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Vanishing

Vanishing

Vanishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanishing

Mike Lucas

Jennifer Harrison

Midnight Sun, 2018 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227444

Once, creatures of all shapes and sizes wandered this empty land. They had horns and wings, scales and feathers. They lived in vibrant forests, desert plains and icy tundras. But where are they now?

This is an evocative picture book, lyrically written and sublimely illustrated, that introduces young children to a host of the creatures that have inhabited this planet over the millennia but which have now disappeared, often because of the impact of humans on their habitat or a desire to own what they offered.  But this book goes further than the extinction of its creatures for it warns that humans with their cities and all that they consume will also disappear.

“The humans learned about their past.  But they didn’t learn  enough from it.” 

But there is also hope that perhaps once the humans have gone, the creatures will emerge again. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The recent criticism against the students who chose to display their anger through a national strike about the inaction of governments and corporates towards climate change really angered me. Rather than asking themselves why the students felt compelled to take this action, those self-styled “social commentators” and politicians just demonstrated their ignorance about what our students are concerned about, what they are learning in schools through curricula that they, the politicians, have put in place, and the emphasis placed on transferring what has been learned into action. As well as ignorance, they also showed their arrogance in thinking that they know better and are the only ones with “solutions” to fix things.  

The publication of Vanishing at this time is very timely and it should be an essential element of any study focusing on sustainability of the landscape so that, regardless of their age, they can “learn  enough from it”.  Enough for them to continue asking questions, to examine their own beliefs and practices, to encourage others to think about the then as well as the now, to take the action they did and to maintain it until the changes are stopped if not reversed, and to not give into a future of doom and gloom.  To show those who were of a similar mindset when they were students, that there are more important things than those that they now worship, particularly in a country that is among those with the worst rate of animal species extinction in the world.

A comparison of the front and back end-pages should be enough to pique the interest but further teaching notes are available here.

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

Carlie Gibson

Tamsin Ainslie

Allen & Unwin, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760523640

‘To all the Saint-Claires, you are hereby invited
To join me this Sunday, I’d be most delighted!
Dress in your best for a Royal Mouse Ball 
I’ll open the palace for mice, one and all!’

Queen Julie S. Cheeser has invited the entire village to her glamorous Royal Ball but the villagers don’t want to go because they are intimidated by the Queen’s beautiful gowns and feel they themselves have nothing that is appropriate to wear. But the sisters Saint-Claire, five French mice who love fashion and food have an idea and with some clever thinking and ingenuity all the guests are able to go, and feel comfortable with what they are wearing. 

This is a charming story, a sequel to The Sisters Saint-Claire, that will delight young readers who love to dress up and who can create amazing outfits from whatever is at hand. No rushing down to the shop for a ready-made costume for them. Written in rhyme and with delicate illustrations that inspire the imagination, it is perfect for newly independent readers.

Peppa Pig: Peppa Meets Father Christmas

Peppa Pig: Peppa Meets Father Christmas

Peppa Pig: Peppa Meets Father Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Pig: Peppa Meets Father Christmas

Ladybird, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $14.99

9780241321539

 

It’s Christmas time and Peppa’s school is putting on a show. The children invite Father Christmas along to see their play, but it’s his busiest time of year! Luckily, their very special guest makes it just in time and has an even more special surprise for Peppa and her friends.

Fans of Peppa Pig and her family will enjoy this Christmas story as they connect with favourite characters in print instead of on screen. 

Giraffe Problems

Giraffe Problems

Giraffe Problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giraffe Problems

Jory John

Lane Smith

Walker Books, 2018 

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

9781406383164

Edward the giraffe does not like his long neck.  In fact, he’s embarrassed by it. 

It’s too long.

Too bendy.

Too narrow.

Too dopey.

Too patterned.

Too stretchy.

Too high.

Too lofty.

Too … necky.

He thinks everyone stares at it, and as he tries to disguise with ties and scarves and hide it behind trees and shrubs, he admires those with much smaller necks.  And then he meets Cyrus the turtle who is frustrated by his short neck and…  Together they learn that they can co-operate to solve problems and accept themselves as they are.

