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Where is the Green Sheep?

Where is the Green Sheep?

Where is the Green Sheep?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep? 20th Anniversary

Mem Fox

Judy Horacek

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761347832

Resplendent in a gold foil cover to celebrate its 20th birthday, is one of my favourite early childhood books of all time.  

Few children in Australia in the last 20 years would not be familiar with these words…

Here is the blue sheep, and here is the red sheep.
Here is the bath sheep, and here is the bed sheep.
But where is the green sheep?

And among them is my own granddaughter who gave me one of my most memorable grandma-moments when she sat up in bed at just-turned-2 and read it to her older sister. We had yet another reader in the family!!!

And now she is 13 and reads everything she can, (as does that sister) and all because of the fun, predictable, rhyming text of an Australian classic with its gorgeous illustrations that allowed her to predict what the words said even if she didn’t quite recognise them yet.

Could anyone ask any more of a book for little ones? My copy will be put aside for her to share with hers when she is older. But it will also be a must-get for a brand-new grandmother… 

Read about how it came to be here

Where is the Green Sheep? is 20 years old

 

 

 

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

 

 

 

 An Aussie Night Before Christmas

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Aussie Night Before Christmas (10th Anniversary edition)

Yvonne Morrison

Kilmeny Niland

Scholastic Press, 2015

32pp., hbk., RRP $A18.99

9781760157487

 

Twas the night before Christmas; there wasn’t a sound.

Not a possum was stirring; no-one was around.

We’d left on the table some tucker and beer,

Hoping that Santa Claus soon would be here…

So begins this iconic salute to Christmas in Australia drawing on the familiar sights and sounds of a night that is usually so hot and it’s hard to sleep because it’s still daylight outside, never mind ‘dreams of pavlova’ dancing around heads.  And when there’s a ruckus outside that needs to be investigated, who would be surprised that it’s Santa in a rusty ute pulled by eight mighty kangaroos? Kangaroos called Kylie, Kirsty, Shazza and Shane, Kipper and Skipper, Bazza and Wayne?  

There are many stories that put the Aussie spin on Christmas, but this is such a rollicking good yarn, funny and engaging that it’s still available nearly 20 years since it was first published. 

Accompanied by the distinctive illustrations of Kilmeny Niland, this is the perfect story to read to the little ones before they settle down, and the perfect story to end our Christmas Countdown.

The Jolly Christmas Postman

 

 

 

The Jolly Christmas Postman

The Jolly Christmas Postman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jolly Christmas Postman

Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Puffin, 2021

62pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780141340111

The Jolly Postman has a busy day ahead. It’s Christmas Eve in Fairy-Tale Land and there’s plenty of post for him to deliver! There’s a card for Baby Bear, a game appropriately called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, a get-well jigsaw for Humpty Dumpty and many more! But, can he deliver it all by Christmas?

In 1986 we were introduced to The Jolly Postman, who delivered the mail around Fairy-Tale Land and tucked into tiny envelopes were actual letters like  a letter of apology for the three bears from Goldilocks, a postcard from Jack for the giant, and a solicitor’s letter on behalf of Little Red Riding-Hood for the wolf who ate grandma. Five year later we were treated to the Christmas version and more than 30 years on this is still delighting a new generation as they eagerly await both Christmas and perhaps the postman bringing something special for them.  As well as introducing them to the concept of printed cards and letters and so forth, disappearing so rapidly in these days of digital communication that Australia Post is cutting back to every-other-day delivery, it offers opportunities for them to create something special for their favourite character from the world of stories.  In fact, the book has been so popular, that a quick internet search brings up many suggestions for activities that will keep little ones occupied during those times when parents are so busy.  

A Christmas classic that deserves its place in any collection. 

Spot’s Hide and Seek: A Pop-Up Book

Spot's Hide and Seek: A Pop-Up Book

Spot’s Hide and Seek: A Pop-Up Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spot’s Hide and Seek: A Pop-Up Book

Eric Hill

Puffin, 2023

8pp., board book, RRP $A16.99

9780241554432

 Over 40 years ago, in 1980, Eric Hill’s Where’s Spot? was the first ever lift-the-flap book – and his ground-breaking innovation continues to delight and surprise readers with interactive fun. Translated into over 60 languages and  selling over 65 million books worldwide,  Spot has now been a trusted character in early learning for generations.

In this new adventure Spot and his friends  Steve, Helen and Tom are playing hide-and-seek and little learners will enjoy lifting the flaps to discover who is hiding where. The interactivity shows them that there is so much fun to be found in print books, while parents recall happy memories of their own discoveries with the ageless little dog.  

No little learner’s library is complete without this series.

Edward the Emu 35th Anniversary Edition

Edward the Emu

Edward the Emu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edward the Emu 35th Anniversary Edition

Sheena Knowles

Rod Clement

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781460764084

Edward the emu was sick of the zoo,

There was nowhere to go and nothing to do,

And compared to the seals that lived right next door,

Well being an emu was frankly, a bore. 

