Archives

Tashi Picture Books

Tashi Picture Books

Tashi Picture Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alphabetical Tashi

80pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760525293

My First Tashi Colours 

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

9781760877323

My First Tashi 123

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

9781760525286

Anna & Barbara Fienberg

Kim, Arielle & Greer Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2020

Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the publication of the original Tashi story, are three early childhood books which introduce the very youngest readers to the characters and settings while also helping with those basic concepts of  number, colours and the alphabet.

Because the original stories are perfect family read-alouds at bedtime, this collection will be ideal for introducing younger readers to that magical world that carries the stories along, or to assist those who are learning English as an additional language to learn the basic words using titles that are not as babyish as more traditional concept board books.  The original stories were illustrated by Kim Gamble, but since his passing his daughters have assumed the mantle and there is a seamless transition between the old and the new bringing the traditional monochromatic drawings to life in vivid colour.

With his own website and television series, Tashi is a perennial favourite who deserves his place in the legends of Australian children’s literature.

.

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A is for Ant

Kate Slater

DK, 2020

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9780241435922

There has been something of a revolution in board books over recent times. Our youngest readers are now getting interesting stories rather than one-word concept books and now publishers like DK are acknowledging that even at this early age, some are choosing non fiction as their preference. A is for Ant  is the first book in a new alphabet series, each of which looks at a particular animal that begins with that letter as well as features about the creature that reinforce the letter while illustrations bring the world of ants to life, as toddlers learn about ant hills, antennae and more.   Filled with simple, fun facts, A is for Ant provides lots to talk about as they learn how ants work together, what they eat, and where they live. It is cleverly designed to encourage early learners to repeat the fun a-words.

With the competition from screens of all sorts, convincing little ones that books are worthwhile even if they do appear static can be tricky but books such as this which demonstrate they do have something to interest them are a great starting point. Maybe, given the ubiquity of ants, it is time to invest in a magnifying glass to go on an ant hunt and discover more about these creatures, while older siblings could suggest more ‘a’ words to go with those already included. 

 

The Aussie ABC Christmas

The Aussie ABC Christmas

The Aussie ABC Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aussie ABC Christmas

Nancy Bevington

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594256

In 1788 when the first wave of immigrants from the northern hemisphere came to Australia, they brought with them the celebrations and their associated traditions as they tried to settle into what was a land that was so different from what they knew, it was beyond their imagination.  Subsequent waves of immigrants have done the same thing and so now, 230 years later, so much of what we see and do at Christmas is still rooted in those wintery northern customs and people still strive to create a winter wonderland in their homes.

Slowly though, there are some uniquely Australian twists that are becoming more widespread and artist Nancy Bevington has captured these in this beautifully illustrated alphabet book.  There are B for beach, I for icecream and P for pavlova, and for those things like gifts, reindeer and Santa which are more universal, each illustration is quirkily Australian.  I can’t decide if my favourite is the emu putting the star at the top of the tree or the kookaburras laughing with joy. 

Young readers will delight in seeing so much that is familiar while those sharing this with them will love the humour in each picture. A treat for an Aussie Christmas stocking this year, and while it might be too late for this year as school is all but over, it would be perfect to stimulate a class display (or library display with each class contributing a letter) for next year, perhaps the reveal of each letter being part of the Christmas Countdown. 

Pups! (series)

Pups!

Pups!

 

 

 

 

 

Pups! (series)

Sophie Beer

Little Hare, 2018

26pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 

Alpha Pups

9781760501952

Pup and Down

9781760501938

Naughty Pups

9781760501938

Rainbow Pups

9781760501945

Little people love puppies ad so this series of board books for the very young reader will delight them. Once they have been shared, the youngest readers will have fun looking at them time and again and telling themselves all that is happening.  

Alpha Pups introduces a wide range of dog species in alphabetical order- some familiar, others not-so, but each in a colorful caricature doing something crazy and unexpected with a familiar object starting with the same letter. Pup and Down explores the concept of opposites. Rainbow Pups introduces colours while Naughty Pups has them trying very hard to be good but not quite succeeding.

