Archives

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece (Nursery Crimes: Case 1)

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

John Barwick

Dave Atze

Big Sky, 2019

120pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781925675993

Sheep go to a lot of trouble to grow their wool to keep themselves warm, but as soon as it gets to a certain length the farmer shears it off and sells it, often making a lot of money for it, particularly if it is black like Baaa Baa’s. Surrounded by high fences, spotlights and video cameras so neither she nor her wool could be stolen, Baaa Baa was fed the best food and was shorn twice a year whereas her lighter cousins were only shorn once. Once shorn the wool was stored in a closely-monitored control centre with television surveillance so it is certainly precious. So when Farmer Fred sells one of the three precious bags to the local headmaster, another to Dame Horrida and the third to Theodore Thumpnose, the local bully, when he could have got much for it at the wool market, suspicions are raised….

This is the first of seven stories investigating the crimes in the nursery rhymes that little ones hear so often. Told in an interesting style where the narrator and an imaginary reader engage in a conversation, as  though the narrator is anticipating the questions a real reader might ask, it is engaging and different and designed to appeal to the newly-independent reader who is ready to move on but would still benefit from the familiarity of known characters.  It is reminiscent of the fractured fairytale format where something well-known is turned on its head and examined more closely, told from a different perspective and raises issues that might not otherwise have been thought about. 

Cleverly illustrated by David Atze that takes it out of the realm of the usual cutsie graphics of nursery rhymes, this is fun and perfect for those who like something out of left-field.

Leaping Lola

Leaping Lola

Leaping Lola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaping Lola

Tracey Hawkins

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2019 

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

9781925594591

Down in the meadow, all boggy with mud, Clarissa the cow was chewing her cud. Up on the hilltop a calf caught her eye: flouncing and bouncing, she frolicked on by. “Oh no!” cried Clarissa. “Lola, don’t prance. Jerseys are milk cows – we’re not meant to dance.”

But Lola is determined to practise her moves so she can be perfect at that evening’s ball.  Not even the fact that she is a brown cow and it is a Black and White ball deters her. She enlists the help of her friend Pearl the Pig to disguise her and with great confidence she sashays in. With the twang of the band making her wriggle and giggle,  she has the time of her life and is the belle of the ball until…

Just the mental image of a cow leaping, let alone “whoomping and boomping her beautiful hide” is enough to set up the reader for the joyous, funny story this is and it is compounded by the rollicking text – who knew there were so many ways a cow could move its body? – and the delightful illustrations that take it into the fantasy that it is.  Occasionally as you travel through the countryside, you might see young calves frolicking but the concept of a dancing cow is the antithesis of what really happens. Thus, the stage is set for a story that will engage and delight, as young readers’ toes start to twitch and they feel compelled to try out some of Lola’s moves. But there is also an underlying message about being true to yourself, following your passion and not settling for being a stereotype. Thirty-two pages of fun!

 

Hush Say the Stars

Hush Say the Stars

Hush Say the Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hush Say the Stars

Margaret Spurling

Mandy Foot

Little Book Press, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780648115663

Hush, say the stars, as they shine through the night.

All is still, all is quiet, sleep tight…

As night falls and the stars peek through, the farm slowly quietens as the animals bed themselves down for the night.  And so it is for the little boy as he snuggles down with his pet bunny into his cot.  It is time for the animals to sleep and time for him to.

Getting little ones to sleep at night can be tricky, particularly as the days lengthen and being awake and about is tempting, but this lullaby-like story is the perfect finale of the three stories that should make up the nightly bedtime reading routine.  With illustrations as soft as the text and the message, it is perfect for settling even the most awake child as they learn that everything needs to sleep and there is a ritual that is followed everywhere, even for the animals.  Even children living in the city could talk about the creatures that they know that are settling in for the night, as the stars shine over the country regardless of whether it’s rural or urban – they just see different things as they do. 

With its soft language and soporific rhyme, this is a must-have for any parent with a young toddler.  Pop it in their Christmas stocking – they will thank you for it, night after night.

 

 

What Should a Horse Say?

What Should a Horse Say?

What Should a Horse Say?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Should a Horse Say?

Fleur McDonald

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594201

On her farm, Farmer Rochelle has all the animals you would expect find there.

She has a cow who says “moo moo”, a sheep who says “baa baa” and a horse who says “chick chick”.

“Chick chick?”