And so Edward decides he is going to be someone else entirely – he tries swimming with the seals, he spends a day lounging with the lions, and even slithers with the snakes – before realising that perhaps the thing he is best at is being himself.

This is an Australian children’s classic, first published 35 years ago, and one shared with so many classes and children in my care ever since.  The children always respond so well because apart from the storyline, its rhyme and rhythm and its glorious illustrations, it is one of the best stories ever for helping our young people understand that who they are and being that is enough.  And their turn to shine will come, even if the spotlight is on someone else right now.  Certainly, when I include a copy of it in a storybook cushion, parents buy it because they remember it as an integral part of their childhood story journey.

And there is even more fun if it is teamed with  Edwina the Emu, the sequel which follows Edward’s journey but with a focus on his mate who is also trying to find her identity.

 

Edwina the Emu

Edwina the Emu

These two stories are classic Australian children’s literature at its best – there is a message of being comfortable and confident about who you are but it is subtle and embedded first and foremost in an entertaining engaging story which has to be the primary focus of any author. No wonder they have stood the test of time and are still around to delight yet another generation.

Peter Rabbit: The Bedtime Bunny Hunt

Peter Rabbit: The Bedtime Bunny Hunt

Peter Rabbit: The Bedtime Bunny Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Rabbit: The Bedtime Bunny Hunt

Beatrix Potter

Puffin, 2023

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780241613108

Peter Rabbit and his sisters have had a fun day playing outside, and now it’s time to go to sleep. But as everyone gets ready to say goodnight, Peter realises he’s missing something very important – his snuggly toy bunny has disappeared!

Will he be able to find it in time before bed?

For more than 120 years, the adventures of Peter Rabbit have been delighting generations of young readers, and now this is a new story in an interactive lift-the-flap format for another new batch of readers to enjoy.  Ever since Eric Hill invented the lift-the-flap format with Where’s Spot? over 40 years ago, it has become a go-to way of having young children actively engage with the text showing them the delights that both stories and print can offer.  So this charming adventure that has Peter searching for a number of things is sure to please, as well as introducing them to this timeless character. They will enjoy predicting whether what he is searching for is behind the flap, using their knowledge of what is likely to be there to confirm their suggestions.  What is most likely to be in the cake tin or in the bathroom drawer?

Finding the fun in the story, sharing it with someone who loves them, using the cues and clues to predict what is going to happen – these are all those essential early reading behaviours that are going to set our youngest ones up for success as readers and so the more of these sorts of books and experiences they can have, the better.  Another must-have character that every child needs to meet, and see on their bookshelves.  

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Lunch

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Lunch

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Lunch

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2023

12pp., board book., RRP $A16.99

9780241618523

 

Remember that very hungry caterpillar that hatched from the egg lying on a leaf when the sun came up one Sunday morning? And then through the week he ate his way through an assortment of healthy fruit until on Saturday he pigged out on an array of goodies?  And then, that night had a stomach ache? 

Well, he’s back!  This time in a series of books that focus on the various meals of the day, in this case lunch.  Each day he has something different, with an emphasis on its colour but while there is the odd treat like a chocolate cookie, he shuns the sticky blue lollipops completely. And of course he finishes with a feast, but this time is is a multicoloured fruit salad!  

The emphasis on healthy choices permeates all four books, but each has a different focus – The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Breakfast has a counting theme; The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Dinner is about shapes; The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Snacks introduces opposites while The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Feast is all about what special things a little one might take to a picnic on an Australian beach.  

The VHC has been a constant for generations of children for over 50 years and now another generation can delight in his continuing adventures and learn so much at the same time. 

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Lynley Dodd

Puffin, 2023

36pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776957019

Long, long ago in 2008 when I first began to review books for littlies, one of the first I wrote was this…

Remember this … “Out of the gate and off for a walk went Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy …” and by the time you got to the end of the book he had been joined by his mates Hercules Morse (as big as a horse; Bottomley Potts (covered in spots); Muffin McLay (like a bundle of hay); Bitzer Maloney (all skinny and bony); and Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum). How proud and posh they were until they met …  Almost every child born in New Zealand or Australia in the last 25 years knows what happens next! Who could bring down such a bold band of brothers?

Children love the sound of the rhythmic and rhyming language and the repetition of the characters on each page which make it a perfect read-aloud  as your listeners will be joining in and eagerly anticipating who will join this canine crew., as well as enjoying the pictures which work with the text perfectly, as they should.

There are few children’s books that can celebrate their 25th anniversary, and even though it may make some of us feel really old, we must congratulate Lynley Dodd on this incredible achievement. Hairy Maclary is a timeless character, and I know from personal experience that he is just as popular with today’s littlies as he was with their parents.

