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Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha Building?

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

ABC Books, 2017

32pp, hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733334153

Every day on his way home from school Little Davey Durak watches the old milk bar on the corner being demolished, another victim of the ever-encroaching city inexorably guzzling all in its path. And every day Bruce the Builder would say hello to Davey as he carefully pulled the building apart and put the pieces in the skip, their final resting place.  

One afternoon, Davey asks Bruce for some wood -something he begins to do each day.  Sometimes it is a long piece and sometimes, short or chunky or thin.  But no matter how often Bruce asks what Davey is building, Davey doesn’t tell.  Bruce has heaps of ideas about what it could be but Davey keeps his secret.  Until the day Bruce helps him heave the old milkbar sign home…

Set against a backdrop of a city built like no other, one that could only be constructed in the mind of Stephen Michael King, Daddo has created a story that has many layers to it.  Young readers will have fun trying to predict what it is that Davey is building while others will relate to their neighbourhood slowly but surely changing as “progress” comes to town.  Others might like to investigate how the collage effect of the main characters superimposed on the landscape adds to the image of the layering of the landscape and how, in reality, everything is an imposition on the original.  And there might also be discussions about why King has chosen to depict the modern city using everyday objects in new ways while thinking about how they themselves might recycle or upcycle instead of throwing out. 

So many conversation starters – Is progress always good?  How do Bruce and Davey represent the past and the present? How has the children’s community changed over time? Has this been for the best?  Perhaps that could even inspire a local history project with interviews with long-term residents and a photographic journey or perhaps the children could create a record of their community as it is now so that future generations can do a compare and contrast. 

Teachers’ notes are available but all of that is wasted if it is not built on a solid, engaging, entertaining story – and this is certainly that.

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy and the Spy

Felice Arena

Puffin, 2017

176pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143309284

Little did Antonio know that when he stuck an irreverent sketch of Hitler and Mussolini on the windscreen of a German jeep that that his life would change forever. Chased by a German soldier, leaping from the treacherous il Diavolo, and rescuing a wounded American spy is not in the script of life for a rota, an abandoned child who is despised and ridiculed by his Sicilian village even though he has been adopted and taken in by and cares for Mamma Nina. 

But that one act by an innocent 12-year-old sets off a chain of events that keeps the reader enthralled as Antonio lurches from one situation to another seeing the reality of war and understanding the true meaning of family. Set in his homeland, Felice Arena has always wanted to create a story there but it took a long time for Antonio’s voice to echo in his head and demand that his story be told. It is a story worth the wait,

Any story that encourages boys, particularly, to read is to be commended but it is wonderful to see what could be termed a true, rollicking, boy’s own adventure being published. Moving apace with credible characters, both good and evil, Antonio gets into such situations that you wonder how he will get out of them but are willing him onward to success even though he is technically helping the enemy.  That said, it will also appeal to girls because without Simonetta’s help Antonio would have stumbled at the first hurdle and Arena himself says that there could be another story in the escape of Simonetta and her mother.  That’s one I will be looking out for!

This one is for the slightly older independent readers who are looking for a bit of meat and tension in their stories, who like something that compels them to keep reading and appreciate story-crafting at a high level. 

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

James Maclaine

Annie Carbo

Usborne, 2017

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

9781474917889

Miss 6 is at that stage where she wants to know “stuff”.  Inspired by a teacher who not only encourages her endless curiosity but also being independent in her quest for answers, she is always looking through her growing collection of “fact books”.  And now she is all but an independent reader, the thrill and affirmation she gets when she can find the answers for herself delights her and inspires her even further.

So this latest offering from Usborne will be a welcome addition to her collection.  With its double-page spreads of the sorts of topics its intended audience is interested in – animals, the body, food and drink, music, space, sports and many more – each double page spread is packed with a plethora of short facts accompanied by lots of hand-drawn illustrations.  Rather than being an in-depth encyclopedia, it is designed for those who love to dip and delve into non fiction to see where what they discover will take them.  And for those whose interest is ignited Usborne have a page of quick links for them to investigate further.

Perfect for Miss 6 and that group of boys that we all know who like to gather around a table in the library with this sort of book to share and explore and discuss what they discover. 

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

Dorling Kindersley, 2017

224pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241276358

 

Anyone who has spent time with little people, particularly boys, will know that they often gravitate to the non fiction collections of the school library where they can get a THICK book (very important) and then pore over the pictures for hours at a time.  If the pictures and diagrams are of high quality then they can absorb a lot of information from them even if they can’t manage the text yet.  