The colours, concepts and quirkiness of the illustrations make this a charming new series that will help very little ones start to understand what a book is about. 

 

 

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let's Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Rhonda Gowler Greene

Daniel Kirk

Bloomsbury, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780802735096

Need to get from here to there?

We can take you – anywhere!

On land or track, in air or sea,

we’re transportation – A to Z.

A cast of quirky animals takes readers for a fun ride on all sorts of vehicles – some familiar, some not-so – in this rollicking rhyme about things that go.  Rather than the typical alphabet book of matching letters and pictures, this one has a rhyme full of information about each vehicle that is presented by the vehicle itself.  Each vehicle is ‘driven’ by a creature whose name starts with the same letter as the transport – the koala and kangaroo are in charge of the kayak – so young readers will have fun, and perhaps be challenged by, naming the drivers (and passengers) while also finding other items beginning with the same letter in the illustrations.  The endpapers are a treat offering the entire alphabet on a large truck so little ones can test their knowledge while the last page is a surprise!

They can begin early classification activities by sorting the vehicles into land, sea or air or even by the way they are propelled. perhaps suggesting others that are not featured in the book.  Or they might start with the creatures they know and make suggestions about the mode of transport they would be in charge of.

Despite its slightly American bias (which most young readers just accept anyway), this is an enjoyable read that will have early readers returning to again and again as not only is there something new to find each time which encourages attention to the detail in the pictures, but it allows them to read it for themselves without an adult present – a critical aspect of early reading behaviour that instils confidence and an expectation of success. 

A book that offers so much more than it first appears – if you have early readers or those learning English as another language, it would be a worthwhile investment.

ABC Mindful Me

ABC Mindful Me

ABC Mindful Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABC Mindful Me

Christiane Engel

Quarto US, 2018

36pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9781633225107

“Being mindful means paying attention to the present moment” and in this book the creator takes a journey through the alphabet stopping at each letter to link it to an activity or concept that will enable younger readers to be more in touch with the here and now and where they are.  

From Awareness to Zen children are encouraged to learn about being physically, mentally and emotionally healthy as they learn how to limit and manage stress and anxiety through rhyming text and bold pictures which feature a diversity of children.  There are also instructions to make some of the suggestions like a thankfulness tree and a mandala.

With mindfulness such a part of the curriculum these days, this could  almost be the basis of a semester’s program as each child creates their own book showing what the concept for each letter means for them.

Little i

Little i

Little i

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little i

Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062383006

The alphabet letters were quite happy being what they were until one day Little i’s dot fell off.  It rolled down a hill, tumbled over a cliff and splashed into the sea.  Little i felt weird and the other letters felt confused because now Little i looked like a number and you can’t make words with numbers.  

So Little i decided to find his dot and starts off on an adventure that takes him to some interesting places. His question mark boat takes him across the seas until he finds an island that has a remarkable sea passage that passes a spectacular exclamation point waterfall, through the cold dark parenthesis tunnel (with asterisk gems), through the field of lovely comma sprouts, across the spine-chilling hyphen bridge to the very edge of the land where his dot completes his journey like a full stop at the end of a sentence.  But when Little i puts his dot back on he feels strange, setting his quest and his story up for an imaginative and fun end.

With bold shapes and colours, this is one of those books that seems really simple on the surface but then you wonder what sort of mind could make such a story. But then he did write Red, A Crayon’s Story.  Not only is it clever it is brilliant, so rich in so much for the very young reader. Little i feels incomplete without his dot and that he doesn’t really belong in the alphabet, just as some children feel adrift if they haven’t got their mum, a special friend or a favourite toy by their side and so talking about Little i’s story may help them realise that they can not only survive without that security blanket but be even better for being brave enough to leave it behind.  Self-confidence in who we are is such a critical part of growing up.

It is also wonderful for those who are just beginning to understand that words are constructed from letters – Hall shows this by having the letters in the words do their talking; distinguishing between letters and numerals; and maybe starting to wonder what the other marks on the page are. There is a myriad of talking and teaching opportunities as the children demonstrate their knowledge of those initial concepts about print that are part of early kindergarten assessments.  Yet, whatever level the child is at for looking at the technicalities and tools of language, overall and throughout there is an engaging story and a satisfying finish which have to be at the core of anything we share with little ones if they are to love stories and reading and all that they offer.

