  series that will appeal to newly independent readers who like something a bit wacky in their reading diet. Flamingoes are up there with unicorns on the popularity charts right now, so for that reason alone it will be appealing  but as the third in the series, it offers more than just offbeat characters with  a mystery to solve through an engaging storyline while still supporting readers who are transitioning to the complexity of novels. 

Tashi 25th Anniversary Edition

Tashi 25th anniversary edition

Tashi 25th anniversary edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tashi 25th Anniversary Edition

Anna Fienberg

Barbara Fienberg

Kim Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2020

112pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760525446

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a little boy was finally born to a couple who so desperately wanted a child that after consulting Wise-As-An-Owl the wife sipped a special mixture made for her and within a year, Tashi was born.  Right from the start he proved to be very clever and had many adventures before finally fleeing from a wicked warlord, arriving in this land on the back of a swan where he became Jack’s special friend.  Every now and then he would share an adventure with Jack and then Jack recounted these to his incredulous parents.  And so the adventures and legend of Tashi were born…

And for 25 years they have fascinated young, independent readers being the perfect introduction to the world of fantasy and the fantastic, including almost every Year 3 class I’ve taught since the stories were first published.  Presented in a paperback format that contained two stories, they were perfect for real-alouds as well as read-alones, so much so that in 2001 my Year 3 classes led a national Book Rap that had students from all over the country answering the questions my students had posed about the stories via online activities and emails as the power of the Internet was gradually harnessed to connect children beyond the school walls.

Now the first of those stories, including the story of Tashi’s birth and the first indication on his cleverness at the age of one – Tashi and the Silver Cup-  and his becoming Jack’s friend,  have been republished in this special edition to celebrate that special milestone. 

In addition, all the stories have been collected into special editions each containing eight tales in each volume.  The Book of Giant Adventures; The Book of Magnificent Monsters; The Book of Magical Mysteries; and The Book of Spells and Secrets(each 256 pages and $A16.99 RRP) mean yet another generation of young readers can get to know this lovable little character, marvel at the detail in Kim Gamble’s illustrations and think about what they might do if they found themselves in a similar predicament. 

When I recently met up with some of those students who participated in the Rap in 2001, they all remembered it and the fun they had, particularly the power they had because they set the questions and tasks for the other participants, meaning each had to read the story closely to be able to construct open-ended activities.  Such memories would not be possible without having the quality and appeal of the stories to work with.  If your students haven’t met Tashi yet, now is the time to introduce them.

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

Roma the Road Train's First Road Trip

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

Debbie Camps

David Clare

Little Steps, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925839524

The road from Darwin to Alice Springs is almost 1500 km long and travels through some of Australia’s most scenic but inhospitable country.  Getting freight between the two centres can be arduous and hazardous even for the huge road trains that make the trip regularly.

This story about Roma the road train’s first journey takes young readers through that  outback country showing off not only the countryside but also the life of the driver who makes it, one typical of the men and women who do it frequently as they earn their living.  Driver and truck become one as the journey unfolds, the driver attuned to every nuance of the motor, every sensation felt through the steering wheel and then every night time sound as he curls up in the bunk behind the cab.

If you have young students, boys or girls, who have a hankering to be a truckie, or are just wanting to demonstrate another different lifestyle found in this vast country, then the road train drivers, the distances they travel, the country they travel through and the sort of freight they carry offer that. 

Lottie Luna and the Twilight Party

Lottie Luna and the Twilight Party

Lottie Luna and the Twilight Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Twilight Party

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780008343019

This is the second in this series for newly independent readers about Lottie Luna who is a werewolf. While she’s super-fast, super-strong and has X-ray vision. she doesn’t really like to use her skills.  She just wants to be like everyone else. But when it’s her friend Marjory’s birthday, Lottie sees a way she can use her special powers to get her the biggest surprise ever…

Characters having alter egos with special powers continue to be popular with readers and this new series for newly independent readers will satisfy those who like this genre.  Richly illustrated with monochrome cartoon-like illustrations to support the text, young girls will see themselves in Lottie – on the surface being just regular little girls, but with a heroine not too far below the surface.

Something new but “old” to welcome readers back to what’s been added to the collection while they were stuck at home. 

Super Sidekicks 3: Trial of Heroes

Super Sidekicks 3: Trial of Heroes

Super Sidekicks 3: Trial of Heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sidekicks 3: Trial of Heroes

Gavin Aung Than

Puffin, 2020

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143795902

Junior Justice (aka JJ) and his super sidekick pals are back in the third instalment in this graphic novel series . Having just saved the world they’ve now been invited to join H.E.R.O. – the Heroic Earth Righteousness Organisation – an exclusive club for the planet’s most famous superheroes. But before they can become members, the team must pass the hardest challenge in the universe, a test so scary and difficult only the truly heroic can survive.

