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Where’s My Stick?

Where's My Stick?

Where’s My Stick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Stick?

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678508

Maxie the dog loves finding and burying sticks at the beach and he is smart enough to know that he must leave markers at their burial site so he can find them again to play with.  But each time he does, his marker has disappeared – nature has ways of tricking him – and so he has to find an even bigger stick!

This is a story of perseverance and resilience because Maxie doesn’t get frustrated and give up when he can’t find either his marker or his stick, but works his way to another solution – and finally rewarded with something more than a stick. Young readers will relate to similar situations when they have found that things don’t work out for them the first time and so they must try again. 

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again.  

Lou

Lou

Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Breanna Carzoo

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780063054059

Lou has an important job . . . as the neighbourhood toilet for dogs on their walks, particularly as he is across the road from a doggy day care centre.. All day, every day, they come and sniff, and twirl and twist and lift and…

Useful as he may be, he gets the feeling that deep down inside, there might be more to him than that. He just doesn’t seem to know exactly what yet. When disaster strikes, will Lou find out what he’s made of and save the day?

Young readers will giggle their way through the start of this book as the recognise a very familiar scenario, but the astute ones will also be looking at the pictures and discovering a whole different scenario playing out in the background while Lou is musing about his lot in life.  

This is one to encourage young readers to read the pictures as well as the words because in quality picture books they are integral adding to both the plot and the meaning. Like Lou, this story shows that there is more to each of us than first meets the eye, and that each of us has hidden qualities that others might not appreciate at first. Little ones who are usually the least empowered can have fun identifying just what it is that makes them unique and special, perhaps adding to a group collage that shares their particular talents. Who knows what future hero or champion might be lurking. 

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2023

128pp. pbk., $A12.99

9781761043338

Willa’s four-legged best friend is her albino wolfhound, Woof; her same-age best friend is Tae Jin whose name means “person of greatness” in Korean; and her old-age best friend is Frank Pickles who lives next door in the retirement village and is very old and very grumpy with crinkly skin and bags under his eyes.  Willa visits him almost every day and listens to his stories about how he used to race pigeons when he was younger, although now he only has Mimi in the aviary in his tiny back yard. 

But when the principal announces that there will be a Grandparents’ Day next week when the children can bring their grandparents to school to join in activities – a common event in many schools – Willa discovers that not everyone has a grandparent to ask or that some are just not in a position to attend, including herself.  So she sets out with a plan to make it a day that everyone can enjoy but sometimes plans don’t turn out the way you expect.

This is the third in this series for younger emerging readers following Mimi is Missing and Birthday Business with the fourth due in April, making the wait in between episodes not too long and thus being ideal for demonstrating how books in a series build on each other so the characters become more and more familiar and thus, more real. They begin to care about what happens to them, an essential if they are to finish the book. 

Series are an important part of reading development and are so much more than a commercial decision to attract readers back. Because the reader is already familiar with the characters, the settings and the likely storyline they are able to bring their existing knowledge to the read, predict what is likely to happen and be empowered to tackle more complex stories, using and honing their developing skills as they do so. Each book completed offers a sense of accomplishment and builds a desire and momentum to complete the series, making the choice of the next read easier while continuing to affirm that they can become a “real reader” and encouraging them to seek other books by the same author or in the same genre, ever widening their reading horizons.    

It’s worth finding innovative ways to display series so they are easily accessible by even the most reluctant reader and build on their intrinsic popularity. Authors like Jacqueline Harvey who create characters like Willa and her friends and build stories around things that are really familiar to young readers do so much to make the teacher librarian’s job so much easier. 

 

Two Dogs

Two Dogs

Two Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Dogs

Ian Falconer

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9780008399863

Two dogs, dachshunds

Dignified, slightly imperious

with aquiline noses and noble profiles.

Indeed, they look like Roman emperors…

Everyone loved Augie and Perry when they were puppies and played with them all the time, but as the years passed and the children went to school and the adults were at work, the dogs were left to their own devices during the day.  Most days they were fine but one day they found a way to get through the screen door and outside and soon they’re diving into the swimming pool, digging an enormous hole in the lawn, and causing all kinds of chaos… But then they hear the family car pull up… 

Many of our young readers will have got a pet for Christmas and while that’s all well and good during this long summer break, just what will those pets get up to when school goes back? This is an hilarious story that will entertain young readers but plant seeds of doubt as to what might be really happening when they are not there.  

