Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide











Social Media Survival Guide

Holly Bathie

Usborne, 2022

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Like it or not, use it or not, social media is an integral of today’s life and despite it being illegal for those under 13 to have accounts because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which prevents collection and storage of personal information from children under 13 years of age which originated in the US but which is pretty much universal, many of our young students still access sites and apps daily. 

For many parents, the world of social media and instant connectivity is not one in which they grew up – it’s all happened in the last 20 years –  and so helping their children navigate where they never went when they were children can be tricky.  Perhaps the recent hacking of Optus and Medicare and the exposure of personal date gathered legitimately can have a silver lining if it alerts parents to the spread of their digital footprint and propels them to start considering what they are sharing, and thus, their children. 

For even though way back in 1996 my school had a huge focus on safe surfing of the web and the kids, most of whom did not have access to computers and the internet at home, had the basics drummed into them from the get-go, the issues caused by the use of these instant, anonymous platforms continue to rise as our young people seek attention, fame, and in some cases, notoriety. Who can forget the death of 14 year old Dolly Everett who took her own life because of online bullying.?

Thus this book which enables our young readers, even those under the required 13 years) to manage their life, relationships and mental health on social media platforms and empowers them to stay safe online is an important read for all.  With the usual engaging layout we associate with Usborne, but in monochrome rather than colour, it offers in-depth coverage of a range of important a difficult issues young people face including body image, appearance-enhancing filters, influencers, sexual content and mental health. It uses recognisable themes rather than platform specifics, making the content relevant long-term, and tips on how to set up accounts safely and best manage privacy and messaging settings. It also addresses the user’s online persona, online reputation, and relationships; helps them understand  fake news and information and how to handle online bullying, as well as avoiding trolls.

While social media can have a really positive side – many would have been very isolated without during COVID lockdowns – and it would be wonderful if we could instil such a sense of confidence and well-being in the younger generation that they never feel the need for anonymous, meaningless affirmation, nevertheless there is a dark side and users must be aware of the potential for harm as well as good.  Once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. 

As well as being an important guide for the kids, it is also really useful for parents themselves as they learn what it is their child needs to know and do, understand and value as what was once just “peer pressure” from your immediate social circle is now a universal phenomenon right there in their hand. It goes hand-in hand with the excellent site and work of the E-Safety Commissioner established by the Australian government which has information for everyone from parents to teachers to kids to women to seniors and even a host of diverse groups who may be targeted or marginalised. 

Despite the care we take, every keystroke or finger tap can unknowingly add to our digital footprint, and so the better informed we are the safer we will be. Thus this is one to recommend to parents, to teachers and for yourself if you have responsibility for students or your own children online. 


Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma











Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Julia Hopp

Michael Lee

Little Steps, 2022

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


Wonderful news – Mrs Turtle is becoming a Grandma! But Mrs Turtle is worried she may not be a good enough Grandma for the new baby. After all, with her love of socialising, travelling and exercising she was not like most other turtles )or grandmothers) that she knew and she was concerned that she would not match expectations.

Beginning with the illustration on the front cover with a very glamorous turtle with flowing golden locks and red high heels, this is a great story for introducing young readers to the concept of stereotypes as well as building and meeting expectations.  

Currently, there is a series of advertisements on television for an insurance company that invites the viewer to make assumptions about various people based on their external appearance and the assumptions made could not be further from the truth of the reality, and this story is in a similar vein.  What assumptions do we already make about turtles and/or grandmothers? What do we expect them to look like or behave? Why do we have those expectations? Are they valid? How do we feel when their looks and actions don’t meet our expectations?  Important questions for children to discuss but equally so are those relating to the expectations we put on ourselves and the consequences if we feel we do not meet what we expect of ourselves, or what we think others expect of us. Do we hide away,  berate ourselves and have all sorts of negative thoughts that we eventually turn into truths, or are we able to learn from the situation and move on? Can we learn and accept that everyone’s definition of “perfect” is different and who we are as we are is enough?

Grandma Turtle learns a really valuable lesson in this story and young readers can start to have conversations about the issues raised too. There is a saying about being “comfortable in your own skin” which eventually happens when you understand that the only opinions that matter are your own and those of those who are important to you, and so by starting the conversations early with stories such as this, our young people might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of peer pressure that are ahead of them.

A little story but with huge potential, well beyond the protection of turtles that the author includes in the final pages. . 

