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Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Milky Way

Frané Lessac

Candlewick Press, 2020

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

9781536200959

In 2018 acclaimed Australian author Frané Lessac showed Australian children how we were all united under the Southern Cross constellation regardless of where we lived in this vast continent. Now, she has broadened the concept to the Milky Way galaxy and shows how the people of North America are united in a similar way.  Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow — each portrayed through vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada. To cap it off there are pages which explain the concept of galaxies, the Milky Way and how to find The Big Dipper and the North Star, iconic sights of the Northern hemisphere night sky.

A stunning book that has just an important place in the Australian school library’s collection as it does in those of North America because it begs an investigation into night and day, the night sky of the two hemispheres and how, regardless of our differences and different activitie,s we are all united under the one overarching star system.

 

Nop

Nop

Nop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nop

Caroline Magerl

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781760651251

In an old armchair in a corner of Oddmint’s Dumporeum Nop sits watching, unloved, unwanted and belonging nowhere.  At night he watched the other toys  come alive and pretty themselves up with buttons, beads,  ribbons, scarves and spangles ready for the rush of shoppers searching for that elusive perfect toy in the morning.  Each going off in a crinkly paper bag to some place wonderful and a new life. But no one chooses Nop, not even with his brand new red bow tie. 

But he maintains his faith that there is a special place for him, regardless of the opinions of others and devises an intriguing plan to find it…

In this gentle story, the creator explores the concepts of self-belief and determination as well as beauty being in the eye of the beholder.  Nop’s new friend does not care that Nop is not plush in places – he has enough plush for both of them – or that he is not shiny and new with spangles and stars and glitz and glamour.  Nop knows that there is someone and something for him beyond the armchair in Oddmint’s Emporium and it’s up to him to find it.

This would be an excellent and somewhat different way to start the new school year for those who like their students to identify their personal goals and then consider how they might achieve them. 

Roly Poly

Roly Poly

Roly Poly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roly Poly

Mem Fox

Jane Dyer

Puffin, 2019

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

9781760896348

Roly Poly, the polar bear, was very content with his life.  With a mother and father but no brothers or sisters, he liked that his bed was his alone, the fish that he caught were his alone and his toy walrus tooth was his alone.  He had to share with no one and that was just how he liked it. So when he is suddenly presented with a little brother called Monty, his world is turned upside-down and he does not like it at all.

Mem Fox, author of so many stories for our littlest ones, including The Tiny Star, has an absolute knack for turning everyday situations that will resonate with her target audience into charming stories that not only captivate the imagination but deliver the reassuring message that they are not alone in dealing with these unfamiliar circumstances and that there is a way through to the other side. Accompanied by Jane Dyer’s unique illustrations this story of having to welcome a new sibling into the family when everything was already perfect is such a familiar scenario that it should be part of the preparations of any parents facing the same prospect. It offers the perfect opportunity to talk about the impending arrival and how things might change, the child’s feelings and their roles and responsibilities, but overall that there is more than enough love for everyone.  It is more like the magic pudding that continually replenishes itself rather than a pie with limited pieces.

Another winner from one of Australia’s most-loved authors who really does know what our youngest readers want and need as their understanding of print, our language and reading develops. 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Sarah’s Two Nativities

Sarah’s Two Nativities

Sarah’s Two Nativities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Two Nativities

Janine M. Fraser

Helene Magisson

Black Dog Books , 2019

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

9781925381795

This is the story of Sarah, daughter of Sadek and Anna, granddaughter of Ali and Azar, and granddaughter of Maria and Paul. 

In Sarah’s house the Bible and the Koran sit side by side on the shelf, each full of stories which her grandmothers tell her when they come to visit.  Sarah’s favourites are those about the birth of Baby Jesus, but she is confused because even though parts of each story is similar to the other, there are parts that are different.  “how can they both be true?” she asks.

