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The Boy and the Moonimal

The Boy and the Moonimal

The Boy and the Moonimal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy and the Moonimal

Debi Gliori

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781408892916

When the boy discovers the moonimal in the toyshop, straight away the boy hugs him tight and because moonimals are made to be hugged tight,  they become inseparable.  They played together and went everywhere together. But one day the boy trips over in the woods and because he broke his glasses he couldn’t see Moonimal lying amongst the leaves.

Convinced the boy will come back for him he lies there for many days and nights until he is discovered by some rabbits, who see him as special because although he looks like them, he has three ears.  And so, instead of snuggling in with them he sleeps alone, rather than being hugged tight.  The adventures for Moonimal are just beginning … snatched by a large bird, dropped in the river, discovered by deer… will he ever be found by the boy again?

Again Debi Gliori has created a charming story for our youngest readers that will resonate with them as the tale of a lost toy is all too familiar.  But telling it from the toy’s point of view is unique and while there is sadness and even intrigue, it is always tinged with hope through Moonimal’s belief that he will be reunited.  The illustrations are full of details that not only enrich the text but offer something new to discover each time the story is read – as it will be, over and over. 

The Inside Day

The Inside Day

The Inside Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inside Day

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2021 

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

9781761040085

It’s one of those day when the classroom windows rattle and shake as rain drums on the glass and rather than being able to go outside to play, it’s going to be one of those no-good, long, boring, inside days. Milly and her friends feel as gloomy as the weather but Miss Fish has all sorts of ideas that will make them feel sunny inside even though they are stuck inside. And soon, even Milly has joined her classmates in focusing on the things that make them feel good and has forgotten about the sandpit and all the attractions that the outdoors offers.

This is a timely release as so many children are stuck inside, not just because it’s winter but also the current public health orders.   So it’s the perfect time for teachers to become Miss Fish, adapt her ideas and help children see the possibilities and potential of this enforced stay-at-home time. As well as encouraging students to be in the moment, she also wants them to say how they are feeling so there are lots of similes and vocabulary to explore and illustrate.  If something makes you feel like “colours are bursting out of your mouth” what would that look like if it actually happened?

The final two pages of the book are devoted to directing the reader to focus on their own feelings and there is an activity pack available as well. The icing on the cake is that Penguin Random House is one of the publishers who have agreed to extending the exemptions of the 2020 Storytime Agreement to this period of lockdown so the book can be read online to a class behind a password-protected platform. 

 

What Zola Did (series)

What Zola Did (series)

What Zola Did (series)

What Zola Did (series)

What Zola Did on Thursday

 9781760895181

What Zola Did on Friday

9781760895020

What Zola Did on Saturday

:9781760895211

What Zola Did on Sunday

9781760895228

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2021

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

This great series for newly independent readers continues with the  release of three new titles and concludes in September with What Zola did on Sunday.

Readers first met Zola, her cousin Alessandro and her friends last year in What Zola Did on Monday  when she roped her Nonna into helping rebuild the community gardens and as her adventures continued in subsequent books, so the community got to know each other and bonded. And so in these latest releases, even though she continues to get into strife – forming a band and upsetting a cranky neighbour, painting Nonno Nino’s little yellow boat; helping Nonna with her prized tomatoes; and joining in the fun of the St Odo’s Day fete – she still manages to bring the community together so that instead of being isolated individuals as they were to start with, there are now friendships and love and laughter.

Inspired by her own daughter who was intelligent but reluctant to read, Marchetta has written this series with its humour, relatable characters and all the supports for those building their confidence with novels, so that others can grow as her daughter did. She has taken parts of her daughter’s character and family members and events and melded them into stories that not only her daughter was able to relate to, but just about every other child in Australia.  While there is a vast variety of characters, settings and plots in children’s stories today (as opposed to the good vs evil didactic tales of the past) those that resonate with readers, particularly reluctant ones, are those in which they see themselves, where they can put themselves into the events and become a participant rather than an observer.  So creating something with a big family, cousins who live in the house behind you, a hole in the fence to climb through so you can play together and a street of diverse interesting neighbours to explore means that this has wide appeal for so many. 

It’s a perfect series to binge-read during this lockdown and inspire the children to get to know their communities better when they are allowed out to play again. There are teachers’ notes available  and Thursday has an activity pack that could be used as inspiration for children to build their own for the others in the series. 

Zola, her friends and their adventures have become a friend over the last 18 months or so and it’s sad that the series is complete, but I’m glad they were in my life. 

