Archives

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Birdies

Andy Geppert

Lothian Children’s, 2021 

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780734420695

Can your children tell the difference between a beach chicken (seagull) and a bin chicken (white ibis) ?

Or a roof chicken (pigeon)  and a chicken chicken (chicken)?

In this introduction to the birds commonly seen in Australian backyards, including large inflatable flamingoes and swans, Andy Geppert mixes a few basic facts with a lot of humour to make for an enjoyable read for young children who will just be noticing the differences between the species.  Clever illustrations and funny text combine to make this the most unusual field guide but one which will pique little ones’ curiosity and have them trying to identify the birds that they see.   They could even make a chart and mark each one off as it is spotted from their window, beginning their skills in data gathering, mapping and interpretation!   It’s the simple things….

Early One Morning

Early One Morning

Early One Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early One Morning

Mem Fox

Christine Davenier

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761040030

Early one morning a little boy wakes up with a particular thing on his mind for breakfast, and so he sets off in search of it.  What follows is his quest as he travels around all the familiar objects and animals found on a farm until at last he has success.

If anyone knows what is needed to create a story that will engage the hearts and minds of our youngest readers and ensure they fall in love with the written word, then it is Mem Fox. Here, she has taken a very ordinary, everyday concept combined it with a very familiar character and using just the right amount of carefully chosen text she has crafted a story that will most definitely become a favourite.  The illustrations are perfect, not only helping to make the text predictable so the reader feels empowered but the little chook following the boy adds humour as well as the clue to his search.  As the little chap visits the truck and the tractor and the sheep and the ponies, he doesn’t see he is being followed and little ones will be shouting, “Look behind you!” much like they do the villain in the pantomime, while at the same time I hear the music to this version of Rosie’s Walk!   Two for the price of one!  Chooks in books – always a winning combo.

As well, it opens up the opportunity to investigate where our food comes from and how it gets to our plates. Lots of learning all round. 

 

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Are These Hen's Eggs?

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Christina Booth

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760523497

In “one sunset, two, one sunrise more” Hen’s eggs will hatch. Snuggled down deep in her nest under the trees, she waits patiently but then the storm hits and the next morning she cannot find her eggs.  All the farm creatures help her search, amassing a collection of eggs – but are they all Hen’s eggs?  When they do hatch there are some surprises, particularly the final one but that doesn’t stop Hen loving them all anyway.

This is a charming story that can spark all sorts of investigations about hens, eggs, how they are made, their sizes, shapes and colours, the range of creatures that come from eggs and the names of baby creatures. But it is also a story about helping others after loss, unselfishness as Duck gives Hen one of her eggs to cheer her up, and unconditional love when something entirely unexpected is added to the mix. Can a happy family be a blended mix of heritage, culture and parentage?

Christina Booth always gives us great stories like One Careless Night, Welcome Home and Purinina; A Devils’ Tale that cause us to ponder on big picture things and this is no exception. 

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Leigh Hobbs

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760296964

The infamous Mr Chicken has been to Paris,  London and  Rome, and now the adventurous chicken has come to Australia. In response to invitations from Yackandandah, to Koolanooka, Wuk Wuk to Wonglepong,  he has hopped on the plane, hooked up with a helpful travel agent and is on his way to see the sights.  His list of places is very long and using all sorts of transport, they travel hither and thither, here and there, back and forth, seeing all there is to see until they climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Mr Chicken discovers he is afraid of heights…

Apart from being another great story in this series that helps little ones understand that the world is bigger than their immediate environs, this book screams out to be the start of an exploration of this great country for young readers.  Which of the places he visited have you been to? What can you tell us about them? Are the place names real?  Where are they?  How did Mr Chicken get there? If we wanted to visit, when would be the best time to go? If we sent him an invitation to come here, what would we show him that was unique?  The possibilities are endless and not only increase their understanding of the diversity of this continent but help develop information literacy skills in a purposeful, engaging context.  

A must for any collection.

 

 

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

Laura Gehl

Sarah Horne

Carolrhoda Books, 2018

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

9781512431308

Three times Ana asked Abuela Lola for tickets to the amusement park for her birthday but instead, she got a CHICKEN. Somewhat pragmatic Ana figures it’s better than socks or a sweater or underwear and she does like scrambled eggs, but this is not ordinary chicken.  Rather than laying eggs and doing other chicken things, this one has a long list of the most extraordinary things including straw, sticks and bricks, 100 steel girders, 10 000 screws, 60 000 nails, a host of familiar nursery characters, even a partridge in a pear tree!  

