Archives

The Day Saida Arrived

The Day Saida Arrived

The Day Saida Arrived

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day Saida Arrived

Susana Gômez Redondo

Sonja Wimmer

Blue Dot, 2020

32pp., hbk. RRP$A27.99

9781733121255

The day Saida arrived at the school she seemed to have lost her words and instead of joy and laughter there were tears and sadness. Her new classmate hunted high and low for the words but could not find them so instead, she drew a heart in chalk and Saida drew a smile.  The first breakthrough!

When her dad explains that Saida probably hasn’t lost her words, it was just that her words wouldn’t work in this country, the little girl sets out to teach Saida the new words she needs as well as learning Saida’s words.  What follows is the beginning of a joyous, lifelong friendship that is so characteristic of our children when confronted with this sort of language problem. They work it out, find common ground, ignore boundaries and borders and learn together.  

Having worked so often  in schools where English is an additional language for so many, where students with no English at all come to get that first grounding before they go to their neighbourhood school, this story is a stunning portrayal of how kids get along regardless particularly when adults don’t intervene.  The playground is such a cosmopolitan learning space and whether the language is Arabic like Saida’s or Tagalog or whatever,  the children’s natural needs overcome barriers. Enriching friendships are formed and their words that every “shape, sound and size” just mingle naturally.

With illustrations that are as joyful as the concept and the text, this is the perfect story for this time of the year to help students understand that being in such an alien environment can be bewildering and confusing, that there will be times when they are in Saida’s shoes and their words won’t work, but there is always help and hope. Because the learning between the girls works both ways, the story values Saida’s Arabic as much as her new friend’s English so that Saida is an equal partner in the story, offering a subtle nudge for us to consider how equally we treat our NESB students. What accommodations can and do we make for those whose words don’t work in our libraries and classrooms?

Teachers’ notes are available and while these are written for the US, they are readily adaptable to the Australian situation.. 

Aunty’s Wedding

Aunty's Wedding

Aunty’s Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Miranda Tapsell $ Joshua Tyler

Samantha Fry

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524838

In the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, it is time to get dressed for Aunty’s wedding.  But in this hot, humid climate it is not a time for long white dresses, high-heeled shoes and other fancy finery  – although Uncle, the groom, does dress “like a penguin”.  No, this is a time for a light, pretty hat, a wurrijinga in the hair or on the shirt, and a japalingini and pamijini for the bride…  But what is a wedding and why do we have them?

Beautifully illustrated with the meaning of the unfamiliar words made very clear, this is a story that not only celebrates Aunty’s wedding but also makes us think about the rites and rituals of other weddings the reader might have attended or seen.  Is Aunty any less married because her wedding ceremony is different or is Maningawu’s explanation of it being about love and two people publicly promising to care for each other forever at the core of all marriages and the rest of it just added extras?  What a stunning way to introduce an exploration into the ceremonies of the different cultures represented in the school. A worthy addition to the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection now available through the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.

The Easter Bunnyroo

The Easter Bunnyroo

The Easter Bunnyroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Easter Bunnyroo

Susannah Chambers

Laura Wood

Allen & Unwin, 2020 

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

9781760635015

Last week my dad found an orphan who needs our help. She has LONG ears and BIG feet and a BUILT-IN BASKET. He says she’s a joey but I know who she really is – THE EASTER BUNNY! But Ruby is too little to hide the eggs and hop to all the houses in the world by herself and so begins a charming story that will appeal to our youngest readers. They can suggest all the skills that Easter Bunny would need to know to do his job well, including making a map so that all the eggs are delivered on time, and how Ruby could learn these.

Susannah Chambers, author of  The Snow Wombat, has created another appealing story, drawing on her knowledge of our native fauna and illustrator Laura Wood has packed a lot of detail into the pictures so there is much that can be talked about as the story is shared. The final twist is superb, and given the number of orphaned animals after the recent summer, the need for and role of carers is vital and this could also up other avenues for discussion and, perhaps, action. 

This is one Easter story that is not twee. 

 

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.

Sarah’s Two Nativities

Sarah’s Two Nativities

Sarah’s Two Nativities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Two Nativities

Janine M. Fraser

Helene Magisson

Black Dog Books , 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781925381795

This is the story of Sarah, daughter of Sadek and Anna, granddaughter of Ali and Azar, and granddaughter of Maria and Paul. 

In Sarah’s house the Bible and the Koran sit side by side on the shelf, each full of stories which her grandmothers tell her when they come to visit.  Sarah’s favourites are those about the birth of Baby Jesus, but she is confused because even though parts of each story is similar to the other, there are parts that are different.  “how can they both be true?” she asks.

Sarah’s situation is not an uncommon one – there are many families where there are differing belief systems, and these are often highlighted at this time of the year.  Similarly, in our classrooms where we share stories about the Nativity with children who might hear a different version at home.  How can the two be reconciled? Grandmother Azar provides an answer that satisfies Sarah and celebrates the richness of the two cultures her family straddles.  