Barefoot Kids

Barefoot Kids

Barefoot Kids











Barefoot Kids

Scott Pape

Barefoot Publishing, 2022

224pp., pbk., RRP $A32.99


When 8 year old Levi Anderton was laughed at in class because he froze when his teacher asked him to read something aloud, the situation had the potential for any number of outcomes, all of them profound and some of them not good.  But Levi was able to turn the incident on its head and within 6 months he was the boss of his own company  selling reading rulers and cases online fielding and fulfilling orders from around the world. Like Sir Richard Branson, he turned his disability into an opportunity.

For years, Scott Pape, author of highly successful The Barefoot Investor has been engaged in programs to make financial literacy a key part of every primary and secondary school curriculum including having an annual 4-6 week money challenge similar to the Premier’s Reading Challenge, and, for primary students in particular, showing them the power of working, saving, spending and giving.  

And so, in this engaging easy-to-read step by step guide for young readers to make and carry out a financial plan, interspersed with success stories like Levi’s for encouragement, there is the blueprint to help them become financially savvy at the very least, if not world-leading entrepreneurs. Money may be the “root of all evil” but it seems to be something everyone desires. Regardless of how we might prefer it to be different, success still seems to be measured by salary and despite odds of one in 292 million of winning the recent mega US $2 billion lottery, millions around the world bought tickets in the hope of becoming rich.  Closer to home our students are probably seeing the consequences of the ‘cost-of-living crisis” that is reported on every news bulletin, so it would seem that a book by a recognised expert that has both sound advice and practical strategies would be very appropriate and timely.

Arranged into the six steps entitled Earn Some Money, Stash Your Cash, Be a Barefoot Boss, Get What you Want, Make Someone Smile and Grow your Money, readers are taken from that first basic understanding that money comes from working and even though they might resent pitching in with household chores there are ways that make them in charge so they are in control of both what they do and what they do with the rewards. There are charts and checklists so each child can map their own path (even those under 7) including being able to pitch the idea of being paid for chores confidently to parents. 

With language and layout chosen so that the reader is encouraged, supported and successful on each page, this is a must-have for every child so that they not only get the things they want without having to wait for Christmas or birthdays but they develop the critical understandings and foundations for their future financial security as they learn so much in a practical, personal real-life way.  You could not give a child a better gift. 

And kids could give their parents The Barefoot Investor for Families so everyone wins!

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country











Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Adam Goodes

Ellie Laing

David Hardy

A&U Children’s, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Mum is taking David and Lucy on a road trip to visit her family and they are as excited as they are curious for this is their first time back on Country and there are so many special places to see, things to do, stories to hear and words to learn. This is their time to reconnect with their Aboriginality, and learn about their land and culture and how they fit within it from their Elders. As the children find out, it can be very emotional and spiritual as they learn of the generations who have gone before and how those ancestors continue to influence and impact their modern lives.

The third in this series, which includes Somebody’s Land and  Ceremony, young readers continue to learn about what is behind the Acknowledgement of Country that has become an integral part of the day in so many schools now.  As with the others, this is a story from the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders ranges in South Australia, the country of author Adam Goodes. with  stunning illustrations and text featuring both English and Adnyamathanha words (which are explained in a visual glossary on the endpages).  As well as the introductory background notes on the verso, there is a QR code that leads to a reading of the story as well as teachers’ notes  available to download. 

In my opinion, this series is one of the most significant publications available to help our young children understand and appreciate the long-overdue recognition of our First Nations people in schools, so that when they hear a Welcome to Country or participate in an Acknowledgement of Country they do so with knowledge of and respect for all that is contained in the words.  


Nice Garry (series)

Nice Garry (series)

Nice Garry (series)










Nice Garry (series)

Bowled Over 


In A Spin


Michael Wagner, Nathan Lyon

David Williams

HarperCollins, 2022

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

On the eve of the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, this is a new series featuring renowned spin bowler Nathan Lyon that is going to appeal to young cricket loving readers. While Lyon himself will be in the commentary box this year (although he is determined to be good enough again to make it into the Australian T20 side), nevertheless the comments of “Nice, Garry” will be heard on the cricket pitch in other formats as the season wears on.

Inspired by the talent and passion Australian Test cricketing great Nathan Lyon has for the game, nicknamed Garry after AFL star Garry Lyon, this is the story of an ordinary kid with an extraordinary gift, but the talented 10-year-old discovers that sometimes gifts like his can present new, unexpected challenges that have to be faced.  

