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What Zola Did on Wednesday

What Zola Did on Wednesday

What Zola Did on Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Wednesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895174

Zola is getting very busy after school these days.  She has her gardening club on Mondays and her knitting group on Tuesdays and she still has to find time to play with her cousin Alessandro and the dogs while trying to keep out of trouble.  But when her neighbour Leo’s mum, who is a police officer, brings home a new sniffer dog for training, things can only get interesting – particularly when her friend Sophia’s little turtle goes missing and Lola hatches a plan to find it…

This is the third in this series about Zola and her friends – a diverse group of kids who could live in any neighbourhood, anywhere. Their everyday lives are just like those of the readers who can see themselves, understand and relate to the friends, while being a stepping stone for  consolidating their new reading skills with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour.  Because the characters and events are so common,  the stories could be the inspiration for children to get together in ways they did in previous generations and be the foundation blocks of a new community as we find new ways to get together in these COVID times. Perhaps our new lives may not be so frantic that we don’t have time for the simpler pleasures of yesteryear.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one is as entertaining as the others. 

Catvinkle and the Missing Tulips

Catvinkle and the Missing Tulips

Catvinkle and the Missing Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catvinkle and the Missing Tulips

Elliot Perlman

Laura Stitzel

Puffin, 2020

304pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760894382

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.

Now best friends with Ula the stray Dalmatian this second adventure in this series  with its subtle message about inclusivity and acceptance is as delightful as the first, even to a non-cat person like me. This time Catvinkle and Ula find themselves defending two sheep accused of eating Amsterdam’s tulips, and they’re not sure what to believe. The sheep say they’re innocent, but they do look very sheepish. But to win this case, Catvinkle will need the help of a wolfhound, a llama, two travelling koalas, a pair of Russian bears . . . and a very special bird.

As well as being an entertaining read for those who like something a bit different that is engaging, this also has an underlying theme of justice, fairness and those other qualities that are so important at this time to that age group that hasn’t quite discovered shades of grey and compromise yet.

Even though Perlman has received many awards for his adult novels, he certainly knows how to spin a tale for children and these two together would make an excellent gift for newly independent readers who enjoy animal stories that are just good, clean fun. 

 

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Lynley Dodd

Puffin, 2010

34pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9780143504450

Remember this … “Out of the gate and off for a walk went Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy …” and by the time you got to the end of the book he had been joined by his mates Hercules Morse (as big as a horse); Bottomley Potts (covered in spots); Muffin McLay (like a bundle of hay); Bitzer Maloney (all skinny and bony); and Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum). How proud and posh they were until they met …  

Almost every child born in New Zealand or Australia in the last 30 years knows what happens next! Who could bring down such a bold band of brothers?

Children love the sound of the rhythmic and rhyming language and the repetition of the characters on each page which make it a perfect read-aloud  as your listeners will be joining in and eagerly anticipating who will join this canine crew., as well as enjoying the pictures which work with the text perfectly, as they should. The board book format makes it perfect for little hands, ensuring that this will be much-loved by this generation as those before.

And it is fitting that on the 5th anniversary of forgoing a trip to Hobbiton in favour of finding the sculpture to this remarkable dog and his mates on Tauranga in the pouring rain, that it is time to remind our new parents of this classic series so another generation can be as enchanted with him as all those of the last 30 years.

Hairy Maclary Tauranga. NZ

We Love You, Magoo

We Love You, Magoo

We Love You, Magoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Love You, Magoo

Briony Stewart

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760896904

From the very front cover, the family says they love their dog Magoo but he’s beginning to wonder.  No matter how hard he tries to be like them, with them and do the things they do, he quickly finds out there is one rule for people and another for dogs.  It’s a bit like being a little person – one rule for you and another for the grown-ups.

This is an hilarious story that will resonate with all of us who have dogs and know just how much they want to be a part of our daily lives.  But it could also have a serious side because there is often a very good reason we don’t let our pets eat and do the same things we do, and so it can become a teaching tool as children become more responsible for the animals in their care. In fact, the Humane Society has even published a list of human foods that are poisonous to pets so that what seems like deprivation is actually what’s best for them.

Its text is simple and the rhyme. rhythm and repetition mean that even our youngest readers will be able to pick it up and tell themselves the story – such an empowering part of early reading behaviours.   

 

Hound the Detective

Hound the Detective

Hound the Detective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hound the Detective

Kimberley Andrews

Puffin, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9780143774655

I’m Hound! And I’m a sleuth.

I solve all types of cases.

I sniff and snuff until my nose

detects the clues and traces.

Missing jewels, stolen cars —I always solve the crime.

And his latest case has been mysteriously delivered by post, sending him on a trail that takes him all over town on the scent of something mysterious – although that something isn’t disclosed till the very last page. 

