Every kid wants to laugh, but Max is the boy who can make it happen.
He’s not the smartest kid; he’s not the fastest kid; he’s not the prettiest kid; but he might just be the funniest kid you’ve ever met.
Max and his friends take a road trip to Adventure Park to dare each other to ride The Tower of Dying Deathly Doom. But it may be Duck who is the bravest one of all.
This is #7 in this series about Max, his friends and family and his duck. Despite having 250+ pages, it is one for newly independent readers who are ready to tackle something a bit meatier but still with the support of short chapters and plenty of graphics, which showcase Stanton’s talent as a cartoonist as well as a writer. He believes “books inspire the imagination, imagination births creativity and creativity changes the world” and with collections like This is a Ball to his credit, he is fast becoming one of our most popular creators with everyone from preschool onwards.
This year has been a challenging one, as much for the kids as the adults in their lives, and so introducing them to a series that will produce many a LOL moment for them as well as encouraging them to keep reading can only be a positive. And for an extra treat, share this Q&A with Matt from the publishers, or search YouTube where he has offered drawing lessons and other goodies during this time. In fact, students may know him from YT and be thrilled to find his books on your shelf.
Out for a walk with his father and dog, Jasper, Harry sees a flying pig! Well. it’s actually a cloud shaped like a flying pig and suddenly the walk is made more interesting as the two spot all sorts of shapes in the clouds overhead. Even when dark, ominous ones roll in with menacing shapes like a rhinoceros and a wolf that make Harry shiver, his dad shows him how they are good for the earth and all that grows in it.
Just as the clouds change shape and colour so does Harry’s mood, particularly when Jasper disappears, and Vescio has cleverly mirrored these changes so young readers can understand that while they may be sad and unhappy now, there will come a change to happier times, just as the sun will always return to peek through and fill us with joy and hope again. We just need to be patient and resilient to wait for it. That is the silver lining of clouds.
As well as being an engaging way to help young children understand the cycle of moods and feelings, this is also a wonderful way to build imagination and vocabulary as there are few things more peaceful than lying down and watching the endless patterns of clouds. Harry even touches on the question of what clouds are and why they can’t be touched, so that opens up another avenue of investigation while Bevington’s illustrations of Harry, his father and Jasper superimposed onto real cloudscapes will attract the artistic mind.
Living in a rural landscape with no pollution, reading the clouds to predict the weather and just appreciating their diversity of shape, colour, density and speed is one of the joys of the simple life. This book will connect our kids to these oft-overlooked phenomena while also showing them that there is always hope on the horizon.
It starts with a little girl answering a question asked by an unseen asker – I know what you should tell ’em – and, apparently prompted by that unseen asker asking ‘what else?”, continues with a joyous celebration of the lives of the children as they share the activities of their community and country. And even though the children of this remote community live about an hour east of Katherine, NT much of what they do and enjoy is very similar to what all children enjoy because kids are kids, everywhere.
Tell ’em how us kids like to play. We got bikes and give each other rides. Tell ’em about the dancing and singing, And all the stories the old people know.
Yes, there are things that may be unfamiliar like the buffalo and the crocodiles – “just freshwater ones” – and maybe families hunting for bush turkey, goanna and kangaroo for dinner might not be the norm for city kids but dancing and listening to stories and hunting for phone reception will all resonate.
But what threads through this achingly beautiful picture book apart from those similarities is the sheer delight and joy that these children have in their lives, the respect they have for their elders and their country and their understanding of the intertwining of the past, present and future.
I wonder what the children in our communities would share if they were asked the same question!
Maybe the first step could be figuring out the question these children were asked, and then given that most were so keen to get back to school after their enforced weeks at home, build a class response that helps them focus on why!
A stunning, exuberant joyful celebration of being a child that has to make you smile.
There is something scary in the statistic that 70% of primary school children have a concern about their body image, and when this is coupled with the greatest desire of post-restriction Australia is for beauty salons and gyms to re-open, it is easy to see why and that without intervention, this obsession with how we look is not going to change. From long before the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe to waif-like Twiggy to the more-rounded Kardashians, our obsession with how our bodies look rather than how they perform has dominated so many lives, and this is as true for our males as it is for females. How many young lads see themselves in the image of a Hemsworth?
In 2016 Taryn Brumfitt wrote and directed a documentary Embrace which encouraged us to love who we are as we are, but that doco received a MA15+ classification and so did not reach down to the roots of where the obsession starts.
So now she is addressing this with the establishment of a number of initiatives that speak directly to our children including another documentary , a song and, based on that song, this book. Based on the mantra that “your body is not an ornament:it is the vehicle to your dreams!”. children of every size, shape, colour and ability are engaged in all sorts of activities showing the extraordinary things our bodies can do proving that nobody has a body that is the same as anyone else’s and that it is capable of so much more than conforming to some arbitrary stereotyped look.
