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Seahorses Are Sold Out

Seahorses Are Sold Out

Seahorses Are Sold Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seahorses Are Sold Out

Constanze Spengler

Katya Gehrmann

Gecko Press, 2021

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776573868

Mika’s father works from home and he’s very busy! He can never find time for the promised swimming trip. So Dad allows Mika to choose a pet from the store while he finishes the project—something quiet like a mouse. But when the mouse gets lost, Mika goes back to the pet shop to buy a puppy to sniff it out and keep watch over it.  But when the puppy does a puddle in the bathroom because it doesn’t understand how to use the toilet, she goes back to get a seal who will oversee the proper use of the bathroom.  But when the seal wants to swim and the mouse can’t…  Sadly the seahorses have sold out.

And all the while the too-busy father doesn’t notice until finally he finishes the job he is working on.

This story of a single dad trying to balance child care and working from home will resonate with many at the moment, while that of the child wanting a pet for company will be familiar to many children.  And the extravagance of Mika’s solution will make them laugh.  But if the seahorses weren’t sold out what care would they need? Would they make the perfect pet that Dad wants?  Perhaps an opportunity to investigate these amazing little creatures.   

 

 

Who Fed Zed?

Who Fed Zed?

Who Fed Zed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Fed Zed?

Amelia McInerney

Adam Nickel

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760524432

This is  a picture book about Ted, Ned and Fred, Fred’s dog, Jed, and Fred’s fish, Zed.

Zed the fish is white and red.
His poo hangs down in one long thread.
The main thing, though, is what Fred said,
‘NEVER, EVER FEED ZED BREAD.’

Because feeding fish bread can kill them and although Zed survives this incident there are other problems that he is faced with.

This is a clever story that will engage young readers with its rhyming text and retro feel.  Teachers may well pick up on it because it appears to feed perfectly into the current push for phonics and “sounding out” to be THE way to teach reading but within the first eight lines there are three different ways of spelling the “ed” sound demonstrating not only the complexity of the English language and its spelling, but also the trickiness in teaching by this method and the confusion children feel when confronted by it, particularly as English is full of such anomalies.

That said, young children will love to listen to the poem as it carries them along on a wave of rhythm and they will be surprised by its ending.  They might even be ready to explore how the author created that rhythm paying attention to elements such as the number of syllables, whether they are long or short, stressed or unstressed to make a beat and thus the cadence of our language.  They might even want to create a list of other words that rhyme with Zed that the author might have chosen, thus building their vocabulary and spelling knowledge.   

But above all, and most importantly, it’s a story that will resonate with any young readers who have either a goldfish or a dog with fleas, or perhaps both. 

 

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Caroline Tuohey

Nicky Johnson

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804591

Piper is going to choose a pet, but just which one should she get?  There are the usual choices of a dog or a cat but then, there are so many options within those two choices. A cuddly dog or a puddly dog? A tabby curled up in a ball? A Burmese that’s not fussed at all?

Or should she get something altogether different so she can win the prize at the school pet show? A long one? A thin one? A fussy one?

Choosing a pet is a dream for so many kids and when the reality strikes, it can be an overwhelming decision.  This is a fun book for young readers that has rhyme and rhythm (although not the alliteration that the title suggests), enhanced by illustrations that capture the text perfectly. But it is also a discussion starter as children examine the reasons for having an animal in the home and the sorts of things they have to consider before they choose.  It would be an excellent story to tie to this year’s CBCA Picture Book of the Year winner,  I NEED a Parrot, as they consider not just what they need but what the animal needs and what is involved in its care.  For example, if she chooses the python or the lizard, most states will require her to have a special licence.

There are teachers’ notes and activity sheets available from the publisher’s website.

I NEED a Parrot

I NEED a Parrot

I NEED a Parrot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I NEED a Parrot

Chris McKimmie

Ford Street, 2020 

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

9781925804287

Like so many little people, this little boy decides he needs a pet.  Not just any pet – he needs a parrot in particular. But while he feels ne needs a parrot, and is prepared to take care of it, what does the parrot need?

Apart from the enduring argument about whether birds of any kind should be kept in cages, the story opens up discussions about wants versus needs and whether the two concepts are interchangeable.  

McKimmie has a unique artistic style that makes his illustrations very childlike in appearance and this really speaks to his audience underlining the message in his text.  Not only does he use the first person to talk to his audience but the words are backed up with images that look like they have been drawn by the narrator offering a double-whammy to pay attention. Starting the book with the image of a cage and ending it with a big blue sky is a powerful mechanism that will remain imprinted in the child’s mind, another technique that reinforces the message. There are many layers to this book that, on the surface, seems quite simple – a case of how less can indeed be more.