This is a beautifully illustrated story that is sensitively told and acknowledges that this is a special time of year for many, not just Christians, and that there can be bonds that are stronger than anything else.

Watch the story read aloud here

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.  

Peppa’s Christmas Jumper Day

Peppa's Christmas Jumper Day

Peppa’s Christmas Jumper Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Christmas Jumper Day

Ladybird, 2019

16pp., board book, RRP $A9.99

9780241371589

Christmas is coming and Peppa and George’s playgroup are celebrating with a special Christmas jumper day.  But when Daddy Pig gets the jumpers out, neither Peppa’s nor George’s still fits.  George is sorted though because he can wear Peppa’s old one but how will Daddy solve Peppa’s problem in time for the big day?

This is another Christmas story that will appeal to our youngest readers as they recognise a favourite character but wearing a woolly jumper at Christmas may have them baffled.  Perhaps it is the opportunity to talk about the differences in seasons and time zones and how others celebrate Christmas. They might even like to design their own Christmas jumper with their favourite Christmas images and materials, either for themselves or for Peppa for next year.

We’re going on an Elf Chase

We're going on an Elf Chase

We’re going on an Elf Chase

 

We’re going on an Elf Chase

Martha Mumford

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2019

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

9781526606303

We’re going on an elf chase.
Come and join the fun.
Can we catch them all?
YES!
Run, run, run!

Four bunnies set off on a jolly Christmas lift-the-flap adventure to find ten little elves hidden under the flaps. You’ll have to run, run, run if you’re going to catch them all! And there are lots of obstacles along the way, from clippy-cloppy reindeer to roaring polar bears and flippy-flappy penguins. But if you do catch them, there is a lovely surprise waiting.

With its rhythm from the rhyme and repetitive text of this delightful story and lots of flaps to peek under, this will be a popular Christmas Countdown read for little ones.  Apart from the things hidden under the flaps, there is a lot of detail to explore in the pictures, perhaps starting a conversation about winter scenes that will be unfamiliar to most young Australian readers and even an explanation of why Christmas is in winter in some parts of the world. 

I’m Ready for Christmas

I'm Ready for Christmas

I’m Ready for Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Christmas

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2019

board book., 14pp., RRP $A 12.99

9781760891619

Getting ready for Christmas is an exciting time for little ones. And it is no different for Miss Wombat’s family. There is much to do such as baking a big, round pudding from Great-great-great- Grandma’s recipe and decorating the tree. 

Very young readers will love seeing the things that their families do reflected in this very Australian interpretation of the Christmas experience, all helping to build anticipation for the great day. 

This is a new series of board books for our youngest readers shining a light on familiar events in their lives, aimed to bridge the gap between single-word concept books and the longer narrative of picture books.  Little ones can compare what the characters do to their own lives learning valuable concepts about stories and how they entertain as they do, a vital part of early literacy development. While their story might parallel Miss Wombat’s, why isn’t there any snow and the other trappings of the northern hemisphere Christmas that are so prevalent in what they see in print and on film?  Critical thinking can start as early as you like!

The Caveman Next Door

The Caveman Next Door

The Caveman Next Door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Caveman Next Door

Tom Tinn-Disbury

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594850

Penny’s street and home were just like any others until a caveman moved into an empty lot next door.  A caveman who cooked his meals outside, didn’t have a TV, didn’t wear socks and whose furniture (what there was of it) was made of sticks and stones. And he didn’t speak English – all he could do was grunt.

One day after school, Penny decided to show him around the neighbourhood – the library, the bus, the park, a restaurant… But wherever they went, and no matter how hard he tried, Ogg didn’t know what to do or how to act and they were shown the door of every place. Until Penny took him to her school…

It’s hard enough fitting into a new neighbourhood when you speak the language and have mastered the social niceties, but to do so without either of these like Ogg, must be overwhelming and daunting.  And yet, with our multicultural and global perspective that welcomes people from all over the world, this must be a common experience for many.  While the children are able to go to school, make friends, learn the language and the expectations, parents, particularly mums, are left at home isolated, mixing only with others who share their lifestyle and so a vicious cycle of exclusion and racism begins.  While Ogg’s attempts to do the right thing are funny, there is an underlying pathos at his awkwardness and also a sadness at the actions of those who object to his actions.  Only at school does he find compassion.  

Using a caveman analogy to bring awareness to the issues of being different is clever because not only does it highlight just how hard it can be, no one can criticise the author for being insensitive towards one group or another.  It certainly opens up the opportunities for discussions about how we respond to newcomers and identifying those things peculiar to us that they might have difficulty adjusting to as well as putting the students in Ogg’s shoes.  With space travel on the horizon, what if they went to Mars to live and found there were indeed Martians…?

While the theme of being different, fitting in and accepting others is common in children’s picture book, even though it might be expressed in a unique way each time, the more often we expose our students to these sorts of stories and talk about them, provoke their thinking and even develop strategies to embrace all, then the better and stronger the communities we build will be.  Strong, united communities are the key to a peaceful, harmonious future if we are to move beyond the current, nationalistic “our best interests” philosophy and look at what is good for humanity as a whole.