This book has an important role in the conversations and investigations we have with our youngest students and not just in the health and mindfulness programs we offer. Because we are all individuals it opens up the world of science and maths as we investigate why and how that is, delving into genetics and measurement and a host of other areas that give a deep understanding to the message of the book, including the language we use to describe others. ‘Smart’, ‘clever’, ‘athletic’ are so much better than the pejorative terms of ‘pretty’, ‘handsome’ and ‘strong’. For if, from an early age, we can grasp that we, as individuals, are a combination of the unique circumstances of both our nature and nurture, then our understanding of and appreciation for who we are is a big step towards valuing the inside regardless of the outside in both ourselves and others.
It is sad that there is still a need for this sort of book in 2020, just as there was in 1920 and 1960, but if you make and use just one purchase this year, this could be the one that changes lives for the better.
Excitement is in the air as Elizabella – poet, fixer of fairytales and the biggest prankster in the history of her school – heads off to camp with the rest of her class. But when Larry the Lizard learns she’s headed to Lizard Lake he stows away in her suitcase, dreaming of discovering the other sentient lizards rumoured to be living there. Soon, Elizabella begins having strange dreams and wonders if Lizard Lake is haunted. Meanwhile back at Bilby Creek, Martin madly searches for Larry, eventually stumbling on another lizard who looks exactly like him. After discovering who is really haunting Lizard Lake, Larry and Elizabella return home to solve another mystery. Who is the imposter hanging out with Martin?
This is the third in this series for young independent readers – Elizabella Meets Her Match and Elizabella and The Great Tuckshop Takeoverhave already been published and Elizabella Breaks a Leg will be available in September. Described as a ” messy mix of Matilda, Pippi Longstocking and Horrid Henry”, this is a lively series for girls who like a light-hearted read but with a bit of substance as they see themselves in the situations that Elizabella manages to get mixed up in. Told from the perspectives of Elizabella, her father, her pet lizard and her principal Mr Gobblefrump, the adventures of Bilby Creek Primary School’s camp at Lizard Lake will entertain as the camp’s motto is “Don’t Worry, Be Happpy” (distorted for copyright reasons) and everything has a positive spin on it. While Elizabella and her friend Minnie really want to devise the greatest prank of all time, they are confronted by real-life issues that provide a serious side that makes for a story that offers more than the blurb would suggest.
This is a series worth promoting to your students in that Year 3-4 range who are ready for the next step on their reading adventure.
Each time a new baby is born into the family, Nanna knits a new baby bunny. Each is distinct in its colouring and becomes a favourite with the recipient. But the fourth bunny is a bit different – it has a grey body but no eyes. Nanna says she can’t decide what colour to use and leaves the task to the family. Each comes home from the haberdashery shop with their choice of buttons, but will any of them do the job and be perfect?
This is a charming story for young readers that shows an unusual way of having siblings become involved in the birth of a new baby so they feel part of the process. It offers opportunities for them to talk about special toys and gifts they have received and will perhaps even pass on to their own children. But it is also a powerful statement about gift-giving – it is not the fanciest, most expensive gift that is necessarily the most treasured. It is often those made with love and time and a personal connection that stand the test of time.
The turn of the 20th century, a new nation and perhaps a new start for Hannah’s family as her father has been appointed schoolmaster of the one-teacher school at Port Harris, a town founded, owned and ruled by one man who built the local sugar cane industry, itself built on the slave labour of the Pacific Islanders “contracted” to work and live in conditions that would rival the worst of what we know about the southern states of the USA.
It is not an auspicious start with the Cecily McPhee foundering as she was caught in a storm of Pirate Bay, and the shipwrecked travellers having to fight their way to shore. While the men decide they will try to find a way to the port, the women shelter and are rescued by a young lad and taken to his family farm. But that young lad is coloured and the product of a mixed marriage between his white mother and his Kiribatian father and immediately the first ugly seeds of racism start to grow. While Hannah and her mother have no qualms, the other women immediately adopt the holier-than-thou attitude of European settlers of the time and demonstrate why Jamie and his mum have been ostracised.
Add into the mix Mrs Gilbert’s liberal views, her passion for women’s suffrage and universal education that includes girls and non-whites, so much so that she starts a secret school for Hannah and Jamie, and you have another powerful historical novel that is as much fact as it is fiction. Once again, Jackie French exposes the reader to times past that have been hidden because men wrote the history books and directed the classroom curriculum by bringing her own family history to light and to life. As the nation moved through the early months of Federation, the first tentative steps towards women’s suffrage and the introduction of the White Australia Policy that prohibited all non-European immigration and was not abolished until 1973 when it at last became illegal to discriminate on the grounds of race, Hannah and her mother unpeel those carefully constructed layers subtly and softly through staying true to their beliefs without fanfare or fuss and certainly not offence. Hannah’s mother is very well aware of the impact of scandal and how it would affect the progress of change. Now, 120 years on, we are starting to see and appreciate the determination and strength of those shoulders on which we stand as we become and celebrate a nation of many cultures, enjoy universal education whose value is even clearer in current circumstances, and even our personal lives as we choose to marry or not, divorce or not, have children or not.