 

All About Diversity

All About Diversity

All About Diversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Diversity

Felicity Brooks

Mar Ferrero

Usborne, 2021

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

9781474986649

“Being different from each other is called DIVERSITY”  and this entertaining book explores a range of ways people can be different such as what they look like, where they live, the sorts of families they live in, the foods they eat and the way they spend their time.  Using a two-page spread , lots of illustrations accessible text and speech bubbles, its design encourages the young reader to explore each vignette and learn something new each time. There is also a glossary to explain some of the trickier words as well as notes for the grown-ups that explain why promoting diversity and inclusion is critical for the healthy well-being of our children.

 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Although this is a topic that early childhood teachers focus on each year this books gives a real focus and explanation to those aspects that their students are most aware of, making it an excellent foundation for an ongoing unit of work.  Inspired by the stimuli provided, children could create their own class pages featuring themselves and their lives making it a powerful resource for both social and language development. 

The Ballad of Melodie Rose

The Ballad of Melodie Rose

The Ballad of Melodie Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ballad of Melodie Rose

Kate Gordon

UQP, 2021

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780702263217

When Melodie Rose is abandoned on the doorstep of Direleafe Hall with just a note pinned to her coat, she realises she must be a ghost. Her memories have vanished and her past is dim, but strangely, she is not sad. With the three other ghostly girls Florence, Lucy and Nell who also haunt the school and Hollowbeak, the gloomy crow on her shoulder, Melodie has never felt more at peace. Finally, she has a place to call home.

But just as she is finding her place and coming to terms with the past, a Lady in White arrives with plans to flatten the beloved school  Melodie Rose must act fast to save all she holds dear. But what can one powerless ghost do? How can her new friends and Hollowbeak help? 

This is the second in this series for younger independent readers, a companion to The Heartsong of Wonder Quinna CBCA 2021 Notable, yet, at the same time, it is a stand-alone story. Like its predecessor, it is a gentle ghost story, sensitive and poignant and beautifully written with a focus on being true to oneself, and having the courage to do what you know must be done even if it is scary. 

Again Gordon has selected vocabulary and painted pictures superbly so  that the story becomes alive in the mind, even for those who are only just venturing into this genre. Rather than being scary, it celebrates kindness, love and friendship, and grief becomes just another one of the normal human emotions. For those who are in its midst, there is understanding and hope embedded in Melodie’s continued optimism and strength to keep on trying.  The use of the word “ballad” in the title is entirely appropriate.

One to recommend for those who want something that wraps around them.

 

The ABC of Cuddles

The ABC of Cuddles

The ABC of Cuddles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC of Cuddles

Sophy Williams

Gavin Scott

A & U Children’s, 2021

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

9781760526115

A is for airport cuddle, when it’s time to go away.
B is for bear hug, when teddy goes astray.
C is for crying cuddle, a scary ghost went boo!
D is for daddy cuddle, when only Dad will do.

In these times when even the littlest person knows the phrase “social distancing”,  in fact, especially  in these times, the need for and the warmth of a cuddle is paramount.  And in this beautiful book for those littlest learners, cuddles between family members are celebrated in an entire alphabet of reasons. Using a menagerie of animals, Gavin Scott has captured the clever text perfectly making this a lilting lullaby that little people will relate to as they share the joy of contact with those they love, whether there is a reason or not. 

Alphabet books are a common part of a young child’s library and come in many formats, but regardless of whether this is used as a formal educational tool by getting them to suggest other reasons, the language has that connection and cadence that is so important to their literacy learning and the joy of the love that is demonstrated is palpable.

Ideal for giving to new parents to share. 

Story Doctors

Story Doctors

Story Doctors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Doctors

Boori Monty Pryor

Rita Sinclair

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760526559

What do you do when you are expected to review a book like this when you know you don’t have the knowledge, the skills or even the authority to do so?  And the text is so lyrical, the illustrations so sublime and the message so powerful that you just feel overwhelmed.

You let the words of others do your work because you know they will convey the power and the beauty so much better.

This is from its blurb…

This is a book for everybody. Welcome! Take a seat! And listen carefully, because this story has a heartbeat. Can you feel it, there in your chest?

Legendary storyteller Boori Monty Pryor invites us to travel with him from the first footsteps through 80,000+ years of strength, sickness, and immense possibility.

From the very first stories and art, to dance, language, and connection with the land, Boori offers a powerful, beautiful, and deeply rich account of Australia’s true history, drawing on a lifetime of wisdom, and on his generous instinct to teach and heal.

An exquisitely illustrated celebration of the power of storytelling to unite us, how nature connects us, and the wonderful truth that the medicine needed for healing lies within us all.

This is an interview with the author from Radio National which gives so much insight.
And this, the first few lines that demonstrate not only their origins and the thinking behind them but also the lyricism of the entire text… the language used is masterful and so clever, particularly the written version rather than just the audio.