Kimberley Andrews, the creator of the memorable Puffin the Architect has created another masterpiece that will have readers of all ages poring over the detailed illustrations as eagerly as Hound follows his nose,  searching for clues and other hidden treasures. With its clever rhyming text, there’s an unspoken challenge for the reader to find the solution before Hound does, ensuring close engagement with the mystery and offering the opportunity for prediction and speculation. One for a range of ages that reminded me of the fun my students had trying to solve the mystery in the Graeme Base classic, The Eleventh Hour.

Boo Loves Books

Boo Loves Books

Boo Loves Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boo Loves Books

Kaye Baillie

Tracie Grimwood

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781922326027

Phoebe is not the most confident reader in Miss Spinelli’s class and does whatever she can to avoid it for fear of showing her inability to both her teacher and her classmates. But Miss Spinelli is smart and knows what is behind Phoebe’s reluctance and so she organises an excursion to the local animal shelter. Phoebe’s tummy is in knots until she meets Big Boo who is just as nervous as she is.  And then the magic happens…

Many of our younger readers believe that “real” reading is making no mistakes at all, and rather than display their lack of confidence, choose not to read at all because they fear being judged by their audience.  So finding someone or something to read to that does not judge, does not comment, but just enjoys the sound and the rhythm of the words can often be the key to unlocking the reader within.  This is a charming story that will not only give many of our students a confidence boost as they relate to Phoebe but also up conversations about what a “real” reader does, including making those inevitable mistakes. 

And while it might not be possible to visit a dog shelter or have a dog visit the classroom, there is always a teddy who is willing to listen! 

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Chip Blip

Max Booth Future Sleuth - Chip Blip

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Chip Blip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Chip Blip

Cameron Macintosh

Dave Atze

Big Sky, 2020

130pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781922265685

The Max Booth Future Sleuth books follow the adventures of 25th-century detective, Max, and his slightly neurotic robo-dog, Oscar, as they investigate objects from the ancient past – the long-lost 20th and 21st centuries. In this one, the fifth in the series, Max and Oscar discover a tiny device about the size of a grain of rice – an ID chip from 400 years previously in the 21st century. But, as in all their adventures investigating items from that distant past (and the reader’s present) there are those who are also interested and their presence looms. 

This is a series for younger capable readers who enjoy sci-fi, but appreciate the connection to their own world to keep the story and their understanding grounded. It also offers opportunities for reflection about how we live and the things we use and do and how these might be viewed in the future. Fast-paced, it offers something different that might open up the world and genre of sci-fi for young readers who aren’t yet ready for the plethora of post-apocalypse literature that is becoming so prevalent in YA lit these days. 

 

 

 

 

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.

Where’s Spot?

Where's Spot?

Where’s Spot?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s Spot?

Eric Hill

Puffin,2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9780241446850

It’s dinner time and Mama Dog is looking for Spot.  Where can he be? Under the rug? Behind the door? Inside the clock? He’s playing hide-and-seek and there are so many places a little puppy can fit into.

As well as having the joy of lifting the flaps to discover Spot’s hiding place, our youngest readers can also have the fun of predicting where he might be and whether he could be in the places Mama looks, at the same time learning important place words like under and behind and so on.

This is the 40th anniversary of the publishing of this first in the series about this little dog and so it is in a stunning ruby foil cover that attracts the eye as much as the illustrations. Judging by the number of requests for Spot-related fabrics and so forth on a FB group I belong to, this little fellow is as popular as he was when he was first introduced all those years ago. And given the stories have sold 65 million copies in over 60 languages, his appeal is universal.

To add to the delight, there are activities to be done so children can party at home with Spot during these shut-down times, and share in this special reading of the story.

Perfect for starting our very youngest on their reading adventures.

 

Rusty Runs Away

Rusty Runs Away

Rusty Runs Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rusty Runs Away

Sally Scudamore

Lexie Watt

Little Steps, 2020

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

9781925839777

When the family go on their beach holiday without him,  Rusty the Australian terrier is perplexed,  but when Farmer Gruff and Grandma Jude whose care he has been left in are too busy to care, Rusty decides he will have a holiday anyway.  

But when he hitches a ride on a truck to escape the fast cars and sore paws, he doesn’t realise that he will end up far away from his home in Goondiwindi, Queensland – in Snowtown, South Australia!

Told in rhyme with different fonts distinguishing the different characters, this is based on the true story of a little dog on a big adventure.  Accompanied by clever, detailed illustrations, the reader is taken on a remarkable journey through some of Australia’s most isolated landscapes that will encourage young readers to get out the atlas and track his trail and with some calculations, determine just how far this little dog travelled.  

First-time author Sally Scudamore has continued the family tradition of storytelling, particularly now she lives in the UK and they are in Australia,  a tradition a lot of families may have implemented during these days of social distancing. Her debut book speaks of more to come.