The Katha Chest

The Katha Chest

The Katha Chest











The Katha Chest

Radhiah Chowdhury

Lavanya Naidu

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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


Asiya loves going to Nanu’s house because it is filled with all sorts of treasures, but the very best one is the katha chest.  For inside it are the katha quilts that Nanu made from the old saris that Maa and her sisters didn’t wear anymore, quilts that hold the family’s history in their patterns and stitches and stories.  Asiya likes nothing more than to crawl inside the chest and listen to the stories of her family that the quilts whisper to her.  Stories of her family members that unfold in four panels on subsequent pages showing not only the richness of pattern, texture and colour of the saris but also the family itself; stories which wrap themselves around Asiya as warmly as the quilt. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

While this is a story rooted deeply in the Bangladeshi family of the author, for generations women, particularly, have made quilts from discarded clothing, quilts which tell the story of its wearer or an event.  Every traditional patchwork block has a story behind its creation and some, when put together in a particular way, carried secret messages such as those of the Underground Railroad. Thus, this story with its stories within offers riches beyond that of the beautiful fabric of the saris – the reader is invited to trace each family member’s story from the panels to understand the connections between that and the sari that Nanu has used for the katha. 

It is also one of those picture books that can span the ages and stages because what the reader takes from it will depend on their level of maturity.  Young children may just consider their family tree and who is part of it beyond those they see daily; while much older readers may like to think of a family member they know well enough to construct their story in four panels and even design a fabric swathe that would epitomise that story. Those with a deeper interest might like to investigate the role of patchwork and quilting in communities as a way of passing on the culture between generations and across borders and understand that it is universal. 

Being a quilter, I found this story really resonated with me (inspiring me to dig out the bag of my son’s music t-shirts that he asked me to make into a quilt for his children years ago) but as can be seen, it is so much more than a tale about putting pretty fabric together. This is one for every collection and curriculum that has a focus on children discovering their family history.

Teachers’ notes are available from the publisher’s website


Peppa Pig Duo

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig











Peppa’s Spooky Halloween


Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef


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! 


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


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.

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection










Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2020

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

Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway.  She has a range of talents -each different in each story – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old.  In each episode of the series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it. 

Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.

Included in this compendium are the first four books in the series – Movie Star, Ballerina, Pop Singer and Fashion Designer – offering  young girls who are becoming independent readers some great reading while supporting their new skills with  large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. 

Collections like these are always good value and during this stay-at-home time, four stories for the price of one will be welcome.

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


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.

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots










Me and My Boots

Penny Harrison

Evie Barrow

Little Hare, 2020

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


Bronte loves her boots and she wears them all the time.  But they seem to take a role of their own depending on who she is with.

Mum calls them my brave-girl boots.
My bold-as-brass, adventure boots
I’m off to snare the dragon boots.
I’ll drag him home for tea.

My teacher calls them bustling boots.
My buckle-down-to-business boots.
I’m the best at jobs boots.
I’m busy as a bee.

Bouncing along with a rhythm that is as engaging as Bronte, with clever language and joyful illustrations, Bronte learns that who she is when she is wearing them is shaped by the relationships and circumstances at the time. But most importantly, she knows that all of these personalities make her who she is, even if she does have more layers than a triple-chocolate cake. 

This is the first in a new series about this thoroughly modern young girl who is confident and assertive and very comfortable in her own skin. The endpages and illustrations show she is not restricted by gender stereotyping or other artificial boundaries, complementing the text perfectly as she rejects the notion that her boots make her bossy or stubborn.

Looking forward to many more in the series.



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


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.

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Max's Dinosaur Feet!

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!









Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Lana Spasevski

Penelope Pratley

New Frontier, 2019

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


Max loves to STOMP, STAMP and SMASH around on his dinosaur feet.  But his mum tells him to walk quietly because he will wake baby Molly.  She has to reach him how to tiptoe as though he is walking on dinosaur eggshells. 

