Archives

Jump!

Jump!

Jump!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump!

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2020 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804461

High up in the Cloud Tower, the little Quig stared at the world way below him.  As his brothers and sisters rolled out of their eggs, they did the same, quickly learning to use their clever tails and powerful fins to climb and clamber over the tower. But the little Quig didn’t join in because his tail was stumpy, not clever, and his fins were thin and wrinkly, not powerful.  And he was afraid of the open spaces around and beneath him.

So he sat and watched the others, trying to pluck up the courage to jump too, and enduring their torments because he was so different. But one day when their taunts got too much, he did jump.  And discovered something amazing…

If there was a signature book for this year’s Book Week theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds then this has to be it!  For Stumpy the Quig is indeed a curious creature and he does have a wild mind.  But he is also resilient and is not daunted about being different, which is the central theme. He may not be the same as the other Quigs but he has other talents that are probably going to make them very jealous when they are revealed!

Whenever I get a book by Andrew Plant to review, I know I’m going to get a beautifully illustrated, unique story and this is no different.  It is made for sharing and discussing.

 

 

Hattie

Hattie

Hattie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattie

Frida Nilsson

Gecko Press, 2020

160pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776572717

Hattie is a street-smart country girl in her first year of school. She lives just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all. Although she has a dog called Tacka and two outdoor cats, Havana and Stick, as well as ducks and chooks, she lives in a place so remote that she is lonely. Luckily she’s starting school and that brings new adventures.

There would be many Australian children who could relate to the isolation of Hattie and who long to go to school for the social contact that is so critical, and while her adventures at school are set in the Scandinavian world they are not so different from situations our children might find themselves in. However, this book is probably better as a read-aloud rather than a read-alone because its format is not as supportive for those reading about six-year-olds as other books are.  Perhaps that reflects the Scandinavian school experience where kindy kids can read independently with regular fonts and few illustrations. That aside, it is an engaging story that introduces young readers to a world that is very different from theirs yet remarkably similar. 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Katrina McKelvey

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820379

Isla’s family is about to grow and she is not happy.  “This family is full”, she declares.

So her mother sits her down and explains how families are like trees -they have a trunk that is formed by the grandparents, branches formed by their children and then the leaves are the children of those children like Isla and her cousins.  Isla begins to understand but when she learns that her mum is to have two babies, then there is no room for any more leaves on her branch and the family is definitely full.

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community. 

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is  scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different. 

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well.  There are teachers’ notes available.

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too. 

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities. 

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House on the Mountain

Ella Holcombe

David Cox

Allen & Unwin,2019

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

9781760636968

 

There is a fire coming, and we need to move quickly. Mum and Dad start packing bags, grabbing woollen blankets, the first-aid kit, torches, and then the photo albums. Dad puts Ruby on her lead and ties her up near the back door. My chest feels hollow, like a birdcage.

At first, it was just another hot day as  summer days can be in Victoria, with the heat lingering well into the night. But this hot day turns out to be like no other… For this is February 7, 2009 – a day that is forever etched in Australia’s history as Black Saturday. Over 400 fires took 173 lives and left thousands homeless.  

And sadly, it could have been any one of a number of deadly days of this past summer as fires again tore through the landscape, on a much larger scale devastating homes and lives in every state on an unprecedented scale.  In this particular story, the author draws on much of her personal experience of 10 years ago to tell of the fear, the anguish, the devastation, the unknown but she has changed the ending of one of family tragedy – she knows that story too well – to one of hope and continuity and renewal. 

But this could be the story of so many of our students this year – those who have witnessed the fires first-hand, those who have had to evacuate, those for whom there is no home to go back to; those for whom life is going to be topsy-turvy and very different for a long time to come.  But while it is a bleak story to begin with, one that will stir memories for many, it is that message of connection and continuity, that one day (that might seem too far away just yet) their children may play on land they once called home that can offer succour and strength to try one more day.  And it may be the catalyst for some to open up about their experiences and begin to share and process what they can.

Even if students have not been able to return to their own schools, nevertheless it is the routines of school that are the constants in students’ lives right now so anything we, as teachers, can read, understand and do to support them is so important. Used sensitively at this time, this could be an important part of the help we offer. 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 1: Bust a Move

Derek Dool Supercool

Derek Dool Supercool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 1: Bust a Move

Adrian Beck

Scott Edgar

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760892951

Think of the COOLEST, FUNNIEST, most HANDSOME kid in school, times it by a gazillion and you get DEREK DILBERT DOOL. At least he thinks so . . . Pity he’s the only one.

Life’s tough when your name’s Derek. You’re destined to be uncool. But Derek is determined to find something – anything – that will change that. He’s sick of being picked last in PE, of not being invited to parties, and of all the cool kids using his freckles as dot-to-dot challenges. Derek is going to find something that will make him SUPERCOOL and nothing is going to stop him.