In this new publication from non fiction experts DK the editors have mastered combining stunning illustrations with just the right amount of text to support the beginning reader, often only one sentence and using vocabulary that is appropriate to the age group whilst not “talking down.” Divided into four sections – All About Animals;  Amazing Animals; Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals – it begins with a clear explanation of what animals are, differentiating them from plants, and then moves on to those of land, sea and air. 

Using lots of colour, a clear, clean font of a good size, labels, speech bubbles and other literary devices, the young reader is taken on a journey through the animal kingdom that they will return to again and again, all the while honing their reading skills as they want to know more than just the pictures can tell them.  At the back they are introduced to the concept of a glossary which explains the meaning of some of the more unusual words they might encounter like amphibian and exoskeleton, as well as an index that will help them find just what they are looking for. 

With more and more research emerging about the need for children to develop basic literacy skills using print if they are to use and interpret online information efficiently and effectively,this is a must-have addition in both the school and home libraries.  

 

Rockabye Pirate

Rockabye Pirate

Rockabye Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockabye Pirate

Timothy Knapman

Ada Grey

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408849392

Rock-a-bye pirate, in the crow’s nest
Mummy says bedtime, and Mummy knows best.
You’ve had your adventures, you’ve sailed the high seas,
So under the covers and go to sleep, please.

During the day, this little pirate has all sorts of pirate adventures doing all the things pirates do.  But the life of a pirate isn’t all swashbuckling, treasure-seeking and making enemies walk the plank – come nighttime they have to have their dinner, have a bath, wash their hair, get in the PJs and snuggle into bed to listen to a bedtime story.  And this smart mummy knows this, turning her boy’s bedtime routine into a pirate-centred lullaby to settle him down and lull him to sleep.

Author of other preschool-friendly stories such as All Aboard the Dinosaur Express, Knapman describes himself as a children’s writer, lyricist and playwright and his way with words, their rhyme and rhythm certainly shines through in this latest offering. Sublimely illustrated so that even the wickedest pirates who ever set sail – Black-Bearded Brewster, Sea Dog McPhail, Cross-Eyed Delaney and Freddy the Fright – become just regular people who go home to their magnificent purpled-hair mum, there is everything that is familiar about pirates in this book as well as things that are not so it is scaled back to become a gentle bedtime story for even the toughest, most adventurous daytime seafarer.

Digger Disaster

Digger Disaster

Digger Disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digger Disaster

Rose Impey

Chris Chatterton

Bloomsbury, 2017

24pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

978140887244

Tyrone T. rex and his Dino Diggers are building a new car factory for Mr Ali O’Saurus.  But Ali O’Saurus is impatient and wants things finished immediately.  Because the Dino Diggers’ motto is “We never let you down”. everyone starts working at a furious pace but disaster strikes when Tyrone ignores the plans and hits a water main flooding the worksite.  Will the Diggers be able to live up to their motto?

This is a book for those who love big machines and dinosaurs as both are combined in a story that moves along at a fast pace with lots of action on each page.  Clever use of dinosaur names that little ones always have their tongue around add a dimension to the characters and the bright detailed illustrations will appeal as young readers pore over them.  To top it off there is a digger to build from a cardboard cutout, complete with instructions to be followed, offering an opportunity to understand their purpose and the need for correct sequencing, as well as teaching about care and patience -something Tyrone T. Rex seems to lack!. 

Great for early childhood with others in the series to help carry what is known about characters from one story to another. 

Chook Doolan (Series)

Chook Doolan

Chook Doolan

 

 

 

 

 

Chook Doolan (series)

James Roy

Lucinda Gifford

Walker Books, 2017

64pp., pbk., RRP $A7.99

Chook is not his real name – that’s Simon – but he’s earned his nickname because he is anxious and scared about many things, even everyday encounters, and “chook” is another word for chicken.  Let’s Do Diwali, Up and Away, On the Road and Unhappy Camper are the latest releases in this series  especially designed for the young reader making the transition from basal reader to novels. 

In each story, Chook faces a situation that scares him such as working with new people,  speaking in public, being in a crowd, playing with strangers, sleeping away from home and he has to draw on his inner reserves to deal with each one.  Often circumstances are that he becomes involved in events and doesn’t realise that he has overcome his fear and come out the other side until it is all over, each time gaining a little more confidence. All the issues he faces are those that will be familiar to the young reader so they can draw strength and confidence from Chook’s success. 