And finally this – the explanation of the mesmerising, thought-provoking afterword on which the whole book was founded…

 

With the theme of the 2021 NAIDOC Week being Heal Country, this is indeed,  “an empowering story for all Australians, acknowledging our true history, embracing inclusivity, and celebrating the healing powers of nature and culture” from Australia’s Children’s Laureate 2012-2013.  If ever there were a book that epitomised the theme of Australia: Story Country, then this is it and it is one for all ages. 

Frizzle and Me

Frizzle and Me

Frizzle and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frizzle and Me

Ellie Royce

Andrew McLean

Ford Street, 2021 

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

9781925804744

In the beginning, there was just Mummy and me.  But over time the family grows to be Mummy, Jani, David, Elizabeth, Frizzle and me, And even though the relationships between them are less than conventional, they still do and share the most important things so each is surrounded by love and has what they need to be happy.

This is a charming story that celebrates the diversity of relationships that make up families and households these days, demonstrating that there is a much stronger glue holding them together than an official certificate.  So many readers will delight in reading about a family like theirs that is not the usual nuclear model of mum, dad and kids. Ellie Royce has honed on those special connections that are important to a child and the adults around them and the shared love oozes from Andrew McLean’s pictures.  

Just five years ago, I wrote a blog post  about the placement of such books in the collection after a teacher in the US shared one and found his job in jeopardy and I was prompted to approach the exec at the school I was at to get their stance about being informed if I chose a similar route (they managed to avoid the discussion and I never got a response so went ahead anyway). Now, I wouldn’t hesitate to promote it, although some schools might need to be sensitive to their particular demographic given a recent discussion of The Pout-Pout Fish  in a NSW TL forum.  There are so many stories  from those whose lives have been changed because they finally read a story about a kid like them so at last they felt normal that IMO, these sorts of books need to be promoted and shared.  Who knows who we will touch by doing so? 

A Glasshouse of Stars

A Glasshouse of Stars

A Glasshouse of Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Glasshouse of Stars

Shirley Marr

Puffin, 2021

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760899547

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination.

Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing’s entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.

In this intriguing novel, the author has drawn on the good, the bad and the ugly of her own experiences of arriving in Australia in the 1980s after being a refugee on Christmas Island and having to adjust to such a different life and lifestyle.  Her “Western mind and Eastern heart” resonate throughout the story, offering the reader an insight into what it must be like for so many of their peers and perhaps helping them to understand and interact with them better.  

Jessica Townsend, the author of the Nevermoor series, has described this book as “‘Heart-twisting and hopeful, bursting with big feelings and gentle magic. This is a special book from a powerful, compassionate new voice in children’s literature, destined to be read and loved for generations and held close in many hearts (including mine).’  And, really, that says it all. More for the upper end of the readership of this blog, nevertheless it is one that needs to be shared with your mature, capable independent readers who are wanting something that will engage them and stay with them long after the last page is read.  While they will need to have some tissues handy as they ride the rollercoaster of emotions as Meixing faces the changes and the accompanying ‘big scaries’ they will rejoice in her resilience and ultimate triumph. 

 

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler

Emma Long

Allen & Unwin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760525958

When a walk through the forest becomes an opportunity to learn about the secrets of what grows and lives there, and to tell and hear the stories of its past peoples, you never know how long you will be, what you will hear or what you will see.  For this forest in Kakadu in the Northern Territory contains more riches than a pirate’s treasure trove with its plant life, insects, birds and creatures, their inter-connections and the stories they bring with them. Old man Kapirigi says, “You gotta watch those birds”, (the djuwe or northern bower bird} “they’ll steal your bones out of the cave when you die.”

Combining their knowledge of and passion for the land and its stories, the authors have created a text that carries the reader along with its narrative while being laden with the most remarkable information, embedding the Kundjeyhml language in so naturally that the English equivalents seem so bland and boring in comparison. And Emma Long’s line and watercolour drawings that span full page spreads down to tiny vignettes are just sublime, highlighting just how busy even a tiny leaf can be if we take the time to look and listen. Rather than using conventional speech indicators, an avatar depicts the speaker as they point out something or tell a story and the whole just becomes an engaging read and learning experience that makes you want to go out to really embrace and inhale the nearest bit of garden you can find.  Just because we can’t get to Kakadu right now doesn’t mean we can’t learn the lessons of observation, appreciation and conservation that this book offers. There is so much more than we usually see to discover – a new world that fits in perfectly with this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lucas’s first book, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, published over 15 years ago led the way to opening up this land to our young readers so they could begin to understand its ancient stories and those who shared them and this stunning book continues the tradition. Look for it in the CBCA 2022 Eve Pownall Notables because it certainly deserves a place there.