Archives

The Goody

The Goody

The Goody

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goody

Lauren Child

Orchard Books, 2020

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

9781408347584

Chirton Krauss is a good child – the very goodest. He does everything he is told, when he is told. He even does good things without being told. He eats his broccoli,  cleans the rabbit hutch without whingeing, he goes to bed on time and he never, ever sticks his finger up his nose. His parents are so impressed with his behaviour that they gave him a badge with Goody on it.  Chirton’s motto is”If people have decided you are good, don’t disappoint them by being bad”.

Meanwhile, his sister Myrtle is just the opposite.  Her motto is “If people have decided you are bad, do not disappoint them by being good” and she goes about living up to their expectations by doing as she pleases. On the outside, it doesn’t seem to bother her that she is not invited to parties, because the pay-off is not having to eat your broccoli, not having to clean the rabbit hutch and being able to stay up all hours because the babysitter has given up fighting with you about bedtime.

But one day, Chirton discovers the benefits of Myrtle’s philosophy and things start to change…

Lauren Child is well-known and well-recognised for writing children’s books that have an edge to them and this is no different.  Accompanying the storyline is an independent commentary in  red text, aimed squarely at the reader and challenging them to think more deeply about the story. Indeed, it should spark discussion about whether one should follow Chirton’s example or Myrtle’s or whether there might be a middle road…

Little ones do not often chooses a story because of the author – their reading experience is not broad enough for that yet – but Lauren Child is one whose work is well-known even by our youngest readers and this one will be snapped up as soon as they discover that it is a new one from the creator of the infamous Charles and Lola. 

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.   

 

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear in Space

Deborah Abela

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781760651510

Bear is different. While all his friends were noisy and busy and never seemed to stop, Bear preferred his own company and the quietness and solitude of his books – particularly his books about space.  Because even though the other bears sometimes laughed at him and called him names, Bear was absorbing all he could learn about the mysterious place beyond the planet because he had plans…

This is a charming story for early readers that has so many layers.  Firstly, it is a tribute to those children who are more introverted, who are happy and complete in their own space and who single-mindedly pursue their dreams, prompting discussions about how there are all sorts of people in the world who may have different values and dreams to us. But it also shows how those dreams can be enriched and enhanced when they are shared with like-minded souls and friends, changing perceptions of relationships and how the world works.  It also has lots of facts about space embedded into it so as well as sharing Bear’s adventures, the reader also learns a little on the journey.

This is one of those perfect pictures books where the text and illustrations are seamless and one would be so much less if the other weren’t there.  Even though both themes of being a loner and having dreams of space travel have been visited in children’s stories before, this is a stand-out because of the story’s layers and that integration of words and pictures that entertain and educate at the same time. A marriage of imagination and information.

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Tuesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895167

Cousins Zola and Alessandro live next door to each other – there’s even a gate cut into the fence by their Nonno Nino before he died so they could be together as much as they want, so most afternoons after school they play together. 

After her adventures trying to help her Nonna and the school gardening club, Zola has been trying to stay out of trouble joining Nonna at the community gardening club, trying to learn to listen and even giving Alessandro’s dog Gigi obedience lessons so she will be allowed to play in Nonna’s garden with the children. But new neighbours, cats and dogs that aren’t yet friends,  Nonna learning to knit and a new school project to help the homeless can really only have one outcome when Zola gets involved…

This is another joyous romp about Zola and her friends doing ordinary everyday things  in which the reader can see themselves, understand and relate to, while forming a stepping stone for newly independent readers with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour. This could be any neighbourhood anywhere and it 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 the children in this series are. Most children, regardless of the heritage, understand “Nonna” is the Italian word for grandmother and now they can add the Arabic word Teta to their vocabulary – just another subtle way that diversity is celebrated in the story.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one promises to be just as engages and entertaining.

 

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

Maggie Hutchings

Evie Barrow

Affirm, 2020

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

9781925972825

Often, as adults rushing to be where we aren’t yet, we miss the little things on the way, but no so kids. They see and they notice because they are so much more in the moment so when the little boy sees the homeless man begging on the footpath he does not hurry on like the adults who are either not seeing or choosing not to.  Instead he stops and is rewarded with a chat and a beautiful yellow bird drawn in chalk on the path.  And that chat leads to his mum seeing Pete and others in the community who had not seen him before…

But one day Pete gets sick and disappears. No one has seen him and all the little boy wants is a sign that he is OK….

This is a charming story, at times confronting, that really resonated with me because earlier this year a little person at a school that I have been associated with was just like the boy in the story.  She saw, she thought and she acted, initiating a schoolwide fundraiser that raised enough money to purchase some sleepwear for those who were about to endure the coldest of winters on the streets of the national capital. 

Homelessness is a significant issue in this country and sadly our students are likely to know someone not much older than them who will not sleep in their own bed tonight. While its causes and solutions are as diverse as each individual, nevertheless stories like this (dedicated to the author’s great-great  grandmother who was homeless) can start to build social awareness in the same way we are actively promoting environmental awareness.  While the issue itself is hard and spiky, this is a gentle story of caring, unselfishness and hope accompanied by equally engaging illustrations  that might encourage all of us to look and really see, not to avert our eyes if we don’t like the scenery and have the courage of both the little boy and my little girl to act. 