Short chapters, large font and plenty of illustrations support the newly emerging reader and with such relevant topics told well this is a perfect series to entice even the reluctant reader into more challenging books and show them that this reading thing actually has something to offer them and they can be successful at it.  

Glitch

Glitch

Glitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitch

Michelle Worthington

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2017

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

9781925272710

Glitch, a trembly, twittery,twitchy kind of bug built amazing creations from the things that he found on the rubbish dump where he lived.  It really was a case of one man’s trash being another’s treasure.  His best friend June was a much calmer bug as well as being the best billycart driver ever.  Glitch spent his time rummaging through the mountains of mouldy mess deposited daily by the dump trucks trying to build June the best billycart ever.  But even though he managed to do that, they had never won a race.  Somehow, despite June’s brilliant driving, Glitch’s issues as the co-driver denied them victory.

So this time, June decides that Glitch will be the driver – a thought that terrifies him and has him seeking all sorts of excuses why not.

Full of alliteration that give it pace and rhythm this is a story that will delight young readers and culminates in something they will resonate with – having to put their brave on and do something that scares them. Great for getting the children to think about what they are afraid of and considering taking the first step to vanquish it.  Andrew Plant, illustrator of the magnificent Spark   and the brilliant The Poppy has really let his imagination go wild and got down and dirty amongst the rubbish heaps to bring the story to life and show how the most mundane things can be repurposed.  With makerspaces the current big thing in school libraries, this is the perfect book to challenge students to make a billycart for a bug using recycled and repurposed materials.

Miss 6, whose first task at Joeys was to help build a raft from drink bottles, is right into recycling so she is going to love this.  Such a strong message told in such an entertaining way.

 

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

Ellie Hattie

Karl James Mountford

Little Tiger Press, 2017

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781848694484

Bong! Oscar is woken by the town clock striking midnight and strange noises in the street.  As he looks out his window he sees a huge, hairy woolly mammoth. Instead of being scared, he is dressed and outside in a flash where Timothy the mammoth explains he is searching for his little brother.  Together they continue the search which leads them to the town museum where the door opens a crack to reveal the inhabitants have come alive and are having a party.  Continued through the interactivity of gatefolds, lift-the-flaps and speech bubbles the search progresses through the various sections of the museum until… It is certainly the most extraordinary hour of Oscar’s life.

Apart from kids’ universal curiosity of the mysterious creatures of the past, this is a book that will delight young children as they explore it over and over as it combines so much information as the quest continues.  There is so much detail included that there will be something new to explore and learn with every reading. It is certainly an intriguing way to help them discover their world and enjoy having to be part of the action to move the story along.

 

History Mysteries: Lasseter’s Gold

Lasseter's Gold

Lasseter’s Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lasseter’s Gold

Mark Greenwood

Puffin, 2017

88pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780143309321

In the 1930s as the Great Depression held Australia in its grip and people desperately wanted something to hope for, Harold Lasseter walked into the office of the president of the Australian Workers’ Union with a tale to tell that remains one of Australia’s greatest mysteries to this day.

He told Mr Bailey of a magnificent gold reef  that in 1897 he had discovered in the harsh, inhospitable and inaccessible country that is the desert lands where South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory meet.  But he lacked the money, manpower and equipment to return to it to exploit it although if the AWU were to back him…

Historian and author Mark Greenwood has taken his fascination with this subject that he first wrote about in The Legend of Lasseter’s Reef and turned it into another episode in this wonderful History Mysteries series, bringing the story of Harold Lasseter and his legendary reef to yet another generation of readers.  Was Lasseter genuine – or a conman? Where are the three hills that look like “ladies wearing sunbonnets”, “a group of Dickens women in Dombey and Sons”?,  Is there still a rich reef of gold waiting to be discovered – even explorer Dick Smith won’t divulge what he discovered!  If it is there, should it be explored and exploited or should the mystery be forever consigned to Australian folklore?

Accompanied by archival photos, a timeline, links to further information and references to his friendship with Lasseter’s son Bob who believes his father’s story and has made several expeditions to reveal the truth, this is just the sort of tale that will grip young readers encouraging them to look backwards as well as forwards and discover the stories of this country.