She really doesn’t think much about it until neighbouring Farmer Hayden brings her a box of chickens that also say “chick chick”. That leaves her confused so she starts asking all her friends, “What should a horse say?” While they can help her with dogs who say “woof woof”, cats who say “meow meow” and even a cockatoo who says, “Can I have another piece of chocolate? Squark”, none of them can tell her what a horse says.  And so Farmer Rochelle calls Dr Swan the vet. Can he work out this mystery?

Little ones will not only love joining in with all the animal noises that are repeated several times in the story, but they will also love knowing that they know more than Farmer Rochelle and all her friends.  They would be able to tell her what a horse says, if she had asked them! Perfect for helping them feel they can be in charge and this reading thing is something they can do!

 

 

Duck!

Duck!

Duck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duck!

Meg McKinlay

Nathaniel Eckstrom

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781925381535

It was a quiet afternoon on the farm with the horse, cow, pig and sheep going about their horse, cow, pig and sheep business when the tranquility was interrupted by a little duck shouting “Duck!”  Annoyed at being disturbed and so egocentric is each creature that they are more intent on pointing out their differences from and therefore superiority over the duck that they don’t notice the darkening sky or that Duck has donned a bucket-helmet.  Until…

Those familiar with the other meaning of the word ‘duck’and who have keen eyes will pick up on what is about to happen and those familiar with that classic tale by L. Frank Baum will delight in the final page.

Meg McKinlay, author of No Bears  and Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros always tells a great story that is worthy of a dozen reads and this is no exception.  The illustrations are so perfect for the story you would think that the two were in the same room collaborating on each spread, rather than being on opposite sides of the country.

Pure charm!

A Very Quacky Christmas

 

 

 

A Very Quacky Christmas

A Very Quacky Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Quacky Christmas

Frances Watts

Ann James

ABC Books, 2017

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

9780733329623

Sebastian Tortoise is bamboozled by Samantha Duck’s Christmas preparations.  As she winds tinsel around the reeds, hangs baubles and her Christmas stocking on a branch, and sings “We wish you a quacky Christmas” while making a long list so she can give presents to all the animals in the world, he keeps telling her that Christmas is not for animals.  But she convinces him to help her by pointing out that Christmas is about giving and sharing and that they can make all the gift themselves by getting the other animals on the farm to help. 

To his surprise, the animals love the idea and each helps in their own way keeping Samantha and   Sebastian very busy.  But having made all the presents, delivering them on Christmas Eve becomes problematic – perhaps Christmas is not for animals after all.

This is a gentle story for younger children that celebrates the joy of sharing and giving, belief and perseverance and offers another perspective of the meaning of Christmas for little ones. Is Christmas just about receiving presents?  Do presents have to be store-bought, big, bright and shiny to be worthwhile?  What could they make by themselves or with a sibling or friend to give to others? Perhaps children could draw a name out of a hat and make just one present for that child as part of the STEM curriculum so each gets something and the pressure put on parents to provide presents for everyone that is becoming a common expectation can be abolished.  

Even though Sebastian was so sceptical he agreed  to help Samantha and he is the one encouraged to keep trying when all seems lost so explore the concept of friendship and how teamwork can often achieve the impossible. 

Unlike many books with a Christmas theme, this one is as rich in ideas to explore as Santa’s sack while still maintaining the charm and the delight of the season. 

Teachers notes are available but for me,  the story stands alone as a must-have addition to that special time of the Christmas Countdown at bedtime.     

 

Moo and Moo and Can You Guess Who?

Moo and Moo and Can You Guess Who?

Moo and Moo and Can You Guess Who?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moo and Moo and Can You Guess Who?

Jane Millton

Deborah Hinde

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781760631611

Just over a year ago, on November 14 a devastating earthquake struck the Kaikoura region of the South Island of New Zealand and the image of two cows and their calf stranded on an island in the devastated land went around the world eventually giving us the charming story of  Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too.

Now Moo and Moo are back, happily living on the author’s farm in the Clarence Valley and about to give birth to two new calves.  Told in rhyme and charmingly sharing their new adventure this is a wonderful follow-up that helps city kids understand country life through both the story and the explanations included at the end.  

Even though they can be big and seem a bit scary at times, little children love cows so this is the perfect introduction to the concept of non fiction and getting information from stories as well as entertainment. And of course they will love the happy ending to what was a confronting situation!

Vet Cadets (series)

Vet Cadets

Vet Cadets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Willowvale (Vet Cadets #1)

Rebecca Johnson

Puffin, 2017

180pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143782711

  

Willowvale Girls Grammar is an agricultural boarding school with 500 students offering a Vet Cadets program, and Abbey, Talika and Hannah are sharing a room. They need to learn to live together even though they come from very different backgrounds – Hannah obviously has money on her side and is a neat freak, while Abbey is the opposite, and Talika is Indian, which neither of the others have any experience of. But each has a family who loves them and fusses over them, and each has first day nerves. 