The creators of Penguin Problems  have combined forces again to bring young readers a new book, one that focuses on acknowledging and being grateful for those things we do have because what we see as a negative may well be a positive to others.  They may even envy it.  Someone’s long legs might be just what the shorter person desires; someone’s auburn hair might be the thing that makes them stand out in a crowd… Encouraging children to accept themselves as they are physically and to celebrate that which makes them unique is all part of their development and may help them to become more comfortable in their own skin, more self-assured and less likely to follow fads and trends or even risky behaviour as they get older. Given that body image issues are concerns of even some of the youngest readers, any story that helps with self-acceptance has to be worthwhile. To discuss this without getting personal, children could make charts of the pros and cons of features such as the elephant’s trunk, the zebras stripes, the lion’s mane or other distinctive characteristics of different species that they suggest. 

There is also a subtle sub-text about not being so self-focused.  While Edward is busy admiring the necks of the other animals, they feel he is staring at them and making them feel self-conscious so children can be encouraged to think of their actions from the perspective of others. Learning that there are “two sides to a story” is an important part of growing up.

Another addition to the mindfulness collection as we try to foster strong, positive mental health in our young readers. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Sue Whiting

Anne White

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781742032344

People say that the deep dark forest is thick with danger – carnivorous plants and venomous snakes are just two of its threats – but when Rosie’s little pup Tinky runs into it, she knows she has to face its fearful reputation and rescue him.  Despite the strange noises that made her knees wobble and made her eyes as round as the moon, she put her brave on and in she went, going further and further into the unknown, calling for Tinky.  But then she came across something worse than a venomous snake or a carnivorous plant…

Echoing the perils that heroes have to encounter in traditional fairy tales and illustrated in a style that brings the creepy scariness of the woods to life, this is a story for young readers who like a bit of tension in their tales but no so scary that it can’t be a bedtime read.  There is plenty of scope for the young reader to predict what could be scarier than a venomous snake or a carnivorous plant or how Rosie might cross the “dizzily, dangerously, dreadfully, deep ravine”, encouraging them to let their imaginations roam and reveal a little of their own fears.

As well as immersing themselves in the stunning illustrations which add the atmosphere as well as the detail, they can explore the meaning of the vocabulary which certainly doesn’t talk down to them.  Knowing what words like ‘venomous’ and ‘carnivorous’ mean and investigating why animals and plants have such mechanisms can be very empowering, like being able to say the names of the dinosaurs.  And having them put themselves in Rosie’s shows as she encounters the problem of the ravine enables them to be active listeners rather than passive participants while being Rosie and shouting at the troll would just be pure fun! So much scope for follow-up activities too!

Stories that engage and involve readers so they become part of the action are my favourites – this would be one of those. 

 

 

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit

Emma Thompson

Eleanor Taylor

Warne, 2018

72pp., board book., RRP $A16.99

9780241352885

Both Peter Rabbit and his cousin Benjamin Bunny have been sent on errands to get them out of the house as the Christmas preparations become more hectic and their excitement gets them into trouble.

On the way, they meet William the Turkey who is full of himself and the fact that he is fed so well by Mr and Mrs McGregor, thinking that when they say they will be having him for Christmas dinner they mean he will be dining at their table.  Peter and Benjamin break the truth to them and it becomes a mission to hide him so he can’t be roasted and served on a platter.  But William is so proud of his fine fan of tail feathers that every idea they have fails, until…

Inspired by the characters created by Beatrix Potter and written and illustrated in her distinctive style, this is a new story to add to the collection of the legion of Beatrix Potter fans, old and new, including those who were entranced by the movie. 

In board book format this edition is sturdy enough to stand up to all the re-readings that little ones will demand as Christmas approaches. 

Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake

Ho! Ho! Ho! There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake

Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake

Hazel Edwards

Deborah Niland

Puffin Books, 2018 

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

9780143790679

That thump, thump, thump on the roof is not the man fixing tiles that my daddy says it is.  It’s the hippopotamus getting ready for Christmas and he’s as excited as I am.  He’s up there making a big Christmas cake, writing his long list for Santa, doing his special Christmas cake dance, doing all the things my family is doing to make Christmas extra special again. He even sings carols by candlelight!