There are many boys like Derek in our classrooms so his situation will resonate with them, and with its short chapters, punchy sentences and liberal illustrations this is a new series (Going Viral is due in August) that is going to have wide appeal with independent readers who don’t want to have to concentrate on convoluted storylines and complex characters yet.  The popularity of other series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid  has proven there is a strong market for these sorts of books amongst our newly independent male clientele so to have one that has an Australian flavour will have extra appeal.

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proudest Blue

Ibtihak Muhammad

SK Ali

Hatem Aly

Andersen Press, 2020 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781783449712

The first day of the new school year is fast approaching and so Mama takes Asiya to buy her first-day hijab for her first day in Year 7.  Asiya chooses the brightest blue one because if you squint your eyes there is no border between the water and the sky, just as thereshould be no borders between people.  Her little sister Faizah is so proud of her but sadly not everyone understands what hijab is or represents and so both girls are teased and tormented because they are different.  But guided by their Mama’s wise words that echo in their head, both manage to navigate the day proudly, determined to keep the ancient tradition of covering the hair from puberty. 

Written by one who has been Asiya, Ibtihak Muhammed is the Olympic fencer who became the first Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab while competing for Team USA, this story is not only an insight into the wearing of hijab as a testament to the faith and love of Allah, it is also about being proud of who you are and what you believe in regardless of whether that is based on religion, culture, colour or any other dimension that can be perceived as setting us apart. (Try being a round redhead with glasses in a world that was in love with Twiggy!) There will be many Asiyas and Faizahs in our classrooms this year, Asiyas wearing hijab and navigating the taunts of the ill-informed, and Faizahs fielding questions while feeling enormously proud so this is a book to share across the year levels to help the acceptance and understanding. 

Regardless of the reason that someone may be isolated by their peers, perhaps the most memorable part of the story are the words of the girls’ mother… “Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them.  They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.” Wise words that we can all learn from.

An Internet search will bring up many resources for using this book in the curriculum.

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Are These Hen's Eggs?

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Christina Booth

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760523497

In “one sunset, two, one sunrise more” Hen’s eggs will hatch. Snuggled down deep in her nest under the trees, she waits patiently but then the storm hits and the next morning she cannot find her eggs.  All the farm creatures help her search, amassing a collection of eggs – but are they all Hen’s eggs?  When they do hatch there are some surprises, particularly the final one but that doesn’t stop Hen loving them all anyway.

This is a charming story that can spark all sorts of investigations about hens, eggs, how they are made, their sizes, shapes and colours, the range of creatures that come from eggs and the names of baby creatures. But it is also a story about helping others after loss, unselfishness as Duck gives Hen one of her eggs to cheer her up, and unconditional love when something entirely unexpected is added to the mix. Can a happy family be a blended mix of heritage, culture and parentage?

Christina Booth always gives us great stories like One Careless Night, Welcome Home and Purinina; A Devils’ Tale that cause us to ponder on big picture things and this is no exception. 

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morphing Murphy

Robert Favretto

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804324

Murphy the tadpole likes his life just the way it is – swimming in his weedy pond, slurping up algae and rotting water plants.  In fact he wouldn’t change a thing.  But then things do begin to change – two bumps appear next to his tail and no matter what he does he can’t get rid of them.  But as they develop into legs he finds his life is that much better and so he’s happy with the new Murphy.  Until things begin to change again… and again. And the twist in the ending is unexpected and delightful. 

With its soft palette and expressive illustrations,  this is a charming book for young readers that shows the development of a tadpole into a frog, while, at the same time, gently exploring how unexpected changes in life can become positives rather than negatives. While Murphy was at first fearful of the changes happening to him, with no control over them he has to accept them and get on with it. Perhaps some of our students are experiencing change through a new school or other life-changing event, especially given the fires and floods of this summer, and finding it confronting and need some guidance to search for and find the silver lining.  

More than just another book of many about the transformation of frogs. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy

9781760893651

 

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg

9781760894528

Puffin Books, 2020 

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 

 

 

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and My Boots

Penny Harrison

Evie Barrow

Little Hare, 2020

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

9781760502331

Bronte loves her boots and she wears them all the time.  But they seem to take a role of their own depending on who she is with.

Mum calls them my brave-girl boots.
My bold-as-brass, adventure boots
I’m off to snare the dragon boots.
I’ll drag him home for tea.

My teacher calls them bustling boots.
My buckle-down-to-business boots.
I’m the best at jobs boots.
I’m busy as a bee.

Bouncing along with a rhythm that is as engaging as Bronte, with clever language and joyful illustrations, Bronte learns that who she is when she is wearing them is shaped by the relationships and circumstances at the time. But most importantly, she knows that all of these personalities make her who she is, even if she does have more layers than a triple-chocolate cake. 

This is the first in a new series about this thoroughly modern young girl who is confident and assertive and very comfortable in her own skin. The endpages and illustrations show she is not restricted by gender stereotyping or other artificial boundaries, complementing the text perfectly as she rejects the notion that her boots make her bossy or stubborn.

Looking forward to many more in the series.