An Odd Dog Christmas

 

 

 

 

An Odd Dog Christmas

An Odd Dog Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Odd Dog Christmas

Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins, 2021

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

9780008413354

It’s Christmas and  Odd Dog is running out of time to find the perfect present for her pal…  But then she steps into a Christmas arcade which looks very promising until she meets a new friend who needs help.  Suddenly, instead of shopping for that perfect gift, Odd Dog has the adventure of a lifetime and learns an important lesson about gift-giving at the same time.

Both the rhyming text and the illustrations will engross the young reader in this unusual Christmas story, but the engagement will be heightened because they are challenged to find some interesting items that have been hidden within.  And while it might be easy for an eagle-eye to spot five golden rings, what do turtle doves look like, or, indeed, a partridge in a pear tree?

One to keep the little ones intrigued as the anticipation builds…  

Toodle the Cavoodle: Sniffle Snuffle

Toodle the Cavoodle

Toodle the Cavoodle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toodle the Cavoodle: Sniffle Snuffle

Richard Tulloch

Heidi Cooper Smith

Big Sky, 2022

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

9781922765772

Toodle the Cavoodle like to sniffle and snuffle because there were always lots of smells to tickle his nose.  

Sweet smells and sticky smells, muddy smells and messy smells, stink y smells, sweaty smells and could-be-good-to-eat smells…

But now the grandparents of Lillipilly Lane want to clean up the old abandoned scritchy-scratchy grass patch with its rusty cans, plastic bottles and old car and make it a safe play area for the sparkly-sandals girl and the other neighbourhood children.  Smelly sneakers grandpa and grubby-gumboots grandma shoo him away but can disaster be averted when he takes refuge in the old car?

This is a new picture book series for young readers – Whoops-a-diddle is due in December – that will delight dog lovers with its charming artwork and roll-off-the-tongue language that changes a simple story into a family favourite.  

Both the Australian Curriculum  and the new NSW syllabus have a focus on how the use of particular vocabulary promotes imagery and understanding of texts, and this is a perfect example of how the clever use of both alliteration and onomatopoeia combined with inspired design can invoke all the senses to make reading a 3D experience in the way that only print can.  Young readers will love hearing and playing with the language and then making up their own – have a look at their own shoes and think of how they would describe themselves, and then the  two words they would use for their grandpa or grandma or teacher or…? Have them lie in the grass and discuss how it feels or sniff the air and see what they can identify.  Apart from playing with language, there are extensive, AC-linked teachers’ notes available.

Taking it further is the hallmark of a quality read and this does it so well.   

 

Smarty Pup (series)

Smarty Pup

Smarty Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smarty Pup: Friends Fur-ever

Anh Do

Anton Emdin

A & U Children’s, 2022

160pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781760526399

Life is a little ordinary for Lily right now, particularly as she has lost her mum, but things change when her Dad decides they could be a family of three again by getting a dog – something both Lily and her mum had wanted for ages.  

At the animal shelter, Lily chooses JJ, who kind of clumsy, but something about his smiley face makes her really happy inside. They change even more when Lily discovers  that JJ can talk and is actually super smart. He can speak a number of languages, and knows the answers to maths and geography questions.  This could be the answer to her constant dilemma about having something interesting for show-and -tell, but then things get complicated. It’s one thing to be the centre of attention for a few minutes, another to be accused of something you didn’t do. 

Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular and prolific authors, and this new series is somewhat of a cross between a picture book and a novel. Told by Lily herself , highly illustrated in colour with conversations in speech bubbles and different fonts, it is an ideal stepping stone between basal, instructional readers and the novels newly independent readers are aspiring to. The story is grounded in the familiar situation of what to share for Show and Tell, and the characters are relatable, although of course there is the usual Anh Do twist. Reading a popular author loved by older peers and siblings is an added bonus! 

A new series that will have a lot of fans and followers.  

