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Learning to Count (series)

Learning to Count

Learning to Count

10 Naughty Numbats

9781922265616

10 Bush Babies

9781922265623

10 Lively Lorikeets

9781922265630

Grace Nolan

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2021

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

Learning to count, add and subtract is one of the key reasons little children believe they go to school and so this new collection of three readers endorsed by Australian Geographic will be a welcome addition to the resources to assist this . 

Focusing on 30 signature Australian creatures, each book encourages little ones to count, add or subtract as they use the rhyming text and charming illustrations for cues and clues.  Each illustration has a humorous twist to add to the fun of learning  and the concept for each page is clearly displayed as a conventional number story.  As well, there are extra activities at the end to reinforce the concepts and encourage the 1:1 matching and conservation of numbers that are the foundation skills of early maths.  

Never underestimate the power of these sorts of texts to encourage our little ones to learn much more than we ever set out to teach!

Let’s Go, Little Roo

Let's Go, Little Roo

Let’s Go, Little Roo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go, Little Roo

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760896751

It is time for Little Roo to leave her mother’s pouch and be a little more independent. But Little Roo is afraid and no matter how much her mummy tempts her, she really just wants to stay put in the comfort and safety of what she knows. Deep down, she really wanted to taste the fresh green grass and play with the other babies but her fear made her want to stay hidden even more. 

But then Mummy Roo spots another little joey also tucked down in the pouch and Little Roo starts to think about just what she is scared of, and soon…

Apart from the fact that this has Renée Treml’s name on it and she has created so many stunning stories for little readers, this is the perfect one for this time of the year when so many of them are facing new worlds of kindy, prep, reception, whatever or even preschool and childcare.  Because, despite the anticipation and excitement in the lead-up, there are always those inner voices than can cast doubts that cause shadows.  Mummy Roo is very wise and knows that this is a step Little Roo needs to take, and while she acknowledges Little Roo’s fear , she is determined to show her that it is natural and can be overcome, with any anxiety she may have being well hidden.

With her characteristic, evocative line drawings that bring the characters to life, once again Treml has given our youngest readers a gift – not just of her talent but her understanding so they too can be like Little Roo and Little Wallaby, put their brave on and discover new worlds. Instead of stepping in, she is teaching them to step up!

Three Dancing Frogs

Three Dancing Frogs

Three Dancing Frogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Dancing Frogs

Leigh Hardingham

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier , 2020

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

9781921928819

From high in the hollow of a tree, the owl watches the strange activity below.  The animal orchestra is gathering, a stage and seating are being set up and tickets are being sold.  What is happening? From far and wide the animals gather – possums, geckos, bilbies beetles…everyone is ready in anticipation.

And then onto the stage come three little frogs, dressed in their tutus and ready to put on a show they have been practising for a long time.  In the moonlight they entrance their audience, but in the distance thunder is rumbling… will it end the show before it is finished?

Told in rhyme with a rhythm that echoes the nature of the frogs’ performance (reflecting the author’s singer-songwriter background), this is a feel-good story that is just right for drawing the curtains on a rambunctious day.  The illustrations are just as soft and gentle with lots of detail to discover with each reading, bringing a serenity that will settle the most fractious.  And should there be a storm rolling around then they will gain comfort and calm by knowing the frogs danced through it without fear.

It opens up lots of possibilities to not only explore the bush creatures but also the instruments of the orchestra and the world of dance.  With fruit bats on flutes, a spider on a harp, the violin, the cello and the viola, and a big bass drum, the child could listen to the sounds they make and suggest the sort of music that the frogs are dancing to and then make up their own movements. Or follow up with an introduction to   Swan Lake with this clip.  Or this one. While this was not the inspiration for the story, it is too good a match not to share!

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Gina Newton

Tiffanee Daley

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804577

Combat Wombat, Wildlife Warrior of the Bush is fast asleep when he is woken by the other creatures, wanting to play. But there is no time to play because Combat Wombat’s super-sensitive nose, ears and paws have picked up some unmistakable signals – there is a bushfire on its way.  Quickly organising  his friends to be in charge of certain elements of safety, Combat Wombat leads them to Billabong Island where they will be safe.  Even though there are significant obstacles on the way he uses his special talents to overcome these until he gets to the river’s edge.  All the others can get across the water, but wombats are not built for leaping, flying or swimming.  Can he trust Bingo Dingo to get him there safely?