Following in the format of other sports series which focus on leading lights in a variety of codes, readers not only learn about their heroes and tips and tricks of the games they play, but also what it takes to be both a leader and a team member and that sometimes being really good at a particular thing is not always enough.  There are responsibilities that come with the rewards.

As well as being one to hand to the aspiring young cricketers, it is also one to hand to the reluctant reader who has to read it and decide whether it is a series worth purchasing for the library’s collection.  Among all the other series available, what will make this one stand out and appeal to many, making it a worthwhile investment?  


11 Words for Love

11 Words for Love

11 Words for Love











11 Words for Love

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Maxine Benebe Clarke

Lothian Children’s, 2022

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



There are eleven words for love, and my family knows them all.

A family flees their homeland to find safety in another country, carrying little more than a suitcase full of love.

As their journey unfolds, the oldest child narrates 11 meanings for love in Arabic as her family show, and are shown, all different kinds of love in their new home, and they also remember the love they have for their homeland and for those left behind or lost along the way.

This is a heartwarming book takes you on a journey through 11 of these Arabic expressions for love, at the same time telling the story of the family’s journey in the distinctive illustrations making the Arabic script immediately obvious even without the lyrical English translation.

While there might be over 50 words describing the degrees of love in the Arabic language, each pertaining to a different relationship, and there is seemingly only one in English for the same emotion, nevertheless there are many ways that we can show love without needing words.  

In 1970, the film Love Story (based on the book of the same name by Erich Segal) swept the world, inspiring a series of cartoons from New Zealand artist Kim Casali, the most famous being  “Love Is…being able to say you are sorry”, itself inspired by a line from the film “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” 

Use this book to inspire our students to think about the many ways they show and share love and how it is shown and shared with them, illustrating their statements for a display.  Apart from having them consider the meaning of the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, it will also help them understand that sometimes putting our feelings into words can be hard, particularly if we don’t have the words yet, but nevertheless we are loved.  Another step towards helping positive mental health.  


Frank’s Red Hat

Frank's Red Hat

Frank’s Red Hat











Frank’s Red Hat

Sean E. Avery

Walker Books, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99


Frank is a penguin with ideas. Some are better than others but often they are  not so good.. So when he  he shows the other penguins his strange new creation, they are very nervous. It’s something they’d never seen or expected to see in their cold and colourless Antarctic world — a red hat. and when Neville puts it on and is immediately taken by a killer whale, they definitely don’t want anything to do with it –  or the lime, copper, apricot, cobalt, lilac versions Frank offered.  In fact, they didn’t care for any of his colour variations – it was the hat itself that was evil.

Despite his perseverance, Frank had to admit defeat and declared he would not make any more hats until…

Sometimes it just takes someone with a belief in their ideas, in what they do and can offer to bring colour into a monochrome world thus changing that world forever, and Frank’s determination and resilience to be and make the changes is a lesson to all those who have a talent or an idea. Encouraging those with the big ideas to not give up, to persevere while being willing to listen to their audience and even modify their prototypes to address concerns and meet new needs, this is a story that offers the boost to continue that might be needed.

On the other hand, it opens up opportunities for discussions from the penguins’ perspective about how we are naturally resistant to change that takes us beyond our comfort zone, this is a great story to share with those about to embark on new adventures such as moving house or graduating to high school.  While there will be anxiety about leaving what is known, there is also the chance for new, exciting doors to open, such as the new friends Frank meets and the potential to expand both ideas and learning.  

While the publisher recommends this as a story for 4-7 year olds, it has the potential to have a much wider audience in the hands of a skilled teacher. 


How to be . . . The New Person

How to be . . . The New Person

How to be . . . The New Person











How to be . . . The New Person

Anna Branford

Walker Books, 2022

128pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99


Hazel Morrison has a secret habit – pretending to make videos about everyday things. Eight important tips for successfully buttering toast! Putting your hair in a ponytail: a step-by-step guide! But when her family move to the outer suburbs, Hazel has to cope with starting at a new school where she doesn’t exactly feel welcomed. However, she does meet a new friend – her elderly neighbour Veronica,  But then Veronica has to move too.

So when a school project inspires her to create a real video, she knows just what her focus will be – a how-to guide for being “the new person” . . . because everyone, sometime, will meet one, or be one!