 

Willa and Woof 2: Birthday Business

Willa and Woof 2: Birthday Business

Willa and Woof 2: Birthday Business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willa and Woof 2: Birthday Business

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2022

128pp., pbk., RRP $A 12.99

9781761043321

Willa’s best old-age-friend Frank hates birthdays, but that’s not going to stop her from throwing him the greatest surprise party ever!

Willa plunges headlong into party planning and things immediately start to go wrong. Why don’t older people look forward to and celebrate birthdays as enthusiastically as the young?  She’ll need all her problem-solving skills (with the help of Tae, her best same-age friend, and her trusty sidekick Woof) to save the celebration!

Can Willa pull off the surprise?

This is the second in this new series from popular Jacqueline Harvey, with the third, Grandparents for Hire due in January, ensuring young readers do not have to wait long between reads for the next episode to whet their appetite.  As with the first, it is created for younger readers who are consolidating their skills and need quality writing, interesting characters and relatable plots, supported by short chapters, a larger font and illustrations.  

In my review of the first one, Mimi is MissingI suggested offering it to a reluctant reader and asking them to read it and assess whether it will be worth buying the additions that follow, and so this could be the consolidation read – is the series living up to expectations?  To extend their thinking, you could invite them to think about what more they learned about the characters in this new story and have them build a summary of characters such as this, so others can get to know them and follow the relationships…

This could then become part of a bigger display called Select-A-Series created by students summarising their own favourite series to persuade others to extend their reading horizons, as well as giving real purpose and context for reading as they become more critical readers, encouraged to pause and think about what they are reading rather than skimming the pages and looking for what’s next.   To add depth it could become part of a poll to find the most popular series for the year, making and building on the display for the entire year ensuring student-centred learning and participation.  

Federal Minister for Education Jason Clare is currently spruiking a proposal for providing teachers with lesson plans, returning to a cookie-cutter approach that focuses on the subject rather than the student, so this could be a way of providing something that meets curriculum outcomes but in a highly personalised way, 

Tarni’s Chance

Tarni’s Chance

Tarni’s Chance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarni’s Chance

Paul Collins

Jules Ober

Ford Street, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9781922696052

When Tarni’s mum says goodbye, all the colour and joy of life seem to go with her. Tarni retreats into her bubble. Her world became smaller and the air seemed thinner. But then Chance steps in . . .

As much as the text in this narrative of family breakdown, self-doubt and anxiety echoes the feelings of loss and loneliness that so many readers will have felt, it is the illustrations that make it so special.  Beginning in deep shades of grey as her parents argue, with the only colour being Tarni and her guitar, her bubble of music, a monochromatic scheme that continues as Tarni comes to grip with her loss, finding solace only in solo activities like drawing and reading, gradually being consumed by the grey of her grief.  Using handmade miniatures set against black and white photography, the reader is drawn deeper into Tarni’s world, but then Tarni spots a stray, ragged dog, seemingly as lost as she is, and there is a ray of hope.  Brief though it is, it shows both the reader and Tarni that there is still a glimmer of colour in the world, and when the dog returns the grey gradually disappears. 

While this is not the first book to use colour to depict mood and emotion in this way, and the use of miniatures and photography was a feature of the 2020 CBCA shortlisted The Good Son, nevertheless it is a powerful representation that those who have passed through the grey of grief will relate to, and those who are still in it will be buoyed by the prospect that colour still exists and step by step they will find it. 

 

Hot Dog

Hot Dog

Hot Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Dog

Mark Sperring

Sophie Corrigan

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781408876114

On the fast food stand at the beach lies a hot dog – a sausage and bun – who is very glum as he watches all the real dogs gallivanting and cavorting in the waves and sand. How he longed to be like them with heads and tails and feet. But when the Mustard Fairy makes his dreams come true, will he be accepted by the other dogs? Or will he have to fight for his place in the sun?

How refreshing it is to just read a story for the share joy and silliness of it, to just savour the rhyme and rhythm rolling off your tongue with no underlying didacticism, although there could be a slight flavour of “be careful what you wish for.”  From the team behind Santa Jaws, Mince Spies, and Jingle Smells , this is another hilarious fast-paced romp that needs to be shared just for the fun of it, to entertain the reader and make them laugh.  And as our beach days approach, let our imaginations roam wild with what if…