This book won the 2020 CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award , a worthy winner if the criteria is a story’s ability to open the minds of readers and challenge or change their thinking.

Teachers’ notes are available, and if it is sold out in your bookstore, contact the publisher. 

 

 

 

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. 

Marshmallow Pie (series)

Marshmallow Pie (series)

Marshmallow Pie (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cat Superstar

9780008355852

The Cat Superstar on TV

9780008355890

The Cat Superstar in Hollywood

9780008355913

HarperCollins, 2020

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is a big, fluffy (and grumpy) cat. He LOVES the easy life: lazing in the sunshine, eating Shrimp Crunchies and annoying Buster, the dog downstairs, from the safety of the balcony above. Now living with the shy Amelia in a top floor flat in the city, instead of the quiet country life he was used to, he already thinks he is a star, but Amelia is determined to make it official when she sees an advertisement for cats to audition to join a casting agency for film and television.  And so begins a life of grooming and training and the limelight…

This is a great new series for newly independent readers who still need some support and who love cats.  Given the photos that one sees on social media of cats in all sorts of finery, that would seem to be a very broad target market and so this series is going to please a lot of young readers.  Told by Marshmallow Pie himself, in the supercilious , no-fools-entertained, I’m-entitled voice that you just know matches his personality, the author of the Dotty Detective series brings her characters to life in a way that will delight those who have cats and who have been dreams for them.

With the first two available now, and the third due in time for that January holiday slump, this series will be a just-right introduction to the world of novels and the fun of getting to know characters over a period of time and adventures. 

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.   

 

Ollie and Augustus

Ollie and Augustus

Ollie and Augustus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ollie and Augustus

Gabriel Evans

Walker, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760650711

Even though Ollie is small (like a pickling jar or a shoebox) and Augustus is big (like a table or a fridge), they do everything together,including cycling, painting, dressing up, digging (Ollie’s favourite thing) and stick collecting (Augustus’s favourite thing), as best friends do.  But soon it will be time for Ollie to start school and he is worried that Augustus will be lonely without him.  So he sets out to find him a friend.  But none of the dogs that apply for the position are quite right and so Ollie has to start school and leave Augustus on his own.  All day he worries that Augustus will be lonely and bored, but is he?

Term 4 has started and that means “big school” is on the horizon for many of our littlest readers, with all the anxieties that that prospect brings.  There will be many Ollies among them who will worry that their treasured pets will be lonely and not being toys, they have to be left at home. So this is a timely story for them to reassure them that all will be fine and at least one concern can be alleviated. Perfect for sharing with preschoolers about to take the next big step in their growing-up adventure.

 

 

The Bookworm

The Bookworm

The Bookworm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bookworm

Debi Gliori

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A21.99

9781408893036

 

Max really wants a pet.  But all his suggestions are met with objections from his parents, or indeed, Max himself.  Puppies chew things, kittens make awful smells; penguins melt; sharks have too many teeth and dragons don’t exist.  Goldfish are boring; birds too chatty; wasps unfriendly and flies, while friendly, have revolting habits.

But then Max discovers the ideal pet – one even his parent approve of – or is it?

There are lots of stories about children wanting pets and having to search for just the right one, but this one is a little different with an ending that surprised even me (and I’ve read a lot of endings!) Of course a book with this title is always going to appeal to a teacher librarian, but I also love Gliori’s work and knew it would be more than just an intriguing title. I wasn’t disappointed.

Something quirky and just right for our young readers who want to combine both reading and the perfect pet! 

 

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

Judith Kerr

HarperCollins, 2019

80pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9780008351847

Ever since it peed on him in Miss Bennett’s Year 2 class, Tommy has hated Snowflake the school rabbit.  And now it has come to stay because his sister Angie is in Miss Bennett’s class and Snowflake needs a home while Miss Bennett goes to look after her mother.But because Angie is so little, Tommy has the task of looking after Snowflake and while the extra pocket money will be handy because he thinks if he wants a new bike he will have to buy it, this is not a task he is savouring.  And so the trouble starts… dangerous dogs bale him up in the park when he is walking the rabbit; his out-of-work-actor father misses out on a job because Snowflake pees on someone important, Angie gets really sick, Snowflake goes missing… There really is a curse!

Written and illustrated during the final year of her life – Kerr died in May 2019 aged 95 – this is an engaging story for the newly-independent reader from the author of classics such as the Mog the Forgetful Cat series andWhen Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,  It shows she still had all the imagination and wit that she had when she first wrote The Tiger Who Came to Tea in 1968 and will probably gain her a whole new legion of fans.

You can read more about her work in this obituary