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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.

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Place for an Octopus

Claire Zorn

UQP, 2019

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

978070226260 

At that special time when the ocean pauses its ceaseless movement, a little one goes for a walk to explore the mysterious water worlds in the cracks and crannies in the rocks that have been left behind by the retreating tide. Rockpools reveal all sorts of secrets and there, hiding behind the seaweed is an octopus!

Long. curly arms/legs, suction caps and a blobby head, perhaps a little afraid and definitely looking lonely,hungry, wet and cold. Imagine the fun it could have if the little took it home, fed it, bathed, it, made it comfy and snug, an interesting friend that could play games or even ride the roller-coaster…  Or could it?

With its intriguing front cover and stunning illustrations, the author’s first foray into illustration, indeed picture books, this is a story that will resonate with every child, indeed adult, who has wandered among the rockpools and been mesmerised by the life within them, and determined to take a creature home with them.  How many show-and-share sessions have we seen starfish and shells and other creatures carefully preserved in buckets of sea water, but so far away from their home they can never see it again? The message that the rockpool is the perfect place for the octopus, and all the other rockpool creatures, is very strong, despite the adventures we humans might think it would like.  Thus, this is a timely story to share and discuss as summer holidays loom and visits to the beach and rockpools are anticipated. No matter the temptation we need to take only photographs, leave only footprints whether that is the rockpool or the desert.  

Zorn says, “I wanted to engage with the child’s love of the absurd by placing the octopus in all sorts of silly scenarios…[but] I also sought to create an exercise in empathy where the child is able to identify the octopus’s feelings about the situation it finds itself in.”  She succeeded.

Teachers’ notes are available.

The Suitcase

The Suitcase

The Suitcase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suitcase

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nosy Crow, 2019

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

9781788004473

A strange creature, looking dusty, tired, sad and frightened, arrived in the neighbourhood pulling a big suitcase. Immediately, the locals started quizzing him about what was inside. And the stranger told them there was a teacup, as well as a table and a wooden chair for the teacup and him to sit on, and that there was even a little kitchen in a wooden cabin where he made his cup of tea.  Then, because he was so tired after having travelled for so long, he lay down to rest.

But the locals were sceptical.  How could all that fit in one suitcase?  How could they befriend and trust anyone who told such lies? And so they decided to break open the suitcase…

Naylor-Ballesteros, author of I Love you, Stick Insect and I’m Going to eat This Ant, can be relied upon to write engaging and entertaining stories for young readers that are always a bit different, and this one is no exception.  Told almost entirely in dialogue – a different colour for each character – it echoes the natural reticence we have for strangers who seem a bit different, but also sets up the dilemma of how far is too far when it comes to investigating them. Did Fox, Rabbit and Bird go too far smashing open the suitcase? There is also the rich discussion that could be had about what they discovered; what it tells them about the stranger and how everyone has a unique story, perhaps even secrets; their efforts to right their wrong and the stranger’s reaction to that.  How would they have responded?

On the surface, it seems like a simple read-once story for little ones, but, like the best picture books, there are many layers waiting to be discovered and discussed.

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Cori Brooke

Fiona Burrows

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594751

Nabila is the new girl in school and like many new kids, she’s finding it hard to fit in with the established crew, particularly when she looks different to them and eats her strange lunches alone. But Holly comes to her rescue as their common love for soccer takes over.  But when both Holly and Nabila are picked for the school team, there is still disunity and the two girls realise if they are to come together to play well, they need a plan…

A search for “Twelve Days of Kindness” on the Internet brings up a number of projects and resources, mostly connected to Christmas but this is something that could be developed by a group or an individual at anytime to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and build something harmonious. Some schools like to take students on camp in the early days of Term 1 to build bonds for a successful year, but if this is not viable, organising something like Twelve Days of Kindness could be an alternative.  Having students directly involved by having them articulate those things they don’t like and identifying how such behaviour can be changed and the environment they would like to be in gives ownership and helps them understand the power to change is in their hands.  Promoting empathy activities  rather than always focusing on the ‘don’ts’ of bullying can be a new approach that has an impact by making it personal.  Again, the solution is theirs to decide and implement.

Author of the CBCA shortlisted All I Want for Christmas is Rain, (as appropriate now as it was in 2016) Brooke has again delivered a story that promotes thought and inspires action.

 

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pip Finds a Home

Elena Topouzoglou

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594744

When Pip is discovered wandering around the Arctic by a young explorer, she tells him that penguins live at the South Pole and gathers him up and takes him there on their ship. When he eventually meets up with some penguins, they are very friendly but they discover he is not one of them.  They are Adelie penguins. Perhaps he is a Macaroni penguin because he jumps like them but doesn’t have feathers on his head. Or maybe an Emperor, although he is too short.  Or a Gentoo but his beak is black and white, not orange… Just what sort of penguin is he?

This is a charming story that introduces young readers to the variety of penguins that inhabit the Antarctic as well as showing that there can be friendship and fun amongst us, even if we are a little different.  None of the penguin species shunned Pip because he wasn’t quite like them – he is accepted immediately for who he is, a nice change from some darker stories I have read and reviewed recently.

When Pip’s species is revealed, it is a surprise and there is more information about him and his kind on the final page, as well as brief notes about the species who befriend him. Older readers might like to speculate about why we do not see Pip and his relatives today. Very topical.

Illustrated in a manner and palette that is as soft and gentle as the narrative, this could be the introduction to a study pf endangered and extinct species, starting even the youngest readers thinking about how gentle they can be on the environment.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

 

Teachers notes  are available.