With its graphic novel format ensuring an abundance of action this new episode will be welcomed by the growing body of fans of the series as students return to school and are eagerly seeking something new to read.  With the first two only being published in 2019, they are still available for those who haven’t yet met this band of mini superheroes so there’s opportunity to catch up if the series has escaped your notice.  Pitch it to those newly independent readers who like action and adventure as well as a feeling of being on the side of right, particularly at a time when movie theatres are closed and there is nothing new to take their attention and streamed reruns are rapidly losing their appeal. 

 

Rusty Runs Away

Rusty Runs Away

Rusty Runs Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rusty Runs Away

Sally Scudamore

Lexie Watt

Little Steps, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925839777

When the family go on their beach holiday without him,  Rusty the Australian terrier is perplexed,  but when Farmer Gruff and Grandma Jude whose care he has been left in are too busy to care, Rusty decides he will have a holiday anyway.  

But when he hitches a ride on a truck to escape the fast cars and sore paws, he doesn’t realise that he will end up far away from his home in Goondiwindi, Queensland – in Snowtown, South Australia!

Told in rhyme with different fonts distinguishing the different characters, this is based on the true story of a little dog on a big adventure.  Accompanied by clever, detailed illustrations, the reader is taken on a remarkable journey through some of Australia’s most isolated landscapes that will encourage young readers to get out the atlas and track his trail and with some calculations, determine just how far this little dog travelled.  

First-time author Sally Scudamore has continued the family tradition of storytelling, particularly now she lives in the UK and they are in Australia,  a tradition a lot of families may have implemented during these days of social distancing. Her debut book speaks of more to come. 

 

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Cinders and Sparks (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Magic at Midnight

 9780008292119

Fairies in the Forest

9780008292140

Goblins and Gold

9780008292171

Lindsay Kelk

Pippa Curnick

HarperCollins, 2019-2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Cinders lives a boring life with her selfish stepsisters and mean stepmother, doing the chores and tending to their every need, just like her traditional counterpart.  While they prefer to stay indoors all day listening to their mother read, Cinders would dearly love to be outside playing and although they can’t see the value of that she is allowed to do so once her chores are completed.  But something strange happens while she is outside –  her dog Sparks starts talking to her, her wishes start coming true and her fairy godmother, Brian, materialises.  (It’s been hard to track Cinders down because she is not on social media.)

And so begins a new series for young independent girls who are ready for a solid adventure story but still believe in magic and the characters of their childhood.  Easy to read, engaging and funny in parts,familiar characters and an ongoing quest make this a great read but at the same time, it has an underlying message that celebrates diversity and reaffirms that it is OK to be different. 

Miss 9 asked for The Worst Witch series for her birthday six weeks ago, and she is going to be thrilled when she discovers this series in her letterbox as a follow up because it will be perfect for her.  Thoroughly modern, thoroughly entertaining and just right for a winter read.

 

How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Pirate

Isaac Fitzgerald

Brigette Barrager

Bloomsbury, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781681197784

Ticked off that the neighbourhood boys refuse to let her join their game telling her she can’t be a pirate, presumably, because she is a girl, CeCe decides to talk to her grandfather about what it takes to be one.  After all, he has been on a ship, unlike those boys, and he has lots of tattoos.

And of course Grandpa knows.  Using his tattoos to take her on adventures and share his stories, he tells CeCe the qualities she needs to be a pirate.  She has to be brave, be quick, be independent and be fun. But the most important thing a pirate can have is love.  Will knowing this be enough to let CeCe join the boys in their pirate games?

This is a joyous celebration of the relationship between a little girl and her grandfather and the power of story and love.  Each adventure that Grandpa shares is just a glorious burst of colour with lots of detail enabling the reader to put the words to the story Grandpa is telling, engaging them in a special way that helps them reflect on how they too, could be brave, independent, quick and fun, while teasing them with the veracity of Grandpa’s recollections.  Was he really a pirate? One thing that is true is the love between the two, and really, that’s all that matters.

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Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Up the Mountain 

9781925594942

At the Fair

9781925594959

Hilary Robinson

Many Stanley

Catch A Star, 2020

20pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

These are the latest additions to this series which focuses on the young reader focusing on each double-page spread to find Gregory Goose. As well as developing their visual acuity as they hone their skills searching for him, by having each story in a specific setting that may already be familiar to the child or is likely to become more familiar as their reading journey progresses. site-specific vocabulary is developed so they learn about the sorts of things they would expect to see in each venue.  This is a critical aspect of early reading development because it helps them broaden their horizons but also focuses their attention on the setting, bringing to mind likely possibilities of what unknown words could be.

For example, while not many Australian youngsters will have had personal experience of what mountain life is like, by using the first-letter cue of “s’ (“get your mouth ready for…”) and using the pictures and the knowledge they have gained from books like these, they are more likely to transfer what they know to a new situation and be able to use the context to identify words like snow, snowmen, snowballs, skis, sled, and slope. 

With their bright, clear illustrations that have lots going on, this is a series that will draw children back to it many times as they discover something new each time, and each time developing their feeling of mastery over this format and skill known as reading. 

What seems like a simple hide-and-seek book actually has a vital place in those early reading behaviours and building concepts about print.