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Train Party

Train Party

Train Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train Party

Karen Blair

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760899578

No matter how sophisticated travel gets with electric cars, sleek yachts and even spacecraft, there is still a fascination with the old-fashioned steam train. And for little ones, riding on model trains can be a highlight they remember for ever. 

Still a talking point, 10 years on...

Still a talking point, 10 years on…

So this delightful story about a family birthday at a miniature railway park will be as timeless as its topic, particularly as the clever vocabulary choice means the rhyme and rhythm echoes that iconic clickety clack of wheels over train tracks.

Red, blue and green,

yellow and black.


Here come the trains!


Clickety-clack.

Written and illustrated by the illustrator of some of my favourite stories including the irrepressible Eve of the outback, this is one that little readers will love and demand over and over as they take themselves off on their own train adventure and plan their own party. There’s a map of the track on the endpages so they can see where the children go from the station under the trees, around the old shack, passing the pond, over the bridge… and, of course, through the tunnel. Finally, there’s the birthday cake  – what shape will it be? 

Before You Were Born

Before You Were Born

Before You Were Born

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before You Were Born

Katrina Germein

Hélène Magisson

Working Title Press, 2021 

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

9781876288150

Before you were born
and while you grew,
there was a party
just for you.

In the past, as in as late as the 1970s, pregnancy was a very personal matter and expectant mums like me hid their growing figures underneath voluminous tent dresses as though there were something to be ashamed of.  In fact, there was even outrage just 24 years ago in 1997 when Nicki Buckley, co-host of the very popular Sale of the Century quiz show went on national television wearing a figure-hugging gown that showed her baby bump very clearly!

Thankfully, society has moved on and now pregnancy is celebrated with gender reveal parties getting more and more outlandish and the once humble, discreet baby shower taking on enormous proportions.  So, although this book wouldn’t have been published when my son was born, it can be now and it is wonderful in its celebration of the excitement and anticipation of an impending birth.  Written in rhyme and addressed directly to the child, Germein has captured the joy that parents-to-be feel but it is Magisson’s illustrations that show the diversity of families that celebrate the delight that are its focal point.  No matter what culture, ethnicity, whatever, the happiness that greets the announcement of a pregnancy is universal.  Families gather, the news is shared with all ages, nurseries are prepared and shared and the baby bump is not hidden away … pregnancy is no longer something secretive, even shameful!

This would be the ideal gift for an expectant couple who want something different to share with their child who was the focus of such love and joy but wasn’t quite there to share it! 

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Mum

Penny Harrison

Sharon Davey

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781922326225

Everyone else seems to have the BEST mum – mums who can make fancy dress costumes, roller-skate; sing and dance, float like a fairy, even make rare, exotic sweets – but the little girl’s mum is a duffer at all of those sorts of things. But in the end it doesn’t matter because when it comes to cuddles and hugs, nothing can beat the love that comes with them.

So often we look at our mums, compare them to other mums and find them wanting.  Recent events have made me reflect on my childhood and think about how it was my best friend’s mum who taught me to knit (something I’ve picked up again to rebuild my arm and finger muscles) and to bake the best ginger fluff sponges, khaki cakes and banana cakes  (even though I’m not renowned as a cook of any type). But Helen’s mum was a stay-at-home mum, typical of the era, whilst mine was out breaking ground as she pioneered the way for female journalists in the world, particularly New Zealand and Australia.  Like this little girl’s mum she loved me deeply and whilst she didn’t show it by making me fancy dress costumes or roller-skating through the streets of Invercargill she showed it in a zillion other ways, ways that have shaped me all my life, and when it came to bedtime she gave the best cuddles too!

As the annual celebration of mothers comes around again, this is the perfect book and the perfect time to focus on all those things that mothers do daily to show and share their love each in their own unique, individual way.  The rhyming text and the bright, bold illustrations add to the joy of this time whilst validating those thoughts we have about others’ mums yet being so grateful for the one we have. 

The Big Book of Festivals

The Big Book of Festivals

The Big Book of Festivals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Festivals

Marita Bullock & Joan-Maree Hargreaves

Liz Rowland

Lothian, 2021

56pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

 9780734419972

One of the most effective ways to promote and support inclusivity in our schools is to acknowledge and celebrate the festivals that are important in the lives of our students.  Having various groups develop a display and gather a collection of books about their country and their beliefs to share with their peers really says to them that they are important and valued within the school community.

