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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.

Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire

Tippy and Jellybean

Tippy and Jellybean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire

Sophie Cunningham

Anil Tortop

Albert Street Books, 2020

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

9781760878474

Tippy and Jellybean live in the beautiful eucalypt forests bordering Australia’s high country in Victoria. Life is as it should be for mum and bub until one day in Summer 2019 just as it is turning over to 2020, they wake to smell smoke on the hot, windy air. While the kangaroos and wallabies bound away, the wombats crawl deep into their burrows and the cockatoos take off in noisy flight, Tippy and Jellybean can do none of those things.  As koalas, their only sanctuary is to climb to the top of the tree and hope they will be safe from the fire dragon that is on the warpath.

Curling herself around Jellybean, Tippy protects her baby from the flames even though she herself is burned…

Amidst the horror that was the summer of 2019-2020 , one of the enduring stories for our young readers is that of the impact on the wildlife. So to have this charming true story that not only tells of Tippy and Jellybean’s recovery but also of the dedication and expertise of veterinary professionals to preserving what they can offers a feel-good followup that will go a long way to helping the children heal too. And we are desperately in need of feel-good stories right now.

As fate would have it, Gelantipy was on my list of go-to places after having seen a documentary about in on ABC Back Roads, (it’s a comfortable drive from here) and we had a trip planned, but the fires beat us to it. Then we ourselves had to evacuate… So to know that there is a happy news story, the words interpreted in gentle, non-threatening illustrations by Anil Tortop, and that this is just one of so many creatures saved and treated by carers (many volunteers, some from overseas) strengthens my desire to explore this area as soon as.

To show our young readers that there can be happy endings, that in a time that seems so relentlessly harsh and tough there can be hope and help on the other side, and that Mother Nature can rise up no matter how beaten she is is what our students who have endured the fires, both first-hand and vicariously need right now.  Reassurance can sometimes be the greatest gift and this book provides that.

Dedicated to all the creatures that were not as lucky as Tippy and Jellybean, the publisher will donate $1 from every copy sold of this book to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund, to help fund emergency veterinary assistance and scientific intervention.

The Easter Bunnyroo

The Easter Bunnyroo

The Easter Bunnyroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Easter Bunnyroo

Susannah Chambers

Laura Wood

Allen & Unwin, 2020 

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

9781760635015

Last week my dad found an orphan who needs our help. She has LONG ears and BIG feet and a BUILT-IN BASKET. He says she’s a joey but I know who she really is – THE EASTER BUNNY! But Ruby is too little to hide the eggs and hop to all the houses in the world by herself and so begins a charming story that will appeal to our youngest readers. They can suggest all the skills that Easter Bunny would need to know to do his job well, including making a map so that all the eggs are delivered on time, and how Ruby could learn these.

Susannah Chambers, author of  The Snow Wombat, has created another appealing story, drawing on her knowledge of our native fauna and illustrator Laura Wood has packed a lot of detail into the pictures so there is much that can be talked about as the story is shared. The final twist is superb, and given the number of orphaned animals after the recent summer, the need for and role of carers is vital and this could also up other avenues for discussion and, perhaps, action. 

This is one Easter story that is not twee. 

 

I’m Ready… (series)

I'm Ready for Easter

I’m Ready for Easter

I'm Ready for the New Baby

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Easter

9781760891596

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 9781760891626

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

 The days are getting cooler and coloured leaves are falling so Easter must be on its way.  There are lots of things to do in preparation and Master Platypus is very busy choosing colourful treats, hot cross buns, painting eggs and making special hats. Meanwhile Miss Wombat is also very busy preparing for the arrival of a new baby reading stories to the bump and decorating the nursery…

These are the two latest in this charming series (the final two are due in November 2020) that feature young anthropomorphic Australian animals doing the everyday things that young readers resonate with. There is a feeling of anticipation as the big events arrive, just as there is in any family, and our youngest readers will be happy that any concerns they might have are echoed elsewhere – they’re not alone.  

Building on the new development of providing our very earliest readers with stories that engage rather than one-word concept books, in a format that is the right size and robust enough for little hands to manage themselves, these two new episodes will delight as well as encourage those early reading behaviours , particularly role-play reading, that are the foundation of reading success.

Azaria: A True History

Azaria: A True History

Azaria: A True History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Azaria: A True History

Maree Coote

Melbournestyle Books, 2020

44pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780648568407

On a cool August night 40 years ago, in the shadow of Uluru, a mother laid her baby to sleep in a tent while she and her husband and her other two children sat under the stars outside – and unknowingly began a scandal that even today, still divides opinion. For that baby was Azaria Chamberlain and before the night was over, a story that made world headlines had begun.  Because when the mother heard a rustling in the tent she turned and saw a dingo making off with the baby and called out… sparking one of the most controversial episodes in modern Australian history.

For despite the baby’s jumpsuit being found by the Anangu trackers the very next day, people had not heard of a dingo taking a baby before and so the rumours and gossip started. Fuelled by media reports of a baby with an unconventional name, a family from a different religion and a mother in such deep grief she couldn’t cry, everyone had an opinion and so the story of Azaria Chamberlain captured the world’s imagination.  It would be 32 years before the truth was known and even then, many didn’t believe it. Still don’t.

At first when I received this book I wondered why this story would need to be known by our young readers, many of whom would have parents too young to remember the events. But as I read it it became clear – just as Uluru is “ten times bigger underground than it is above”, the message that we must look further and deeper for the truth than the surface headlines is very powerful, particularly in these days of fake news and deliberate manipulation and misinterpretation of facts. Azaria’s story, widely identified as Australia’s first modern trial-by-media, is just the vehicle that carries the more important concept that our older students need to bring to their research.  Look at sources for purpose, perspective, accuracy and  authority before accepting them  and relying on them as truth; that everyone brings something to a situation depending on their beliefs, values, attitudes and motives and that the truth can soon be lost under a myriad of layers.

The story of Azaria became “like a fairytale from long ago , with a wolf in the forest, a cruel king and angry townsfolk” and just like fairytales, a kernel of truth gets overlaid with embellishments and changes with every new teller. However in this beautifully illustrated picture book for older readers who now, more than ever, need to learn about the need to be critical thinkers and to not take things on face value Coote has demonstrated the evidence of every character in a story having its own perspective – even the dingo, often now maligned and vilified by humans, was just doing what dingoes do.

For those of you wanting to demonstrate why our students need to walk the extra mile, this would be the perfect introduction. 

 

 

 

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

9781460754092

Dippy the Diprotodon  has dug a new hole and the best thing about a hole is that if you have sharp claws you can make it bigger and bigger.  In fact you can make it so big it can take you into another world!    A swimming hole, to be precise, one filled with creatures that Dippy doesn’t recognise but who he is convinced will want to be friends.  But will they?

Right alongside Mothball, Dippy is my favourite literary character because his innocence and expectation that he will be loved epitomises and reflects that of our youngest generation as they learn to navigate the world beyond home and family. It never occurs to Dippy that the creatures that he discovers (and who discover him) will do him harm or be unkind. Both French and Whatley capture this perfectly in text and words demonstrating that while new situations might be different, even strange, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are confrontational and antagonistic. As our littlest ones head off to preschool and big school, they can go with a positive attitude and confidence that yes, it’s a new world but it doesn’t have to be scary. To explore this in the context of a book about dinosaurs which resonated with that age group is just genius.

For those of you who want to explore the world of Dippy, diprotodons and other megafauna there are teachers’ notes (written by me) available. 

 

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.