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The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

christmas_countdown_2016

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

Kim Michelle Toft

Silkim Books, 2007

hbk 9780975839041

pbk 9780975839034

 

Take the traditional Christmas song, add the most magnificent creatures of the world’s oceans, include important information about those creatures and immerse the whole in the beautiful painted silk artworks of Kim Michelle Toft and you have, quite simply, my most favourite Christmas book ever!

Toft has used the words of The Twelve Days of Christmas not only to introduce readers to the dwellers of the deep, but has also built on the tradtional concept of gift-giving at this time to emphasise what a precious present these creatures  are – one that we may not enjoy for much longer if we don’t start to value it now.

“All of the magnificent creatures in this book rely on the ocean for their survival and many were once found in abundance.  This is no longer true.  Modern technology, huge increases in the world’s population and lack of management have resulted in some serious problems.  These problems include over fishing, pollution from poorly treated sewage, effluents from oil spoils, litter and global warmingwhich is contributing to the destruction of coral reefs all around the world.  It is up to nations,  governments and the will of the people to work together to help conserve these incredible gifts from nature.”

Thus, as well as being a stunning visual feast, there is a serious message that can be emphasised, enabling this book to sit well within any sustainability curriculum.  Even though students might not be able to replicate the artworks which are handdrawn with gold gutta on white silk then painted with brushes using silk dyes, the concept itself might inspire a class project of those things in the local region that might disappear if no action to preserve them is taken.

At the end of the book is an amazing poster containing all the creatures mentioned, and some versions have a CD of Toft’s lyrics sung by Lisa Hunt.  What a wonderful song to add to the Christmas repetoire.

Toft always writes and illustrates about her passion – the preservation of ocean life – and you can see all her publications here and as a bonus, here’s a full unit of work for The World that We Want.

She is one who must have a place on your library’s shelves – school or home.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Don't miss the poster!

Don’t miss the poster!

 

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse of the Vampire Robot

Graeme Base

HarperCollins, 2021

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

9781460754696

Deep in the Scottish Highlands, many years from now …

Gertie Gif, a lowly cleaning droid from the village of Loch Lan, sets out on an heroic quest to liberate her fellow robo-folk from the curse of a legendary, battery-draining laptop who lives in the castle on the hill.

Will Gertie and her little software-wolf companion succeed in cleaning out the vampire’s corrupted heart?

Or will the Curse of Voltoid remain forever hanging over the valley?

In this new release from the amazing Base, he combines an old-fashioned tale of good versus evil with 21st century techno-speak to produce an intriguing, clever story that marries the very old with the very latest.   In a castle high on a hill overlooking the valley dwells the dreaded Voltoid , “a giant laptop, black as night, with wings and pointy teeth” who sweeps down into the village to drain the resident robots of their power in order to recharge his own. Then, as in true tales of old, an unlikely hero volunteers to confront the enemy and in in clever rhyming text, an epic encounter ensues.

“In time, the tale become a myth and finally a meme

with feature films and merchandise…

A total data stream. 

Deviating from his familiar full-colour illustrations, this time Base has kept to black and white but with the typical exquisite detail that make his illustrations as rich as both the concept and the text.  This is one for more mature readers who can appreciate the subtlety of the words and the connections between them and the pictures. 

So much food for thought…                              

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface’s Stories

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface's Stories

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface’s Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silky’s Story

Enid Blyton & Jeanne Willis

Mark Beech

9781444956290

Moonface’s Story

Enid Blyton & Emily Lamm

Mark Beech

9781444957989

 

Hodder Children’s, 2021

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

The Magic Faraway Tree with its ladder at the very top leading through the clouds to wondrous lands of adventure and magic has been a favourite for generations and has always been my go-to read-aloud when introducing young children to the concept of series with their continuing settings and characters. 

Now, almost 80 years later , two new stories about two of the favourite residents of the Faraway Tree have been created to introduce this magical world to a new generation of  young readers and have them clamouring to read more.

In Silky’s Story, the children arrive at The Tree to discover it silent, its leaves on the ground, its fruit eaten and, as they climb, they follow a trail of mess, mud and fruit stones.  Their friends are all frightened and Silky the fairy is missing!  It seems that the Land of Roundabouts and Swings has arrived at the top of the tree and an unusual and seemingly unpleasant visitor has come down the tree causing havoc and taken Silky back to the Land with him…

Meanwhile, in Moonface’s Story, it is Moonface’s birthday and he wants to hold a party for all his special friends. Of course, birthday parties always require cake but when he tries to bake a cake  it ends up burnt. Will he find help in one of the wonderful lands at the top of the Faraway Tree?