In this new publication as well as the usual celebrations like Christmas, Diwali Eid Ul-Fitr and the lunar New Year,  there are lesser known ones such as Anastenaria, Matarki the Whirling Dervishes festival of Turkey and the Bunya Dreaming festival of our indigenous people. There are also festivals associated with each of the seasons, so the library could be the most vibrant place all year round. 

Each celebration has its own double-page spread with easily accessible information and illustrations offering opportunities to become involved in crazy celebrations and holy holidays, from graveside picnics to epic dance-offs, tomato-throwing frenzies, crying-baby competitions and the biggest bathing ritual on the planet. 

This is an important book to add to the collection so that those who celebrate the various festivities can read about themselves while opening a world beyond the usual for others. 

 

 

Sometimes Cake

Sometimes Cake

Sometimes Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes Cake

Edwina Wyatt

Tamsin Ainslie

Walker, 2020

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

9781760650421

Audrey and Lion are best friends and when Audrey sees Lion with a balloon she assumes it is his birthday.  Even though it isn’t, it must be someone’s somewhere so they celebrate anyway.  Together they move through the week celebrating special things until the day Lion looks forlorn because he seems to have nothing to celebrate.  To cheer him up, Audrey pulls together all the things they enjoy and she has a party just to celebrate their friendship because sometimes it’s about acknowledging the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

Like other reviewers, I found this to have some of the overtones of the simple logic of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, a logic that little people love because it is so literal.  With its soft watercolour illustrations, it is one that preschoolers will enjoy because they could be Audrey or Audrey could be their friend. It also opens up the possibilities for talking about the why and how of  celebrations and how some families do things a little differently, even though cake may be the common element!

A CBCA Picture Book of the Year Notable for 2021.

 

 

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

Michael Salmon

Ford Street Publishing, 2012

Pbk., RRP $A12.95

9781921665592 

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … no, not a partridge in a pear tree. But a kookaburra in a gum tree! In this quirky re-release of Michael Salmon’s version of the traditional Christmas song, Santa has landed in Australia’s outback and is checking his list.  Although the kangaroos are in charge of the presents, their koala helpers are not helping very much at all.  Are six sharks a-surfing and seven emus laying really what someone wants to find under their tree – or anywhere?

Most of us are familiar with the bright, colourful illustrations that are a signature of Michael Salmon’s work and from the cover to the final page which is a blackline master to be photocopied and coloured in, they just delight the readers and put a smile on their faces.  Not only is the original song one of timeless tradition, but this book is one of timeless quality which will bring joy to yet another generation of little ones.  With ski-ing snakes and dancing dingoes, they are introduced to some of Australia’s most iconic creatures in situations beyond their normal bush habitats and daily habits.  And of course, the whole just begs to be the basis of an improvisation that lets the students demonstrate their knowledge of our fauna and alliteration.  Imagine eleven echidnas eating…

Christmas Day in Australia IS very different from all those snow-covered Christmas card scenes we seem to still hang on to, and this classic proves it!

If your library copy from way back when is tired and over-loved, this is the opportunity to renew it with a sparkling new version.  And don’t forget to introduce the children to the fun and games available in the cave!

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle

Glenda Millard

Stephen Michael King

ABC Books 2008

hbk., 32pp., RRP $A24.95

9780733322495

 

 

This book arrived for review just before Christmas 2008 (just before the tragic Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria) and things being what they are, Christmas snuck by and it sat looking at me, begging for a review and being ignored.  Now it seems the delay was almost prophetic for the first few lines are …

“One orange evening, tiger-striped with blackened trees, a pig sat reminiscing. With eyes shut tight, she saw her valley as it had been: a breeze blew and the swing swayed, gently, from a willow bough.  But then the raging bushfire had come and licked the earth bare. Applesauce sighed, dawdled up the hill and settled in the dust by the shed, where Joe and Marigold had lived since the fire …

Applesauce is convinced that there can be no Christmas this year – her heart, where Christmas comes from, is as small as a gumnut and there was no Christmas in it at all.  But then something special happens and Applesauce discovers that Christmas does not need to be all about glitzy decorations, fancy foods and expensive presents.  It does indeed come from the heart.

This is a fabulous story that will give those affected by any disaster, hope.  Even though Christmas may be some time away and they can’t see past this day or, at most, this week, there is a strong message of life continuing, albeit it differently.  Stephen Michael King’s watercolour illustrations are delicate and haunting, some showing sights that have become too real for too many. But they are a perfect accompaniment to this story.