Then with the help of Ana’s other pets, the chicken sets to work digging, building, hammering… what on earth is happening?

This is a unique story that has the most outrageous but fun ending that will delight young readers.  Told by the bewildered Ana with the title being the repetitive pattern, and the chicken only communicating through placards, the sparse text is in direct contrast to the illustrations which are full of busyness, action and foreground detail. Little ones will be wondering just what it is the chicken is doing and even the adult reader will suspend their disbelief as the story rollicks along.

Fun for everyone especially if they are then challenged to design their own amusement park or work on Ana’s wish for her next birthday.

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

John Phillips

Big Sky, 2018

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

9781925675153

Bridget lives in the sleepy, seaside town of Hinklewinkle. She spends a lot of time with her Grandpa because her mother often has to work late
and her father lives in another town. 
Grandpa breeds show chickens and Bridget loves to help him out. One day when Bridget is feeling a little lonely, Grandpa decides to let Bridget pick a chicken of her own. Far from picking the most beautiful chicken, she picks a strange looking rooster – a Big Beaked Pencilled Hortner – which she names the “Duke of Hinklewinkle”. The two become inseparable, with the Duke of Hinklewinkle following her like a pet puppy.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Next door lives Mr Borewater who also breeds show chickens and he and Grandpa are bitter rivals, but when Mr Borewater’s chickens are under threat, The Duke of Hinklewinkle surprises everyone.

This is a delightful story that is just fun to read.  While the theme of chooks in books is not new, this one is full of family love and humour and accompanied by bright, cartoon-like pictures that will attract the reluctant reader immediately.  Something to share just for the fun of it – is there a better reason?

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ready, Steady, Hatch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ben Long

David Cornish

Ford Street, 2017

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

9781925272536

Way down yonder in the pumpkin patch, ten little eggs were beginning to hatch.  As they did, they danced and twirled – it was time to go and see the world.  But the last little chick gets distracted by a large cherry, unseen by the others who marched on to meet their mother.  But she was very concerned when she counted them because that morning there were ten and now there were only nine! So with Mother Hen in front they set out on a hunt to find the missing chick.  But no matter how or where they searched, they had no luck until…

This is a rollicking romp in rhyme which will appeal to young readers as they enjoy the language, the search and the charming illustrations which add so much action and sound you are drawn into the story. The rhythm of the rhyme is reinforced as the chicks march to the musical notes and then drum on logs and stomp their feet trying to bring the little one out of hiding.  

There is something about the theme of Chooks in Books that has always appealed, perhaps because it lends itself to lots of research such as investigating whether chickens are the only creatures that start life as eggs as well as lots of artwork for there are so many ways to create chickens to build a class mural to retell the story, surround with chook facts, and build a wall of Chooks in Books stories. Imagine how much easier the concept of 10 and ordinal numbers will become as the children identify the subtle differences between the line of chooks and then line themselves up like the chickens and march or run or creep around to the beat of a drum.   

Ben Long and David Cornish have created a story that will capture the attention of little ones and reaffirm their understanding that there is much fun to be had between the pages of the book. 

 

Hooray for Birds

Hooray for Birds

Hooray for Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooray for Birds

Lucy Cousins

Candlewick Press, 2017

40pp., hbk., RRP $a24.99

9780763692650

Can you imagine…just for one day…you’re a busy bird? Yes, a bird! Hooray!

Ask a little child what birds can do and they are bound to tell you that they fly.  But in this exuberant book by Lucy Cousins we learn about all the other things they can do – and that the child can do too.  They can start the day by shouting cock-a-doodle-doo, hop, peck, swim and stretch, stand very tall on just one leg waddle like a penguin and run like an ostrich, puff out their chest and then bid the day farewell with a tuwit tuwoo. 

As well as responding to the vibrant colours and bold illustrations on solid colour backgrounds, young readers will delight in doing the things that birds do, flapping their wings, exercising their lungs and generally just having a lot of fun as they are introduced to a flock of different birds, some familiar, some not-so. It soon becomes clear that birds come in all shapes and sizes and colours and can do all sorts of things and make all sorts of noises. Even though there are not the familiar magpies, kookaburras and emus that might be found in a book of Australian origin, nevertheless roosters, swans, peacocks and flamingos are very recognisable and will help the child learn about the diversity of our feathered friends..    Combined with a simple rhyming pattern the distinctive pictures will help the child become a role-play reader as they engage with the book on their own.  