Lavishly illustrated in bold colours, both books make both the perfect bedtime story as well as taking the child to ‘old worlds, new worlds and other worlds.’  The perfect entrée to the main course of the complete collection – The Enchanted Wood ,  The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Enid Blyton

Hodder Children’s, 2020

638pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781444959437

Imagine being able to walk to the woods at the bottom of your garden where the leaves of the trees whisper to each other that you are there and find yourself at the bottom of a tree that has the most remarkable inhabitants like Moonface, Silky and Dame Washalot living in its branches and a revolving world of magical lands at its top, high in the clouds.  That is what Joe, Beth and Frannie (PC’ed from the original Fanny) discover when they move to the countryside and  discover that their new house lies next to the Enchanted Wood! And in that wood stands the Magic Faraway Tree where they have so many amazing encounters and adventures.

This collection comprising all three books in the series – The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree – is now, once again, on offer to parents, teachers and independent readers to share.  Over my 50+ years in teaching, I’ve lost count of how many children I have shared this magic with. Apart from transporting the children to new worlds of imagination and wonderment, it was my go-to read-aloud when they were ready for a serial that had continuous characters and settings so they were familiar with the background, but still needed a complete story within each session.  

There is a reason that Blyton’s stories (over 700 books and about 2,000 short stories) have not dated and have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children’s author and remain in print more than 50 years after her death.  Apart from being childhood favourites of previous generations and thus handed down through families like fairytales, her imagination gave her readers the wings to fly away from whatever circumstances they were in to a world where anything was possible, anything could happen and usually did.  In series like The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven,  Malory Towers and Noddy, there were no everyday constraints on the characters and they could become heroes in the most mundane of circumstances, resonating with the audience in ways many authors have envied and tried to emulate since. 

Visiting a new world every read, this is truly a perfect collection for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and because my own grandchildren have had this series on their bookshelves for many years, I know just which family needs this copy to start their tradition. 

 

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

Libby Hathorn

Julie Vivas

Angus & Robertson, 2021

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

9781460759660

Sydney in the 1930s and Kieran is fascinated by the trams as they rattle past his house and down the hill to Bondi Beach.  But even moreso, he loves to watch Saxon the paperboy swing his way along the running board, deftly selling papers and giving change as he goes.  He is determined that he too will be a paperboy and finally, when he is 9, Mr Francis gives him a job. The only trouble is, when the newsagent hires him,  Saxon tells the younger Keiran this tramstop is his territory.

Keiran is determined and tries to copy Saxon’s technique on the trams. It all ends in a fall and his dad’s fury and the threat of losing his first job. Are Keiran’s dreams shattered before they have really formed?

This is a classic story from one of Australia’s most established children’s authors that has lasted the test of time as it takes the reader back to an era barely recognisable in today’s hustle and bustle.  The lives of Keiran and Isabelle are quite different from that of today’s 9 year-old – could having a job as well as school be a normal thing today? The signature style of Julie Vivas’s illustrations add a richness that demand a compare and contrast that will show that while there are many outward differences as time has moved on, not just between 1931 and now but also 1981 when it was first published and now. that inner strength of family remains unchanged. 

It also highlights the current controversy of the delivery of news, including the situation with Facebook withdrawing access to news sites, setting up an investigation into how people have got their news over time, its integrity and its relevance, making it a book that could be used at any level across the school. 

 

The Tree

The Tree

The Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree

Graeme Base

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760897048

This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree that has Cow’s favourite mooberries growing on its branches and Duck’s favourite mushquacks growling amongst its roots.  So Cow builds herself a castle high in the tree and pulls up the drawbridge so no one can get in, and Duck digs deep amongst the roots and secures his domain with a secret key.  They forget each other, each content in their own “fiefdom” and all appears well until one night a massive storm upends everything. Suddenly they rediscover each other and the jealousy and selfishness begins…

Whether it is a classic like Animalia or Uno’s Garden, a tale like The Last King of Angkor Wat or Moonfishor something for the younger readers like The Amazing Monster Detectoscope or Bumblebunnies, Graeme Base can be guaranteed to give the reader the most exquisitely illustrated story that has more layers than the bed in The Princess and the Pea!  This new story is no exception with so much to discover in the pictures and so much to discuss in the words., encapsulated in the final masterful illustration. For the tree is so much more than a home to a selfish cow and a greedy duck and the reader can spend hours getting lost in the worlds of it branches, trunk and roots, knowing that one cannot survive without the other and so it becomes a symbol for harmony, co-operation and sharing. But, sturdy and steadfast as it may seem, it is not indestructible .However, from its demise something just as precious emerges offering the one thing that keeps life going – hope for a better future.

Graeme Base has created such a fabulous body of work since he first gave us My Grandma Lives in Gooligulch   that, in my opinion, he is one of Australia’s master storytellers who deserves a very special place in our history of children’s literature. 

One for all ages.