This is a story for younger readers that puts the plight of wildlife during a bushfire firmly in focus, particularly relevant given the events of last summer.  By using their special talents and working together, the creatures keep themselves safe, a lesson that goes beyond this particular situation. Much of the story is told in the artwork which is unique and Tiffanee Daley has shared her technique in this video.

Teachers’ notes offer a variety of ideas about how to use this book in the classroom with little ones but I believe they will enjoy it just for its own sake. I did.

The Fire Wombat

The Fire Wombat

The Fire Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fire Wombat

Jackie French 

Danny Snell

HarperCollins, 2020

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

 9781460759332

A curl of smoke appears on the horizon, gradually getting bigger, blacker and more ominous as it comes closer.  The parched earth burns and day becomes night as the ash-thick air envelops all before it and beneath it. 

Nowhere above the ground is safe for anything with two legs or four, but this is not the animals’ first fire and Wombat knows where to go and what to do. And when it is finally safe to emerge, the landscape is unlike the one they had left… grey, charred, burnt, devoid of both food and water. But a primeval instinct drives Wombat and she pushes on and on, seeking the liquid that would mean life…

Written about a little wombat that stumbled onto her Araluen Valley property and then collapsed, this is Jackie French’s own story of resilience and hope amidst the horror that was the summer of 2019-2020 when she and those she loves were surrounded by four fires and the future looked bleak, if not dire. It is a story about how when things seem to be at their worst, basic human nature, kindness and goodness prevails and we look out for those who are in worse circumstances, including our precious but often helpless wildlife. Even though what is done initially may not solve the problem, it is something that can lead to something else and something else… Like the Fire Wombat, we just need to keep searching until we find what we need.

It is a story that  embraces all the age groups – on the surface it is a story for little ones about a little wombat whose basic instinct is preservation and which perseveres to find what it needs; but it is also for older students who can consider the sort of assistance that is required and what they can do; maybe even what they can do to prevent fires of the future. The teachers’ notes which I wrote span all these aspects offering another avenue for our students to heal from that awful summer.  Pandemic or not, there are still many wounds to tend to.

No matter at what level you read this beautiful story – along the lines, between them or beyond them – you  will acknowledge that Jackie French is indeed a master storyteller, and her words have been enriched and enhanced by Danny Snell’s sensitive artwork.

And the rainbow after the rain, the dawn after the dark? Jackie has just shared that the Fire Wombat now has a baby of her own, “black as charcoal, fat and bouncing” . She glimpsed them in the valley three weeks ago and Fire Wombat is fat and happy too! 

 

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man Emu

John Williamson

Simon McLean

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760898793

Fifty years ago teacher John Williamson wrote a ditty about an old emu racing across the Australian countryside in pursuit of a female friend.  As he goes he meets many iconic creatures such as a galah, cockatoo, wedge-tail eagle, kookaburra and the kangaroo, but while they all they have their unique characteristics, none is as charismatic or as fast as Old Man Emu.

“He can’t fly but I’m telling you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo.”

 

Such hilarious and well-known lyrics, which not only launched Williamson’s career as a singer and songwriter but became essential singing in classrooms, demand to be illustrated and Simon McLean has done an outstanding job bringing them to life so that a whole new generation can  sing and laugh along and be introduced to the work of the man who gave us True Blue , regarded as one of our national anthems, and the haunting Raining on the Rock.

Over the past half century, Williamson has given us so many songs, each with such a unique message about this country, its people, its places, its past that they cry out to be the basis of investigations to discover what it is that makes us unique.  What is he saying in Rip, Rip Woodchip? What is the story behind A Flag of Our Own? So to have this very first one in picture book format to open up a study of not only emus but a whole range of fauna is just precious, and I’m sad that I’m no longer in a classroom or library to make it happen.

Something special for any child, Australian or otherwise. 