In the hands of a sensitive adult, this is a book to be shared with a littlie needing to know that things will not always be as bleak and black as they are now.

It was shortlisted for the Early Childhood category of the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award and five years since its publication it is still one of the most highly recommended Christmas titles amongst the teacher librarian community. Teaching notes are available.

Julian at the Wedding

Julian at the Wedding

Julian at the Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian at the Wedding

Jessica Love

Walker, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406397482

Julian and his grandmother are attending a wedding. In fact, Julian is in the wedding along with his cousin Marisol. When wedding duties are fulfilled and with a new dog friend in tow, the pair takes off to roam the venue, exploring everywhere from underneath tables to enchanting willow trees to muddy puddles!  So when Mariola’s dress gets ruined, Julian has the perfect solution. But how will the grown-ups respond?

We first met Julian and his flamboyant grandmother in Julian is a Mermaid, a brilliant but controversial interpretation of being true to oneself. This sequel is just as good as it subtly shifts the narrative of convention so that the wedding being that of two brides is as normal as any other is almost unremarkable. After all, a wedding is just “a party for love.”

However, its impact may be more profound. 

The story behind Charles M. Schultz introducing a black character into the Peanuts comic strip has been well-documented and there are stories galore of how this impacted young black readers in the US, particularly.  Suddenly they were seeing themselves in literature in a new and positive portrayal. And so it may well be with children like Julian – those who don’t live in a conventional family; those for who two mums and two dads is the norm; those who prefer to be mermaids than superheroes. Here they are in a story that treats their situation as the norm and moves on to the real issues – ruining your bridesmaid’s dress at a wedding where, traditionally, you’re supposed to remain pristine!

Like its predecessor, most of this story is told in the stunning illustrations with the minimum of text, and they hold so many riches that the book demands to be explored again and again. Jessica Love won the Bologna Ragazzi Award and Klaus Flugge Prize for Julian is a Mermaid, her debut picture book and it is quite probable that this will be among the prizewinners too. 

Peppa Pig Duo

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Spooky Halloween

9780241412268

Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef

9780241457542

Ladybird, 2020

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

The end of this weird school year is in sight and plans for 2021 start to solidify including introducing today’s pre-schoolers to the adventure of “big school” that will be their reality next year.  Whether this is being done in person or via video clips, the orientation is a critical part of the transition to allay all the natural fears that these littlest ones will have.  Thus to come to the library and see familiar family favourites like Peppa Pig on display ready for them to take home can be very reassuring.

Family Favourites were always popular with the little ones.

Family Favourites were always popular with the little ones.

So these two new releases from the ever popular Peppa Pig range will be valuable additions to your Family Favourites collection that will provide familiarity and continuity to these newest students.

In Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef Peppa and her family join marine biologist Mrs Kangaroo in her submarine as she explores her office, the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the creatures that inhabit this very special part of the planet. In Peppa’s Spooky Halloween the family don their favourite costumes for a special spooky show. – both books offering the opportunity to go beyond current boundaries and enjoy an adventure.

Never underestimate the power of seeing familiar characters in unfamiliar situations or the impact that they can have on early reading behaviours as their familiarity immediately connects the young reader to books and stories and the promise of fun to come.  So whether you are doing virtual visits or are lucky enough to be allowed real-life, real-time sessions, having stories like these visible will offer promises of magic and more magic.  The library is a place for them – what a positive message to receive from the get-go! 

 

I’m Ready… (series)

I'm Ready for Easter

I’m Ready for Easter

I'm Ready for the New Baby

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Easter

9781760891596

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 9781760891626

14pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

 The days are getting cooler and coloured leaves are falling so Easter must be on its way.  There are lots of things to do in preparation and Master Platypus is very busy choosing colourful treats, hot cross buns, painting eggs and making special hats. Meanwhile Miss Wombat is also very busy preparing for the arrival of a new baby reading stories to the bump and decorating the nursery…

These are the two latest in this charming series (the final two are due in November 2020) that feature young anthropomorphic Australian animals doing the everyday things that young readers resonate with. There is a feeling of anticipation as the big events arrive, just as there is in any family, and our youngest readers will be happy that any concerns they might have are echoed elsewhere – they’re not alone.  

Building on the new development of providing our very earliest readers with stories that engage rather than one-word concept books, in a format that is the right size and robust enough for little hands to manage themselves, these two new episodes will delight as well as encourage those early reading behaviours , particularly role-play reading, that are the foundation of reading success.