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The Bird in the Herd

The Bird in the Herd

The Bird in the Herd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bird in the Herd

Kathryn Apel

Renée Treml

UQP, 2021

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

9780702262944

There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. 

After half a century as a teacher, most of it spent focusing on teaching our youngest readers to read, I am quite vocal with my criticism of the current push to have phonics as the basis of instruction and while I could write much about why, I won’t.  However, this is a clever and quirky read which mainly relies on rhyme, rhythm and  repetition to carry it along but central, and most importantly, there is a charming story at its core. 

Beginning with a bird stalking a herd of cows to snap up the slugs and bugs they disturb, the scene is tracked back through all its elements – there is so much more than just the cows wandering along the track- with a repetition reminiscent of The House that Jack Built until an ignorant, impatient idiot  upsets everything.  So rather than the traditional set of disconnected pictures with sentences declaring the cat sat on the mat and the frog sat on the log, this is one that young readers can not only apply their new knowledge of phonemes but can actively engage with Treml’s illustrations and their existing knowledge of farm animals to read it for themselves.  They learn that the best books tell a story that is worth reading, that the words and pictures are integral to each other and this reading thing is something they can master. Such empowerment. If only all that we asked our beginning readers to read were as good as this…

Teachers’ notes are available.

Early One Morning

Early One Morning

Early One Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early One Morning

Mem Fox

Christine Davenier

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761040030

Early one morning a little boy wakes up with a particular thing on his mind for breakfast, and so he sets off in search of it.  What follows is his quest as he travels around all the familiar objects and animals found on a farm until at last he has success.

If anyone knows what is needed to create a story that will engage the hearts and minds of our youngest readers and ensure they fall in love with the written word, then it is Mem Fox. Here, she has taken a very ordinary, everyday concept combined it with a very familiar character and using just the right amount of carefully chosen text she has crafted a story that will most definitely become a favourite.  The illustrations are perfect, not only helping to make the text predictable so the reader feels empowered but the little chook following the boy adds humour as well as the clue to his search.  As the little chap visits the truck and the tractor and the sheep and the ponies, he doesn’t see he is being followed and little ones will be shouting, “Look behind you!” much like they do the villain in the pantomime, while at the same time I hear the music to this version of Rosie’s Walk!   Two for the price of one!  Chooks in books – always a winning combo.

As well, it opens up the opportunity to investigate where our food comes from and how it gets to our plates. Lots of learning all round. 

 

The Thing That Goes Ping!

The Thing That Goes Ping!

The Thing That Goes Ping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thing That Goes Ping!

Mark Carthew

Shane McG

Ford Street, 2021

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

9781925804669

In the faraway town of Figgy-tra-ling, you may hear the faint ring of a thing that goes ping!

But this ting’s hard to find though its sound is quite loud

As the thing that goes ping can get lost in a crowd.

If you wish to know where you can find this ping thing

Let’s ask the good people of Figgy-tra-ling…

And so begins the quest to  discover this thing that goes ping, whatever it might be.  Moving through the town using rhyming couplets that instantly reminded me of a recent favourite, The Dingle-Dangle Jungle, the reader is taken on a journey that introduces a variety of creatures in a range of settings around the farm until eventually that thing that goes ping is revealed.  And it is a satisfying solution that makes the trip worthwhile!

This story works on a number of levels for all ages, particularly younger readers who are not only learning the names of common creatures but who revel in the sounds and rhythms of our language.  The rhymes roll off the tongue in a most satisfying way and with the repetition of the phrases and the very supportive illustrations they will not only be joining in but also be predicting the next text. Perfect for early reading behaviours, encouraging readers to suggest, write and illustrate their own resident of Figgy-tra-ling who could help the quest.  It is also excellent for using with students for whom English is an additional language as not only can they connect the English words with creatures they readily recognise, but again, the predictive text and the rhyme will help them explore the language easily.   As well, there are comprehensive teachers notes, song lyrics and even card games to download, making this the complete reading experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda’s Nest

Esmeralda's Nest

Esmeralda’s Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda’s Nest

Robert Moore

Mandy Foot

MidnightSun, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

 9781925227666

Esmeralda, the saddleback sow, is acting quite strangely. Each day, regardless of the weather she roots around the farm collecting a variety of objects that she takes back to deposit under the cattle ramp. What is causing this strange nest-building behaviour?