All is quiet for a while until Dad’s happy summer feet drip. slip and flip as he comes in from surfing.  So Max teaches him how to walk on dinosaur eggshells and all is quiet 

again.   But then Pop comes in with his walking feet, and Merida with her dazzling  dancing feet… Still Molly sleeps on until Rufus arrives with his wrinkly wet nose that just loves feet….

This is a joyful story for young readers that will speak to them about a familiar situation.  With its charming illustrations it offers all sorts of scope for stomping around like dinosaurs and dragons and elephants and then learning to tiptoe on dinosaur eggshells! Little ones will love it. 

The Jacket

The Jacket

The Jacket










The Jacket

Sue-Ellen Pashley

Thea Baker

Black Dog, 2019

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


The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was warm, like the afternoon sun. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front.

Amelia wore it everywhere – to kindy, Aunty Kath’s house, the shops, even to bed. But one day it didn’t fit her any more so she gave it to her younger sister Lily who also wore it everywhere – to the park, to Nanna’s house, to the library, even to the beach. But what happens when it’s too small for Lily?

This is a story that is as warm as a hug from the jacket itself.  It’s as familiar to my grandchildren as it is to almost every child – having to let go of something you love because you are growing up and it isn’t. Beautifully illustrated with repetitive phrases that wrap around the tongue like a jacket around your body, this is a charming story that will resonate widely as children snuggle more deeply into their favourite jackets as winter really begins to bite. Perhaps it could inspire a communal jacket drive  so all those outgrown jackets in children’s cupboards could find a new home.    

Grandma’s Treasured Shoes

Grandma's Treasured Shoes

Grandma’s Treasured Shoes










Grandma’s Treasured Shoes

Coral Vass

Christina Huynh

NLA Publishing, 2019

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Grandma has oodles and oodles of shoes.

Walk to the park shoes

Dance in the dark shoes

Fun shoes and sun shoes

Out and about shoes

Splash in the rain shoes

Fancy shoes, 

Plain shoes,

But her favourite shoes 

Are her worn and torn shoes

From a time long ago

And a land far away. 

For they are the shoes of her childhood in wartorn Vietnam, a time when her childhood was like that of others until the night she and her family have to flee with just the shoes on their feet.  They are shoes that take her on a terrifying journey to a new land where she is given new shoes to wear.  But she never forgets or discards those old shows with the memories and stories they hold for her.

Beginning with a rhyme and rhythm reminiscent of Frida Wolfe’s poem Choosing Shoes , this is a story that could be that of the grandmother or grandfather of any number of our students who have come to Australia as refugees, but in particular those who fled the Viet Cong and arrived here in boats in the 1970s. (But not always to the welcome that Grandma gets.) Using the shoes as a vehicle to tell the story of the fear and the flight, both author and illustrator have introduced the young reader to the story of refugees in a sensitive, non-confrontational way.  They have put themselves in the shoes of those who have had to flee their countries and imagined that regardless of the country, “that each shoe would have a different tale of danger, hardship, sacrifice and the cost of freedom to tell.”

This approach is rich in possibilities for a wide age group – children could tell the story of their shoes’ daily journey while those who have been in Grandma’s situation might feel comfortable about telling their story through the perspective of their shoes.  It could also serve as a lead-in to a series of lessons about perspective and how the different role a person has in a situation alters how the story is told. For example, what might be the glass slipper’s version of the Cinderella story? In a time when immigration is once more in the news as the tragedy in Christchurch starts debates again, older students might even examine the different responses by those such as Jacinda Ardern (#theyareus) and Donald Trump (building the wall).

As usual with NLA publications, there are pages of information at the back, these ones outlining the history of refugees in Australia and in particular, those who came from Vietnam in the 70s, the grandmothers and grandfathers of so many of our students. Perfect for Harmony Day celebrations or any focus on the multicultural nature of this country.



Grandma’s Treasured Shoes from STYNA on Vimeo.