Archives

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

Katrina Nannestad

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2022 

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780733341663

Imagine being a young girl travelling the world in an old wooden caravan pulled by a horse that decides where they will go and which seems to have magical powers that mean borders and mountains and oceans are no barriers.  And that caravan is full of books, because it, too, has a magic that means that it is like a Tardis with so much more on the inside than appears on the outside. 

That is the life of 10-year-old Miriam-Rose Cohen (who prefers Mim), her father and little brother Nat, Coco the cockatoo and Flossy the horse.  They travel to wherever they are needed, wherever there is a child in need of a book to make their world right again because “the line between books and real life is not as clear as people suppose.”

This time, in the second in this series,  Mim has arrived on a charming Greek Island, where a wedding is about to take place. Everyone is excited – everyone, that is, except the bride and groom. Mim knows they’re here to help Anjelica, the bride. To stop the wedding. To set her free to follow her dreams. If only Anjelica would read the right book, the one Mim gave her. If only she would stop reading the wrong book…

The first book in this series captivated me from the get-go and this one was no different.  Young readers will delight in meeting Mim and Nat and their dad again as well as travelling to a completely different country and they have the third, due in early August, to look forward to.  Could there be a better life?

Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise

Little Wombat's Easter Surprise

Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise

Charles Fuge

Walker, 2022 

28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760654269

Little Wombat is busy collecting eggs on his Easter hunt when he sees Rabbit hop by wearing a special Easter Bunny costume. It’s such a good costume that the tail and nose won’t come even off – but wait, is that really Rabbit? Or is it his new friend, Bilby?

In 1991,  the Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia (RFA) developed and registered the Easter Bilby campaign  to raise awareness of the damage rabbits do to native wildlife, and to raise money with royalties from Easter Bilby sales to fund research programs. In 1993, Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide stopped making chocolate Easter bunnies and made the first Easter Bilby, donating part of the proceeds to RFA.  More recently the Easter Bilbies have been made by Fyna Foods sold under the brands of Australian Bush Friends and Pink Lady and have been stocked by national chains and other independent stores. 

Aligned to this, in 1999 the  Save the Bilby Fund was established in 1999 to raise money and awareness to help stop the steady decline of bilbies. The fund helps support bilby conservation initiatives including a breeding program and a “bilby fence” creating a predator-free zone in Western Queensland. 

Dedicated to Tim Faulkner and his work with Aussie Ark ,Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise shines a new light on the both the plight of the bilby and the reasons behind Australia having such a unique interpretation of the familiar Easter Bunny both for the young audience and their parents who share it because they will be too young to remember the circumstances.  As in Swim, Little Wombat, SwimLittle Wombat tries to mimic the actions of his new friends Bilby and Easter Bunny only to discover he has his own unique talents that come in very handy for building friendships and having fun.

As well as being a fresh story about Easter in Australia, and helping children understand that we each have special abilities that we can use for the good of others, it is a great way to introduce another Australian species, sadly also endangered, and raising awareness (and perhaps money) that there are many who need our help.  

Bluey: Easter

Bluey: Easter

Bluey: Easter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: Easter

Bluey

Puffin, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781761044922

It’s Easter! Bluey and Bingo think the Bunny has forgotten them again, until a clue takes them on an egg hunt . . .

But these are not ordinary written clues that might be tricky for them to read – these are clues that make them (and the reader) think hard about where they have to look next.  But one has them stumped and another takes them to a most unusual place where they have to put their brave on..

And yet, there is still no secret stash.  Are Bluey and Bingo so insignificant they are forgettable-again?

There is no doubting the popularity of Bluey and Bingo and to have them feature in a story like this that is not only a situation that young readers will resonate with but also involve them as they help Bluey and her sister solve the clues is perfect.  So while they can see the episode itself online or on television, rather than a fleeting glimpse,  this print version gives them the chance to take their time, to study the clues and work them out engaging them closely with the illustrations and the story, giving them satisfaction when they finally make the connections.  The value of this blue heeler family in the lives of our littlies cannot be underestimated. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unfunny Bunny

The Unfunny Bunny

The Unfunny Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unfunny Bunny

Adrian Beck

James Hart

Puffin, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9781761043093

’Twas the night before EASTER
When I spotted the BUNNY!
So I offered to help
Make the EGG HUNT more FUNNY!