From the engaging endpapers that offer interesting information about pigs and piglets this is a charming story for young readers about a week in the life of a pig as she prepares to give birth.  Like the farmer and his children, the reader wonders what Esmeralda is doing with all the treasure she is collecting but it all makes sense at the end. Young readers can learn the days of the week, and perhaps predict what the next day will be, what its weather will be because that changes daily, and what Esmeralda might find that day.  And all the while the endless round of farm chores carries on in the pictures which are packed with detail for the sharp-eyed reader. City students can get a glimpse of rural life that they might be unaware of – particularly the role the children play!

For anyone teaching an introductory unit about farms and farming, this is a perfect accompaniment to exploring what is, to many, an unfamiliar environment with something new to explore on each page. 

Ten Sleepy Sheep

Ten Sleepy Sheep

Ten Sleepy Sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Sleepy Sheep

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2020

24pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781760896768

Dusk on the farm and it’s time for the animals to go to sleep and so in this gentle countdown book, each settles down for the night.  

The ideal bedtime book to draw the curtains on the day for our youngest readers, the rhyme and rhythm will lull them off to sleep just as it does the sheep, the calves, the koalas and all the other little creatures who need their rest. 

Featuring the iconic soft drawings that we’ve come to associate with Treml’s work , this would be the ideal gift for a new mum and dad to start their little one’s reading journey.  

Let’s Go! On a Tractor

Let's Go! On a Tractor

Let’s Go! On a Tractor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go! On a Tractor

Rosalyn Albert

Natalia Moore

Catch A Star, 2020

16pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9781922326089

Let’s go on a tractor
All around the farm
Past the duck pond, through the fields
Behind the big red barn.

This is a new addition to the Let’s Go series, this one taking our youngest readers around the farm on a tractor. 

The series focuses on two children enjoying rides on a variety of transport. Familiar topics, catchy rhymes and colourful illustrations not only make for an enjoyable read that they will be able to retell themselves endlessly, but also promote what can be expected from story books. It also helps build vocabulary as not all will be familiar with farm life, riding a train or a ferry, or travelling on a rocket so when they encounter other books with those sorts of settings, they are able to bring their knowledge to the page, predict what they will see and what might happen, as well as being in a better position to get their mouth ready for unknown words.

We should never underestimate the role that these sorts of readers have in our children’s literacy as they develop those early concepts about print, and by using sturdy, durable board books we can start that process earlier and earlier. This is just one of a number of series from this publisher that is bringing quality stories to our e=youngest readers.

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Are These Hen's Eggs?

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Christina Booth

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760523497

In “one sunset, two, one sunrise more” Hen’s eggs will hatch. Snuggled down deep in her nest under the trees, she waits patiently but then the storm hits and the next morning she cannot find her eggs.  All the farm creatures help her search, amassing a collection of eggs – but are they all Hen’s eggs?  When they do hatch there are some surprises, particularly the final one but that doesn’t stop Hen loving them all anyway.

This is a charming story that can spark all sorts of investigations about hens, eggs, how they are made, their sizes, shapes and colours, the range of creatures that come from eggs and the names of baby creatures. But it is also a story about helping others after loss, unselfishness as Duck gives Hen one of her eggs to cheer her up, and unconditional love when something entirely unexpected is added to the mix. Can a happy family be a blended mix of heritage, culture and parentage?

Christina Booth always gives us great stories like One Careless Night, Welcome Home and Purinina; A Devils’ Tale that cause us to ponder on big picture things and this is no exception. 

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.