This is another heartwarming story in this series about the hippopotamus that lives on the roof, first released 35 years ago with There’s a Hippopotamus on our roof eating cake  and which has delighted generations since then. With both the boy and the hippopotamus involved in many of the activities prior to Christmas that young readers will recognise, this book will bring lots of joy as together they share their experiences, compare them to what happens in their home, talk about why things might be different and generally just get wound up in anticipation of the Big Day.  There’s even a free activity pack to download for even more fun. 

 

 

We’re going on an Elf Chase

We're going on an Elf Chase

We’re going on an Elf Chase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re going on an Elf Chase

Martha Mumford

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2018

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

We’re going on an elf chase.
Come and join the fun.
Can we catch them all?
YES!
Run, run, run!

Four bunnies set off on a jolly Christmas lift-the-flap adventure to find ten little elves hidden under the flaps. You’ll have to run, run, run if you’re going to catch them all! And there are lots of obstacles along the way, from clippy-cloppy reindeer to roaring polar bears and flippy-flappy penguins. But if you do catch them, there is a lovely surprise waiting.

With its rhythm from the rhyme and repetitive text of this delightful story and lots of flaps to peek under, this will be a popular Christmas Countdown read for little ones.  Apart from the things hidden under the flaps, there is a lot of detail to explore in the pictures, perhaps starting a conversation about winter scenes that will be unfamiliar to most young Australian readers and even an explanation of why Christmas is in winter in some parts of the world. 

A great one for the Christmas stocking. 

 

Catvinkle

Catvinkle

Catvinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catvinkle

Elliot Perlman

Laura Stitzel

Puffin, 2018 

240pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143786368

Catvinkle lives in Amsterdam, with her barber-owner Mr Sabatini, and she likes to think that the world revolves around her, as cats generally do. From her basket near the fireplace in what she considers to be her room, she watches the legs and feet of the passers-by as they walk past her window, delighted when she sees someone with socks that don’t match and occasionally swishing her tail that has a big red bow tied to it. All is well with her world.

But one day, kindly Mr Sabatini brings home a stray Dalmatian to live with them and Catvinkle’s life is not only interrupted but is irrevocably changed.  Even though cats and dogs are not supposed to like each other, Ula’s politeness and meekness impress Catvinkle and gradually they become friends.  But when they present their friendship to others of their species, they find that what they have is not necessarily acceptable to all.

Written in response to what the author describes “as a ‘surge in, and tolerance for, racism and bullying’ in public discourse” this is a gentle story that addresses  that racism and bullying and promotes social inclusion while remaining on the surface, a story about an unlikely friendship between a cat and a dog. If they can accept a llama who plays backgammon, why can’t others?

Perlman has been short-listed twice for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and his skill with putting words onto paper is very evident – this story, while intended for young independent readers, engages adults so it makes a perfect bedtime read-aloud to younger children too.

Something different for those who like something different. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Good Rosie!

Good Rosie!

Good Rosie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Rosie!

Kate DiCamillo

Harry Bliss

Walker Books, 2018 

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

9781406383577

Rosie loves living with George and going for walks with him, but she is lonely.  The dog in the bottom of her empty silver food bowl does not talk back to her, and when George sees historical figures in the clouds, Rosie just sees squirrels to chase – never another dog.  But when George does point out a dog-cloud and Rosie barks at it, he realises she wants company and takes her to the dog park.  

But there are too many dogs who are loud and boisterous for Rosie until…

This charming story in graphic novel format by the author of such outstanding books like Because of Winn-Dixie is perfect for any little person who loves dogs, or who is a little like Rosie and not sure how to go about making friends.  And it’s not just Rosie who learns to navigate the obstacles, but George himself finds some new people for his life too. Bliss manages to give each dog its own personality with compassion and humour so that even Maurice is portrayed as awkward rather than a bully. 

As a new school year looms on the horizon and many children will be facing new adventures in new schools, and perhaps with some trepidation, they may well relate to this little terrier as she enters a new environment which is overwhelming but manages to find her place within it. Because of its format with some quite small panels, this is one to be shared one-on-one with a child so Rosie’s anxiety and how she dealt with it can be talked about, and perhaps give reassurance and confidence that, on the whole, the big wide world of school is a friendly place and that each child is like Maurice, Fifi and Rosie – they just want a friend if only they could learn now to make one.