Nevertheless, adjust they must and it is not long before the adventures begin and they become an inseparable trio solving mysteries, causing chaos and all the time, learning more and more about the creatures they care for..

From the author of Juliet, Nearly a Vet  comes this new series for slightly older readers who are interested in caring for animals, perhaps even becoming vets themselves. With three other titles due for publication over the next few months this promises to be a great addition to your collection to satisfy those girls who are always after new animal stories. 

To celebrate the launch there are two Vet Conventions being held in Queensland but check the website for availability of spaces. 

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too

Jane Millton

Deborah Hinde

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781877505928

Just after midnight on November 14, 2016 the earth under the north-east of New Zealand’s South Island started to shudder and shake.  Once again an earthquake was reshaping the landscape as immovable forces fought for supremacy 15 000 metres below the surface – not just a regular shake that Kiwis are used to, this one was 7.8 on the Richter scale meaning widespread movement and damage.

Fast asleep in their paddock in the Clarence Valley on this bright moonlit night were two cows and a calf, who soon found themselves the subject of news footage around the world as the shaking and quaking split their sleep and their surroundings asunder and left them stranded on an island two metres high and 80 metres from where they started. 

Told in rhyme, Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too tells the story of the three animals and how they were rescued, a story that will fascinate young readers.  Imagine if the chair or the carpet they are sitting on suddenly moved and fell away and they were left stranded so high they couldn’t get down! 

While there were many stories of the quake and its impact on the landscape and the people, just as there are about recent devastating weather events in Australia, we sometimes forget about the impact on the wildlife that such phenomena have. The destruction of their habitat, their dislocation from familiar food sources, their deaths and injuries are often overlooked as the human drama plays out.  There was concern that the seal colony at Ohau Point (where I had been with my grandchildren exactly a year earlier) had been destroyed and with the seabed being lifted 5.5metres in places, also concern for the marine life off the coast.

So bringing this true story to life in a picture book that will endure much longer than a short television news clip not only tells the story of the cows but also puts a focus on other creatures who endure the trauma as humans do.  What happened to the sealife, the birds, the kangaroos and all the other creatures during Cyclone Debbie and the resulting floods?  How do they survive during devastating bushfires?  What can be done to save them, help them, and restore their habitats?  What are their needs? Even Kindergarten students can start investigations along those lines, giving meaning and purpose to the ubiquitous studies of Australia’s wildlife so they go beyond mere recognition.  

 While Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too might appear to have a limited audience and timeframe, used as a springboard it could be the beginning of something much greater. And that’s without even going down the path of the cause of earthquakes and how such events give us the landscapes and landshapes we are familiar with, or considering what’s in that floodwater they want to play in!

 

Little Chicken Chickabee

Little Chicken Chickabee

Little Chicken Chickabee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Chicken Chickabee

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

Raising Literacy Australia, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.90

9780994385338

Crickle, scratch, crackle, hatch – four little chicks pop from their eggs of proud Mother Hen.  Each one cheeps as expected except for Number 4 who says, “Chickabee.”  This startles Mother Hen and the other chicks who insist that “Cheep” is right and “Chickabee” is not.  But Little Chicken is not deterred and goes off to see the world.  However, she finds that even the other farm animals insist that chickens say “Cheep” not “Chickabee” although when Little Chicken challenges them, they have no real reason why not.  

Showing amazing resilience, Little Chicken knows that while “Chickabee” might be different, it is right for her and regardless of the sound she makes, she is still a chicken.  Even when her brothers and sisters reject her again, she has the courage to go back into the world and this time she meets different things that make different sounds which bring her joy,  And then she meets a pig…

This is a charming story about difference, resilience, courage and perseverance and how these can lead to friendships, even unexpected ones. Beautifully illustrated by Danny Snell, this story works on so many levels.  It would be a great read for classes early in this 2017 school year as new groups of children come together and learn about each other while even younger ones will enjoy joining in with the fabulous noises like rankety tankety, sticketty-stackety and flippety-flappity as they learn the sorts of things that are found on a farm.

Given the trend throughout the world towards convention and conservatism and an expectation that everyone will fit the same mould and be legislated or bullied into doing so, Little Chicken could be a role model for little people that it is OK to be different and that no one is alone in their difference.