Like many other families, this one has gathered en masse at the beach house but with the rain tumbling down it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the fun holiday they had planned.  But when the mischievous little kid finds the Easter Bunny hiding eggs in the house, they decide to take matters into their own hands and help out, hiding the eggs in places that are significant to each recipient. But not only are the placements accompanied by an explanation, they also all the worst puns of the season…

Pop’s on a health kick, which he finds unappealing.

So we placed all his eggs up near the ceiling. 

He’ll have to do some hare-robics!”

While the new Easter Bunny is carried away with the pranks and the  jokes, they finally notice that the real Easter Bunny is not amused, and perhaps there should be a re-think of the  plans… Perhaps the funny bunny isn’t so funny after all. 

From the rollicking rhyme, to the predictable puns to the perfect illustrations this is a story that needs to be read aloud to an audience because the groans of those who get the incessant plays on words will just add to the atmosphere. Even though the Easter Bunny has heard them all before, the listeners will not and they will delight in the fun and the joy as they add to them with their own (while learning a bit more about how our language works.)  And because James Hart has cleverly depicted the main character as gender-neutral, each child will see themselves being the Easter Bunny’s offsider and wondering how they could play similar pranks. 

But this is more than just an “hare-larious” story that opens up opportunities for the more serious to explore puns in particular and humour in general – it’s just plain fun and while Easter may again look different for many this year because after the fires and the pestilence, many are now coping with floods, it it still those strong family connections that glue us together whatever the circumstances.  

One to share year after year…

 

 

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

christmas_countdown_2016

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas

Kim Michelle Toft

Silkim Books, 2007

hbk 9780975839041

pbk 9780975839034

 

Take the traditional Christmas song, add the most magnificent creatures of the world’s oceans, include important information about those creatures and immerse the whole in the beautiful painted silk artworks of Kim Michelle Toft and you have, quite simply, my most favourite Christmas book ever!

Toft has used the words of The Twelve Days of Christmas not only to introduce readers to the dwellers of the deep, but has also built on the tradtional concept of gift-giving at this time to emphasise what a precious present these creatures  are – one that we may not enjoy for much longer if we don’t start to value it now.

“All of the magnificent creatures in this book rely on the ocean for their survival and many were once found in abundance.  This is no longer true.  Modern technology, huge increases in the world’s population and lack of management have resulted in some serious problems.  These problems include over fishing, pollution from poorly treated sewage, effluents from oil spoils, litter and global warmingwhich is contributing to the destruction of coral reefs all around the world.  It is up to nations,  governments and the will of the people to work together to help conserve these incredible gifts from nature.”

Thus, as well as being a stunning visual feast, there is a serious message that can be emphasised, enabling this book to sit well within any sustainability curriculum.  Even though students might not be able to replicate the artworks which are handdrawn with gold gutta on white silk then painted with brushes using silk dyes, the concept itself might inspire a class project of those things in the local region that might disappear if no action to preserve them is taken.

At the end of the book is an amazing poster containing all the creatures mentioned, and some versions have a CD of Toft’s lyrics sung by Lisa Hunt.  What a wonderful song to add to the Christmas repetoire.

Toft always writes and illustrates about her passion – the preservation of ocean life – and you can see all her publications here and as a bonus, here’s a full unit of work for The World that We Want.

She is one who must have a place on your library’s shelves – school or home.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Don't miss the poster!

Don’t miss the poster!

 

Bluey: Christmas Swim

 

 

 

 

Bluey: Christmas Swim

Bluey: Christmas Swim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: Christmas Swim

Bluey

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781761041204

It’s Christmas Day and it’s the perfect weather for a family swim! Bartlebee is Bluey’s new toy – how will he cope with his first Heeler Christmas? He finds them a bit rough and ready and wants to go home but a few words from Aunt Frisky, also new to the family, reassures him. 