Definitely a read for older, independent readers, this is a story that has both the deepest of depths and the widest of implications as we really consider where we have come from as both individuals and a nation, and where we want to go. For this is a unique time in which the world has paused and we can choose the future, personally and collectively.
In a new town with only the robots she creates in a sagging backyard shed from the treasure she finds on her walks for company, it only takes a little bit of magic to change everything for eleven-year-old Penny Rose. With her new friend Lark – an eccentric tinkerer herself – the promise of joining a secret science club and her newly sentient robots, Penny Rose can’t imagine how she was ever lonely. But a fateful misstep means Penny Rose will have to choose between the club she’s always dreamed of and the best friend she’d always hoped for. And in the end, it may be her beloved little robots who pay the price
As the world waits in anticipation of the first manned space launch from US soil in nearly a decade, it is a very different one from the one I remember in 1969 as we waited for the launch of Apollo 11 and man’s attempt to land on the moon. In those days, it was very much man’s attempt for science, on the surface, appeared to be a man’s world – certainly very little, if any, public recognition was given to the women behind the scenes. But this engaging, 21st century novel demonstrates so many changes the world has seen in those 50 years, not the least of which being that my granddaughter can openly engage in her passion for science, technology and construction and read about herself in a mainstream novel, The dreams I had for her in 69 have come true, not that at the age of 18 I was projecting myself forward to being a grandmother! But for those of us with an interest in “boys’ subjects” at high school but who had been directed down other paths simply because of our gender, reading a book like this would not have been possible.
Written for independent readers, there are indications that Penny Rose could be on the autism spectrum but even so, neither that nor her passion for science overwhelms that key theme of friendship and the choices that have to be made, that are so important to that age group. Miss Amost-14, while still passionately interested in science and its possibilities, has moved beyond these sorts of illustrated novels, but had this been available three years ago she would have loved it!
When we look back over a period in our lives, it seems that the memories that stand out are those of the times we failed, made a mistake, stuffed up… It seems to be human nature to remember the bad rather than the good; to dwell on those times when we don’t meet our own or others’ expectations; and sadly, we often let those times shape and define us, changing our purpose and pathway for ever.
The catchcry of “learn from your mistakes” is often easier said than done but in this book, Josh Langley, author of It’s OK to feel the way you do shares uplifting affirmations and simple strategies to help deal with those inevitable times when, in hindsight, we realise we could have done things differently or made better choices. Perhaps the most important of these is understanding that EVERYONE has times that they wish they could do again but that, at the time, we were doing the best we could with what we knew and had. No one gets it right all the time.
To prove this, Langley expresses his motivation for writing this book in this interview…
I remember as a kid, I was constantly making mistakes and getting into trouble, so I wanted to show kids that it wasn’t the end of the world if you stuff up every now and then. We’re human and we’ll keep making mistakes and that’s how we can become better people. I was also hearing from a lot of teachers saying that kids were having difficulty recovering from when things went wrong and would awfulise over the smallest issue. I wanted to help in some way by sharing what I’ve learnt.
I also wanted to show kids that failing isn’t a bad thing and that many wonderful things can arise out of failure. I wouldn’t have become an award winning copywriter and children’s author if I hadn’t failed high school.
Using his signature illustration style set on solid block colour and text which speaks directly to the reader continually reaffirming that the world is a better place because they are in it, he encourages kids to look for the opportunities that might arise from their “failures”. In his case he discovered his love of writing and illustrating after constantly being the worst in the class at sport.
However, IMO, while self-affirmation, self-talk and positive action are critical in building resilience, we, as teachers and parents, also need to be very aware of how we respond to the child’s “mistakes” and look beyond the immediate behavioural expression to the underlying cause. This graphic is just one of many available that encourage this.
No amount of self-talk will ever drown out the voices of those we love and respect and hold as role models, so we ourselves need to be mindful of the messages we are giving those who are just learning their way in the world.
Langley’s work is so positive and so constantly reaffirms for the reader that who they are is enough, echoing my own personal mantra of many years, that it is no wonder I am such a fan. And it is So good to have yet another resource to add to the Mindfulness and Mental Health collections, something that was scarcely heard of for kids just 10 years ago.
As our little ones restart their school journeys and have to relearn how to mix and mingle with others beyond their family bubble, many may need some extra guidance in how to build those relationships with their peers again. This collection of eight books, which offer QR access to videos and teacher resources, could be a valuable tool in this process.
Designed to help our very youngest readers develop ethical thinking, emotional intelligence, and social and emotional intelligence, each book focuses on a key concept such as selflessness, persistence, sharing, taking responsibility, fairness, inclusiveness, self-identity and learning to say sorry. Featuring a recurring cast of characters including Pinney ‘Potamus, Ginnie Giraffe, Miranda Panda, Dodo Komodo, Lulu Kangaroo, Tao Tiger and Kevin, Kelly and Kylie Koala, all portrayed as stitched felt creatures, young readers will enjoy the different adventures as well as pondering what the best course of action would be to solve the problem.