Sarah’s situation is not an uncommon one – there are many families where there are differing belief systems, and these are often highlighted at this time of the year.  Similarly, in our classrooms where we share stories about the Nativity with children who might hear a different version at home.  How can the two be reconciled? Grandmother Azar provides an answer that satisfies Sarah and celebrates the richness of the two cultures her family straddles.  

This is a beautifully illustrated story that is sensitively told and acknowledges that this is a special time of year for many, not just Christians, and that there can be bonds that are stronger than anything else.

Watch the story read aloud here

The Crayons’ Christmas

The Crayons' Christmas

The Crayons’ Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crayons’ Christmas

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $27.99

9780008180362

  Tis the season for all of us to write our Christmas wish lists. But everyone knows – even the Crayons – that the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers join in as Duncan, the Crayons and their families celebrate the festive season. However, come Christmas Eve, Duncan is sad because while everyone else has something special all he has are letters telling him his friends wouldn’t be home for Christmas.  Until…

This is one of those magical books that is likely to become a family heirloom. With real, folded letters to pull from their envelopes and read, games, press-out ornaments, a poster and a pop-up tree, it comes specially wrapped like a gift increasing the anticipation and just asking to be opened and explored. Perhaps not one for the general library collection but definitely one to be put aside for that special Christmas Countdown.  

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

Charlotte Barkla

Erica Salcedo

Little Hare, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760503932

I love hands!
Hands that are white and hands that are brown,
Freckles mean sunshine has sent kisses down.
Short fingers, long fingers, bendy or straight,
Hands to clap, or high-five your mate.

Even though the human body comprises the same elements, each is unique. No two are the same unless you are an identical twin.  In this superbly illustrated book, each body part such as hands, hair, eyes and even tummies is featured while those characteristics which make them unique are celebrated.  It doesn’t matter if your nose is long and thin or short and flat or even turned up like a pussycat, we each have one and each does its special job.

With its bouncy rhyme and positive message about accepting the diversity and differences which make each of us special, it actively promotes the acceptance of the body regardless of shape, colour, or size so that we appreciate our individuality and are inclusive in our choices. When even our youngest readers are aware of their physical appearance these days and start to develop their relationship with their body, this is a critical message that encourages the positive mental health mindset so essential to developing resilience and empathy and offering lots of scope to collect and interpret data as the children compare and contrast their differences. 

 

Foothand Elbownose

Foothand Elbownose

Foothand Elbownose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foothand Elbownose

Kiah Thomas

Connah Brecon

Little Hare, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760502027

While Max liked to splash in puddles and get his feet soaking wet, Right Foot had finally had enough.  Sick of being wet, living inside smelly, squelchy socks, and having to contend with prickles and stubbed toes, it finally rebels and demands to be a hand.  Max is open to the idea and for the rest of the day, Foot is happy being a hand, painting letters and helping Max eat his dinner.  But the trouble begins when the other parts of Max’s body decide they want to be different parts too and suddenly Max find himself with an elbownose, mouthear, headbottom,  and a tonguefoot and fingernail had just declared a wish to be an eyelash. Max is so confused he shouts “Enough!” but will the body bits agree to return to their original functions?

This is a quirky book cleverly illustrated that not only helps little ones focus on the parts of their body and how they are perfectly formed for the job they have to do, but also whether who they are is enough or is the grass really greener? Even though they might admire someone a great deal and want to swap lives with them, would they be really happy and suited to being that other person?

Exploiting the preschooler’s ability to totally suspend their imagination so that a foot becoming a hand is utterly plausible, both author and illustrator offer an opportunity for our youngest readers to indulge in the fantasy , perhaps even suggesting other swaps that could have hilarious consequences.

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Heart, Take Action

Beci Orpin

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734419866

As the devastating bushfires continue and the calls for climate change action get louder, this is a timely book that offers a range of suggestions of things that individuals can do to make a positive impact.  Just as climate change is not an overnight phenomenon, so too its solution is long term but this series of slogans presented as simple posters can offer a start.  Backing up the posters are two pages that offer suggestions for how each can be achieved by even our youngest readers, so that each can feel they can make a contribution and be part of the global community while acting locally.  As well, each poster could be the springboard for individuals or partners to dig deeper and investigate how the action will help and how it can be achieved within the school or the local community.  