Having laughed and cried through Old People’s Home for Teenagers and having seen the impact of the isolation of lockdown on all ages, it would seem to me that loneliness is at the root of the mental health issues of today’s generations.  While older people finding themselves alone after the death of a partner has always been a trigger point, and one to be aware of regardless of their “I’m OK” protestations because they “don’t want to be a burden”, the anti-social nature of social media is a new phenomenon.  Although it allows for easier connectivity, that connectivity can be done alone and in private without having to have face-to-face contact, without having to develop the skills of interaction or relationship-building, and without regard for the impact of the words on the recipient.  No wonder the teens in the television show, most of whom admitted that they spent hours upon hours in their bedrooms, lacked the confidence to mingle with others.

Thus, as we approach the end of another school year and children are facing having to start a new school, whether that’s in a new location or just moving on to high school, anxiety will be starting to build already as they contemplate being “the new kid” and all that that entails.  This book, written for young independent readers, deserves to be shared with our students to open up conversations that allow them to share their anxieties, to learn that they are all feeling the same way, and to develop strategies so they can believe in Veronica’s observation that “Wherever there are lots of people, there is always at least one nice person. You don’t always find them right away but sooner or later you usually do.  And after that, things get easier.”

IMO, instead of focusing on academics and grades and stuff in the last few weeks of the year, the greatest thing we can do for our students is to guide them along the pathway ahead, to show them that there are many walking beside, behind and in front of them, that the apprehension they are feeling is universal and that they can and will find that “one nice person.”  It starts with being one yourself.   


If someone has lost their smile, give them one of yours.

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!











Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Alice Pung

Sher Rill Ng

Working Title Press, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


All through the day, no matter where he is or what he is doing, Xiao Xin’s family is warning him to be careful.  Even the most common things that children do like climbing on the monkey net come with warnings and commands not to do it. If ever an example of helicopter parenting were needed, this is it. 

But rather than feeling loved and protected, Xiao Xin feels stifled. 

They don’t understand what I can do!

They don’t understand what I can be!

For he dreams with his eyes wide open and sees himself as a Red Fire Warrior capable of doing “infinite things”. But more than that, he also sees how this constant care and concern is limiting him and his little sister.

So, when one day Xiao Xin leaves the house to prove he can be independent and safe,  and doesn’t tell anyone, panic sets in, until…

Children are often the most-longed for gift, and certainly the most precious, and so it is understandable that parents want to protect them, but this deeply-layered story with its stunning illustrations which add another dimension in themselves, demonstrates that just as our children grow up, so must we and we must be willing to let them become the confident, competent, independent adults they need to be. 

Written in both English and Mandarin (itself another layer of complexity), it is one that straddles all age groups as the child who hears it may well relate to Xiao Xin’s situation and the parent who reads it might also reflect on how their protectiveness and expectations might be stunting the child’s growth.  I was reminded of a vignette in a recent episode of Old People’s Home for Teenagers in which a young girl who, because of parental expectations, worked hard to excel academically stumbled when presented with a problem that could not be solved by the technology in her hand.  Reading a print street directory was too much of a challenge, but more concerning was her response to not being able to do so.  There is a fine line and Xiao Xin not only pushes it but has the courage to cross it!

Watch for this one in awards season! 

My Deadly Boots

My Deadly Boots

My Deadly Boots











My Deadly Boots

Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler

Samantha Campbell

Lothian, 2022

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


He has worked and saved for the money to buy a special pair of football boots, and, at last, they have arrived. His 

Spikes on the bottom boots,
my favourite colour boots,
making me too deadly.

Suddenly, he has all sorts of dreams and powers that give him joy, confidence, competence, inspiration and energy that he didn’t have before – or do they?  Despite his family members and friends telling him that he is who he is with or without the boots, he is convinced they are the secret to his success, to his being too deadly. They are his  ‘walking in two worlds boots’, “blackfella don’t need to be labelled boots’ ‘his ‘run faster than my cousin-brother boots’, his “find a partner and walk in twos’ boots, ‘his ‘dream big boots’, his ‘give me confidence’ boots, his ” I’m somebody’ boots, his very own boots- until he loses them and there is an important lesson to be learned.  

Written in rhythmical  language that carries the reader along at the same pace as the boots, this is an empowering story of affirmation that no matter who we are, we can all be deadly with or without flash footy boots. Author Carl Merrison is a respected Jaru/Kija man from the Halls Creek area who came WA runner up Australian of the Year – Local Hero in 2016. He has worked for over ten years alongside Aboriginal youth as a mentor and AFL coach and he has drawn on this experience of seeing the confidence boost that having new shoes gives his young charges to create this book while trying to show them that the power was within all the time.  While it is specifically aimed at young First Nations readers to inspire them to read, its message is one for all children everywhere.