Toffle Towers (series)

Toffle Towers (series)

Toffle Towers (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toffle Towers (series)

Tim Harris

James Foley

Puffin, 2020

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Described as “Fawlty Towers meets Treehouse ”  this is an hilarious series for newly independent who like a bit of a challenge but still need some support with their reading.

Toffle Towers, a rundown, family hotel, has been inherited by ten year old Chegwin Toffle, a young lad with an entrepreneurial streak, a wild imagination and just enough common sense to change Toffle Towers from a boring hotel for grown-ups into an incredibly exciting destination for children (and their families). But running a hotel isn’t easy. Chegwin has a lot to learn, and his tendency to drift off into daydreams doesn’t help He has plenty of ideas. But can he turn his madcap daydreams into reality?

In the first in the seriesFully Booked   the reader meets Chegwin who has inherited the hotel from his great-uncle Terence and sets out to transform it so that is a money-spinner rather than a millstone.  Even with the competition from a nearby hotel, with the help of some new friends and the somewhat eccentric staff whose jobs he is determined to save Chegwin and his parents are focused on their goal, come what may.

The Great River Race continues the saga as  one by one, his hotel staff are ‘reverse mugged’ by two mysterious men. Chaos ensues and it’s Chegwin’s job to get to the bottom of these attacks before Toffle Towers loses all its hard-earned guests. Meanwhile, the town of Alandale is preparing for the annual Great River Race. Once Chegwin discovers his saboteur is no other than Brontessa Braxton,(no relation to me) owner of the rival hotel in town, Chegwin find himself preparing to go head to head with her in the Great River Race to save his beloved staff and Toffle Towers.

The latest in the series. Order in the Court sees Toffle Towers facing yet another challenge from Brontessa Braxton setting up a court challenge that can only have one winner.

Many of our students will be familiar with the writings of Tim Harris because they have shared his adventures of Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables   and so they will be delighted that there is another series that continues the fun and hilarity as they either envisage themselves in Chegwin’s shoes or are lining up to make a booking for this remarkable place once these travel restrictions are over.  In the meantime, all they can do is delve into their imaginations and enjoy the ride. At least that’s safe!

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Pink!

Pink!

Pink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink!

Margaret Wild

Judith Rossell

Working Title Press, 2020

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

9781460757499

When Pink hatched from the egg, the only one left after a great storm washed away all the others, her parents were somewhat surprised because she was pink!  She certainly stood out from all the other green and grey and brown dinosaurs and at first, Pink was okay with being different.  But when it meant that she was always found first during her favourite game of hide-and-seek with the other dinosaurs, she soon grew despondent and wished she wasn’t so recognisable. 

Being pretty and sweet wasn’t enough for Pink – she wanted to be brave and smart but wasn’t sure how she could be.  The answer comes one afternoon during a wild and boisterous game of hide-and-seek when she discovers that there can be distinct advantages to being different.

Combining young readers’ fascination with dinosaurs with the theme of accepting and being yourself, Margaret Wild and Judith Rossell have crafted a charming story that will appeal across the ages.  As well as opening up discussions about celebrating our differences and how we can be brave and smart, this is also a great opportunity to explore the differences between fiction and non fiction texts.  The teaching notes are excellent – I wrote them! LOL! 

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie's Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Charlotte Barka

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760891763

Edie has settled into her new school and is starting to make friends, despite her somewhat catastrophic early attempts to treat the process like a science experiment.  Her love of science and concern for the environment is as strong as ever – even though it causes the ire of her family when she turns the hot water off if their showers exceed four minutes – and she and her friend Annie B are looking forward to presenting their work at the upcoming Eco Fair. 

But then a new student arrives, one who also loves science and who is determined to be the best.  Dean Starlight sabotages Edie’s work, but when he sends her an apology card with a hidden nasty message  Edie declares war…

This is the second in this series for independent readers who enjoy school stories, science and characters they can relate to.  Each is an individual and each has flaws, as do we all, but there is a sense that they are real and Edie’s continued positivity is refreshing in a world that seems to carry only bad news these days.  As with the first book, there are line drawings to break up the text and Edie’s experiments are all provided in case a reader might be inspired.  There is also the possibility that the reader will learn something about human nature too, and be more insightful and compassionate when those around them don’t behave as they expect or desire.  Dean has a backstory that drives his behaviour, as do we all. 

A series to spread the word about. 

That’s Not My Narwhal

That’s Not My Narwhal

That’s Not My Narwhal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Narwhal

Fiona Watt

Usborne, 2020

10pp., board book. RRP $A14.99

9781474972109

A little board book in this popular series that encourages children to explore both language through its repetitive text and their sense of touch through its textured patches actually has the potential to appeal to a much wider audience as students get ready to enjoy the 2020 Book Week theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds. 

This almost mythical creature, which actually lives in the cold waters of Greenland, Canada, and Russia is rapidly becoming the “creature-du-jour” with young readers looking for something more exotic than the unicorn which has become a bit ho-hum.  So even though this book in this popular series explores why none of the five narwhals depicted is the reader’s narwhal, the question that begs to be answered is, “What IS a narwhal?”, a question that could spark an interesting investigation and perhaps lead to a presentation entitled This is My Narwhal satisfying the Critical and Creative Thinking outcomes of the Inquiry strand, as they pose questions to identify, explore and organise information and ideas. 

I love discovering books written for littlies that have application across the ages and this is surely one of them, and a most timely release.