And now that little scruffy Skye terrier is 40!!! 

First published in 1983, not only does he have his own entry in the official New Zealand History Nga korero a ipurangi o Aotearoa but he and his friends have their own statue in Tauranga (which regular readers of this blog will know that I chose to visit instead of going to Hobbiton.)

 

And befitting one of superior age and influence, this new release is an upsized edition all ready to entrance a whole new generation of readers – beginning their friendship with Hairy and all his friends through many adventures, as they enjoy one of the most iconic series for young readers ever written.  

When I wrote that first review, my son (with whom I shared the original) was sharing it with his Miss 2.  It is likely that by the time the next anniversary edition is released, she will be sharing it with her own children.  Four generations and counting… 

 

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle: 50th Anniversary Edition

Mulga Bills Bicycle

Mulga Bills Bicycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle: 50th Anniversary Edition

A. B. (Banjo) Paterson

Kilmeny Niland, Deborah Niland

HarperCollins, 2023

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

9781460763728

Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze’

He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;

He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen’

He hurried of to town and bought a shining new machine…”

But despite his boasting that “there’s none can ride like me”,  he finds getting on the penny-farthing difficult enough and that riding is nothing like he anticipated…

This is one of Banjo Paterson’s classics, an hilarious tale of misadventure, that was first brought to life for young readers by the illustrations of sisters Kilmeny and Deborah Niland in 1973 and has remained a favourite on library shelves for 50 years, often being the introduction to other works by Paterson for those same young readers. While Paterson’s words tell the story of Mulga Bill’s crazy ride, it is the action and expressions that have been captured in the illustrations that ensure the reader is totally immersed in the story, invested in the inevitable outcome – can anyone survive such an out-of-control ride?

While bicycles have certainly changed since this poem was first published in 1896, perhaps sparking an investigation into how they, or even transport and travel itself has evolved since then, Bill’s embracing the new technology remains the same for many.  There are always going to be the early adopters and the late bloomers and students might like to consider which they are and the pros and cons of each approach. Some have suggested that in the era that the poem was written, the “safety bicycle” would have been more common that the penny-farthing and that perhaps the illustrators used poetic licence with Paterson’s words to create something more appealing, opening opportunities to discuss whether it is okay to do this, or to rearrange historical events or geographical places and so forth to make a story more engaging.  Should the fiction have precedence over the facts? Some students may even have examples they can share as authors acknowledge their fiddling with the facts in many historical stories. 

Or they might just enjoy this 50th anniversary edition for the fun and laughter it evokes!  

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Picture Book

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Picture Book

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Picture Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Picture Book

Beatrix Potter

Warne, 2023

32pp., boar book., RRP $A16.99

9780241606339

In 1902 publishers Frederick Warne & Co. took a punt on publishing a children’s book that had been privately printed but rejected by other publishers.  

Not only were the stories of Peter Rabbit and the infamous Mr McGregor’s garden were available to children around the world, but also their iconic format of small books with white covers, glossy pages and lots of white space around the pictures and text.  In 2022, a new edition with a splendid gold cover was released to mark the 120th anniversary of that first publication, and now it is available in board book format so little hands can read it for themselves, over and over. .  

As with the 2022 edition, this is the original tale with Peter at his most adventurous, cheekiest and lovable self as he wriggles into Mr. McGregor’s garden, with Beatrix Potter’s original text and her beautifully engaging illustrations.

When it was first released, creator Beatrix Potter patented a Peter Rabbit doll in 1903 and followed it almost immediately with a Peter Rabbit board game. becoming one of the first to introduce broader merchandise to accompany the core product and thus Peter has featured on a range of goods for both children and adults, including toys, dishes, foods, clothing, and movies, thus establishing his familiarity and popularity with succeeding generations.  

If you, or someone you know, is establishing a library of must-have children’s classics, then this is an essential. And having whet the appetite, continue to share the joy with the others in her repertoire

Book 1: The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
Book 2: The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903)
Book 3: The Tailor of Gloucester (1903)
Book 4: The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904)
Book 5: The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904)
Book 6: The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905)
Book 7: The Tale of The Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905)
Book 8: The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906)
Book 9: The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit (1906)
Book 10: The Story of Miss Moppet (1906)
Book 11: The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907)
Book 12: The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908)
Book 13: The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (1908)
Book 14: The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909)
Book 15: The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909)
Book 16: The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse (1910)
Book 17: The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes (1911)
Book 18: The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912)
Book 19: The Tale of Pigling Bland (1913)
Book 20: Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes (1917)
Book 21: The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918) 
Book 22: Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes (1922)
Book 23: The Tale of Little Pig Robinson (1930)

And don’t forget the recently-discovered Book 24 – The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.

Few children’s stories have withstood the test of time and generations for 120 years, and so that in itself is testament to the quality of the story, its illustrations and its popularity.  It truly deserves the tag of “classic”.