Based on the television episode of the same name, this is another adaptation of the adventures of these much-loved characters that will appeal to our youngest readers and help them understand that there is fun and joy in books as they meet characters with whom they are familiar and to whom they can return time and again, unlike their fleeting screen counterparts.

They are also more likely to be familiar with the fun and games of Bluey’s family as they celebrate in the typical Australian style, sparking conversations about how different places celebrate differently and how in some countries, the landscape is covered with ice and snow rather than the sunshine we are used to. 

Bluey is always a favourite and this is one to add to the collection. 

What Do You Do to Celebrate?

What Do You Do to Celebrate?

What Do You Do to Celebrate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Do to Celebrate?

Ashleigh Barton

Martina Heiduczek

ABC Books, 2021 

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

9780733341595

In every corner of the globe,
as years begin and end,
there are many ways to celebrate
with family and friends.

Thanksgiving in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November heralds the beginning of a season of celebrations around the world, as calendars draw to a close and preparations for a new year begin.  No matter where in the world you live, there is something to mark the passing of time and in this book created by the team behind What do you call your grandma? and What do you call your Grandpa?  the reader is taken on a journey around the globe to share significant celebrations with other children. Whether it’s skating to mass each morning in Caracas Venezuela, waiting for the littlest camel of the Three Wise Kings to bring treats on Epiphany or just visiting the displays in the shop windows of Sydney, children around the world share those end-of-year traditions.

Each double page spread is vibrantly illustrated with a description of the festival in rhyme, and further explanation offered in the final pages. While some of the experiences may be familiar, so many are not but the joy is that it is likely to touch the heart of at least one of our students and at last they are seeing themselves and their culture in a book shared by their peers.  Beyond that important connection, the power of this book lies in its final verse…

So many traditions to mark the year.

What about you – what brings you cheer?

Presents, dancing or is it cake?

What do you do to celebrate?

This sets up the perfect opportunity for our students to investigate and share those things that they do in their homes offering the opportunity for the perfect end-of year activity that goes beyond the more common Christmas Around the World. It acknowledges the different ways our families celebrate this time, builds connections and understanding and provides an authentic vehicle to put all those information literacy skills into practice. 

Little Nic’s Big World

Little Nic's Big World

Little Nic’s Big World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Nic’s Big World

Nic Naitanui

Fátima Anaya

Albert Street Books, 2021

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

9781761066061

At last, the day of the school fete has arrived and Little Nic is very excited because he has promised to make and donate his Fijian grandmother’s favourite cassava cake.  For this fete, with its theme of “the world comes to us” being chosen by the children. is a celebration of all the different cultures of the students themselves and everyone is excited to share in the games, foods, music and traditions of the various countries. 

But in the excitement of the traditional Welcome to Country, seeing his friends and joining in, Nic gets distracted and loses his backpack with its precious cake.  Will he find it in time to contribute it to the community feast?

Nic Naitanui’s name will be familiar to those young readers who also follow AFL, particularly the West Coast Eagles, and that alone will spark interest in this story for many.  But as we know, a famous name alone is not enough to carry a story so it is pleasing that this has a lot of substance to it as well.  Told in a rhyme that underlines the rhythm of our speech, it is a celebration of things familiar and not-so and many young readers will be thrilled to see that their cultural elements have been included as Nic and his friends enjoy the offerings of the fete, while introducing them to their classmates.  It opens up the opportunity for students to share their special talents and favourite things so that Nic’s school fete happens within their own classroom.  

Tiny speech bubbles offer explanations of language where needed and there is also a list of things for the reader to look for as they help Nic search for that elusive school bag. 

This is such a joyous celebration that the fun and excitement is almost palpable, and is a worthy follow up to Nic Nat’s first book,  Little Nic’s Big Day in which he faces the fears of starting school, huge enough in itself without also being a child of colour. The children find only wonder and opportunity to share and learn in the different activities, as they do in real life, showing that prejudice and racism are learned adult attitudes.

 

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!