If this were Australian, I’d be looking for it during Awards Season 2018!  

Aussie Legends Alphabet

Aussie Legends Alphabet

Aussie Legends Alphabet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie Legends Alphabet

Beck Feiner

ABC Books, 2017

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

9780733338946

A is for Adam Goodes . An Aussie Rules superstar who fought hard for his footy team and even harder for his people.

B is for Bob Hawke. A lovable larrikin who helped make Australia fair dinkum.

And so it continues throughout the alphabet with a well-known person personifying each letter, introducing young readers to some of Australia’s more colourful characters and perhaps inspiring them to find out more about those who interest them.

However, while the concept is interesting, I was confused about the target audience – IMO definitely not for three year olds as suggested by the publisher because little ones of that age are more interested in E for Easter Bunny and S for Santa Claus. But do those who are ready to learn about those who made Australia require an alphabet book with text suitable for the very young and pictures that have been contrived to echo the letter they represent?  Even though there is an expanded thumbnail sketch of each person on the final three pages, the content, format and intended audience did not gel for me.

Similarly, there is confusion with the alphabetical order because the format is not consistent… while most entries draw on the first letter of the personality’s first name some resort to the first letter of the surname while “D” refers to Dame Edna Everage, X is for INXS and Z is for “Shazza, Wazza, Kezza and the rest”. 

However, those issues aside, this could serve as a model for those who are investigating significant people who have shaped this country to build their own Aussie Legends Alphabet as a shared project.  Not only would this give them purpose and practise with note-taking, extrapolating and summarising but it would also be an interesting insight into those whom they think are important as they justify their choices. Challenging them to provide evidence is an important skill as they learn to build an argument that can be defended in a discussion.

A is for Australian Animals: A factastic tour

A is for Australian Animals

A is for Australian Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A is for Australian Animals: A Factastic Tour

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $SA24.99

9781925381009

Australia is full of the most amazing animals on the planet! What animal has six thumbs? What animal produces square poo? What animal is made up of 95 per cent water and is highly venomous? 

There have been many books, including alphabet books, published about Australian fauna over the years that one wonders what a new one could add to the collection.  Renowned author and illustrator Frané Lessac has found the answer in this fabulous new publication described as a FACTASTIC tour of our unique wildlife.

While the familiar candidates like the kangaroo and koala are there, she has also included many not so well-known creatures like the Irukandji Jellyfish, the Hopping Mouse, the Ulysses Butterfly and the Velvet Gecko. Beautifully setting each in its own natural environment with a brief introductory caption, she has also scattered bite-sized facts about each for those who want to know more.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Even more....

Even more….

Stunning in its presentation, thorough in its research this is a must-have modern approach to a perennial topic that can not only assist young children in their search for knowledge about this country’s amazing fauna but also offers a model for how they could present their own information when they do their own investigations.  After all, it is one that is done in the early childhood years in almost every school so why not challenge the class to develop their own factastic tour? 

Once Upon an ABC

Once Upon an ABC

Once Upon an ABC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once Upon an ABC

Sophie Masson

Christopher Nielsen

Little Hare, 2017

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

9781760128432

A is for Anansi, both clever and neat,

B is for Brer Rabbit with tar-sticky feet…”

This is a clever romp-in-rhyme through the characters of familiar fairy tales and folktales that will bring back memories of loved stories as well as suggest new ones to explore. Who is Herd Boy?  Why was the Nymph protecting her tree? And why is ‘ugly’ just a disguise?  Perfect for extending children’s reading into traditional tales from a range of countries as they try to match character with story.

But while the illustrations are quirky, I’m not so sure that the target audience is attracted to these muted, retro colours that seem to be so prominent in children’s books at the moment. My experience of 45 years with littlies is that children will view the cover as quite dull and pass it over in favour of something more eye-catching, so that while the text is brilliant it will take an adult’s encouragement to entice the child to explore it.  

Concept is great, presentation not so.