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Full of fun and energy, this will ensure a menagerie in the house for sure!

Little Chicken Chickabee

Little Chicken Chickabee

Little Chicken Chickabee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Chicken Chickabee

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

Raising Literacy Australia, 2016

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.90

9780994385338

Crickle, scratch, crackle, hatch – four little chicks pop from their eggs of proud Mother Hen.  Each one cheeps as expected except for Number 4 who says, “Chickabee.”  This startles Mother Hen and the other chicks who insist that “Cheep” is right and “Chickabee” is not.  But Little Chicken is not deterred and goes off to see the world.  However, she finds that even the other farm animals insist that chickens say “Cheep” not “Chickabee” although when Little Chicken challenges them, they have no real reason why not.  

Showing amazing resilience, Little Chicken knows that while “Chickabee” might be different, it is right for her and regardless of the sound she makes, she is still a chicken.  Even when her brothers and sisters reject her again, she has the courage to go back into the world and this time she meets different things that make different sounds which bring her joy,  And then she meets a pig…

This is a charming story about difference, resilience, courage and perseverance and how these can lead to friendships, even unexpected ones. Beautifully illustrated by Danny Snell, this story works on so many levels.  It would be a great read for classes early in this 2017 school year as new groups of children come together and learn about each other while even younger ones will enjoy joining in with the fabulous noises like rankety tankety, sticketty-stackety and flippety-flappity as they learn the sorts of things that are found on a farm.

Given the trend throughout the world towards convention and conservatism and an expectation that everyone will fit the same mould and be legislated or bullied into doing so, Little Chicken could be a role model for little people that it is OK to be different and that no one is alone in their difference.  

 

This is Captain Cook

This is Captain Cook

This is Captain Cook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Captain Cook

Tania McCartney

Christina Booth

NLA Publishing, 2015

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642278692

 

Miss Batt’s class have been studying Captain Cook and instead of the usual posters and PowerPoint shows, they have turned what they have learned into a play to be presented to their parents as living history. 

The story opens with all the usual flurry of such events as the audience greets each other and gets ready to be entertained, while the children sort themselves out on stage.  The first scene is of Captain Cook’s childhood, and there are the usual latecomers, those with nerves, the “hi dads” and one frightened chook – all resonant with anyone who has produced or attended a school play.  As we follow Cook’s life and adventures through the voice of the narrator, the actions of the children and some very clever props, there is much for the reader to learn about this remarkable man.  And throughout, the chook (who has now escaped the arms of its keeper) is causing concern for the stage hands and humour for the reader.  Its encounters with the kiwi, the kangaroo and the penguin are priceless and as it becomes more and more agitated the audience who have been patiently watching their offsprings’ performances become a little distracted. 

This is the most unique way of presenting old material in a new light that I’ve seen for a long time.  There have been dozens of books about Captain Cook because of his place in our history, and yet McCartney and Booth have created something new and interesting that will engage the audience as well as teach them and perhaps even have them clamouring to produce something similar as they delve deeper into his life.  Even though the text itself is written in a style reflecting that of a narrator so there is little embellishment on the basic facts (apart from Cook’s love of shiny buttons), the details in the illustrations bring the story to life. Unlike some pictures books, there has clearly been a close collaboration between autor and illustrator as characters, props, movement, speech bubbles and, of course, the chook add animation and understanding so that even the very young (or those just learning our language and history) will begin to get a sense of who this man was.  For it is a story about the man – the mariner, the father and the adventurer – and not that of the impact that such exploration had on the lives of indigenous peoples.  That is a discussion for an audience much older than the one intended for this book.

However, it could serve as a model for understanding what a biography is, the sort of information that that genre contains, the range of sources that can be used to gather it and check its veracity,  and even a model for the children to write their own play about someone else. Such an approach would incorporate many strands of the curriculum, differentiating it so each has something to offer and show students that history need not be dull and boring.    

It is also the perfect introduction to the National Library of Australia’s collection of artefacts relating to Cook, his journeys and his life and there are pages at the back that show some of what is available in the library and online. Teaching notes are available.

 

Definitely one for the collection.