That’s Not My Wombat

That's Not My Wombat

That’s Not My Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Wombat

Fiona Watt

Usborne, 2020

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 9781474980470

The latest in this series of over 150 charming board books for our very youngest readers that encourage them to use their senses to discover the world around them focuses on t e wombat, such an iconic Australian creature.

With shiny claws, smooth paws, soft tummy and several other distinctive features. little hands will enjoy exploring the textural elements that are the hallmark of the series.  Like its companion which highlights the koala, it teaches our littlies to look more closely at the details that distinguish the wombat from other marsupials .  The repetitive text and clear pictures encourage prediction, thus developing those early concepts about print that are so essential while engaging them with the reading experience in a way that only print books can.

Definitely one to add to the Christmas stocking or baby shower gift!

 

Nala the Koala

Nala the Koala

Nala the Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nala the Koala

Penny Min Ferguson

Puffin, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9781760898830

Fire has destroyed Nala’s treetop home and now she must find somewhere new to live.  But being a koala means that not just any place will do and the quest is not as easy as it seems…

This is a timely story in the wake of the devastation of last summer and the weather beginning to warm up again with a new fire season on the horizon. It is an opportunity to investigate just what Nala and all her cousins need to survive – indeed, any of the species that were so affected by the events of last summer – and what it is that humans can do to assist that. 

Told in the pictures as much as the words, and primarily aimed at young readers, there is also the opportunity to examine how humans may have contributed to those catastrophic fires through our everyday actions. Given recent events in the NSW parliament, older readers could also investigate whether fire is the greatest threat to koala populations or if it is a much broader issue than that.

With all royalties being donated to WIRES , this is an opportunity to initiate some meaningful, in-context research that will resonate with students across all ages.  The power of the picture book to raise awareness and take action.

 

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kookaburra

Clare Saxby

Tannya Harricks

Walker Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760651060

Dawn and in a line on a limb, Kookaburra and her family greet the rising sun with their distinctive call, harsh at times but more melodious than any alarm clock.  After welcoming the daylight hours, they go their separate ways in search of food, using their keen eyesight to spot even the most elusive snack.  But it is nesting season and after being presented with a delicious morsel by her lifelong mate, they go in search of a new tree hollow in which to lay their eggs.  But despite looking at a lot of new real estate, they return to their old home even though they have to defend it and the surrounding territory from intruders. And as the shadows grow longer and dusk falls, once again there is a line on a limb and that familiar sound bids the world goodnight.

There is no more iconic sound of the Australian bush than the laugh of the kookaburra – even though it varies according to circumstance and season and is never actually directed at something amusing – and in this latest addition to the narrative non-fiction Nature Storybook series that opens the world of Australia’s fauna to young readers by telling the story of one creature and accompanying it with facts about the species in general, Saxby and Harricks have captured both the sound, sight and antics of this stunning bird perfectly. 

Saxby, also the author of Big Red Kangaroo, Emu,  Koala  and Dingo (also illustrated by Harricks) brings her ability to create pictures with her words to create magic on the tongue, while Harricks has captured the colours and the contours of the bush in oils with her bold strokes and beautiful palette. This book is going to a family for whom the kookaburra was the favourite of their recently-passed Nonna and it will be the perfect memorial.  

Bluey: All About …

Bluey: All About ...

Bluey: All About …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: All About …

Bluey

9781760898304

Bingo

9781760898298

Puffin, 2020

12pp., board books, RRP $A14.99

Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC. 

Now these two books add another dimension to the characters by offering a behind-the-scenes look at their lives and loves, thus introducing the concept of characterisation to our youngest readers. Both Bluey and Bingo have their own stories beyond their two-dimensional screen portrayals. Using such familiar faces to not only develop concepts about print and early reading behaviours but also to sow the seeds of literary appreciation is the perfect way to start developing an understanding about how quality stories are built and why certain characters stay with us for a long time.  I know friends with young children have been known to ask, “What would Bluey do?” when their children have been faced with a dilemma!

To take the power and impact of the books a step further, children might like to do a shape book of themselves, sharing their likes and dislikes so they can start to see that they, too, are made of many different layers. Then, if they share their books with their friends, they can begin to understand that each is unique with many similarities while still being different and that just adds to the reasons  they like each other.