So often our students are presented with the problems of the world but no guidance about how they might be solved.  The final message in this book is to “Have Hope” and given it is solution-driven, that becomes possible. 

Sulwe

Sulwe

Sulwe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sulwe

Lupita Nyong’o

Vashti Harrison

Puffin, 2019

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

9780241394328

Sulwe was born the colour of midnight – not the colour of dawn like her mother; the colour of dusk like her father or even the colour of high noon like her sister Mich. No one in her school was as dark as Sulwe and while Mich was called “Sunshine’ and “Ray ” and “beauty”, Sulwe was called “Blackie’ and “Darky” and “Night”, names that hurt her so she hid and wished with all her might that she could be lighter like her sister.  But not even wishing, using an eraser on her skin, Mama’s makeup, eating only light-coloured foods or even praying made the slightest difference.

Desperately unhappy, she finally told her mother how she was feeling and her mother gave her some great advice but it is not until she has a magical nighttime adventure and hears the story of Day and Night that she finally gets some self-belief.

In some ways mirroring the experiences of the author, actress Lupita Nyong’o , this is a story deliberately written to inspire those who look different to look inside themselves for their beauty. While “what is on the outside is only one part of being beautiful…[and] it’s important to feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror …what is more important is working on being beautiful inside.” With body image still playing such a key role in our mental health, any story like this that helps our young readers begin to feel positive about themselves as early as possible before the ignorant taunts of others do their damage, has to be shared and discussed.  Highlighting how Sulwe felt when she was called names, asking what if Sulwe was in this class, listing the mean names directed at students that are heard in the classroom and playground and their impact on their peers might be what is needed to confront the bullies with the impact and power of their words, calling the behaviour for what it is could be the tough love that some of our students need.Starting with the fiction but transferring it to reality, having the students be in the shoes of Sulwe, can be the most powerful teaching tool.  This is a story that is not just about empowering the individual, it’s about awakening the collective. 

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

Jackie French & Virginia Hooker

Mark Wilson

HarperCollins, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781460750025

Just over 25 years ago, then-Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered a speech in which he told Australians “our destiny [is] as a nation in Asia and the Pacific” much to the horror of those who saw us as irrevocably tied to Britain and causing shockwaves which reverberated across all facets of the nation. Now, in November 2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to being part of RCEP, the world’s largest trade deal centering on the key Asian nations. Yet, in this new book written by Australia’s leading writer of historical fiction for young people and social historian Emeritus Professor Virginia Hooker, our ties to Asia go back 200 000 000 years when we are part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland and homo sapiens walk out of Africa, travel around and through the lands now known as Asia and eventually establishing the first known indigenous populations in Lake Mungo, NSW 40 000 years ago. Our connections to our neighbours are so much more and so much older than speeches of political leaders seeking new economic directions.

And it is those connections which set this beautifully illustrated book apart, making it unique in the cacophony of books about the history of the region. Accompanying the timeline of major events that have shaped the geographical, political and economic landscapes, French introduces the social perspective through superbly evocative poems telling the stories of two children of each era making this a personal story that shows the thread of connectivity of the people down through the ages.

From the rock art of Timor-Leste …”We carved a face upon the rock to say, “I’m here. I’m me.”‘ to the modern day “Kita semma, all of us, we stride towards tomorrow” the common bonds of seeking identity, dignity, recognition and connection are woven into something unique, beautiful and personal.  It is not a litany of transient, petty power-seeking but a story of the determination and resilience of humans culminating in a collection of ways that the reader can continue the journey forwards. 

IMO, with its emphasis on our connectivity despite our diversity, this book should be at the core of your resources for the Asia and Australia cross-curriculum priority for all ages and stages. either as an introduction or a springboard. It seems to capture all the essential elements of understanding that that CCP embodies.

Teachers’ notes are available. and don’t be surprised to see it in all the awards’ lists in 2020.