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2019

24pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9780141338484

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf…”  So begins one of the most well-known stories written for children in the modern era.  First published in 1969, who doesn’t know this classic story of the hatching of that little egg, and the caterpillar’s journey through a an orchard of fruits throughout the week, an un-caterpillar feast on Saturday and culminating in a massive stomach ache?  So big, in fact, that the little caterpillar has to eat through a nice green leaf to ease it and then goes to sleep for another week, snug in a cocoon until he emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

With an engaging character, bright pictures created in Carle’s signature collage style, cut and cutout pages that promise new things when they are turned, counting and predicting and reading along, and a most satisfying ending, this book has endured to become a classic, one that should be on the bottom shelf, your read-aloud basket and your teaching toolkit. Being a larger board book edition, it is designed to stand up to the constant reading it will have as it is passed along and around families, sparking and creating memories of times spent together. A classic that needs to be kept alive for generations, despite screens and other distractions. 

Where is the Green Sheep?

Where is the Green Sheep?

Where is the Green Sheep?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep?

Mem Fox

Judy Horacek

Puffin, 2017

32pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9780143501763

 

Here is the blue sheep, and here is the red sheep. Here is the bath sheep, and here is the bed sheep. But where is the green sheep?

There are some stories that you can recite word for word even if it’s years since you last read them, such is their power and the insistence of the little ones in your life to “Read it again, Grandma!”

I owe a debt of gratitude to Mem and Judy because this is the story that Miss Now-9 learned to read on and when Grandma got tired, Miss Now 14 was able to take over the reading duties. No other book, no matter how well promoted, ever came close to the demand for this one and so with Puffin’s 80th birthday celebrations in full swing, it seems timely to promote it to a whole new generation of parents and grandparents so they too can achieve this particular rite of passage.

With its. rhyme, rhythm and repetition and simple illustrations that help the youngest reader to predict the text and share the joy when it is confirmed, Fox and Horacek have hit on the right recipe for a story to encourage our youngest readers to love the sound of our language.  Given Mem’s background in working with and writing for littlies though, this is hardly surprising and you know any book with her name on the cover will be a winner. 

In fact, so iconic is this title from one of Australia’s most-loved author-illustrator partnerships that there is even a 2020 edition that really puts the icing on the cake of this special year. There can be no greater tribute. 

The World of Roald Dahl

The World of Roald Dahl

The World of Roald Dahl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780241447970

Even though it is almost thirty years since Roald Dahl died, his characters are such household names with young readers that there are few who would not have read at least one of his stories.  And even though Dahl might have passed onto the greatest storyland, illustrator Quentin Blake is still with us and sharing his iconic graphics in this latest book that sets the reader all sorts of activities to do, games to play and puzzles to solve.

Beginning with a brief biography of Dahl including some fascinating facts like his birthday being September 13 and thus spawning annual celebrations on Roald Dahl Day ; and a similar though less familiar introduction to Quentin Blake, there are tips about bow to be a storyteller like Dahl followed by a host of other engaging, interactive pages that build on the stories and the characters bringing them to life. And once all the challenges have been completed, the successful reader can call themselves a World of Roald Dahl Superstar with an appropriate certificate.

Miss 9 adored the Dahl puzzle books and boxed set she found in her 2019 Christmas stocking and was so excited when her 2020 school year was devoted to exploring his works.  Imagine how much more she will bring and be when she discovers this one! In fact, with winter dragging on and Term 3 being the longest ever, she might discover it sooner than later! A reward for the days and days spent at home with none of her usual distractions.

Ellie’s Dragon

Ellie's Dragon

Ellie’s Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellie’s Dragon

Bob Graham

Walker Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781406387629

Hidden among the boxes of eggs on the supermarket shelf, Ellie discovers a tiny dragon, so small it’s eyes are not yet open.  Because its claws tickled the palm of her hand she called it Scratch and made it a bed in a matchbox. But when she asked her mum for some match heads for its breakfast, her mum can only see the matchbox.

And so it is with all the adults in her world.  None of them can see Scratch even though as she grows her friends can and Scratch just becomes a normal part of their activities.  But, just like Jackie Paper and that other famous dragon, Puff, as Ellie gets older, Scratch begins to fade.  Until one day a little boy called Sam found him wandering in the High Street, a fully-grown, house-trained affectionate dragon just looking for a new home…

Bob Graham is a master storyteller who has been delighting young readers around the world for the best part of 40 years with so many charming stories like The Poesy Ring   and Home in the Rain , and this gentle story about growing up with an imaginary friend is just as inviting as all the others. His signature style in both text and artworks is there again for a whole new group of fans to enjoy as so many of them will relate to Ellie either as the very young girl or as she grows older.  There is a reason that Graham has won so many awards for his writing and it’s encapsulated again in this new book.  Perfect for invoking discussions about imaginary friends particularly at this time when so many of our little ones are deprived of the company of real ones, but also for thinking about the possibilities and pitfalls of providing a home for a dragon.